I want to develop my website

  BenMid 01:15 25 Jun 08
Locked

Hi, I am creating a website for my Air Training Corps squadron and I need some help.

I have not been given the server details yet so I can't upload the website onto the paid server. I have, however, uploaded it to freewebs which means that you can have a look and advise me. :)

click here

I am using Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 and Adobe Photoshop CS3. So far I have created a template by first of all drawing up my design in Photoshop, slicing it up and transfering it to Dreamweaver. I have only created the Home, Training, Join Us and Contact Us pages so far so all of the other links wont work. I am also using CSS pages to style the website.

Basically, if you look at the website, I am sure you can see the 'News' and 'Gallery' links which don't go anywhere. This is because I am confused about how I can set these up. I don't want to write content into the html code directly. I am aware that RSS should be coded for the News page and I am very uneducated in terms of how to make a gallery. I don't understand where I write this RSS code and how I do that in Dreamweaver.

What I really can't get my head around are Content Management Systems. Obviously, with it being a website for a whole squadron of people, I would like other people to update the content. For example, I would like my Officer Commanding to be able to write a piece of news (without setting any code) and just be able to click 'Post' and it automatically codes it for her. The same goes for the Gallery page. I would like people to just be able to select their images, name the gallery or whatever and just click 'Post' and it codes everything for them. Is this possible? Can I do this for every page?

I am sure that if you have read all of this then there's something that you can help me out with!

Thanks a lot :)

- Ben

  Taran 12:02 25 Jun 08

"I really can't get my head around are Content Management Systems"

You're going to have to.

Home rolling the sort of features you want is reinventing the wheel and unless you are a pretty handy programmer you will struggle for a long time to come up with something useful.

Wordpress, for the sake of example, has some excellent plugins available. One of them is called CMS-like Admin Menu and another is Ryans Simple CMS and what either of them do is turn the Wordpress blogging system into a lightweight content management system that is dead easy to use.

Basically the above plugins hide many of the blogging menu options that you don't need for a CMS and default your menus to creating new pages of content rather than new blog entries.

Installing Wordpress is comparatively easy, even for relative beginners, and adding the plugins just requires you to upload to a specific folder using FTP and then activating the plugin in the plugin manager within Wordpress is the second and only additional step.

Other plugins cover image galleries and Wordpress can already cope with several types of admin user levels, with more available through using, you guessed it, another plugin (called Role Manager).

Bottom line: if you want CMS features you need to be using a CMS. Home rolled is fine if you are looking for something very particular, but when so many good CMSs are available off the shelf I see no reason why you would benefit from scratching your head over how to handle image uploads, dynamic galleries, user access level permissions and other nonsense. I can suggest a good book that covers much of what you would like to achieve, but be prepared to learn all about PHP programming and lots of other techno-babble to make any use of it.

I'd suggest you take a step back, decide where you want to be and then plan how best to get there. Websites invariably grow as you work on them and you have probably already found that what you started out wanting is now inadequate and a whole raft of requirements have surfaced since.

Having a firm goal state in mind helps avoid all the faff of "maybe I could add X" or "perhaps a bit of Y would fit well here"...

I only suggest Wordpress because with the above plugins it can cover most if not all of your listed requirements and it is comparatively easy to use. Happily, it also produces excellent code output and is pretty easy to template. Many web hosts also offer it as a point-and-click installable application from their control panel, but even if they don't, it is drop dead easy to install. It's a breeze compared to Joomla and Mambo and while Modx has an easy to use interface it requires far more fromt he user to get something useful out of it.

Just my thoughts - good luck with it.

  BenMid 12:42 25 Jun 08

Hi Taran

Thanks for that information, that's helped quite a lot. I do have a couple of questions though. With Wordpress, could I install it on many computers and give lots of people the ability to upload news and images?

I've also heard a lot about MySQL and databases, I take it I don't need to delve into any of that yet with the requirements I have?

Thanks again :)

- Ben

  Taran 13:09 25 Jun 08

This is in brief, since the Wordpress site has as much information as you will need on installation.

You create a MySQL database with your web host (their support department can help if you find it too much).

When you create said database you will also give it a username/password.

Upload Wordpress following the instruction on installation on the Wordpress site.

Run the installer.

Supply the name of the database, the username and password (Wordpress will do this for you for a few pounds) and that's more or less it for a default installation.

You don't 'install' Wordpress on other computers. It is a browser-based application that runs over the web, so anyone with web access, a web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox etc) and an authorised username and password can log into the admin section of the site to add or edit content.

The whole point is that one online program can have many people,from all over the world if necessary, editing content in areas they are permitted to deal with.

Different levels of permissions allow folks to change existing content only, or to create new pages and so on.

Hosting companies often offer CMS's like Wordpress as an easy to install option from the control panel, which means it's all taken care of apart from a ouple of mouse clicks and a password input from yourself.

How to install Wordpress: click here

Ryan's simple CMS plugin: click here

NextGEN Gallery image gallery plugin: click here

Wordpress themes (templates): click here

Wordpress may not be all things to all people but it can be made to do a lot of very useful things and has the advantage of great output while being relatively easy to use.

All of the code for file uploads, image galleries, multiple people allowed to author the site and so on is already dealt with, so a CMS allows you to have a site and allow it to grow rather than sit and scratch your head over how you can create the same features manually in Dreamweaver.

  BenMid 20:51 25 Jun 08

Thanks! You have helped me a lot and I now understand the things that nobody seemed to explain lol.

Thanks again :)

- Ben

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