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  1. #1
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    Question As Good As The Best

    Hi All

    I recently joined the forum and have posted a similar message in "Introductions".

    I am now in the process of starting a new business and urgently need to establish a web site.

    Usability and navigation are very important to me.

    After "looking" at all sorts of different solutions I realised that - "I want my web site to have much the same features as the Sitepoint website".

    Search engine, site map, breadcrumb etc and so on.

    If I wanted to add something it would only be a "top of page" link at the bottom of each page.

    So here are my newbie questions.:-

    1.How was the Sitepoint web site created?
    2.Is there an "easy" way of developing a similar site?
    3.Are there any "out of the box" solutions or software that can assist?

    So there we are.

    I want my first to be as good as the best.

    I appreciate fully that these questions may appear naive.

    In my mind I can envisage a programme cum template that has its strength in navigation and usability rather than in design.

    Sort of like a content management system.

    If it hasn't been designed - please someone do it and I will help you market it! (Just think of the many others who may not be so brave to appear so foolish.)

    If there is any appropriate software or "shortcut" solutions I would very grateful if someone could point out to me the fast track to being online with the best.

    I appreciate your help.

    Many thanks

    Cheers to all

    John

  2. #2
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Whoa whoa wait just a minute! The questions you're asking can take years to answer, but I'll try to break it down for you in as few words as possible:

    You can build a website with something as simple as notepad. However, it probably won't be very efficient to do so, nor will your site end up looking nice or doing very much if you just write a bunch of static HTML pages in a text editor. There are programming and scripting languages, like PHP or ASP, that bring extended functionality to your pages (i.e. connecting to databases, keeping track of customer orders, feeding dynamic content to users, etc.). I recommend using any of these if your site gets to be more than a simple online brochure for your business.

    With these languages, you can create your own content management systems (from now on, I'll just reference them as "CMS"). Custom CMS systems are probably the best, as they are suited to your business's needs. However, they can end up taking a lot of time. If you need something quick that you can set up yourself, there are plenty of CMS systems available for you to choose from and many are free. For example, you can use a system like PostNuke or PHPWebSite to get a site up and running quickly if you need something urgent. The two products I linked to also have the bonus benefit of being completely free. I recommend these if you need a site yesterday, but suggest that you learn about HTML, PHP, and graphics and build your own CMS later (or add to whatever system you're using at the time). If you have any questions about the technologies or systems I've mentioned, Sitepoint's Forums have areas dedicated specifically to these topics.

    Hope this helps!

  3. #3
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    Hi,

    One shortcut would be to pay a web designer to design a site for you. Some designers will design the site, and have an extra fee for installing scripts which will do the things you are asking about.

    This is another option you can take into consideration.

    Cheers,
    Leah | Idologic.com
    Reseller, Dedicated, and Co-Lo Solutions

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict KelliShaver's Avatar
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    To go from no web design experience to building a fully-cunctionla, dyanic, database-driven site with new, article publishing, forums, search functionality, etc. is a big jump. It's not impossible, but don't expect to learn the skills anytime soon. Some of these things have a pretty steep learning curve and take a lot of practice to be able to do them efficiently.

    phpnuke and postnuke as mentioned above are very popular

    Places like hotscripts.com and phpscripts.com etc will have literally hundreds of various (mostly out of the box) scripts for performing various tasks.

    Aside from that, yes, if you need a website up right away, h iring someone to do it may be the best way to go.

  5. #5
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    Hi Vinnie

    Thanks for your reply

    Quote Originally Posted by vgarcia
    Whoa whoa wait just a minute! The questions you're asking can take years to answer - ....Hope this helps!
    I am fast coming to that conclusion.

    I have had a look previously at PHP Website and PostNuke.

    They don't quite have the features I am looking for.

    It seems to me kind of strange that there are so many people learning coding and expressing themselves in features that (absolutely no offence intended) are peripheral.

    The "package" that I am seeking - Sitepoint hybrid site out of a box - is something that I anticipate many, many people would love to have.

    This, from my perspective, is the foundation.

    Many people would love to be able to open up a functional structured template to which they could add both knowledge and design content - and add the other clever scripts where they were relevant or of interest.

    Cheers

    John

  6. #6
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    Hi Tuffy

    Many thanks for your reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by tuffy
    Hi,
    One shortcut would be to pay a web designer to design a site for you. Cheers,
    I know - on a practical level - you are right.

    That is because that is the way things are in the web development industry.

    But to "pay a web designer" merely perpetuates the problem - there should be a modular navigation system that makes knowledge accessible.

    Cheers

    John

  7. #7
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    Hi Kelli

    Thanks for your reply

    Quote Originally Posted by KelliShaver
    To go from no web design experience to building a fully-cunctionla, dyanic, database-driven site with new, article publishing, forums, search functionality, etc. is a big jump. It's not impossible, but don't expect to learn the skills anytime soon. Some of these things have a pretty steep learning curve and take a lot of practice to be able to do them efficiently.
    I agree with you entirely.

    That's why I figured that with all the talent at Sitepoint and with this forum's combined knowledgethere must be a solution beyond hiring a designer or taking years to go through the learning curve.

