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ByTara Maginnis


When you first decide tobuild a web site for your costume program, you need to prepare by making a listof the content you wish to feature on the site.Content is the primary ingredient of any web site, and conveyingit is a site’s primary purpose, so time spent considering what you actuallywant to include (or leave out) is the single most important step in theprocess.Items, which you might considerincluding in your “list”, include, but are not limited to:

Shop Location &Phone #

Program of Study &Classes Offered

Staff Bios, photos,contact info, or personal stuff

Student Projects orBios, etc

Loan Policy Information

Equipment and Images ofthe workspace

Services offered

Images of PreviousShows

Images from HistoricalStudy Collection

Useful How-toInformation for the Public

Any thing that makesyour program or space particularly appealing

Requests for donationsand/or volunteers




ComputerMakingwebsitecost1 filesImage002.jpgYou will choose to includeor exclude items from this list based on your particular circumstances.For example, the Theatre UAF Costume ShopPage is quite forthcoming about personal information & photos of faculty andstaff, because we are in a small friendly town in rural Alaska, where most ofthis information is already public knowledge.Weirdo stalkers do not appear out of the woodwork based on our onlineattractions, although periodically we get email from admirers (One of my formercostume shop managers had a long, fun, kinky correspondence with a guy thatarose from the man’s seeing his photo in a sexy dress on the site—but that isanother story).One of our main studentappeals is our friendly open and decidedly unusual social life in thedepartment, and we have pages devoted to the various costumed parties andevents that students engage in on our site.A program in a large city might find this material either irrelevant oreven dangerous.

On the other hand, I leaveout information about our loan policy, because all our loans are done for free,and while staff has been reduced, our loans have more than doubled since theloan policy was put in place.I am NOTlooking to increase the numbers of people asking for free loans, so I don’tmention this service on the site.Aplace that generated needed income from rentals, on the other hand, would wishto prominently advertise this fact.

A shop that has the latest,best equipment and large space would doubtless wish to highlight the fact, ashop that consisted of a glorified closet in a basement, might wish toobfuscate the fact.(Unless the purposeis to put pressure on your administration for a new building, in which case,perhaps you should bring in some rats to create better photoopportunities.)

The nature and focus of thecontent should be on what is relevant to your program in particular, and notbased on some generic ideal of what a costume program “ought” to be about.

Site Building Software

The next part of yourplanning should center on what sort of software you intend to use to build yoursite.In rare cases this may bedictated to you, but in most circumstances this choice will be yours.There are two main factors to guide you inthis:1.What is your level of computer ability?And 2. What do you need the site to be able to do?

As regards your computerability:No ability is required, althoughit helps.Remember small childrenregularly manage to make web sites, so do idiots who think that the Holocaustnever happened.Think about this.If you are reading this article, probablyyou have, or are working on, a terminal graduate degree.If toddlers, sex perverts and Whitesupremacists can build their own sites, so can you.

ComputerMakingwebsitecost1 filesImage006.jpg

If your computer abilitiesare very low, there are a number of options open to you for your firstsite.The easiest option is to build onone of the various free services online (see list at end of article) that offera “wizard” for site building.A wizardis an online editor into which you type in text, and tell what photos are onyour hard drive for use, and the wizard grabs copies of the photos, saves thetext and builds a page for you.This ishow the small children build sites, how I built my first site, and how Irecommend anyone begin.Even if youplan on building your final site in a more demanding program, it is a good ideato use one of these wizards to build a short personal or hobby site, just toget your brain prepared for thinking in the non-linear fashion that web sitesexpress best.

The next easiest editor youcan use is your word processor.Microsoft Word was improved a few years ago to include the ability tosave documents as web pages, many other recent word processors have followedsuit.Check the “save as” command inyour WP to see if one of the options is “save as html”.If it has this, all you need to do to makepages is to build documents as usual in your word processor and then save themas html files.

ComputerMakingwebsitecost1 filesImage008.jpg

If you are feeling slightlybraver, you will want to build pages in a WYSIWYG editor (What you see is whatyou get).These programs operate muchlike a hybrid between a wizard and a word processor and are still quite simpleto learn to use.They offer many moreoptions than the other two programs and can build sites of unlimited size andcomplexity.As an example, my site TheCostumer’s Manifesto

is entirely built in a WYSIWYG editor (my favorite, Microsoft FrontPage)although it has around 800 pages and 650mb of images.I don’t know much html.Idon’t need to.WYSIWYG editors abound,both for free (downloaded from the net) and for purchase.If your university has paid a blanket sitelicense for all Microsoft office programs for all faculty and staff, thisincludes FrontPage.(Ask about this atyour university.It is very common foruniversities to purchase these licenses, and then not bother to tell thefaculty & staff.Your departmentmay be buying duplicate software that your university has already paid for.)

