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1: Introductory Remarks

In an age of facebook and blogs, who needs a web site when you can find ready-made content containers everywhere? Well, a web site is different: you have the control over its continued existence, over its layout, over its content - it may be more expensive, and initially more of a hassle to set up, but once you've learned how to do it, it will be much easier to maintain. The result will look more individual and more professional (depending on your design choices, of course) than had you reformatted the umpteenth blog template.

You could, of course, just buy a fancy web design program and/or use content management systems. In my opinion, though, these systems are usually sluggish, and the devil is in the details. If you invest some time into learning how to build your web site yourself, you can save costs - and will have learned something in the process that you can use over and over again. In the end, HTML/CSS is just as easy as using a word processor (unless you use that just as a digital typewriter, of course).

December 6th, 2009

2: Useful Programs

free programs to edit and maintain your web site:

  • Editpad:
    The Lite version is freeware and fully functional. The full version may become useful once you want to use the program more intensely. After installing the program, set it to be your default HTML editor in Internet Explorer (yes, IE is easier for that, because you can use the edit button quite comfortably.) For Firefox, you will need to configure the Launchy plugin).

  • WinSCP:
    You will have a local version of your web site on your computer. To upload it to your server, use a program like WinSCP, which will probably have to be set to FTP (File Transfer Protocol) mode. You can save your session so that uploading your web site becomes just as easy as copying files onto a jump drive.

3: Some Hints and Suggestions


One of the drawbacks of HTML is that the web browser is compiler and display program in one. You may want to find a debugger to make sure your source code is correct. In practice, however, it helps if you test your web site on a broad range of web browsers (IE, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Lynx, cell phone). One of the most rigid browsers to test it on is the old Netscape Communicator 4.5, which should be available on the web. If it displays there, it will display anywhere (though CSS formatting may not work completely there).


To create your graphics, it is usually enough to use PowerPoint as a vector graphics program (yes, it can do much more than slide shows), then produce a screenshot of the graphic (using the "Print Screen" key) and copy the thusly created contents of the Clipboard into Adobe Photoshop Elements, where you can edit it further. This may sound like an awkward detour, but it is actually rather comfortable. Almost all of the graphics on this very web site here have been created this way.

Photoshop (both Elements and the "real" thing) contain a tool to save images for web use. This greatly reduces the file size and helps your web pages to load quicker. Use gif graphics for anything containing text or thin lines, and jpg for photographs and the like.

December 6th, 2009

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