I’m pretty brand new at coding and building webstuff (one finished project of 7 pages only!), but, for my next trick, I have to redesign and update this:
DIAL South Worcestershire
for obvious reasons!
Mainly the site provides information to people with disabilities (hence the sweet left hand frame!) with each of those pages providing a list of relevant services.
I’ve been thinking that if I could use SQL to store information on each service or organisation listed then this would provide a way to display entries in a uniform way and make the site much more manageable in general. I also want to add a ‘News’ page that allows blog entries to keep things fresh, so I figure that this could make use of SQL also?!
My question is how would I go about learning to do this? For reference, I flunked a class on MS Access about ten years ago and have recently spent about three hours relearning the basics, so, yeah, be gentle!
But seriously, I’m looking to develop my web skills as much as possible and this seems like the perfect project to learn and use SQL on, so any and all suggestions would be awesome!
I think you are going too fast and there are other areas you should be concentrating on.
Firstly, your site is primarily for people with disabilities therefore you should ensure that the pages conform to the Web Accessibility Initiative Guildlines (WAI). This will ensure that your pages are viewable by the widest audience possible for example blind or partial sighted people.
Secondly, keep the content separate from the styling. Use CSS with the styling in a separate file.
Thirdly, lose the frame. I know it gives you the “sweet left hand frame” but it is easily to satisfy WAI without them. Just think of the web page as being made up of different areas (Header, left column, content column). For all your web pages the header and left column will be the same only the content will change). Keep a template file containing the header and left column and a place holder for the content then put the page content as required.
To use a database you need a server side scripting language to access the database to extract the required information and then form the html to be output. So you must understand not just databases but a scripting language as well. (The database is probably the easier of the two).
Instead, get a clear sense of the hierarchy of you site. So you have
Home > Service > News Items > News item n
Home > Service > Blog Entries > Blog entry n
Use a word processor table to reflect the hierarchy. Then build the content from that table. Manually at first, maybe with VBA later. Down the road you can move to a database and finally the scenario you first requested.
Step by step you might get there and your site will be better for it.
Best of luck with you endeavours.
Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate your thoughts and time.
I had planned to implement some features specific to the audience but haven’t looked them up as yet so will have a look for the WAI - thanks for the heads up
On your 2nd and 3rd points - this is what I will be doing - the site I linked to is as it exists in it’s current form having been built by someone previous to me. My job is to redesign it and modernise it somewhat, given the limited skills I have!
If it’s any indication of my abilities, this is the first site that I’ve just built:
Portrait and Wedding Photography from the West Midlands - by Joseph Peter Singh
I know that my CSS/HTML skills are rudimentary and require some sharpening but I think I learn best by diving in and then going over things a few times until I’ve got it right. That said, I think your advice is probably pretty good - doing a simple build in CSS/HTML only and then rebuilding to implement the database side of things. I think this will give me a better understanding of how to organise all the information on the site and help me to finalise design aspects without the added pressure of a seriously buggy database!
I’d still love to hear anyones suggestions on a good introduction to creating and implementing SQL databases for the web though!
Clearly you are not on the first rung of the ladder.
I agree learn a technology while actually doing a real life project can be the best way.
I notice that site point have a book that might be the type you are after.
Build Your Own Database Driven Web Site Using PHP & MySQL, Fourth Edition
Thanks Phillip - the book looks pretty good, plus I notice that there are tutorials and lessons hosted here on Sitepoint - a case of not seeing the wood for the trees on my part!