Sunday, July 8, 2007

Interesting Challenge

This seemed like a simple task when I started: create a brochure ware website with no cost or minimal cost. This does not include hosting.

I can hear you all saying "whats the the big deal?". So my further condition was that I wanted not to call on the expertise of a Web developer and I did not wish to read any book to get this task done.

My approach was to find some "free" templates, do some simple editing and I would be there?

The first part of the plan was 50% successful. After some searching it is easy to find many free templates. The issue I struggled with was that these were "ok", not fantastic, and there are legal conditions which means that you need to mention the template company name on the site. IMHO the value of using the templates does not out weigh having to mention the template company? Not deterred, I looked at some of the commercial templates (theoretically purchase going on here). I found much better templates giving more functionality and no legal constraints.

My next task I thought would be easy - add content and make some small edits to the html/css. I should mention that I really wanted to avoid anything that looked like code. This is the 21st century - why should I need to go deep into the css or html. For example, creating a blog is simply a matter of making some wizard driven choices. After some searching I found 2 tools that look really interesting:
  • Arachnophilia This is "freeware" which is a powerful programming editor with some special HTML production and editing features. With it, you can:
    • Create HTML pages using a suite of powerful tools.
    • Upload your Web site to your Internet service provider using Arachnophilia's built-in FTP service.
    • Fully customize Arachnophilia's menus, toolbars and keyboard commands. Arachnophilia lets you create or remove any commands, toolbars, or menus you want to.
    • Beautify, and analyze the structure of, your Web pages, so they will be more likely to be error-free and work correctly with more browsers.
    • Create working environments for many kinds of programming tasks using Arachnophilia's fully customizable menus and toolbars.
  • Nvu A complete Web Authoring System for Linux desktop users as well as Microsoft Windows and Macintosh users to rival programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver. Nvu (which stands for "new view") makes managing a web site a snap. Now anyone can create web pages and manage a website with no technical expertise or knowledge of HTML.
Both these tools are exciting and I will be using both these tools in the future.

My final comment to answer "Why not use a WCM product?". The answer is that the purpose is to create a short term mini website that will perhaps have WCM added later or even be thrown away. WCM would have increased the development time and not added value in this instance.

Thanks for reading - any comments or advice will be gratefully received.