Newbie Information - How to get started making a site
I use Microsoft products in the main and so this site deals with what I use or recommend, this is no reflection on other products, I talk about what I use or like and give my ideas and experiences, if your like minded read on.
When your new to the Internet everything seems overwhelming, you don't know how to do anything and if you did you have forgotten how, you don't know where to search and if you do find a search site you don't know what do when you get there. There is just to much information and not enough!
Well AccessFP aims to help you get started on your site with the minimum of fuss. The software I favour is of course FrontPage which is what the site is about. Here in the newbie pages and in Web Tools section. AccessFP aims to guide you through your first web page or site without you having to go out there and find what you need, everything should be available via links from this site. When it comes to the actual designing of your site i.e. what background should you use, how do you put in a background, etc etc, that is what the rest of the site is for.
Now if you are viewing this site on a friends machine or via your local library or internet cafe, you are thinking is it worth it, how much will cost me? Well I can tell you now it IS worth it. You can get immense enjoyment from creating your own homepage, or even if you own a small business and can not really afford to splash out on expensive web designers and all that goes with it. You CAN make a presence on the net and other than paying for your computer and modem you can be online now for a decent price.
So here you get the benefit of my learning experience. I have been on the net four years this November 2001 and have used FrontPage. If you want to know what I have learnt read on!
Amended Eight years it's now 2005.
The first item on your Freebie shopping list is an ISP:
Apart from a computer and modem (which is a whole different ball game and I will presume you have them) what you need is a ISP (Internet Service Provider) An ISP is what connects you to the net. "There are so MANY out there" you cry.
For a Free FrontPage Extensions ISP Welshnet http://www.welshnet.co.uk has had some good reports. If you already have an ISP but they do not support FrontPage extensions please check my FrontPage Free hosts pages.
However, the USA can now join us in free ISP's with NetZero it's only available in certain areas of the US at the moment, but they're expanding operations steadily. The only real downfall is having to put up with advertisements on your screen (the higher resolution you have, the less intrusive they'll be).
This year Flat rate usage has become available, there are quite a few packages out there, when your choosing keep in mind not only the monthly price but the bandwidth and backup (tech support) that will be available.
Now you build your web page and use your (Anywhere from 5 - 30) mbs of web space that came with your account. If like me you have gone out and bought FP98 or FP2k or FP02 you should follow the tutorials for this. Or if you just want to try out the goodies and see if the net is for you, using FrontPage Express will do for now. In which case follow the tutorials for that.
On the Web Tools page you will find links to sites where you can pick up free counters, guestbooks, banners, etc.
If your site is a 'homepage', this is usually about yourself and your family, stuff no one but the grandparents down under will be interested in. However, making a homepage is a good way to get all the things that should NOT go on a website out of your system. This will probably include things like. Animated GIFs, Flashing or scrolling text (even worst in the bar at the bottom of the screen, which should be kept clear for the information that pops up there, which can prove very useful at times).
Avoid these, it slows down net access to pages, and looks like you're showing off. If you can't squeeze the text onto the page itself, then redesign it or don't say it. What else? Oh, yes patterned and brightly coloured background, where the text cannot be made out. ugh! However, by blurring the background, you can make text more readable over complex backgrounds. Black backgrounds should not be used for business sites either! Think! If someone wants to print out information from your site do they really want to print out a black or dark background too?
Loads of banners or advertisements are a turn off too. Also in my opinion webrings with large graphics, causing longer download times, I know you have not reached the stage of making a WebRing but if and when you do. Make your graphics small if you must have them. This applies to all other graphics too. If you have more than two graphics consider making a thumbnail of them. See FrontPage Tips - 1 to find out how to make them.
If your thinking about designing a web page or already have done so, then visit Web Pages that suck. Here you'll see the things to avoid when making your Web page such as huge graphics and scrolling text on the status bar. And the best part is you can see examples of very bad Web pages.
Web Pages that suck
Go look for a demo! You can get a review here and some free downloads!
Speaking of graphics Web Tools carries a list of Images/graphics help (under that heading).
Too many graphics
There is no need to mess up your pages with mounds and mounds of graphics. Text can always to the job much more elegantly.
Save download times
You can take advantage of a browser's cache to speed up downloading graphics. Use the same image across multiple pages - once it is downloaded on one page, any other pages using that same image from the same location on the server will pull the image from the cache rather than the server.
Work the Alt tag
Some people don't want to download images, or can't. so make sure you use the ALT tag to its fullest - it provides a textual clue as to the page design and what the missing image is. Also, ALT tags download first, allowing users to see what image is expected before it arrives. Add an image tag: <IMG SRC="tinapic.gif ALT="A picture of me"> Still better include width and height. Though don't be tempted to scale images using the height and width attributes you will end up sending too large an image than is necessary. Better to open it up in an image editing application and crop or scale it to fit there. Also the browser will slow down if it has to scale an image at the client end. Also if the graphic is linked to an URL make sure you include border="0" after the GIF or jpeg so a border will not appear around the picture.
Gif's four you
Did you know that many web servers have a four GIF limit - they call up four GIF's at a time when serving pages. Use this to make your pages load much faster and relieve server burden by limiting yourself to four GIFs per page. Also, less is more anyway.
The Button Trick
The button trick was first put forward by JimWORLD, however you don't have to limit this neat little trick to buttons. Whenever you have a graphic all you have to do is:
Open up the graphic of choice in your Image Editor, find out the width and height of your graphic, save the graphic in the image folder of your web.
On the page where you want the image to appear make a table size 1 row 1 column with border size, cell padding and cell spacing set to '0'. Specify the width to match the graphic say 150 pixels width. Next click in the table, right click and select 'cell properties' specify the width to the size of your graphic in our example this is 150 pixels and the height of our example graphic is also 150 pixels. Now right click again in the table and select 'cell properties' under 'Background' | 'background picture' tick the box and enter the path to your graphic for example this will be images/picture.gif if you are not sure of the path click on 'browse' and navigate to where your graphic will be which should be in the images folder of the web you are working in, because you saved it there earlier.
The pictures tile so that is why you match the cell size exactly to the graphic, if you want a border around the picture you can make this in your image editor and then you can widen the table slightly by positioning the cursor over the dotted table line in Normal view and when a horizontal arrow appears pull the line as far as you want it to go.
The graphic will now be the background of the table or cell and so the download time is not increased by much 1 second if that much. However, now you need to insert an alt tag and this cannot be done if you don't have a graphic to attach it to. There are ways around this.
1 Use a transparent gif to cover the size of the table so that your graphic can show through. See example below. You can download this page to see how it works and play about with it.
2 Use 'D tags'. These are used by blind users to find out what certain graphics are about.
The page download with the added table and transparent gif has only increased by 1 second. When I do the same with a graphic that I used for the background table cell it increases by 2 seconds. Of course depending on the size and complexity of the graphic this will vary widely, but the transparent graphic depending on the size you have to use to cover the table cell, should not be more than one or two seconds a very big saving in download times.
By Tina Clarke
Amended Aug 05.