    It seems that the functional part that I am looking for is actually the hardest part to develop.

    It follows that newbies like myself should not expect to be able to achieve this themselves.

    The result is that newbies become dependent upon designers which is not the best long term solution.

    To me it just makes sense that there would be some sort of template or package available.

    Reminded here of GB Shaw's - "I see things as they might be and ask why not?"

    Just let me know if what I think is persistence is really, and coming accross as, plain stubbornness.

    Cheers

    John

  8. #8
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    TestPilot,

    First: a person with no knowledge of design or coding cannot possibly hope to build a complete functioning website on their own overnight - web and graphic design are actually talents, and some portions can be learned, but it takes years (as has been stated).

    There are alternatives, however.

    You can pick up a good functioning web site "template" at places like www.liquid-2d.com (my favorite) and www.templatemonster.com and then add your content and even your own company logo and graphics.

    Of course if you want to change or modify the template you will need to have some understanding of Adobe Photoshop.

    You can, as has been said, hire a web designer. I used to do this for a while and I didn't charge that much, and payment arrangements can always be made (I don't do web design anymore, focusing more nowadays on my graphic design skills).

    And if you are looking for "an easy out" let me tell you - there isn't any. You cannot magically turn into a web or graphic designer like *poof*, and there is no website in existence that will do this for you.

    Like everyone else, if your serious about designing your site, you will have to read read read, study study study, practice practice practice

    Otherwise, hire a good designer.

  9. #9
    Wanna-be Apple nut silver trophy M. Johansson's Avatar
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    Hi Testpilot!

    There are plenty of CMS out there that simulates what sitepoint have. Postnuke is one of them (what exact features do you desire that it doesn't have?)

    However, due to the very nature of complex applications like a CMS, you are most likely not going to have exactly what you want without developing one yourself, or hiring a developer to do it for you.
    Mattias Johansson
    Short, Swedish, Web Developer

    Buttons and Dog Tags with your custom design:
    FatStatement.com

  10. #10
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    Hi,

    I second Mattias' post. I've tried PostNuke and have found it quite useful, and likewise with PHPWebSite.

    Additionally, he's right about needing to be flexible about what features you want in a CMS. If you're can't be flexible, you'll need to develop or have someone develop one for you. [img]images/smilies/wink.gif[/img]

    The former is what I've done. Five years ago I learned W3C HTML, and, after losing interest for four years, picked up W3C XHTML, CSS, XML, XSLT, PHP, and Microsoft ASP.Net over the course of six months or so. Admittedly, that's a faster transition that you'll want to make, but I pulled it off because I was a Microsoft Visual Basic developer before turning to Web programming.

    I hope you find or write a CMS that suits your needs, and, of course, feel free to ask for assistance and opinions here on SitePoint.

    Compuwhiz7
    Last edited by cfm; Aug 31, 2003 at 16:32. Reason: I had incorrectly referred to SitePoint Editize as a CMS, as Mattias pointed out.

  11. #11
    Wanna-be Apple nut silver trophy M. Johansson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by compuwhiz7
    Hi,

    I second Mattias' post. Among the CMSes he's referring to is SitePoint's very own Editize CMS, which is powerful and easy to use.
    For the record, Editize is not a CMS at all. It's a WYSIWYG editor made in Java which can be used IN a CMS.
    Mattias Johansson
    Short, Swedish, Web Developer

    Buttons and Dog Tags with your custom design:
    FatStatement.com

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Hello,

    Eh... that's true. Will edit my post...

    Compuwhiz7

  13. #13
    because you gotta have beer! firegryphon3207's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TestPilot
    That is because that is the way things are in the web development industry.

    But to "pay a web designer" merely perpetuates the problem -
    How is this a problem? It is a skill like any other. Particularly when you start getting into things like ASP/.NET/PHP and other programming aspects. It is a choice you make. Either take the time to learn it, or you can hire someone who already has. I took the time to learn it, my husband is still waiting for that art site. Even when you buy an out of the box solution, you are still hiring someone who has already used thier skill to make a solution.
    There is never going to be a "out of the box" total solution that will work for everyone. Everyone's site is unique and will have unique needs. Sometimes those needs can be filled by a CMS' like those already mentioned here, because those have the most popular features. There are even customizations of those CMS' even further to make them "fit". Which still requires some skill to do.
    That's why most of us are here, no matter how "good" we are, we are always looking to be better and expand our skills. If we can help someone else along the way, all the better.
    Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
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  14. #14
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    Hi

    Thanks for your reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by firegryphon3207
    There is never going to be a "out of the box" total solution that will work for everyone.
    You are right. That would be too much to ask for.

    I started this thread saying

    I appreciate fully that these questions may appear naive.

    In my mind I can envisage a programme cum template that has its strength in navigation and usability rather than in design.
    As everybody has pointed out I am being unrealistic.

    I accept the facts and concede.

    I am not disputing the talent of web designers nor the time and practice required to become proficient.

    What I cannot understand, however, is why I or We should accept that things will or should remain the way they are.

