How hard is it to create/maintain a Web page?
Let's see if I can provide some answers.
Since I work on a Windows platform, I'll only mention Windows tools.
Similar tools are available for the Mac and other systems.
Did you notice how quickly this page loads? There are 20 graphics elements
of various sizes, but they are all small and properly defined, and they
all come from the same server.
The effort to create a Web page depends on its intended use.
If you want a
few simple pages with a little text and a few pictures, you can create that
with one of the freeware/shareware programs in an hour or so.
then you're looking at more work (including research) and a longer time to
create the pages.
- want to have animated graphics,
- want to use feedback forms,
- need to reach a population with special needs,
- want to sell something from your site,
An example of pages I designed for people with special needs is the
disAbled Student Organization
at Kennesaw State University. The
"Bobby" logo in the lower left corner of the pages indicates that
the pages pass the Level 1 accessibility requirements of the w3c. This
means that the pages have easy-to-use navigation, properly tagged graphics,
and are compatible with
text-to-speech screen readers. Designing and testing pages like this
will take much longer than basic pages.
This page is adapted from a similar page that I created for
Addison Elementary School.
I often use the school's pages as examples because the site has twice been
Discovery Channel Online.
The school also gets complimentary email about the site from around the world,
and has had inquiries from parents in Holland and Australia about enrolling
a child at Addison when they moved to the Atlanta, Georgia, area.
Volunteer work does have its rewards - where else could I get mobbed by a
dozen 6-year-olds who all want to hug me?
- What hardware/software do I need?
- A computer
capable of running a Web browser such as
or Internet Explorer.
- An Internet account that provides space for a Web page
and Internet access software, including the Web browser and FTP. There are
sites such as Tripod,
GeoCities which provide free Web
space for personal home pages. There are two drawbacks to the free pages:
- The service is supported by advertisers and you have little control
over what ads appear on your page.
- You may be limited to a relatively small amount of Web storage
space, typically about 5 megabytes. If your page is primarily text, this
may not be a problem for you. If you want to display lots of pictures,
you'll be happier with the free 150 megabyte account at
TopCities has its limitations also: files must be less than 1 megabyte and
it has speed limits on up/downloading (DSL/cable access won't make it go faster).
If you want to include your own images, you will need a scanner (or access to a scanner).
- If you want to create images, you need graphics software capable
of creating JPEG (.jpg), GIF (.gif), and eventually PNG (Portable Network
Graphic) (.png) files.
PaintShop Pro is about $100,
or you can spend several hundred on
Adobe Photoshop and other tools.
- Where can I learn to make Web pages?
- Find one you like and steal from it. In Netscape or Internet Explorer,
click on View, Source to see the HTML (HyperText Markup Language) that
created this page.
- Check out the HTML Goodies home page and the
Quick Tutor on the Aracnophilia site.
- Buy some good books. "HTML Publishing on the Internet for Windows",
"HTML for Dummies", "Teach Yourself HTML in [a Week|21 Days]", etc.
(Preferably with lots of goodies on CD-ROM or disk ).
- Make a friend of someone who knows just a little more than you do.
I can usually be bribed with dinner (or almost any form of chocolate ).
- Attend a class. Check for Web classes from computer stores such as
(Internet Service Providers, such as MindSpring/Earthlink), community
- How do I create/edit a Web page?
- I use the Windows Notepad editor (yes, very simple, very basic, no
error checking, no spell checking - however, it's small and fast, and I
prefer to check the pages I create in the browser that will be used). I also
use HomeSite, DreamWeaver and FrontPage.
- HTML editors, such as
HoTMetaL Pro, and
Aracnophilia (this one is free!)
have their pros and cons - you really have to work at it
to create a non-functional Web page, but you may be working with a
tool that doesn't understand the latest HTML syntax (more likely with the
shareware and freeware tools). If you can forego
the latest bells and
whistles and just create functional pages you may
be happy with one of the freeware or shareware HTML
editors. Search http://www.shareware.com.
- Where do you get the graphics?
- Some I make,
using Photomagic and Picture Publisher.
PaintShop Pro it can
probably do it all, or Photoshop can do more than the others combined.
- Some I buy and modify (alligator background on the
Addison home page), usually
hundreds on a CD-ROM for $10 or less.
- Some come from the Web.
