My first site: tips, tricks, resources - help!


I’m just coming back to web design after a long (say – 10 year!) hiatus. I have a small project to undertake to ease me back into it – designing / developing a small website for a local football team. I envisage the site having 3 or 4 pages where the content remains largely static. But I also want some dynamic areas such as an image gallery and a forum. And I also need to be able to use the homepage to accommodate News updates – so need this page to accommodate updated news stories and an archive to old ones – like a blog.

Now, I’d like to be as hands on as possible, without losing sight of the fact that I have a steep learning curve. For this reason, I would like to use basic tools such as Notepad++ rather than Dreamweaver and I want to steer clear or Wordpress (even though WP will probably give me everything I need to create a great site).

I found a template I’d like to use here:

So, no specific questions really; just wondering if anyone has any general tips or can see any easy pitfalls I’m about to fall into.


Hi Dom. Welcome to the forums. :slight_smile:

My only warning would be that, if you build this as a static site, it will increasingly be a pain to keep everything updated, although it’s entirely possible to do it statically. I would recommend setting up a CMS for this. There are plenty out there other than WordPress.

thank you Ralph.

I think you’re right. My immediate dilemma is that I want to make the publishing and management of changing content as slick as possible, whilst maintaining a repository of old content that can be accessed / re-published as required. But I also want to learn the skills of development, so I am wary of such tools as Wordpress which is likely to create a confusing structure for someone who wishes to maintain ultimate control of the site.

I wonder if you know of any lightweight CMS tools which might be better? Or perhaps using Wordpress will not be a barrier to my learning.

It won’t be hard to understand what your CMS is doing if you learn about that side of things, I’m sure. and then you aren’t reinventing the wheel. These systems basically put your content into a database and pull it out again, just as you would do if you were building this from scratch.

SitePoint does have a nice book on how to do this yourself (PHP Novice to Ninja) but I’d still recommend a CMS. There are lots of equally good ones out there. The one I’m familiar with is ExpressionEngine, but is has a price tag. A similar free one is MODx. Another good one is Silverstripe, and you kind of need to understand its basic unlerlying functionality to make a site with it anyway.

There are also some great little CMSes like Perch and Pulse.

Other bigger ones worth a look include Drupal, CMSMadeSimple, Concrete5 and Textpattern.

Thanks Ralph. Pulse looks like a good option.

Out of interest, is there a tool you could recommend for editing HTML/CSS/PHP/Jscript? I don’t necessarily want a heavy duty WYSIWYG that will hinder understanding, but feel I could do with something that indents and does some code completion. I have Notepad++ which is doing for now.

I also need to have a think about backing up / code repositories.

I use Bluefish (on Linux, but it’s available for other OSs, too) and I’m very happy with it. It’s free, so if you try it and don’t like it, you haven’t lost anything. :slight_smile: