Thursday, November 8, 2007

The website is done!

Calvin and I have been working on our wedding website off and on since, well, June. Last night Calvin put on the finishing touches, and now we are up and running! We sent the link to our families late last night, and barring any unforeseen problems, should be sending out our virtual save-the-dates to friends and family either this weekend or next.

I now present to you our website:

The intro page. For some reason, the screencap didn't come out as clearly as it actually is.

The homepage.

The "Welcome to Cleveland" page

"Welcome to Cleveland" continued.

And the photo gallery.

Now, both of us admit that our site is pretty simple. Originally we had designed it using iWeb '06. Now, there were a couple of things about iWeb '06 that I didn't especially like- mostly that it is almost impossible to change the font of the links at the top of the page without putting them in manually. So we upgraded to iWeb '08 the week it came out, since it had that and some other nifty features, and updated our site, not backing up the original files since Apple software products are normally a lot more stable than most others. Unfortunately, the updating changed around all of the formatting of the site, since we changed our version of iWeb before the patch to fix that problem came out.

I searched around for an open source solution, and finding none that were especially palatable, downloaded the trial of Dreamweaver, and assembled the basics of the site. When it was "all done", we realized that one of the fonts we were using is non-standard, and therefore wouldn't render properly on most computers. We played around with embedding fonts, but ultimately decided to just make all of the headers images. Playing around with the images took awhile- there was a bit of MS Paint vs. Gimp vs. OpenOffice Draw debate, but Calvin took care of making the images. (Figuring out the images also forced us to try and figure out how to overcome the differences between how browsers render images.) To jazz up our site, I made a custom google map and Calvin added a simpleviewer gallery. We probably made it a whole lot more complicated than it needed to be- I think a total of 6 different programs were used, since after the license for Dreamweaver expired, I did the last bit of content tweaking in Notepad.

We purchased our domain through Go Daddy, and are hosting it on a friend's server. Total cost altogether for the website was in the neighborhood of $7.

So, I have some tips for those of you (like us) who have only basic html skills:
1. Images, especially images that only have a handful of colors (like the damask-style image on our website) are best made into .gif files. It leads to the most consistent rendering across images.
2. MS Paint does not do a good job with .gif files.
3. If you want to use non-standard fonts (and I would encourage you to do so), make them as images.
4. If you are upgrading your html editing software (or any software, really), make a back-up before you totally update. Even if the software is coming from a really reliable company.
5. Simpleviewer is really awesome for displaying pictures.
6. OpenOffice Draw continues to rock my world, and it is rocking Calvin's now, too. Both of us find it quite a bit more intuitive than Gimp.
7. We ended up not using standard websafe colors for our site, mostly because the websafe reds were too bright. There are pros and cons to not using those colors, but we determined that most, if not all, of the people who would visit our site would have updated computers and graphics capabilities, and that it wouldn't pose too much of a problem. This site provides both the hex (for html programming) and rgb (for images) code for all sorts of colors.
8. It is really easy to make custom maps with Google maps, and is a great way to provide a lot of information (about restaurants, museums, etc.) in a very efficient and useful manner.

Anyone else have any tips for those that are building their own website?

No comments: