Website design/maintenance tools

Two part question: 1. what tools are recommended for designing web pages?
2. What tool sets are recommended for maintaining them?

I suspect that the first question really addresses the second rather than
the literal question because of the source of the request.

Here’s the environment. A small church wants to post and maintain a web
site. Various non-tech persons will be responsible for maintaining much of
the content of the site. This tells me that they want/need a site that
contains the necessary content maintenance tools within the site itself, not
a tool on the individual desktops with the only real need for the design/dev
tools being for initial construction of the site and a GOOD book on site
design to guide construction of the site in the first place.

I haven’t done any extensive web development but I’ve had more years than I
like to remember developing various system and user code so the general
problem is all too familiar. I’d welcome any suggestions/comments on the
topic along with pointers to available tools and/or services. I’m not
thrilled by the options I’ve looked at so far. I’ve found places that will
design/develop the site for what I consider to be a fair price but - and
it’s a big BUT - each one wants to lock you into proprietary solutions
including hosting arrangements and site management commitments that turn the
process into a money pit.


Will Honea

Will Honea wrote:
> Two part question: 1. what tools are recommended for designing web pages?
> 2. What tool sets are recommended for maintaining them?
>
> I suspect that the first question really addresses the second rather than
> the literal question because of the source of the request.
>
> Here’s the environment. A small church wants to post and maintain a web
> site. Various non-tech persons will be responsible for maintaining much of
> the content of the site. This tells me that they want/need a site that
> contains the necessary content maintenance tools within the site itself, not
> a tool on the individual desktops with the only real need for the design/dev
> tools being for initial construction of the site and a GOOD book on site
> design to guide construction of the site in the first place.
>
> I haven’t done any extensive web development but I’ve had more years than I
> like to remember developing various system and user code so the general
> problem is all too familiar. I’d welcome any suggestions/comments on the
> topic along with pointers to available tools and/or services. I’m not
> thrilled by the options I’ve looked at so far. I’ve found places that will
> design/develop the site for what I consider to be a fair price but - and
> it’s a big BUT - each one wants to lock you into proprietary solutions
> including hosting arrangements and site management commitments that turn the
> process into a money pit.

i surmise you would prefer to design/develop/maintain and host in house?

i ask, because i have a few little and simple sites that by the time i
figured power & cooling costs and other things (like what happens if
my site goes down and i’m in another country, or do i really wanna
also buy and maintain an uninterruptible power source–for how many
hours, or days?) i decided to have it hosted…and, the hosting
business today is SO competitive that by the time you figure all the
real in house costs it cost not so much more for a 99.99x% presence
with someone else whose job it is to reboot or start the gen set or
whatever…

and as the available host sites multipled it seems that for not much
more almost all include some kind of pretty easy means to
design/develop/maintain, built right in…some (many/most?) include
templates the ‘web designer’ can just fill in the blanks and presto…

sorry, but as for good ideas on a turn key in house i could do no
better than say a good LAMP in the closet and routine tools like gimp,
bluefish, and etc is hard to beat for design, and FTP/SSH great for
maintaining…of course, one problem is that you will probably have a
few helpers who couldn’t “design” and “layout” a single pleasing
glossy/slick magazine page that want to design a site which has all
the appeal of a huge Hollywood Production…and, reality just doesn’t
work that way…

there is a reason that ‘designers’ learn about color, form, function,
layout, blah blah blah…

sorry i can’t be more helpful…but, your question is kinda like: I
took a ride in a Cessna 150 but i wanna do some solo supersonic stuff,
IFR, without it getting real costly–how should i begin? :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

oh, you know that (right or wrong) it is often done that one might
just go browsing until the ‘perfect’ site design is found and then
clone it with new words and logos…sure cuts down on the design cost…

by the way, i’ve had stuff hosted on doster.com for many years and
they have linux hosts and tools built in…note: they often run
come-on ads with (sometimes) half-price hosting…when i got into it i
pre-paid the first five years at a really nice price…i am in no
other way associated with them and you should check around, there are
LOTS of deals out there…


DenverD
When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
CAVEAT: http://is.gd/bpoMD [posted via NNTP w/openSUSE 10.3]

Geany
Meld
K3Diff
Filezilla
Gimp

As far as WYSIWYG editors its really a matter of preference.

RavenNuke is a well maintained PHPNuke based CMS that meets most of requirements a community site like a Church might need. Comes with Calender, Forum, ect… Much easier to work with then some of the more “advanced” CMS’s.

Joomla is a good CMS if you don’t need SEO.

