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Knuckles

How to build a Website

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I just got tasked with building a website for our company. It will be picture heavy. I need to show a bunch of radio types/models and several coverage maps. Will probably have several sub-pages.

 

Depending on how hard it is, I want to have a checklist of various radios and system requirements. So the customer can check which options/requirements suit them and it will sort out relevant radio systems according to what the customer selected.

 

Bad part is I have no idea how to do this. We have a domain name already but not sure it includes web hosting, though our ISP might do that.

 

I hoping you guys can help me out and offer any advice you have. We probably won't have someone make it for us since the website will be updated weekly so I'll have to know how to build/edit it anyways. So any helpful websites,software, books, personal experience etc would be great

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Well yes, you could do everything yourself. Write some HTML, add some CSS and so forth. Then you will discover that you would benefit from using JAVASCRIPT or PHP or DATABASEs. Sooner or later you might get overwhelmed by what you can do, can't do and also the time it takes.

 

So, since what you describe seems rather simple - things tend to get complicated all by themselves - I'd suggest you use some of the work that's already been done many times by other people and use a CMS (content management system) like TYPO3 or many others. However, this approach would maybe not address all your wishes and probably not work exactly as you'd like, but it would be way easier (and earlier) to use.

 

It's somewhat like the difference between buying a car and building a car. If you want, I can of course elaborate on some points.

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Safest bet is usually Wordpress Knuckles. Which is a CMS as rm300 mentioned. :) I wouldn't recommend creating a site from scratch as a first timer. Way easier to learn from something already made. Important factors are what the purpose of the site is, possible future needs, level of user freindliness required. If it were purely informative you could probably go with a wiki but since you mention "customers" it gets me thinking the site may need to handle transactions in the future which Wordpress has a large focus on. It's free. I believe you could even start one with free hosting from their website. If you're after hosting though I believe Namecheap is running a special. We buy all our domains from them. Never tried their hosting because they don't offer what we need but for first timers it's fine for a year or two. Maybe even forever. For a site with your needs Just about any hoster could fulfill what you need since your site will not be focused on social which means minimal traffic. Namecheap provides a tool called Softaculous that will install Wordpress for you as well as many other popular CMS apps free with their hosting plans. Seems they start at about 12 bucks for the first year and then about 40 bucks for following years. Changing hosters is risk free so no need to worry about locking yourself in with a hoster in case you find a better deal in the future.

So Wordpress on their free servers would be my recommendation. If you prefer to own your hosting then Namecheap. Lot's of free skins for Wordpress and tons of documentation. There's even a book!
WordPress For Dummies

 

As for your ISP I "think" they generally charge quite a bit more than pure hosting companies online...

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Thank guys :)

 

Ya I definitely do not want to code this thing from scratch...even if I knew what I was doing, I simply do not have the time needed. So Wordpress sounds like something we would be interested in.

 

I don't think we will have any customers will buy directly from our site...we'll probably have pricing and manufacturer deals on the page but we're thinking more on the line of a price range. We want most of the info there so they can get a rough idea of how much it will cost but there are so many variables

 

Is it a tax-exempt customer ? (many town/state departments are)

Programming radios to suit the customer can be quite complex/involved (example: it took me 8 hours to program 3 radios for a fire dept once) so programming fees can vary wildly. Some take hours, some take less than a minute.

 

Are they looking for a couple radios or need a whole system design? Do they need tower space/rental? Need internet or phone lines?

 

Etc etc

 

Mostly it will be all the radios and services we offer and current rates. And of course contact info. So I would say the site will be more informational and less interactive.

 

We do have a lot of semi-obsolete and/or used equipment we are looking to sell. But right now we're thinking of using EBay for that and keep it separate from our website. We would rather have our website focus on new products and services and not be known for selling 2nd hand stuff.

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Knuckles, this is a good project, and I can see you getting addicted to it :P I don't know how many people actually write code for sites these days, I mean like from the ground up...it's a lot of work, tenuous dreary stuff.

For example, on our sites, we mostly used plug n' play software... best we could find, but it could out that whole writing part, and got us to work with our community (part we liked) and find content.

Media Wiki...best wiki software in the world. Safe, robust, free... could this work for you? As well, Wikia runs the best inerations of Media software that anyone can just put all there stuff into and run it from there.

Maybe this could work?

As well, nicholas James, who created the Sacred 3 site

http://www.sacred3.org

used Weebly

http://www.weebly.com/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=footer&utm_campaign=3

Which is super easy, again robust and free!

:)

 

gogo

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Well here's their theme list. Lots are free but paying 20 bucks for a theme I feel is fair too. Easy to get a quick pro look using the themes. Ideally, you'll want a "responsive" theme. Responsive meaning the website/theme will fit any media interface from pc to mobile.

http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/sort/newest.

Wordpress has a built in function that allows you to browse and install themes directly from within the admin controls of Wordpress as opposed to having to download, upload and then install a theme like some other software I know. *cough* our forum *cough!*

 

On a functional level there are lots of software that could provide you a perfectly informative site but there are only a handful that can provide a very professional look with minimal work.

