[thelist] Do you help people who know nothing at all?

Mattias Thorslund mattias at inreach.com
Sun Feb 20 19:23:36 CST 2005


Well, I think any level of question is okay - this is a really friendly 
and broad-scoped list.  The level of advice will generally correspond 
with the level of the question - basic questions will get basic answers :-)

The first question would be: What would you like to do with your web 
site?  Provide informational and ever-growing pages of 'timeless' nature 
so that people can learn about your subject - dogs, right?  Or would you 
like to write quick notes on your latest discoveries/funny 
stories/comments (emphasis on "quick notes" - what you publish is up to 
you).  Would you like to allow visitors to easily leave comments on your 
web site?  Or, maybe you want to host a discussion forum about your 
favorite subject?  Maybe all of the above - but it can still grow one 
step at the time.

You say you're a beginner and non-computer person but still you seem to 
want to build a site from scratch.  Perhaps you haven't yet taken a look 
at the many freely available web-publishing tools that can make your 
life a lot easier.  Take a look at http://www.opensourcecms.com/.  Okay, 
that's plenty enough of choices to make my head spin...  Which ones are 
the best ones?  That's a great question to ask here - just let us know 
what you're looking for.

Right now, I have been using a web portal package called Exponent 
(http://www.exponentcms.org/), which my "user" loves.  We'll use it to 
put content on our "corporate" web site, customizing the layout.  I also 
use the blog software package called WordPress 
(http://www.wordpress.org/), which is really handy for posting quick 
notes. i.e. blogs.

There is absolutely no harm in knowing the details of HTML and CSS (in 
fact it is always useful, even when publishing with a tool), but ask 
yourself what you would feel most comfortable with yourself?  Many of 
these packages come with templates for layouts, but they can usually be 
customized (so your HTML/CSS efforts weren't in vain - you can still 
have the layout you want).  Still, you won't have to worry about HTML 
once you're posting new pages or stories to your site - unless you 
really want to.

What these packages will do for you is manage your text and pictures in 
a way that is easier in the long run than "plain" HTML pages.  A 'plain' 
site becomes more of a 'pain' the longer you use it, because each new 
page will probably turn out a little different from the previous one, 
and then you will want to update the old ones to look like the latest 
one. Or, you want to change something that's on ALL your pages and you 
have to change each one - easy if you have five pages, but tedious when 
you have 25.  And depending on your web host, you'll have to FTP the 
pages from your computer to the web server.

Generally, these are server-side packages that run a scripting language 
(such as PHP) and use a database engine to store your (suer-supplied) 
data, so you would upload them to the host server (unless you find a 
host provides a pre-installed CMS package). There's generally no need to 
learn PHP to do this - the instructions on how to upload and install the 
software should come with the package.

There is hosting available on the internet that fits these requirements 
starting at $4-5/month.  It will allow for a modest amount of traffic, 
but it will probably go a long way for a new site anyway - it takes time 
and lots of work to increase the traffic. 

I hope this is helpful,
Good luck!

Mattias Thorslund

Carol Whitney wrote:

> Dear All,
> Well, I *almost* know nothing at all. So how basic do you get here? I 
> know a little HTML, and a little CSS, but I get lost very quickly. I'm 
> uisng the WebDeveloper Forums, and somebody there mentioned evolt.org, 
> so I took a look, and love the definition of evolt.


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