Die-hard computer geeks canbuild sites directly in html (Hyper Text Markup Language, the language of theWWW).This is slow and difficult, butallows for great precision and the maximum amount of techno gadgetry on thesite.To see a site with all the bellsand whistles possible with html, plus Java, and Shockwave gadgets, see KateMendelowitz site for Lighting Design Interactive @160x120.jpg

The second criterion forchoosing a site builder program is: What do you want your site to look like ordo?This will help determine what kindof web editor you need to build it.Ifyou need to have forms on your site that send you back data (such as a sign upform for requesting student or rental information), sound or video you willneed to use a higher end WYSIWYG editor, or html editor.If all you need is pages with text, links,email form and images, you can use even the lowest level wizard to build yourpage.

ComputerMakingwebsitecost1 filesImage010.jpg

Preparing Images

Part of what you should havedetermined when deciding on your site content is what images you want or needon your site.Once you know what imagesyou need, these are the steps you will use to prepare those images for yoursite.

Pictures that you havealready in print form, like show renderings, photos and slides, will need to bescanned onto disk or your computer.You can do this yourself or send photos off to a lab like Seattle FilmWorks that will do it for you.If youdo this yourself, you need to know two things:1. Screen resolution on the web is 72dpi regardless of the monitor sizeor settings of the computer receiving the data.This means that if you scan a 3x4 photo at 300dpi and don’treduce it, it will display as 12x16.Onthe other hand, if you scan a slide at 72dpi, it will display no larger thanthe actual slide image.Save your filesto be the size you want seen based on 72dpi as the standard.2.For photos and renderings, the file format to save your pictures in willbe jpeg (aka jpg) format, preferably in a low quality setting.At 72dpi, low quality really does not showup much.This will make your images intosmaller file sizes that load more rapidly.

For new images, that is,images you just realized you need and haven’t photographed yet, you can doseveral things to get them in digital form ASAP.If you have, and are most comfortable with, a film camera, youcan simply take photos as usual, and then when you take the photos in forprocessing check the box to have them put either on floppy disk or CD ROM.When your photos are returned they will comewith pre scanned digital images on disk.The disk will usually also have a free image editor you can install onyour computer to convert the images to smaller sizes, different file types(like jpeg), and do minor photo corrections.Floppies often have the advantage of having images in jpeg, but areso-so quality.CD’s have high qualityscans, but you usually need to convert them to jpeg and reduce their size.

ComputerMakingwebsitecost1 filesImage012.jpg

The other even easier,faster option is that you can beg, borrow or buy a digital camera to takephotos directly into digital media.Youwant to do this with a medium or high-grade digital camera, not the Barbiemodel sold for kids, or one of those tiny digital “spy” cameras, because thesecameras produce rather grainy pictures.My favorite mid-level digital cameras are the Sony Mavica series thatputs images directly in jpeg form onto floppy disks.Since you need your images to be in jpeg form anyway this savesyou the trouble of converting them.Also floppies are cheap, and available everywhere, whereas the variousdata chips and cards that other cameras use are not.Both however are reusable, which can, in certain instances makethem cheaper than film.

Ifyou plan on taking a great many pictures, primarily used on the web, notnecessarily printed, remember that each roll of film, added with processing,printing and scanning can run from $15-25.20 rolls = an average of $400, the price of a very good-mid leveldigital camera.If you plan on takingtwo rolls worth of photos to highlight your shop equipment and staff, you don’tneed to go out and buy a digital camera.If you want to take photos of all your shows as they come up, or yourentire costume history collection, or all the student projects from yourclasses, and post them to the net, a digital camera will save you money quitefast.Once again, your circumstancesdictate what choice is best for you.

Web Links:

OtherCostume Shops/Programs on the Net You can see as Examples

Theatre UAF Costume Shop(My Own Costume Shop Page):

Dalhousie UniversityCostume Studies Studios and Museum

NY City Ballet Costume Shop

Brown University CostumeProgram

Costume Design at CarnegieMellonbrokenlink

Los Angeles City College brokenlink

Sites toHelp you make Web Pages:

BeSeen com, Free Web Tools& Space: @160x120.jpg

Free Web Master Tools:@160x120.jpg


Netscape Resources formaking Web sites: @160x120.jpg

Microsoft Front Page

Arachnophilia Free

Free WebSpace Sites (there are literally hundreds of others):

The Hosting Decision: HowHard It Is aa031300a.htm@160x120.jpg

Free Home Pages @160x120.jpg

About Com pwp.htm?PM=798_1000@160x120.jpg

NBCi Free Unlimited WebSpace (site has vanished)

50Megs. Com @160x120.jpg

All photos are pictures ofthe UAF Costume Shop.This article ispart 1 of a 2 part series on Making a Web Site for Your Costume Program

TaraMaginnis, Ph.D. is Costume Designer of the Department of Theatre atthe University of Alaska Fairbanks.Hermain claim to fame, however, is the costume mega-site, The Costumer’s Manifesto: @160x120.jpg

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