 

T get a better idea of your options out there you could check Softaculous' top ten list of CMS's. Softaculous is an auto installer that comes with most hosting packages. It there to make installing forums, blogs and the rest easy to start. It's in their interest to provide easy installation of the most popular softwares and from what I can tell they only have free solutions listed.

http://www.softaculous.com/softaculous/apps

 

I had fogotten about Softaculous but now that I'm thinking of it... I may have recommended Drupal or Joomla instead of Wordpress. Wordpress is firstly a blog software that can be adapted to suit pretty much any need whereas the other two are more portal cms's. I had done quite a lot of reading on these three in the past and had decided that Drupal would have been a great choice for a project I wanted to try that was along the same basis as what you need. A relatively static site with occasional minor updates. So! I would recommend some quick reading on those three choices, then write their names on pieces of paper, and pull one from a hat, hehe. All three have excellent world community support which means they all have tons of plugins and themes being genereated by their respective communities. Most of which are free.

 

Good luck! Aaaaah ha ha ha ha ha! *lightening & thunder*

 

But do keep us updated. :)

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How serious is it supposed to be? If you go with something like wordpress, it could work, but it would look kinda unprofessional.

 

Normally it's delegated to a designer/admin who does that sort of work for you.

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What's interesting also is that a lot of hotel, boutique and store web sites buy word press hotel themes, which are gorgeous, slick, very professional.

:)

 

gogo

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This has to look very professional...a lot of Town, State, Federal and Home Security departments will be viewing this along with the major utilities and regular private/public companies....no pressure huh lol. We work off a lot of state/federal bids which means our prices are fixed...so the website has to be pretty good to catch their attention. We are in direct competition with several other radio shops for their business.

 

Luckily I've looked at competitors' websites and they are nothing special...Mostly bare-bone functionality. I had hoped we'd out-source it and have a company build it for us but the boss likes everything done in-house. Which means it falls on to me to do. I have very limited experience with websites but that is still more than everyone else.

 

I would much rather use an existing template/website building software. Actually I'll have to...I know just enough to know this is way out of my ability/knowledge to do from scratch. Even if I wanted to learn it, way too busy to even think of trying.

 

For right now my main goal is to setup hosting, buy whatever software I need to build it and get a cover page built just so it's out there. Now I'm also wondering on companies that help you get to the top of the list when someone Googles you. No good having a spiffy website if every search lands us 5+ pages deep. And again I have no idea how to go about that or who/what to contact for that.

 

Sure this will be a slow and painful process for me. I really know nothing about this at all. So the help you guys have given already and sure to give in the future will be a tremendous help for me. And just want to say, that without your help I won't be able to do this. So thank you guys for all the info now and in the future (even if I don't always say it-you guys are awesome :D)

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Our hoster is amazing

MDD Hosting, the owner's name is Mike

he's reputable, reliable, and not full of fakery like a lot of other hosters who say they give you "unlimited" bandwidth and hard drive for a buck a month... yeah right

Mike tells you exactly what you're getting for your money, the kind of processing you get, and the hard drive space.

For now, you'll really need no more than shared hosting, something like that from MDD Hosting would go about :

 

http://www.mddhosting.com/hosting.php

You'll have to buy your domain, get it from name cheap, we get it from there for years now, they are cheap, the website is clean, no ads, and they are reputable

I'd search out word press templates, they do most of the world's web sites now as well, and they make a lot of business web sites now for peeps not having 10 thousand dollars to pay a web designer for

 

And if yer feeling strong with learning, drupal or joomla...but seriously, word press is so ubiqutious, there are thousands and thousands of templates, and support sites...

 

:)

 

gogo

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The thing about professional-looking websites is that there can be a lot of issues that are not obvious unless you know about them beforehand. It's not just about look, but functionality as well. A company has different needs than a personal website or a blog.

 

I'm thinking that you could get most of the basics done yourself, then have someone look at it properly. You should probably start thinking about paying for it out of your own pocket. The joy of being "volunteered" :)

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Thanks for the info guys....as usual this project will be delayed for a bit as I've got other projects that need to be done sooner....I am trying to convince my boss to have it done by a web designer....the fact I'm too busy to do it should help...otherwise I don't see me touching this for several months...and if I end up doing it I can guarantee I'll be posting/pleading/begging for help about 1.243475 seconds after starting it :P

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Thanks for the info guys....as usual this project will be delayed for a bit as I've got other projects that need to be done sooner....I am trying to convince my boss to have it done by a web designer....the fact I'm too busy to do it should help...otherwise I don't see me touching this for several months...and if I end up doing it I can guarantee I'll be posting/pleading/begging for help about 1.243475 seconds after starting it :P

We're always here!

Yah, site building is a lot of work, not only with the execution, but with all the research going into it to find out what you'll need and what you'll need to build it with.

:)

 

gogo

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