Web Design is not what it used to be. It’s now a sort of nebulous term that encompasses a LOT of technologies. No matter what sort of sites you plan on designing, I feel there’s no substition for a good understanding of standards-compliant xhtml and css. Of course, it helps if you know some graphics programs too, like Photoshop or the cheaper alternative, Paintshop Pro. Notice I didn’t mention any web design programs…well, I said learn web design not make a website real quick and dirty like.
Archive for May, 2006
This post is just some emails I’ve sent and resent. It deserves some editing for flow, but the info is good. Thought I’d put it out there cuase people keep asking! (Following is MHO and YMMV and all those other typical disclaimers)
Here’s an email I recently sent to a co-worker that wanted to start a blog:
Get your blog…if you use one that is hosted elsewhere, you can be
set up in about 2 minutes.
http://wordpress.com/ (they host for you. you can also install the
software on a server yourself, that site is http://www.wordpress.org
and that is what I use)
http://www.blogger.com/start another very popular blogging system.
If you don’t host your own blog, or even if you do, managing photos
is easy and fun with Flickr. In fact, some people use Flickr as their
blog…they just create a “group” and discuss things there or add
really long notes/descriptions to their photos.
Once you start blogging, if you meet other bloggers and you want to
keep track of them, instead of remembering to visit a bunch of sites
you can just subscribe to their content using a feed reader (any blog
software you use will automatically generate feeds). Btw, you can
subscribe to the NYT, Seattle-PI and content like that too.
“I have been told today that I need to set up a blog for [an event] by Monday, and I have no experience in blogging whatsoever. Here are the requirements:
- Multiple editors
- Ability to make a page template that looks like our site
- The ability to redirect the blog URL so it appears to be coming from our own website
Your easiest bet is to go with Blogger or WordPress. I set up a
Blogger blog for a band many years ago and here you can see it
incorporated into their site with no problems:
In this case there’s only one author, but they do support multiple authors:
The wordpress.com public docs are pretty sparce, but I just logged in
to one I set up in 30 seconds to show people how easy is it (I’m not
kidding about the 30 seconds) and you can set up multiple blog authors
with different levels of authority with the click of the button. In
general I would say the admin area looks almost identical to the one
you install and host yourself:
I started with Blogger, it’s super easy, and you can always import to
Wordpress later if you wanted. (Most blogs allow export/import so
don’t worry too much about your first choice). You can customize the
look with both but I think that WordPress offers you more
power/flexability as there are a lot of plugins and documentation on
tweaking it – of course that means more to learn/read too.
There are other choices as well, but I don’t have experience with them
(except for MovableType, which I didn’t care for in comparison).
It’s is seriously so easy to set up…you should try both and see what
you like better and what looks easier to adapt to your site.
Oh, for the record, typepad is very popular as well. And to clarify, wordpress.com (hosted) is to wordpress.org (you install on your own server) what typepad is to movabletype.
To expand on why I prefer WordPress to Movabletype/Typepad, all the following are true of WordPress:
- All services are completely free, the software is completely free.
- It’s easier to install on your server (if you go that route – it was way easier for me anyway…)
- WordPress is supported by a huge and rabidly enthusiastic community – this equals free support and hundreds of cool plugins that you can use to extend and customize your blog.
- Movabletype may have improved since I used it, but I must say, since the release of Wordpres 2.0 and the Askimet plugin (installed by default), I have virtually no blog spam. If your blog ever gets hit you’ll understand why this is so important!
I am actually a fan of this approach – it does two things nicely:
- Lets user’s know why they’re experiencing a problem.
Most developers I know are scrambling to make the new IE ActiveX restrictions invisible to users – they want their content to work as always. It’s understandable and possibly mandated by the upper echelons, however I think a more direct approach is worth considering. After all, the situation was created by fresh litigation and is likely to change with appeals and technology…soon…rendering your current workaround pointless. You’ll either have to do yet another workaround soon, or, if ActiveX controls are automatically re-enabled in the future, you’ll have all this extra muck in your code and will probably not go back and fix it (since it won’t technically be broken).
The second point is incredibly important, and in my experience, often overlooked. Many people with Windows Updates magically “maintaining” their computers behind the scenes have no idea why a lot of sites are suddenly behaving weird. They are wondering…they many assume many things but they’re sure to appreciate a clue – especially when it’s accompanied by a simple action that will forward their cause: “click here”.
The current browser climate reminds me of all the painful methods we used to use to handle IE 4 for Mac. In the end, for personal sites at least, I just stopped trying. It was such a bad browser that the collective time and energy of web developers everywhere were being, in my opinion, totally wasted to try to accommodate a sub par product. Why break your site to fix their browser when so many other better browsers are freely available? The less web developers bend to the restrictions forced on us by horrible browsing technology and noncompliance to web standards, the sooner average users will switch to something better. Then we can build and they can browse much more happily – everyone wins.