Making a Web site for Your Costume Program:Part #2 Development
Besides the obvious content of your site, there are extrasyou can add.Online you can find anumber of places that will actually give you free stuff to make your site morefun and useful.The most obviouslyuseful of these freebies is a Search Box.Search boxes come in two main types: a box that searches through yoursite exclusively, helping users find what they are looking for faster, and ageneral search engine that surfs the net for information. Both can be insertedinto your pages by a simple copy and paste code.Simple internal search boxes can be had forfree from many sources, but Atomz http://www.atomz.com
provides one of the best.Atomz alsooffers external search boxes, as do Google, Alta-Vista and Yahoo.
Other fun extras caninclude screensavers (for example with show photos and renderings from yourproductions), eCards, and desktop wallpaper.Any image you have can be made into eCards at http://www.spacesurfer.com
,which provides the system for sending them on their own site, so you only haveto provide the images and link to their pages.Simply generating images in Photoshop, or scanning in art and photos andsaving as a jpeg can make desktop wallpaper.You can download a free screensaver-making program at Computer BasedTeaching Tools http://www.easyteach.com/free_screensaver.htm
You can also add featuresto your site that provide information for Students on your local area.Make a local links page that provides both prospective and currentstudents with useful local information like theatre show and movie times,weather status, and an eGroup for your students to share information.You can get code to insert a box showing a local weather report here: http://oap2.weather.com/oap/index.html
You can set up an eGroup for your costume class, or other theatrestudents at http://groups.yahoo.com
Style and Content
As you begin to constructyour pages (whether using a WYSIWYG editor, web wizard, or straight html)remember a few very simple rules:Textneeds to be legible against the background, and divided logically, images needto be small enough to load quickly and be viewable within the frame of thebrowser.Links, whenever possibleshould go somewhere, not to an endless series of Under Construction pages.Navigation should follow some sort of logical progression.While these points seem basic (and are) it is amazing how many sites seemto ignore them.For a great primeron what NOT to do while site building see http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com
for the latest examples of bad design on the web, and how to avoid repeatingthese mistakes.
Try instead to do thefollowing:
Make sure that the content of your site can be found in a logical, simple fashion from your main page.
Try to make your main navigation links so that they appear in the frame of the browser window before you scroll down.
Avoid splash pages, mystery meat and other high-end fancy web wing-dings that confuse users, or require plug-ins unless they perform a vital purpose on your site.
Choose a simple, (hopefully bland) low-contrast web page background, or just a plain color.Think white, beige, lilac, not hot pink or Kelly green.If you desperately want something with more zip, you can use one with a fancy left border and a bland solid color in the center.
Make sure the text is both in a contrasting color and value. (Remember colorblind people read web pages too).
Keep pictures a reasonable size, or link to big ones with thumbnails.
Include a link back to the main page from every other page in the site.
Once you have a version ofa web site made on your computer, you then need to consider where the site is tobe hosted so it will appear online.Ifyou built the site using an online wizard, the site is already located at ahost, and you can skip this step, but most sites you will build on yourcomputer, (using a Word Processor, or Web Editor) then copy to a remotehost also known as a server.Asa bit of obscure information, most servers are small plain black or blue boxesthat you will never meet.They canbe located in Newark or San Diego, or in the same room with you and it wontmake much difference to your relationship with them.There are three main options for you to choose from: YourUniversity, Your ISPor a Commercial Server, or on one of many Free OnlineProviders.There are advantages,and disadvantages to each.
Your University Server
Most of you will choose toput your site on to a server provided by your University.This is usually quite easy since your computer help desk at your schoolwill be able to walk you through all the steps, and space is usually provided toyour department for free.Onedisadvantage to using a university server are that in some cases universitieshave quite rigid design templates that they require all departments use, whichlimits your creativity and content.Happilymost universities do not.Space mayalso be limited. The other worry is that by posting your material on theuniversity site the lines of who owns the intellectual property contained inyour pages can get blurred.Facultywho wish to maintain the maximum copyright control of images and text may chooseto avoid this option.(I do).