DenverD wrote:

> i surmise you would prefer to design/develop/maintain and host in
house?
>
> i ask, because i have a few little and simple sites that by the time
i
> figured power & cooling costs and other things (like what happens if
> my site goes down and i’m in another country, or do i really wanna
> also buy and maintain an uninterruptible power source–for how many
> hours, or days?) i decided to have it hosted…and, the hosting
> business today is SO competitive that by the time you figure all the
> real in house costs it cost not so much more for a 99.99x% presence
> with someone else whose job it is to reboot or start the gen set or
> whatever…
>
> and as the available host sites multipled it seems that for not much
> more almost all include some kind of pretty easy means to
> design/develop/maintain, built right in…some (many/most?) include
> templates the ‘web designer’ can just fill in the blanks and presto…
>
> sorry, but as for good ideas on a turn key in house i could do no
> better than say a good LAMP in the closet and routine tools like
gimp,
> bluefish, and etc is hard to beat for design, and FTP/SSH great for
> maintaining…of course, one problem is that you will probably have
a
> few helpers who couldn’t “design” and “layout” a single pleasing
> glossy/slick magazine page that want to design a site which has all
> the appeal of a huge Hollywood Production…and, reality just
doesn’t
> work that way…
>
> there is a reason that ‘designers’ learn about color, form, function,
> layout, blah blah blah…
>
> sorry i can’t be more helpful…but, your question is kinda like: I
> took a ride in a Cessna 150 but i wanna do some solo supersonic
stuff,
> IFR, without it getting real costly–how should i begin? :slight_smile: :slight_smile:
>
> oh, you know that (right or wrong) it is often done that one might
> just go browsing until the ‘perfect’ site design is found and then
> clone it with new words and logos…sure cuts down on the design
cost…
>
> by the way, i’ve had stuff hosted on doster.com for many years and
> they have linux hosts and tools built in…note: they often run
> come-on ads with (sometimes) half-price hosting…when i got into it
i
> pre-paid the first five years at a really nice price…i am in no
> other way associated with them and you should check around, there are
> LOTS of deals out there…

Your comments are well taken and reflect a lot of my own thoughts.

The current site is hosted by one of those services you refer to - I
would stomp all over any suggestion that we self-host. The $2.50
monthly cost wouldn’t cover our electricity costs, much less equipment
and related costs. Add in all the factors and you can not afford to
self-host a 24/7 site with mail, forum, etc., etc. services.

I would love to find a developer who would deliver a turnkey site with
the normal update functions built into the site - such things as
calenders and announcements that could be maintained by any web user
(with password and/or other authentication). So far, my limited search
hasn’t turned up that developer. The ones I’ve hit to date want to
build a career out of each web site :wink:

At the same time, a full in-house development is not something I would
relish. It is not a trivial task even with experienced developers -
been down that road many, many times. I can’t imagine the mess it
would turn into with a bunch of amateurs unless the design template was
almost bullet proof. This just came up again so I’m looking to tap the
experience of those who have BTDT.

Thanks for the considered discussion.


Will Honea

If you can make the front end of the site simple and general information this will make it easier to maintain. All the other pages will be linked form the front page that way only the calenders and announcements will be single pages. This way is all that has to be done is update the calenders and announcements and post those two pages when they get updated. You can make up a template for the calender in Open Office and save it as html and the same for the announcements. I have learned from making up a few web site that people what a nice looking site but want a easy site to navigate and good information. Here is a site that I found that looks good and not a lot of money. Web Hosting : Professional Web Hosting from Just Host

There are a lot of programs that will handle the job for make web pages up under Linux ie: Open Office, Kompozer, Quanta Plus, Seamonkey and many more.

Especially if you’re really green at website design, I’d highly recommend you take a look at any of the “Framework” website architectures where everything is modularized, and all administration and modifications are done online directly to the website using any standard web browser. I do not recommend the traditional website design approach others are suggesting to this point.

So, what is a “Framework” website? You start off with a basic website that typically already supports User Authentication, file management, supports automatic navigational links between pages as they’re created and lots more. You configure User accounts of different permissions to grant anything from anonymous access to content modification, module installation all the way up to Administration.

The biggest benefit of a Framework website is that you can build a full blown, powerful commercial website doing complex things within hours because for each Framework you will find a community of Developers who have already built modularized code you only need to snap into your website, then dress up a bit. Do you want a CMS? Line of Production? Wiki? Forum? Calendaring and other workgroup functionality? An online store? Payment gateways? Anything else you can imagine? In most cases you have whatever you want up and running within hours or days, not months or even years.

