General Question

nikipedia's avatar

Do you have advice for a first-time webpage builder?

Asked by nikipedia (27526points) August 7th, 2009

I foolishly volunteered to build a webpage for the lab I work in. I built one for my last lab using Dreamweaver and a template provided by the department. This time around, I have to start from scratch.

I am planning to use Komodo to write it in XHTML with CSS. (The internet tells me this is the correct way to do these things.) Do you guys have any general advice regarding either programming or design? The closest I have ever come to designing anything is painting one wall in my bedroom and I don’t really know where to start with this.

What are some common mistakes beginners make, and how can I avoid them? Are there any tutorials you would recommend, again on either programming or design? So far I have been using


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8 Answers

erichw1504's avatar

w3schools is a great website to help teach you programming and web pages building. I would visit web design blogs for inspiration. For example:

If you have any more specific questions you can always ask me. I’ve built a few websites in my day.

jrpowell's avatar

Is it just static pages that display information? Or are they dynamic?

Do some drawings on paper and take a picture of that. Send it my way and I will help turn that into HTML and CSS.

edit :: And how long do you have? If it is open ended I would buy a good book and take your time with TextMate and CSSEdit. If you need it done ASAP I would take a different route.

dynamicduo's avatar

My advice to build webpages (not design them, but to build them) is to reuse, reuse, reuse. Start with a fully valid base CSS template such as one from this site. Strip out all their words (put dud text like “left side bar”) but leave the structure the same. Then you can pop in your elements that you need.

You won’t learn how to design websites, but it is very much possible for a noob who’s bitten off more then they can chew to put out a basic website by reusing content. You don’t have time to learn how to make it perfect (which means you can use regular HTML, the X in HTML means it uses a more rigid tag structure), so you have to rely on other people to help you here. Using validated templates like this can help a lot.

If you want you can even take it a full other step and find a fully completed template that you can use for free. Here’s one site, find a design you enjoy, download it, and you can pick it all apart in Dreamweaver and add your own content where you need it. As long as you keep in the nice footer which usually includes a link to the designer’s site, it’s free, and a great way to learn. Even if you want to design your own based on the blank templates in my first link, looking at pages from the second really does help you understand how to do it.

There are far too many beginner mistakes to list out in this endless box, so instead I recommend you take a stab at it, show us, and we can offer you advice. Or keep posting here with questions and we can give you feedback and more help.

Tell us more about the site, what its needs are, what you envision it doing and looking like.

mirza's avatar

Ditch Komodo. Go for coda or the coda+css edit combo for a better idea.
10 Common mistakes web designer’s make.

mirza's avatar

Totally forgot something important – Make lots of backups
Like you could use time-machine if you have it. If you dont, you can keep backups the old school way – just like zip the file after major update and rename it as V1, V2, etc. This way you can track revisions.

Also like if you get stuck with css bugs, don’t give up. Ask people. Ask fluther or get help on certain css forums

nikipedia's avatar

@erichw1504: Thanks, those are awesome!

@johnpowell: Yes, static. They would only need to be updated when someone graduates, we publish a paper, etc. I can probably take as long as I’d like, but in Ideal Land I’d have a rough draft by next week. I’m not entirely sure what I want it to look like—I guess this is where I’m getting stuck at the moment. I want it to be polished and professional but not boring, and I want it to be similar to other labs in the department without looking like I’ve copied their design. I’ll keep working on it and send you some ideas…

@dynamicduo: Thanks, those templates are awesome, and reassuring…they look not unlike what I had envisioned.

@mirza: The main appeal of Komodo is that it’s free. Good advice though. Maybe this is a good excuse to get Time Machine up and running.

jrpowell's avatar

Is this for a .edu site? If so you need to take accessibility into the equation. For example all your images need ALT tags.

I worked doing some web stuff on a college website and this nailed me. I almost got fired. But I know the tricks now. I can look over things for you.

nikipedia's avatar

Yeah, but it’s just for my lab. No one seems to care if we even have a website so I can’t imagine they’d get their panties in a bunch if it wasn’t a very good one.

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