DIY Web Publishing

DIY Web Publishing                              Back to Home Page

If you want to have your own website, but can't afford to pay a commercial web designer, it is possible to produce your own basic site even if you don't have any background in web design. No-one will pretend this is the easiest course of action, but it gives you more control over what will be an ongoing situation (and expense). Hundreds of thousands of people have already done this nationwide.
As one of the aims of this website is to encourage residents of our slowly-developing 'cybercity' to become more than just passive consumers,  we're adding a how-to section. For reasons explained below, it's not the usual step-by-step push button guide you get in beginners' courses or in glossy magazines. (These have to be based on a specific software package, making that approach unrealistic overall.) It's a ten-part organisational guide, a task analysis, with technical issues discussed in context where these are most relevant. The rationale for this approach is explained below - see "Introduction - First Principles"

To gain an overview of the web-publishing process, below is a summary version of the ten-part task-analysis, outlining what is involved in each. Over time, I'll be adding more information to each task, with a separate page for each of the ten tasks.

DIY Web Publishing - Ten Basic Tasks

Go to Introduction - First Principles [explains rationale for this approach]

[1] PLAN – Plan your site as to theme, site plan, mission statement, site navigation, and general “information architecture,” including for any frameset pages. Find a suitable web host (by personal recommendation or looking at PC magazines), and arrange hosting of your site.
[2] ORGANIZE - Organise your resources and workspace. Research and acquire the necessary IT (hardware and software) resources you will need. Make sure you can use your system’s operating environment well enough to locate files and applications easily. Software should include a web-authoring application or HTML editor, a text editor, a photo-editing package, a drawing package (to create logos, maps etc), and a 2nd browser (sites look different in different browsers). Try out each package to make sure that, with a bit of practice, you can use it in action.
[3] DESIGN - Design your site in detail, as to colours and page layout, sketching out all page, table and column widths in pixels, image sizes etc. Make sure you plan it in “3-D” if using layers. Design your text’s appearance from a typographical viewpoint, as to web-safe fonts, font-substitution groups, sizes, alignments, colours, styles, text effects etc. Create any style sheets needed as CSS files.
[4] WRITE – Create a table with all the text you will need - search-friendly keywords, website content, names of files, plus the ‘www’ domain name you want, with a set of acceptable alternates in case you can’t get the exact one you want (the best ones all being taken). Draft the publisher information you will need when you go online – business name and address etc and register any suitable domain-names in your selected name. Work out any hosting-admin text such as custom sitename, webhost username, and secure server passwords.
[5] EDIT – Assemble any source text files. Have your draft content proofread, and edit it for sense, grammar, punctuation, style, and misspellings (these can stop you ranking in google etc). Reorganise and where necessary rewrite the text and HTML code, so that they meet “SEO” guidelines (i.e. are ‘search-engine friendly’ with at least a chance of ranking in Google etc.)
[6] ILLUSTRATE – Create your visual content you will need to illustrate web-page content and break up the text into reader-friendly chunks. Take photos and draw any needed graphics such as logos, making sure all images are saved in web-compatible formats. Use a ‘WYSIWYG’ style web-authoring application to create any needed image maps (images containing multiple links).
[7] PRODUCE - Produce your web-pages using your chosen web-authoring software. Check pages in at least two different browsers.
[8] PUBLISH - Assemble in a local cache all material to be uploaded, making sure your file and folder names and paths, etc conform with your web-host's instructions. Upload your web-pages and all associated graphics, either via FTP, by 'HTTP publishing', or by using a content-management system.
[9] MANAGE – Manage the administrative functions of running a website and its linked email accounts, site testing and monitoring, fixing broken links, adding security etc.
[10] OPTIMIZE – Continue to improve your site online as needed in terms of usability, design, content, functionality, security, search ranking, etc.

Further Information Sources
Of course you still need to follow the technical procedures for each of the above steps, but you will find these are mostly provided by the relevant software's Help function, by the webhost's help pages, or via any number of web-authoring textbooks, which are available from Borders bookshop or the public library (computing books are shelved at .001).

A compromise between going it completely alone and paying a commercial web designer is to take a how-to course. Courses for adults in web design or HTML (web-design's markup language) are usually provided by adult-education centres in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, as well as the local College, typically costing around £100 for an evening course. Unfortunately, the government announced last year it would no longer subsidise post-16 education, with the result many advertised courses are no longer viable. Unsubsidised courses tend to be aimed at the corporate market, costing £100+ for a one-day [6 hr] course.

The one remaining alternative is to obtain some private tutoring to get you started. There is no central resource here where we can supply a URL, but if you email us detailing your particular needs, we may be able to refer you to someone from a local network of private IT tutors who can help you (usually for around £20/hr) set up your site. The only proviso here is that your website should be a local-interest one.

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