Typical well known Frameworks include JBoss, PHPnuke, Drupal. If you wanted to consider a Windows platform, I consider Dotnetnuke the best and easiest implementation out there.

Once you consider which Framework you wish to use, consider then whether you want to host the website application yourself or hosted by someone on the Web… Depending on your personal level of expertise, you can install and maintain yourself but consider that low traffic “shared” deployments might only cost $20-50/mth for a LAMP platform (double that typically for a Windows platform).

Lastly, don’t overlook the free solutions… For very simple use you can for example build a Google Apps website that’s available with every free Google account, there is a way to point any Public Domain Name to what would normally be a private website.

HTH,
Tony

Will Honea wrote:
> The current site is hosted by one of those services you refer to
> … The $2.50 monthly cost wouldn’t cover our electricity costs,
> much less equipment and related costs. … I would love to find a
> developer who would deliver a turnkey site with the normal update
> functions built into the site - such things as calenders and
> announcements that could be maintained by any web user (with
> password and/or other authentication).

my host (dotster: who i’m not shilling for and no association other
than happy customer) has some (all?) of the tools built into their
least expensive monthly hosting package (more than you 2.50, but less
than $6 and includes 100 email accounts, 10 MySQL databases, and LOTS
of other stuff you can see at http://www.dotster.com/hosting/linux.php

be sure and click on the “More Features” button to see it all (don’t
miss the long list of built in applications FREE, like WebCalendar,
WordPress, etc etc etc)…

sure, you (or someone) would still have to do the initial setup and
design ‘COPY’] work…or, i think (i’ve not read all the small
print) you can ‘hire’ Dotster to do the initial design and once done,
then you just have that $6 bucks a month to keep the lights on and
bits rolling…

have a look at the glossy (and the small print) to see if what they
are selling isn’t a one time, up front design/set-up cost at
http://www.dotster.com/web-design/professional.php
(note the left side of that page offers several choices of depth of
involvement, with prices from $50 to $500)

i can’t vouch for any of their web design as i did all of mine my
stuff (KISS), but except for a huge fire that wiped out a main server
farm two or three years back, i’ve been on the air at over 99.9% for a
long long time (in internet time)…

it might be near what you need…might not!


DenverD
When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
CAVEAT: http://is.gd/bpoMD [posted via NNTP w/openSUSE 10.3]

DenverD wrote:

> my host (dotster: who i’m not shilling for and no association other
> than happy customer) has some (all?) of the tools built into their
> least expensive monthly hosting package (more than you 2.50, but less
> than $6 and includes 100 email accounts, 10 MySQL databases, and LOTS
> of other stuff you can see at http://www.dotster.com/hosting/linux.php

That sounds pretty much like what my host (iPower) offers. They also
essentially unlimited sub-domains and email with more bandwidth than I could
ever use. A single account can also host multiple domains - I have 6 on the
account now - for a one time registration transfer fee. Helluva deal.

After pinning down the site users on this, it turns out that it’s not the
design tools that have their panties in a bunch as much as the capabilities
of the finished site. They want a champagne site on a beer budget, which
changes the whole conversation.

I did come across an interesting possibility while having lunch with some of
the profs I teach occasional classes for at a local college. They have a
new hotshot heading the media studies department looking for real projects
to use as case studies and potential income for his students. I’ll have to
look into that. My daughter worked in media projects for a local TV station
for several years and speaks highly of the program.

This whole process is opening up a whole new process for me - I guess I’m
too much of a throwback to the “give me a closed room with plenty of beer
and smokes” generation of programmers :wink:


Will Honea

Will,
Although it’s not my main line of work, I have extensive experience consulting and project management with client objectives like what you describe.

If you want, fire off a private message to me with as detailed the project requirements you have and I’d be willing to give you an early ballpark guesstimate what it would take to achieve your goals… You’d be surprised what you can get with a beer budget.

Shouldn’t take long for me to analyze if provided enough detail, and I guarantee you that you’ll be able to maintain your client afterwards by yourself without much/any assistance.

Tony

Will Honea wrote:
> They want a champagne site on a beer budget, which
> changes the whole conversation.

LOL! well, that happens a whole lot…

lucky for you, it kinda sounds like Tony’s idea may be your savior
(not water to wine, but beer to champagne!)…

cool.


DenverD
When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
CAVEAT: http://is.gd/bpoMD [posted via NNTP w/openSUSE 10.3]