    If I use two analogies you may get a better feel for what I am trying to say.

    1.Word Processor

    If I wanted to create a report, a book or whatever I could use a word procesor (WP). The WP would allow me to commence a scalable document. As I added material it would be automatically included in the Table of contents / Site Map. Pages would be accessible by hyperlink etc.

    In other words, the WP has all the base structural and navigational elements built in. Templates are available. Even though one size doesn't fit all at least it is a good start.

    Now no one would suggest that a writer learn how to write code to program his or her own WP.

    The WP is the legacy of those talented enough to write the code (after years of learning and practice).

    2. Car Manufacture

    There is no one car that suits all.

    So we have an enormous industry customising and creating new designs.

    Yet when we look at all the different models we can see that in reality a large number of them share the same chassis and engine.

    You could set up a feasible business building customised vehicles and not know a thing about how to build a chassis or an engine.

    The chassis and the engine are the legacy of the design engineers after years of learning, practice and huge expense.

    Now - please do not take offence - it appears that the web design industry comprises an enormous number of talented and learned people who could leave a legacy for those who do not want or cannot afford the time required to go through and share the same learning curve.

    Instead it appears that everyone is doing their own thing. Everyone is building custom panels and creating different colour schemes. Accessorizing - reflecting individuality etc.

    This is fine. Creative expression is the foundation of personal freedom and the path to fulfillment.

    My only plea is that someone- maybe a collaborative-take the time to leave a legacy.

    Let others stand on your shoulders.

    Create a functional chassis with an engine.

    A web template that has its strength in navigation and usability.

    After "looking" at all sorts of different solutions I realised that - "I want my web site to have much the same features as the Sitepoint website".
    I can hear the customers knocking on the design collaborative's landing page as I write!

    Many thanks for your patience.

    I am finished now.

    Cheers

    John

    P.S. Many thanks to all the others who have been so kind to post their comments.

    It has been appreciated.

  15. #15
    because you gotta have beer! firegryphon3207's Avatar
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    Hi,
    Perhaps there is something that you are looking for. It's a WYSWYG editor. It works very much like a WP. Requires you to know little to no code. But the downside is that the code they generate is frequently of poor quality and does not comply to web standards. And while some are worse than others, IMHO the entire lot is generally not up to snuff. And this isn't to crack on anyone who does use it. I use dreamweaver, but I never let it generate code. That being said, I think you should take it up with the software designers, I've sure seen plenty of complaints about the poor output here. Some, like Macromedia have taken that seriously and do at least try. Other's like Microsoft ignore the issue entirely. What can I say? :shrugs:

    And that's my $0.04.
    Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
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  16. #16
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    Hi

    Thanks again for your reply.

    Quote Originally Posted by firegryphon3207
    Hi,
    That being said, I think you should take it up with the software designers:
    I would not know where to start.

    If I am unable to express myself clearly enough for others to be interested, then I should learn to keep Mum.

    It surprises me that others don't see the need or benefit in what I have described.

    But - if that is the case then there is no market for the product which means that the software companies would not be interested.

    I was taling about a Sitepoint collaborative where designers and coders could bolt there expertise together in a usable template.

    Dream on John.

    Cheers

    John

  17. #17
    because you gotta have beer! firegryphon3207's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TestPilot
    then I should learn to keep Mum.
    Nah, don't do that! It's no fun
    Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
    -----------------------------------------------------
    tinyplanet.org <--a nifty spot.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TestPilot
    It follows that newbies like myself should not expect to be able to achieve this themselves.

    The result is that newbies become dependent upon designers which is not the best long term solution.

    To me it just makes sense that there would be some sort of template or package available.
    Just wondering..you are agenst hiring a programmer to give you the custom solution you want because you won't learn enough to do it yourself, but want an easy way out of having to learn it yourself by using a CMS or something similar. Seems contradictory?

  19. #19
    Ceci n'est pas Zoef Zoef's Avatar
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    Hey Testpilot, all of the things you want exist...

    On hotscripts there's hundreds of CMS scripts available, from "Ladas to Mercedesses", from "Wordstar to MS Word".

    However, to find one that meets your every single need excactly might indeed be difficult.

    Then again, if I want my Ford to be bright pink with yellow polka dots I'll have to spray it myself, or hire someone to do it for me.

    Also consider, cars have been made for over a hundred years and Word Processors for 25-30 years or so.

    Web CMS's 'for the common man' are maybe 5 years old or not even...

    Rik
    English tea - Italian coffee - Maltese wine - Belgian beer - French Cognac

  20. #20
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    Another point you're not taking into consideration is the vast difference in web sites. There couldn't be just one template, as in your Word example.

    Word gives you the ability to create a document, book, thesis, article etc. I doubt that any two documents are the same and how many copies of Word have been sold? How many documents have been created in each copy of Word? Millions?

    You are comparing Word to a Web Template. Word is comparable to Front Page or Dreamweaver or Notepad.

    A Document created in Word is comparable to a Web Site created in Front Page.

    So to say that there should some sort of universal template for building a web site is like saying there should be a universal template for building a document.


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