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  1. #1
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    Hello from a new member and advice sought

    Hello all,

    I have been handcoding websites in Notepad for about ten years now - all pretty vanilla stuff, nothing in the 'all singing all dancing' category, but trying to make sites which are (hopefully) user friendly. One is aimed at providing information for browsers/customers about our Art Gallery/Studio.

    I've come here seeking advice from knowledgeable web designers about how to update this website.

    First of all, we're a husband and wife team. Hubby is the artist and I do all the computing and IT stuff including the website. I think he does appreciate the work I put into the website (and the money saved by not spending a lot of money to have a fancy site one professionally done) but now he's wanting more functionality and I'm not sure how to go about providing it.

    The website itself was originally handcoded in about 2002 and one section hasn't changed because there is nothing new there. Parts of another section are pretty much archive to they haven't been updated in any major way. I've redone the index page, added some extra pages and spruced up others. I've also 'bolted on' a small separate website which I created for a month-long solo Exhibition he had in 2009 and an accompanying seven page 'blog' with photos. His latest Exhibition last autumn has a Visual Lightbox slideshow for customers to view. All in all, it's a bit of a ragbag of slightly disjointed sections and I really need to pull it all together properly (which means a lot of work). The older pages are coded using basic HTML but the newer ones employ CSS to format the text.

    The site is partly news and events (exhibitions, art holidays, biography etc) and partly a shop window or online brochure. He currently has some fifty giclee prints for sale and each one has its own page showing a large scale image together with a description, details and price. Then there are a similar number of lithograph prints, eight sets of cards, a perpetual calendar and postcards. We don't have online ordering but I try to make the images as accurate as possible (given the huge range of monitors etc that will be displaying them).

    With the increasing number of prints on offer (he completes a couple of dozen original paintings every year and most of them make it into print), everything is getting a bit unwieldy and he is worried that customers might be searching for something specific (blue + flowers) for example and not being able to find it easily.

    So he wants me to create a search engine just for the Gallery website which allows visitors to search paintings/prints by keywords and delivers relevant results so they don't have to go trawling through pages and pages to find the one that inspires them to buy. He's actually described a 'tickbox' option where a customer could tick several options and receive results based on that (beach+flower+summer) for example.

    At the moment, the website is hosted on our ISP's server space and the domain name (registered with a separate company) is masked to map it to a page on our webspace. I'm thinking it will be necessary to move it to a proper domain/hosting package to access the necessary back-end functionality that his requests demand.

    Could anyone point me in the right direction (using fairly simple terms) so that I can make a start on updating the website fairly soon? He says he doesn't mind TOO much how long it takes but I suspect he'd really like it done as soon as possible

    Thanks for any help you can give me,

    Armorel
    P.S. If anyone wants a link to the website so they can see what we have and what we need, please PM me and I'll send it to you.

  2. #2
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    TechnoBear's Avatar
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    Hi Armorel and welcome to the forums.

    An easy way to do the kind of thing you're after might be to use a ready-made gallery, such as Piwigo, Coppermine or Gallery, all of which offer built-in search facilities and a range of other features. They can all be integrated into an existing site.

    Many basic hosting packages have a feature like Fantastico or Softaculous, which allows you to install this kind of script easily, but you can also download and install them yourself.

    Hope that helps. Feel free to keep asking questions.

  3. #3
    Foozle Reducer ServerStorm's Avatar
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    @Armorel

    Yes welcome to the forums!

    Many artists use a tool like Wordpress to publish their material. There are a large number of free templates that don't necessarily have all the 'Bells and Whistles' but are reasonably full featured. The same things you and your Hubby are facing (in terms of the website) can in most cases be more easily implemented on a CMS/Blogging platform.

    Wordpress has pretty good documentation, many different gallery plugins and some powerful 'search' plugins. In addition, Wordpress does not to be presented as a blog, you can build a 'static' looking site without working too hard.

    As you have web experience it may not be too hard for you to take a template you find and customize the C.S.S., images ... in the template and create an environment that works for the Art.

    Wordpress is not the right fit for everyone. Many of the templates have poor markup and even worse accessibility, so you may not to be able to find a template that you can live with, but there are templates that do try to reach higher code quality, so you may find something that works for you.

    The other issue is hosting. There are many hosts that support Wordpress, but not all do. If you host your own website then it is a definite learning curve to setup php, mysql, and install Wordpress. Also a host may ask for more money to host a Wordpress site. We host sites and do not charge extra for Wordpress hosting. You can also use a free account hosted on wordpress.org but you don't have the professional touch of your own domain name.

    Just some thoughts.

    Regards,
    Steve
    ictus==""

  4. #4
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    Hi Armorel,

    Good team chemistry you.

    If you want more hands-on in technical coding, you can try out Joomla, open source content management system.

