Amateur Web Design & Development
what little bit I have learned & all I need to know
I don’t claim to know very much on the subject so let this page stand as a place where I can send people to explain why I cannot answer their questions very well. Creating and managing a website is not particularly complicated but it does have lots of moving parts that need to be well coordinated. So first, let’s start out with some definitions of terms because this is an area where they often get missed used.
- When someone refers to the “frontend”, they are talking about the “design” and “development” pieces of the project.
- “Design” is all about colors, fonts, and the general presentation of the subject matter.
- “Development” takes the “design” and puts it into a coded format that browsers can understand.
- If someone says they are in the “backend”, that means “hosting”, etc., including the computer hardware and network stuff.
- “Hosting” means that you need to buy a “domain name” and hire someone to maintain what you have created and give it a presence on the Internet.[i]Technically we should call it the Web or WWW because the Internet includes much more than that.
- A “domain” is something like www.KansasCity.com or www.PatchenCalifornia.com. You have to buy yours through ICANN but your “hosting” service can do that for you.
- There is a big difference between a “website” and a “web app” – more later.
I have several websites and until a few years ago I relied exclusively on my good friend and mentor, Matt Knowles to develop, maintain, and host them for me, even though I did a lot of the actual design work. He grew up in the canyons of Silicon Valley and moved to northern California some years ago, where he works from his home. Anyone wishing to have their own website is strongly advised to talk with Matt or someone with similar experience before jumping into one of the many traps that exist out there. Again, understanding fully that my experience is very limited in this area, consider this as a preliminary look at what I have learned and what serves my needs. Talk to an expert before you start spending money.
I tend to think of this in three categories.
If you are Honda or United Airlines or just an aspiring Proctor and Gamble type start-up, you are going to need an office building full of people and others in far-off places, writing code around the clock.
Here is a link to online courses I took on html and css a few years ago.
If you are stuck in the middle, like I am, you have some choices. There are Content Management System Development platforms like WordPress, Drupal, Magento, and Joomla.
I have had some experience with a couple of them, but I use WordPress on Matt’s advice. I can do most things I need with plugins and occasional help from Matt when I need to step out of the platform to do hard coding. Here is a brief summary of a couple of the most popular ones.
If you want to publish your son’s soccer team schedules and scores, you will likely be happy with one of the options available from Wix or similar – from GoDaddy and others. They all do the same things. You can even set up an online store with them but that’s probably not the best place to do that.
These keep expanding and getting better, but one downside is that you pay monthly and often a commission on sales so it can get expensive. You are also stuck with them for life because they do the maintenance and hosting for you and you can not take the content you have created with you.