Your ISPor aCommercial Server
Many of you alreadyown server space on commercial servers because you pay for a commercialdial-up or cable Internet service provider (ISP) account at home.Most of these accounts include rights to use 5-25MB of server space on acommercial host, which you already pay for in your monthly Internet fee.These accounts can come with little or great tech help depending on yourservice provider.These accountscan free you from university constraints on the design or intellectual propertyrights of your site because you pay for the hosting.If your site is especially large (bigger than your ISP or university iswilling to host) or generates a high volume of traffic (known asbandwidth), you may need to pay a commercial server company to host yoursite.This is how my own site, TheCostumers Manifesto is hosted.Tosearch for commercial hosts see http://www.comparewebhosts.com
If you dont have anon-university ISP, and dont want to pay for a commercial server, but stillwish to maintain your site off of the university server you can put your site ona free host.Free hosts providespace on their servers in exchange for advertising space on your site.This option can be nightmarish or delightful depending on the host, andif you choose this option you should carefully check out different free hostsbefore you commit your site to one or another.There are hundreds of free hosts, and some of these have minimaladvertising, while others are a maze of annoying pop-up windows, and evil Javacode. (Tripod and The Globe are notable offenders in this regard).The bad thing about free hosts is that they can change the rules of yourservice at any time, because the service is free.Many free hosts are listed at http://www.freewebspace.net
Site too big for free hosting?
Once you have decided on ahost you will need to upload the files that make up your site to the remoteserver.Again, several options areopen to you:FTP, OnlineWizards, and Front Page Upload.Ifyou are using Front Page to build your site, this program has a built inuploading feature that automatically operates the uploading, and later,updating, of your site.Follow theinstructions provided with Front Page Help files to set this up and run theapplication.Some free serviceproviders (notably Geocities and Tripod) have online wizardprograms to manage uploading.Followthe online instructions as they carry you through step by step.Other WYSIWYG editors sometimes include upload features as well.
Most of you however willeither need or want to upload using a program called a FTP (File Transferprotocol).The best known of theseis WinSock FTP, which may be obtained online by a simple download at: Howto support the costs of hosting your costume site through affiliate programshttp://www.ipswitch.com/cgi/download_eval.pl?product=WL-1000
WS FTP is free to faculty and students of educational institutions. Mostpeople like Cute FTP, a fancier version available at http://www.cuteftp.com
for $40. Operating FTP for the first time is easiest if you simply Ask a WebWizard (anyone you know who has made a web page and uploaded it via FTP willdo) to show you what to do.You cango here: http://home.earthlink.net/~j_engel/getting.html
for a detailed text explanation of how to set this up, but learning FTP via textdescription is exactly like trying to learn to make a thread-loop chain stitchbelt loop with just a text explanation.Atwo-minute visual show me will do it, where an hour studying the textprobably will just get you confused.
After making a site, it isalso desirable to let the world know it exists.You can gotothe big Search engines (Yahoo,Alta-Vista, Lycos, Hot Bot, Google, etc.)directly and fill out their short online forms. Other engines can bereached by going to one of many sites like Submit Plus http://submitplus.bc.ca
that have Wizards that help you to list with dozens ofengines at once.Go to theCostume Web Ring http://www.marquise.de/webring
and sign up to be part of the Ring. My own site doubled its traffic theweek it went on this Ring. Go to the main costume sites on the Ring (TheCostume SiteThe Costume Page, and The Costumer's Manifesto)and write e-mail to each web mistress asking if she will please link to your newsite.Backhome at your university you should let the university web builders know where tolink to your site.Print the URL inTheatre programs and Dept. brochures, and get this added to your facultybusiness cards.
For more information andfree services to help you build your pages, visit the sites listed below.
FREE FTP PROGRAMS http://www.coolfreebies.com/ftp.html
SubmitYour Site to Search Engines
Promotion World: http://www.promotionworld.com
Atomic Submit: http://www.atomicdesigns.net/Analog/Submit
CostumeRings & Sites
The Costume Ring: http://www.marquise.de/webring
Main Costume Sites: http://www.costumes.org/history/100pages/maincostumesites.htm
Corsetorium Web Ring: http://members.aol.com/cic12142
Fun &Useful Free Stuff
Yahoo eGroups (Free emaillist & chat) http://groups.yahoo.com
Craft Themed Backgroundsfor Web Pages: http://www.autumnweb.com/Roxys/Themes/Craft.html
Hey Webmasters! - Add hundreds of thousands of images to your site Free!
Join the AllPosters.com Affiliates Program and get access to hundred of thousands of images for your site. AllPosters.com has images from popular movies, music groups, sports teams, fine art, and much more. Adding these images to your site will enhance your content.
Furthermore, you get paid for improving your site with poster/print images! All of the images you use will link to AllPosters.com where your site visitors can make purchases. When they buy something, AllPosters.com pays you 20% - 25% of the sale. Its easy to sign-up, build links, and track your sales.
More Free Sewing Graphics: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Plains/6446/mygifs.html
Remotely HostedApplications (Things like guestbooks, cards, forms, etc.): http://kresch.com/resources/Remotely_Hosted_Applications
Free Content Links: http://www.woodoggy.com/
This article is part 2 of a2 part series on Making a Web site for Your Costume Program