  5. #5
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    Hey Armorel,
    you must use wordpress, it's efficient & has tremendous possibilities.
    If you need any further help or need some good wordpress themes suiting your website niche, mail me, i would get you some.
    <snip>e-mail address deleted.</snip>
    Last edited by molona; Feb 7, 2012 at 10:11. Reason: deleting e-mail in order to save the poor guy a bunch of spam

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    Hello all,
    Hello to you too

    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    I have been handcoding websites in Notepad for about ten years now
    You mean Notepad++ for sure... else I would have to call you masochist and torture lover

    I mean that Notepad does the work but there's nothing like syntax highlighting, the possibility of creating your own macros and, of course, Zen coding. I'm sure that you forgot to add "++" when you wrote it

    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    all pretty vanilla stuff, nothing in the 'all singing all dancing' category, but trying to make sites which are (hopefully) user friendly.
    We all hope so... I mean that we all hop that you're sites are user friendly... mine always are

    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    One is aimed at providing information for browsers/customers about our Art Gallery/Studio.
    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    I've come here seeking advice from knowledgeable web designers about how to update this website.
    knowledgeable web designers? where? The most knowledgeable person that we have here is not a person but a bear... @TechnoBear ; has indeed proved to be smarter than the average bear... and than the average person (that's easy though)

    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    First of all, we're a husband and wife team. Hubby is the artist and I do all the computing and IT stuff including the website.
    Hmmm. Normally is the other way around
    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    I think he does appreciate the work I put into the website (and the money saved by not spending a lot of money to have a fancy site one professionally done) but now he's wanting more functionality and I'm not sure how to go about providing it.
    Men! they always ask for more *sigh*

    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    The website itself was originally handcoded in about 2002 and one section hasn't changed because there is nothing new there. Parts of another section are pretty much archive to they haven't been updated in any major way. I've redone the index page, added some extra pages and spruced up others. I've also 'bolted on' a small separate website which I created for a month-long solo Exhibition he had in 2009 and an accompanying seven page 'blog' with photos. His latest Exhibition last autumn has a Visual Lightbox slideshow for customers to view. All in all, it's a bit of a ragbag of slightly disjointed sections and I really need to pull it all together properly (which means a lot of work). The older pages are coded using basic HTML but the newer ones employ CSS to format the text.

    The site is partly news and events (exhibitions, art holidays, biography etc) and partly a shop window or online brochure. He currently has some fifty giclee prints for sale and each one has its own page showing a large scale image together with a description, details and price. Then there are a similar number of lithograph prints, eight sets of cards, a perpetual calendar and postcards. We don't have online ordering but I try to make the images as accurate as possible (given the huge range of monitors etc that will be displaying them).

    With the increasing number of prints on offer (he completes a couple of dozen original paintings every year and most of them make it into print), everything is getting a bit unwieldy and he is worried that customers might be searching for something specific (blue + flowers) for example and not being able to find it easily.

    So he wants me to create a search engine just for the Gallery website which allows visitors to search paintings/prints by keywords and delivers relevant results so they don't have to go trawling through pages and pages to find the one that inspires them to buy. He's actually described a 'tickbox' option where a customer could tick several options and receive results based on that (beach+flower+summer) for example.
    I know I'll sound a bit repetitive but I would suggest WordPress for this. Is Joomla worse than WP? No. Is Drupal or Magento worse than WP? No. But from all CMS's (and right now WordPress is much more than a blogging platfom) is probably the one easiest to use and with the shortest learning curve.

    Are there any other (blogging) platforms that you could do the job? Yep, certainly there are hundreds of them... but I would still go for WP.

    WP strong point is its modularity... and it is its weakness, I'm afraid. Themes can be bloated with lots of (un)necessary plugins but if you choose rightly your plugins and your theme, you'll have your site looking gorgeous, up and running in a breeze (ok, a few hours or days, depending on complexity)

    Also, there are so many people developing plugins, themes and everything you can think of for WP that you can be quite certain that you will find what you need. Other platforms don't have such a variety of already-done stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    At the moment, the website is hosted on our ISP's server space and the domain name (registered with a separate company) is masked to map it to a page on our webspace. I'm thinking it will be necessary to move it to a proper domain/hosting package to access the necessary back-end functionality that his requests demand.
    Do you mean that it is not a proper package because you bought the domain in one place and you host somewhere else? Changing your hosting or not will depend on the number of visitors you receive and the stress/work load your current server is receiving. You willk now that by measuring downloading times

    If you feel more comfortable by having everything with the same provider, then go ahead. But often buy the domain in one place and the hosting somewhere else, depending on prices, services provided, reliability and needs.

    If you're happy with the service, your page loads fast, and everything goes fine and dandy, I don't see the reason to change. Once you're successful, you may have to think about changing to a computer for your site only (dedicated server) or even the cloud (one or more computers that will look like one supercomputer in your panel)

    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    Could anyone point me in the right direction (using fairly simple terms) so that I can make a start on updating the website fairly soon? He says he doesn't mind TOO much how long it takes but I suspect he'd really like it done as soon as possible

    Thanks for any help you can give me,

    Armorel
    Everyone wants everything for yesterday

    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    P.S. If anyone wants a link to the website so they can see what we have and what we need, please PM me and I'll send it to you.
    Since you have asked for my permission, I will kindly and generously allow you to put your link if necessary. In this particular case it isn't essential because you're problem is our problem (no, we're not such a good friends right now... I don't mean that your problem is really mine, only that I've already faced the same problem )
    Last edited by molona; Feb 7, 2012 at 13:03.

  7. #7
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    TechnoBear's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by molona View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Armorel View Post
    First of all, we're a husband and wife team. Hubby is the artist and I do all the computing and IT stuff including the website.
    Hmmm. Normally is the other way around.
    Actually, that's exactly how I got into web design - my artist husband needed a website and couldn't afford to pay anyone to do it. "You could learn how to do that - I bet you'd be good at it" he said - and I fell for it.

  8. #8
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    molona's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by TechnoBear View Post
    Off Topic:

    Actually, that's exactly how I got into web design - my artist husband needed a website and couldn't afford to pay anyone to do it. "You could learn how to do that - I bet you'd be good at it" he said - and I fell for it.


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