There are LOTS of
offer free, linkware
(free if you link back to the source site),
or inexpensive shareware collections of buttons, arrows, lines, clip-art,
etc. These are samples
from the QBullets
collection. The dog
is linkware from Laurie McCannas.
The line below is also from the Web, but I don't remember where:
- Some I get from the Web and modify: the brass
plaque was a freebie from Stanford University (I think) and I added the text with LView.
- How do you set the background color on a page (like this one)?
How do you make the background of your graphics the same color as the page?
How do I put an image in the background of my page (like the original
Addison home page)?
(At least a dozen other graphics questions deleted... )
- Get the book "Creating Web Graphics" ($50) by
Lynda Weinman, ISBN #1-56205-532-1.
It's expensive and covers more things in more detail than you may ever want to know,
but it's the easiest introduction I've seen to some of the harder topics.
The book is aimed at graphics professionals and many of the examples
are done using Adobe Photoshop. However, you can translate most (not all)
of the examples to other tools.
- There are also a number of graphics mini-tutorials and utilities available on the Web.
- Where can I find .......?
- Explore the Web maker's Encyclopedia, which
includes a 7 day primer on writing your own home page.
- Also try the search engines at Yahoo,
Lycos, Google, or
- My sample visitor counter
was free from http://www.digits.com. I like it because
it gives just the count - no ads, no big banners, and the counter value can be hidden.
If the counter is
what did you expect for free?
Their commercial accounts (better service, more user
info available, etc) start at $35 per year.
- How much time does it take?
- Quite a few hours to create the initial site. Several hours a week
to keep up an active site, such as Addison Elementary School: updating the event
calendar, adding pictures as they become available, verifying existing links,
adding new links, etc. Since there's not much new activity on the school
pages during the summer, that's a good time to verify links,
make changes in page content or format, etc. By the way, Web pages are never
finished: I started building the Addison site in September of 1995 (staff there
picked up maintenance in June of 2000).
This page was one of my more labor intensive creations (at about 12 hours),
as it required locating and verifying the various sites and vendors referenced,
and the links have to be checked occasionally, although some visitors do send
email when they encounter a problem (Thank you!).
There are also online services such as
that will check the links on your pages for free (first 100 pages) and
thereafter for a fee (1 cent per page ;-). I think the penny a page
is much better than spending hours manually checking a site such as
Addison, which has more than 140 internal pages which are interlinked -
plus dozens of external links.
LinkAlarm also checks that
any email links on the pages are valid.
- Can you help me with ......?
- That's a definite maybe .
If you can work with
question and answer format, I'm nearly always available. If you want more
immediate feedback, then send
and perhaps we can arrange to work by phone. Remember that I have a wife,
two daughters, two sons-in-law, a
I get "Can you fix my bike?" (and occasional "Can you come out
and play with us?") requests from the kids in the neighborhood, and I'm
usually either working or looking for work.
Ergo, there's not a lot of free time.
- Can I hire someone to create a Web page?
- Of course - that's what capitalism is all about! Just be sure that
you've seen samples of the author's work and that you have a written
agreement about what you'll pay for what you get. You might also be
interested in any awards the author's pages may have received (preferably
in context with the site's message, not just for bells and whistles).
You'll pay anywhere from $20 to $100 per hour for contract work (based on the
author's reputation, experience, and demand, as well as local factors), plus a
possible fee-per-picture for scanning. Some authors offer a flat-rate design
service that gives you a page with some specified number of images for a
fixed price. Not all Web authors publish prices, but
Gibson Grafix does. What would
Addison Elementary School's site,
with more than 100 pages and hundreds of scanned images, have cost at
Gibson Grafix's design rates? You'll quickly understand why so many
non-profit organizations rely on volunteer labor .
- Can I hire you?
- Read the response to #8 again
- and bring money - I charge $50/hour (discount for educational and non-profit
- Translation: An hour or two spent with you to determine what you want/need
in an informational Web page, time to create five pages with four or five simple graphics,
and scanning a half-dozen pictures will cost you about $200-$250 and be ready to
go online in 3 to 5 business days. I'll also help you choose a Web hosting service
and upload the pages for you. What would the pages look like? Try two very
template for a pub (this opens in a new window),
and look at my portfolio.
Catalog sales, user support, and other interactive pages will take longer and cost more.
The author is a member of
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Copyright © 1996 - 2003 John E. Carter All Rights Reserved