HuthPhoto 2008 Site

I got a mes­sage from John at the Wayne Coun­ty Arts group and he’s been tasked with updat­ing their web site. It had been cre­at­ed a while back in Adobe GoLive. He com­ment­ed on lik­ing my site (above) and so here’s what I said. This most­ly applies to small orga­ni­za­tions and self-employed folks like me. It also requires some inter­est in graph­ic design, or you can make a crazy-ugly site… and we real­ly don’t need more of those, do we 😉

CSS Zen Garden 2 CSS Zen Garden 1
Here’s a good site about what’s pos­si­ble with CSS, CSS Zen Gar­den. Both exam­ples above have the exact same con­tent, but use CSS to style them rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent. On the Zen Gar­den site, you can click to see for your­self all of the sub­mit­ted CSS designs. It’s amaz­ing. An exam­ple of CSS on this site is the design squares at the top left. Click­ing on those change the back­ground design, and could change the entire site if it was cod­ed to do that.

I had used GoLive before I switched over to a CSS work­flow. GoLive is gone and Dreamweaver is the cur­rent prod­uct from Adobe.

Now, those pages can be as beau­ti­ful or as ugly as the per­son­’s skill. The two aspects are using a good graph­ic artist in the design and then some­one who can make stuff hap­pen via the options and cod­ing (sor­ry if you already know that, just try­ing to be thor­ough). So to do it with Dreamweaver, you can work visu­al­ly, not just hard­cod­ing… drag images in and use the options/code to cre­ate links with images, etc. I’d guess that’s what was done with the coun­ty site.


The eas­i­er way is with CSS tem­plat­ing. I’m on Mac and use Rapid­Weaver.
You can cre­ate some real­ly ele­gant pages, sim­ply using tem­plate they have and that you can buy and add on.

It’s still pos­si­ble to make a dull page, but you folks should have access to graph­ic design­ers that have worked enough on the web to steer you right. It’s more like­ly to cre­ate a site that looks like it’s from a tem­plate, so you have to fight that as well. BUT it’s easy to cre­ate a pret­ty pow­er­ful site quick­ly.
I sug­gest that young pho­tog­ra­phers look at lots of real­ly great pho­tos to learn what world-class work looks like. The same is true on the web. Search for sites that are in your indus­try and find the ones that are tru­ly func­tion­al, use­ful and ele­gant. Then fig­ure out how to steal (ah, I mean imple­ment) those aspects of great sites into your site. Not mak­ing your site a rip off copy, but learn­ing from what works and what is beau­ti­ful about the design and find­ing how that can work for you… just like in pho­tog­ra­phy or your per­son­al art!

I’d sug­gest that peo­ple use Dreamweaver because they are pros and want total con­trol and all of the options. They should use CSS based solu­tions if they don’t want the has­sle, or like me enjoy mix­ing tweak­ing the code with the ease of design.
Anoth­er CSS set­up on the Mac is iWeb from Apple (free on every new Mac and won­der­ful).

There are oth­er options… mod­i­fy­ing a blog set­up to be your web site (might not be as prac­ti­cal for an Arts site, but it could work, and could allow artists to write in now and then blog-style). Also there are just plain online tem­plates you can buy and fill. One thing not to do is use Microsoft Front­page if it still exists… it’s know to cre­ate nasty sites in many ways.

Oh, one final con­sid­er­a­tion. One that we bump into with our church web site… the way I cre­ate my site is great, but it’s hard to be mod­i­fied by a group of peo­ple. Real­ly it’s just meant for all changes to be made from the com­put­er that cre­at­ed it (there are ways around this, but that’s for anoth­er show…). So if the goal is just to cre­ate a site that oth­ers will change on an ongo­ing basis, a CSS site sit­ting on your home com­put­er might not be the best solu­tion. If you are will­ing to make changes, (or will­ing to learn and imple­ment the plug-in that allows changes to Rapid­Weaver sites via the web)… then you’d be OK.

Hope­ful­ly that’s a help­ful walk through the web maze for any­one inter­est­ed in cre­at­ing their own site, or who won­ders what tools I’m using to do my site and my blog.

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