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5:15 am on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I currently administer a network for a small business. The owner has requested that I take over the maintenance of his existing web site. The website was created using FrontPage. I don't have any experience with web design or maintenance, but the owner is willing to accept a period of time for me to learn. The owner will be buying the software for this. I would like to use Dreamweaver8 if possible. The existing website has about 10 pages total including an order and email request link. I would be interested in any feed back about my latest opportunity. I've always wanted to learn website design and publishing, and don't want to pass up the opportunity to acquire the pricey software as well as real world experience. Please answer the following questions: 1) What software should I learn? 2) Do I have to use FrontPage to work on this site? 3)What information do I need to request from the current webhost in order to download the site?
6:49 am on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to WebmasterWorld!

You can get a lot of different opinions in answer to your questions and none (or not many <grin>) would be wrong.

  1. I think Dreamweaver is fine. I personally don't like Frontpage but then again I haven't used it in many years; it may have matured. I like DW because it generates pretty clean HTML. I used an older version of it, then upgraded to MX but didn't like it - I went back to the older version.
  2. It's my understanding that it can be a bit of a challenge to convert away from Frontpage, but that information may be as dated as my opinion of the software.
  3. You need the username and password, then you'll need to configure the software to access the web space.

My opinion is go the Dreamweaver route and convert it away from Frontpage. Learn HTML and CSS though; use DW as a convenience tool. There's no substitute for being able to roll up your shirt sleeves and muck around in the tags - and it's just too easy to learn to have any excuse not to.

What you can even do is download apache, install it on your home machine, and start experimenting. I find having a local test system invaluable.

It's a great opportunity; definitely jump on it. 10 pages shouldn't be too hard to manage.

11:34 am on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The debate between MS FrontPage and other editors is one that's here to stay. To be honest use what you are comfortable with.

You should use the learning time to get to grips with your editing software, also get used to using FTP (software for movilg files from your PC to the web host).

This is also a great time to make changes and improvements to the website. Get ideas and suggestions for the company as to what changes they require.

My main concern is you have no experience of web development and the company have asked you do take on the development of the company website.

Main suggestion, get reading :)


12:14 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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CSS can be difficult to learn but I would recommend Dreamweaver 8 (latest version) for its CSS support. If I were you I would redevelop the site in Dreamweaver using the existing content. If it's only ten pages this should not be too difficult.

If it's important that the site ranks in the search engines you better learn at least the basics of SEO.

1:03 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I don't have any experience with web design or maintenance... I would like to use Dreamweaver8 if possible.


In the first instance you should learn HTML, that's what web pages are ultimately composed of (even when generated by PHP &c.)

The appearance of the HTML can be modified by using CSS, from a simple suggestion to the browser to display bold text in blue, to ludicrous suggestions of positioning blocks of the document in silly places around the viewport (which rarely work properly).

I'd visit the local library and seek out some books on HTML, I'm probably not allowed to recommend any particular titles, but a well respected publisher of technical computer books does a good "definitive guide" to HTML <g>


1:57 pm on Mar 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'll agree with Matt, even a basic knowledge of HTML would go a very long way, then look up some free templates for web sites online and look at the code and what they've done to get the basics of CSS.

I can also suggest a series of books, 'Visual Quickstart Guide', they have books on just about every aspect of web programming, might I suggest starting out with either a strict HTML book, or the one on HTML, XHTML, & CSS. Start one at a time and before you know it you'll read the PHP*MySQL book and will end up making your boss quite the database application!

These books are all available online (Amazon) plus you will most likely be able to find them in your neighborhood Borders / Barnes and Nobles etc..

Not only are these books great, they tend to run $15-$30 each and get to the point as opposed to others that run $30+ and have a lot of stuff in them you'll never use.

8:57 am on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If you're looking for a WYSIWYG editor the FrontPage line is no longer being developed by Microsoft. You should look at the new Expression Web [microsoft.com] tool. It beats both DW and FP. ;)
10:15 am on Mar 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If time is pressing, start with Dreamweaver or Frontpage 2003 (my tool of choice); for FP, all you need to get started is knowlege to use word or powerpoint and off we go.

At the same time, teach yourself HTML and a bit of CSS as well as the basics of image editing. No WYSIWYG editor that I've seen can replace manual control of the code. That requires some deeper understanding on a long run.

11:10 am on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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You don't have to use a WYSIWYG editor, you know. I have been running a website for 11 years and it now has 2,500 pages and gets 4,000 visits a day, and I have never used a WYSIWYG program.

I use AceHTML. It puts the tags into the code for you, but you can see what is going on in the code. Then test it in your browser and change it if it's not what you wanted. You quickly learn by trial and error. But learn the basics of HTML first.

If you only ever use Dreamweaver etc. and never learn HTML, it is like flying a plane without understanding anything about aviation or aerodynamics. You may also be tempted to shove in a load of gimmicky stuff you don't need, just because you easily can. I'm sure that's why there are so many badly conceived, user-hostile, bloated websites out there.


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