Many computer-sales and consulting firms offer Web-page authoring as one of their services to small businesses, but the recent flood of Web-publishing software has some business people wondering if they can author their own Web pages.Bold Web adventurers are rolling up their sleeves and wading into the fray. If you long to be one of these, or if you’re simply on a low budget, arm yourself with a few essentials, and then give it a try. You have little to lose (a home page can always be rewritten), and you could save yourself upwards of $300, what you might expect to pay for someone to write your Web page for you.
The most basic requirements are Internet access, a domain name (a Web address) and a browser, said Kristie Eslick of Slick Solutions in Fort Collins. The first two you buy from an Internet provider. A browser – a piece of software – will allow you to find and view your Web site as you build it.
A number of circumstances conspire to make launching a Web page possible for the ambitious amateur. Information on writing HyperText Markup Language, one of two major computer languages used to program Web pages, has become widely available. Besides software that writes HTML for you, aspiring Web authors can glean helpful information from several good books and from the Internet itself.
Software comes in two kinds: bought (usually costing between $100 and $200) and borrowed, or shareware, which you can download free of charge from the Internet itself.
Ben Brooks, a Fort Collins amateur Web author who has set up several Web pages, said going to http://www. shareware.com will turn up plenty of Web-authoring packages. Look for “home page software,” “HTML,” Web authoring,” etc. Brooks noted that such demonstration software often comes with an expiration date, allowing you to use it for only a month or so.
Web-authoring software can also be divided into What You See Is What You Get-type packages that write HTML code for you, and HTML editors that let you refine and change elements of your established page. The WYSIWYG types sacrifice flexibility for simplicity. They offer a limited number of templates for you to work within, automatically writing chunks of code based on the user’s drag and drop choices.
MicroSoft Front Page gets high marks from Eric Jones of Greeley’s Connecting Point. Jones uses Front Page, among other authoring tools, to create and develop Web sites. He calls it “powerful and easy to use.”
Other, fairly new tools of the point-and-click variety include Web Editor 2.0 by Sausage Software, Adobe System’s PageMill 1.02, PrimeHost’s GNNPress1.1, Netscape Communications’ Navigator Gold 3.0.
Hotdog incorporates a browser, said Brooks, who used a demonstration version to write one Web page. This convenient feature lets you view your page as you construct it.
For the more hands-on Web author, who wants to handle actual HTML code, information is easy to get. Brooks suggested searching for “Learning HTML,” “HTML tips,” “HTML tricks.” But he warned, “Some of the tips won’t work.”
Bill Wright of The Wright Life in Fort Collins suggested yet another way to learn useful strings of HTML code. He said that in designing his Web page, he looked at other pages he liked and studied the code behind the designs. How to get at this code varies, but often an option on a pull-down menu will get you there. Wright co-authored his home page, making The Wright Life one of the first businesses to have a Web page on FortNet, Wright said.
There are, of course, useful printed guides to HTML. The book one authority calls “the Associated Press stylebook for the Web” is Laura Lemay’s “Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML in 14 Days.” “Publish it on the Web,” by Bryan Pfaffenberger comes in both Mac and PC versions. Check computer magazines or the Internet itself for other recommended reading.
Finally, many computer consultants offer courses or private tutoring in HTML, although these are harder to find in the smaller towns. Services and fees vary considerably, so shop around.Is doing your own page practical?The place to begin is with what you want on your Web page.
Then decide whether you can do it yourself and whether you can afford to have someone else do it.
Not everyone wants to take the time to explore the world of Web authorship.
“I decided my time would be best spent running my business,´ said Bill Way of Freedom Technology. Rather than deal with HTML, Way laid out the text and graphics as he wanted them to appear on the Web, and took his disk to Front Range Internet. There, consultant Kevin Tatroe translated it into code. At $300, his money and time were well-spent, Way concludes.
What is more, not everyone who learns a little HTML can create the Web page of their dreams.
Angela Brayham, executive director of One West Art Center, said she is looking for the right Webmaster to create One West’s home page.
“Because we’re an arts organization, when we do one, we want it to be really good,” she said.ÿ
Many computer-sales and consulting firms offer Web-page authoring as one of their services to small businesses, but the recent flood of Web-publishing software has some business people wondering if they can author their own Web pages.Bold Web adventurers are rolling up their sleeves and wading into the fray. If you long to be one of these, or if you’re simply on a low budget, arm yourself with a few essentials, and then give it a try. You have little to lose (a home page can always be rewritten), and you could save yourself upwards of $300, what you might expect…
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