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Hello, I've been asked to design a website for somebody for a non-profit organization that they are starting. I'm happy to do it but the problem is I have zero ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Engineer Thrillhouse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Arlington, VA, USA

    Designing a Website


    I've been asked to design a website for somebody for a non-profit organization that they are starting. I'm happy to do it but the problem is I have zero experience when it comes to web design (why they asked me, I don't know). I was planning on using a framework to do most of the backbone stuff for me but I wanted to know if anybody had any advice on which framework to use and why, or any advice in general. Basically, I would like the site to look as professional as possible with as little work as possible.

    Let me throw some requirements out there. There doesn't have to be any type of database back end (at least initially). I've been told that the site will be entirely informational but, in the future, I suppose it's a possibility. I was imagining a sort of blog'ish type of design where the webmaster could post announcements, updates, notification of events, etc. but I don't want the site to look like a blog and I don't want anybody to be able to post comments or anything (although a feedback or Contact Us section wouldn't be so bad). Again, I want the site to look professional so that it lends some credibility to the organization.

    So, if you have any advice on where to start or you have used a web design framework in the past, I would like to hear from you. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Cˇrdoba (Spain)
    The only framework I need for the html stuff is a text editor. For more advanced stuff there are many solutions and php is usually my choice.

    A good site for pre-made stuff is, which lists many projects in lots of languages. This way, if you want to put something in your site you can use some pre-made blog, forum, or whatever.

    I advise you to take one tutorial about xhtml, which is what you should be using nowadays:

    XHTML Tutorial

    Then, insert this on your code:

        <a href=""><img
            alt="Valid XHTML 1.1" height="31" width="88" /></a>
    Which will add a link to your page to validate it. Click it at any time to see if it's valid xhtml. The most you stick to a valid standard, the easier that will be to see your page in a wider number of browsers and architectures (that's the most professional you can get, and not by wrapping your site into flash crap which is viewable only in one architecture and one OS).

    There's also nvi which is a dreamweaber alike, if you like that kind of stuff. I personally find it easier to code by hand, since that way I know what the result will be.

    There are also editors like quante, oriented to web editing.

    This is the basic stuff you will need to choose, then you can start to worry about other things like programming frameworks for dynamic stuff and databases.

    Another thing you should take a look into is CSS. It's pretty powerful nowadays, it can do worders.

    About the "contact us", a simple link to a mail will do while you manage to get something else working.

  3. #3
    Linux Newbie
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Greece, Athens
    The easiest way by far to make a website is using a Content Management System (CMS), such as Drupal or Joomla. Even i managed to make a site using Drupal withing an hour and with NO previous knowledge of html or php!! I even found out how to write articales, make and edit menus and changing themes the same day. If you are using a deb based distribution like Ubuntu or Debian type:
    sudo apt-get install phpmyadmin
    This will install Apache, Mysql, Php and phpmyadmin. Then you should download Drupal from its website, extract the compressed file and copy the included files in /var/www
    Then make sure that Apache and Mysql are running(In Ubuntu you can see this easy from the system->administration->Services). The last steps are going to localhost in your broswer , clicking the link of Drupal(or Joomla) and follow the instructions. If it tells you what to do with the file .php(open,save,etc) then you should configure apache to use php, but this is an issue for another post.

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  5. #4
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Quote Originally Posted by i92guboj View Post
    I advise you to take one tutorial about xhtml, which is what you should be using nowadays:
    Sorry, but that's not correct. XHTML is unusable, since it's not supported by any version of Internet Explorer (including IE8 ). No matter what you think about proprietary closed software, IE is the most used browser in the world and no public-audience site can afford to ignore it.

    99.9999&#37; of all purported XHTML sites don't use XHTML at all. They use XHTML markup served as text/html, which means it's nothing but invalid HTML relying on browser error handling. You cannot use any features that XHTML offers over HTML this way.

    The latest markup version with any browser support worth mentioning is HTML 4.01. For any new web page you should use HTML 4.01 Strict for the content and structure, CSS 2.1 for the presentation, and unobtrusive JavaScript for interactive behaviour.

  6. #5
    Linux Engineer Thrillhouse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Arlington, VA, USA
    Thanks to each of you for your advice.

    I've read the Drupal manual and it looks like it might be exactly what I need. I'll probably give it a go sometime this weekend if I get the time. Thanks again.

  7. #6
    Linux Newbie SagaciousKJB's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Yakima, WA
    If I can make my own suggestion...

    I think a blog with one administrator account posting articles might serve well, and for that, I think WordPress would be a good choice. It's very simple to install, has a large library of themes, and is extensively documented. I wouldn't say that it has any specific advantage over any other software in terms of operation, speed, or security because that would be purely anecdotal, however blogs on the WordPress channel are notorious for high-traffic, so if that is one of your goals you might want to consider WordPress your best friend just for that aspect.

    The other thing that might work is MediaWiki, which you could use to make a wiki-based site like WikiPedia since it would be most informational based. I don't have any experience with that myself though.

    As far as Drupal goes, i wouldn't say that it is "complicated", but I think it is just a tad too open-ended to be as immediately obvious and easy to setup and get going as WordPress. If you put in a little time studying it I'm sure, but I just went ahead and used WordPress because it served all of my needs. However if you've already been reading about it and it seems like what you need, I'm not really making a battlecry, just offering another suggestion that might be exactly what you're looking for by the sounds of it.

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