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**UPDATED OP ** MANAGING web sites 501

PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
edited October 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm a very technical guy that hasn't made a webpage since frontpage 98 was new. I know basic html, and have run IIS webfarms, but know almost nothing about the creative side.

But I've got an opportunity to make a promo site for some very cool people starting a local MMA show and I'd like to help them out. I'm going this gratis so simple and easy is preferred. It's got to look a bit better than some text in notepad. site should be simple and colorful, I don't know what interactive features if any they want yet.

So - looking for:

good guides to modern website creation.
advice on design tools since i assume frontpage still blows (free preferred, windows only)
good sites with design info, style guides, etc
recommended hosting company and guidelines for hosting plans?

whatever else I should know.


Thanks much guys,


I spoilered the original post since I was incorrect about what they wanted.

International Championship Fighting (http://icfighting.com/) is the site I've been asked to manage. They want a site redesign to clean it up.

So... new advice?

all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
PirateJon on

Posts

  • wasted pixelswasted pixels Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Good guides to modern website creation? SmashingMagazine.com is a great jumping-off point, and I'd say so even if I hadn't been published there. ;)

    Advice on design tools? Gross generalization, but the majority of us web dev pros use Notepad or some variant (on Windows, at least). WYSIWYG editors suck as much as they did 10 years ago, unfortunately. The big game-changer in the last decade is CSS; it's still text based, but it offers MUCH, MUCH more flexibility in how your HTML is styled than HTML itself ever could. Instead of using 8,000 <font color="#0099ff"><b></b></font> tags to turn your bold text blue (for instance), you just go b {color: #09f;} once and you're done.

    Hosting? I'll leave that to others, as my advice on that front is seldom well-received in these parts.

    But yeah, I can't pimp Smashing Magazine enough for both stylistic and technical advice. There's useful information and inspirational ideas in every last one of their articles, it's really an amazing resource.

    wasted pixels on
  • WillethWilleth Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    HTML will have changed very little since you learned it. Learn some basic stylesheets and you could probably find a decent template and work off that really easily.

    Willeth on
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  • AtomBombAtomBomb Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I've found siteground to be pretty decent, hosting-wise.

    AtomBomb on
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  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2008
    Just to reiterate what wasted said - learn CSS and learn it good. Learning a spot of PHP will probably be handy too, I just learned how to do server side includes this week (dead simple beginners PHP stuff) and I can't tell you how much easier it makes developing sites with lots of pages and repeated elements. You should probably brush up on your HTML again as well, we like things a lot tighter and standards compliant these days.

    Also, notepad is serviceable but you'd be better of with a text editor that features code highlighting. I use TextWrangler (A paired down, free version of BBEdit) on the Mac and PSPad on the PC (although I believe there are better recommended text editors for PC)

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • MorinokoMorinoko Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    PirateJon: do you read and understand spanish?

    I wrote a two part article in my personal blog about this exact topic... but it's in Spanish.

    Morinoko on
  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Aptana is good on PC, Coda is good on Mac - for editors.

    HTMLDog.com is a good resource for up-to-date HTML and CSS.

    For cheap (slow) hosting Godaddy is better than what the people on this forum seem to think. The website looks dumb (and it is), but the packages are decent, the control panel is not bad and the customer service is very good.

    For good (fast) hosting, I use http://www.mosso.com and it is basically amazing.


    http://www.alistapart.com is a very good resource on web design trends/techniques but you have to do some digging to find what will be useful to you, as there is a lot of industry/biz content not relevant to the hobbyist.


    You have experience with Windows hosting but cheap Windows hosting for ASP and ASP.NET is generally between bad and horrible. Trust me.

    Jasconius on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    So, yeah, update and bump. What advice can you give me for managing an existing site? The re-design should be pretyt easy - just like making a new site, but I've never 'run' a website.

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
  • powersspowerss Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Dude, to get anything meaningful and professional its going to take a month of trial and error. How about SquareSpace.com?

    powerss on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    powerss wrote: »
    Dude, to get anything meaningful and professional its going to take a month of trial and error. How about SquareSpace.com?

    Oh it's already there - check it out, it's a decent site but waaay too 'busy'.

    while I've run webservers, i've never run a commercial website. I was hoping for some resources in that area.

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2008
    What aspects of managing it do you need help with? What exactely are they expecting you to do, besides the redesign.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    What aspects of managing it do you need help with? What exactely are they expecting you to do, besides the redesign.
    When I said yes to this, I thought I was going to make a simple page for a few local shows for my coach, not run a whole site for a pro org. I don't know enough about this to know what I need to find out (if that makes any sense)... Hell, I own "IOS in a nutshell", where can I find "webmaster in a nutshell"?

    So far I've heard day to day content updates, "fixing" the ads, answering emails, sending publicity emails, and generally being a webmaster. I also get the feeling I'd be involved in the marketing side of this as well.

    Related - flash resources and PHP. I've never used 'em and what tutorials i've found so far are a bit meh. Protips?

