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Question of the Month
July 2009

How, Who, and Why?

What's the story behind the new web site?

Well, if you're reading this, you've obviously discovered that our web site has changed! Many of the old pages are still available by links in the table found at the bottom of each of the new web site pages, but from this point on you're looking at the new look.

To answer the questions, in no order ...

Who? Who did the web site? I did, using Adobe Dreamweaver CS4. I used Dreamweaver CS4 for Dummies and Dreamweaver CS4 Visual Quickstart Guide as my references. I also bought Dreamweaver CS4 - The Missing Manual, but that book proved too thick and I got started and up by using the other books before I had to dive into the Missing Manual.

If you're thinking of redoing your web site, be careful with Amazon because in doing searches for books I stupidly ordered almost $100 worth of bargain books on Dreamweaver CS, not noticing, or knowing, that the books were so cheap because Dreamweaver was now up to CS4! I threw them out.

I had fine-tuning help to tackle things like the table, below, and link prompts from Chris Snyder, a local teacher who teaches web design at a high school. Chris and I are planning on offering a Web site Design Course next summer, if you're interested.

How? I guess I just answered that, by using Dreamweaver and my couple of books. It took about 3 days of reading and trying steps before I felt fairly organized.

What was perplexing, and daunting, and frustrating, is a new feature web design programs are using called CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets. All the new web sites are being designed this way, the books say, and stress that it is the way to go.

The only problem is all of these books spend the first third of their length talking about the old way, and if you're like me, you may have already begun to build a web site based on that material. Worse, still, the text and descriptions for CSS was rather confusing, and since it is so powerful and, I guess, potentially useful, it would have been very helpful for the books to have provided a 'follow me' tutorial that a page could be built on. I didn't find that, but maybe I'm dense.

Why? Why did I do it? Sounds like I'm confessing to a crime, but I finally cracked down for several reasons. One, I'd sometimes get emails from perfect strangers telling me that my web site was awful -- and those were gentle words -- and my usual response, despite the profanity they'd sometimes use, was thanks, and don't bother visiting if it upset you so bad. I'd sometimes get offers from former students that they'd do my web site for me, but we never could get together to follow through on that offer.

Despite the awful comments I'd sometimes get, some people would write saying that they loved the web site Perhaps that's because it is so content rich, and rather easy to navigate through, but I deluded myself into thinking that perhaps my web site was so old, designed with an early program called Adobe PageMill, that I was actually retro and In.

One of my recent participants, however, told me that she almost didn't come to our courses because her son, in seeing the web site, thought that we might be poor photographers and lousy teachers. She took the risk anyway, and loved the courses, and fortunately shared with me that conversation. Thanks, Linda!

The second reason was I was getting scared that my very old Dell Computer would finally die and I'd be unable to update my web site until I learned a new program, and I'd be frantic about getting that done. PageMill wouldn't operate with my new operating system - Windows XP, so I couldn't reload it on my new computer.

So, with those thoughts in mind, last winter I bought Dreamweaver CS4 with the intention of learning the program during our time in Arizona, during our hummingbird photo shoots. I did a little work on learning the program before leaving for Arizona, but once there I just didn't have the time.

Obviously, then, it's the third reason that really counts. Two weeks ago Mary reminded me that I was supposed to redo the web site and I haven't been working on it, and we only had 4 weeks before we left for Alaska and a schedule that continued, crazily, through December. With that motivation (?) I got started, and here we are.

For the record, learning the program wasn't too hard, although it was frustrating at some times. But it really was worth it, and redoing the site gave me the opportunity to organize and consolidate in ways that my first web site could not, as it grew larger and larger, far more so than I ever envisioned it would be.

So, if you're interested in learning how to do a web site yourself, and you'd like to do one, keep tabs on our home page and in our Gold Schedule and Digital Schedule for the course, which we hope to do next summer.


Archived Questions of the Month
Most of my original Questions of the Month for the last several
years are available through this link. The 'look' is from my
original web site, although if I ever have enough time I might
redo these pages to match the new web site But that's not
a high priority.