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
  • flatlinegraphicsflatlinegraphics Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    look into a cms. you will need a database of some sort. trying to manage daily updates by hand with a text editor is madness.

    flash is secondary. thats for after you get a the site up and running.

    i'd say look into a premade CMS system, like joomla. hell, wordpress may be fine.

    flatlinegraphics on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Next time I'll make a new topic, rather than pull a 180 in the middle of one, but it's up now. And it's pretty nice, if a bit graphics heavy. Lots of flash too. http://www.icfighting.com

    ugh. I may have to rethink my involvement here...

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    OK Look. The best thing you can possibly do right now is outsource this and send them a bill (obviously with their approval).

    The site they have, I would say, is somewhere in the neighborhood of "certifiably below average", and with very little relevant experience, unless you have real graphic design experience you aren't going to do much to improve on that in terms of the look of the site. At best you can "de-clutter" it, but think about this client and think about their target demo, that might not even be required or desired.

    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that

    1) The people who own this website know very little about the internet or technology.

    2) You received this assignment because by word of mouth they found out you are technical and once worked on websites and therefore are a competent web developer who can produce product that is on par with today's standards for web site quality, which is a dangerous assumption easily facilitated by Point #1.

    3) This company no doubt has at least one person in their employ who's job description somehow involved marketing and that person is who needs to be consulted on this project before you buy the first book or read the first page of any web site.

    Your first step is find out *what the fuck they want to do* with the site. "Redesign" is dangerously vague and gets you nowhere. Second, find out what their tastes are, what sites they want to emmulate, etc. Third, determine if you can actually do this yourself, and if not, provide them cost estimates for outsourcing the work to a web firm. NOT a freelancer. Freelancers are hit or miss and it's your ass if they suck. Even a shocking percentage of web firms produce shitty work so do your homework on that point.

    Jasconius on
  • Kate of LokysKate of Lokys Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    If you're not going to be paid, you don't want to be doing that. Trust me on this. My boyfriend does web design for a living, and he could tell you horror stories about projects that just keep getting bigger and bigger.

    Doing a free basic website for a local company would be great - it wouldn't take you long to brush up on the relevant skills, you'd learn some neat stuff in the process, and you'd end up with some pretty spiffy-sounding material to toss on your resume.

    Being roped into doing a full site redesign, plus being kept on board for daily maintenance, email responding, and ad revenue generation... that's not volunteer work, that is a job. That is exactly what people in the industry get paid hefty salaries to do. Now, if your coach wants to pay you a worthwhile amount for your time, and if you're interested in the work, go for it! But if he expects you to do it for free, he is expecting you to become his bitch. And the minute something goes wrong, guess whose fault it will be? Yeah, yours. Somehow.

    Tell your coach "Hey, I think this is a bit above my skillset right now, you might want to just hire somebody to run the site." If he doesn't want to pay anybody to do what sounds like 2-4 hours of work per day, well, he can do it himself, or he can find some wet-behind-the-ears high school kid, who will eventually proceed to leave some gaping security hole unpatched, which will in turn lead to the site getting hacked. But damnit, he'll deserve it. If people want a slick, constantly-updated, fully-functional site that brings in plenty of ad revenue, they need to pay for it.

    Edit: to Jasconius
    Jasconius wrote: »
    ... determine if you can actually do this yourself, and if not, provide them cost estimates for outsourcing the work to a web firm. NOT a freelancer. Freelancers are hit or miss and it's your ass if they suck. Even a shocking percentage of web firms produce shitty work so do your homework on that point.
    I'd be inclined to argue that point. *Good* web design firms are absolutely phenomenal, for sure: they produce gorgeous clean code, their sites are marvels of usability and organization, and their designs continue to be copied years after they've moved on to bigger projects. They also charge $10,000 for a website. For the kind of budget the OP is going to be dealing with - ie, anywhere from free to a few hundred bucks - he won't be able to afford a good firm; he'll be able to afford an offshore, outsourced code mill which will promise "fully functional web site $200," then deliver something hacked together from other people's templates.

    You're right that finding a good freelancer can be tough, but if he (or his coach) is going to be spending money on this project, it would be worth taking a few days to find a good freelancer. He could go to Elance, write up a project description, set a budget, and let people bid on it, they he could look over their proposals and portfolios to choose the best one for the job.

    Kate of Lokys on
  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    oh yeah, if you aren't being paid for this, you might as well stop thinking about it now.

    this is serious work, nobody in their right mind would do it for free

    Jasconius on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Jas nailed it. I "know computers" so obviously I'm qualified. o_O Call me Palin.

    and yeah, turns out it's paid. First it was a simple one-page site, then this. at that rate tomorrow it'll probably be to run yahoo by myself. Outsourcing... better idea. I'm gonna check into that.

    Thanks for the advice.

    PirateJon on
    all perfectionists are mediocre in their own eyes
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