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Old November 24th, 2008, 09:52 PM   #16
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Another plug for Rapid Weaver - if you're on a Mac. Their template system makes updating your website so much simpler. Using it with IPOWERWEB. My site is: Good Light Pictures. I only have some temp media on there, but check out the embedded flash video, took me all of 30 seconds to add in Rapid Weaver (let me know how it plays on your computer). The video is being streamed from a Vimeo +plus account. Also the photo gallery plug-ins are nice and are easy to update as well.

My website has always languished because I was fed up with tweaking every page in Frontpage 2003. I also tried WordPress for awhile, but it was too bloggy for me, and I didn't like having to go back and make a lot of changes to the CSS/HTML files. Rapid Weaver's templates let me get the site functional very quickly, and make updates very, very easy.
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Old November 25th, 2008, 04:27 AM   #17
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I'm using SkyBlueCanvas - The Lightweight CMS as my CMS. I chose it because it's a lot lighter than Joomla, doesn't require a database and to me at least is better suited for a small website.

Here is my: Our Fire
Please don't be scared by lack of images, my preferred style is very minimal.
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Old November 25th, 2008, 08:34 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grant Harrington View Post
RapidWeaver doesn't come with a calendar, but there is a plugin called RapidCal that will integrate your iCal with it. I use a calendar called WebCalendar in an iFrame for group editing of calendars.
Sorry, I forgot that I licenced RapidCal separately.
I bought a book about Wordpress and went down the Rapidweaver route because it seemed like less hassle to learn.
As for the cost. I suppose it depends on how much value you put on your time or paying someone else to do it.
I'm not saying that Rapidweaver is perfect eg after designing my site around a front page consisting entirely of video I discovered that the dropdowns in the menu only work on a mac not on a pc ie they won't drop down over the video on a pc, which screws my site design concept.
Rapidweaver help via the forum have been very responsive on a number of occasions.
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Old November 25th, 2008, 09:18 AM   #19
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Another thing to consider - do you have a lot of time on your hands? If so, then by all means, spend hour upon hour working on your website. But if you're running behind on 12 different projects at the same time, you might find it a better business decision to simply hire a web professional to get it done.

My wife loves to remind me of that when I get these kinds of money saving DIY ideas...
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Old November 25th, 2008, 09:46 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Chris Davis View Post
But if you're running behind on 12 different projects at the same time, you might find it a better business decision to simply hire a web professional to get it done.
It's a fair point. I've spent 55 hours on my website so far (and that excluded researching how to do it) and it's still not finished.
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Old November 25th, 2008, 09:50 AM   #21
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I used to build websites for money, now I'm so busy that I don't even have the time to build from scratch for myself, hence a open source CMS. :))
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Old November 25th, 2008, 11:33 AM   #22
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Thank you all for the excellent feedback!! This type of info is indespensible. In all honesty, I really don't have all that much time on my hands to be constantly tweaking my website and handling a big learning curve as far as site construction (work a full-time job and 2 other part time gigs in addition to video/audio work). So I'd like to make a compromise between ease of use and most professional look/feel and i definitely want to do it myself for the experience and lack of funds!!

All the sites that I have seen from people who responded to this thread are great (whether CMS or Rapidweaver, etc). The main things I need as far as my site goes are a Home Page, Informational Section, Video Section, Audio Section and Photo/Design section...I think eventually I would like incorporate some kind of PayPal/shopping cart structure in the future if I can get it off the ground.

Josh,
I'm very familiar with the DVcreators site, I think it's a good example of what wordpress is capaple of, but there is a lot more going on there than I actually need. I'm definitely going for something more stripped down and simple for my needs, and not so much a "blog" structure...is there a lot of flexibilty with wordpress' site construction/editing??

Thanks again y'all keep the advice coming, it's great to have this much info. centralized in this thread for when it actually comes time for me to make my decision!

~brendan
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Old November 25th, 2008, 11:43 AM   #23
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Brendan, have you checked out this page: Home - OpenSourceCMS
It might help you find the best solution for you. It has demos of most of the open source content management systems, whether blog, or portal or usual website.
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Old November 30th, 2008, 08:06 PM   #24
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I just wanted to clear up some of the mac-related questions.

I use a mac, and have been dabbling with wordpress and joomla for quite a while now. Since these "content management systems", as they are called, are all server-based (meaning that there isn't any application that you run like Dreamweaver or GoLive on your computer to set it up, but rather, it's managed over the internet through an administrative back-end), there's absolutely no problem at all designing with them on a mac.

The only difference when developing a site using wordpress or joomla with a mac is going to be the FTP application that you use. Since these services are server-based, you need a way to communicate with the server and transfer files. To do that, you use a service known as FTP. The best FTP client on the mac is Transmit, although it runs for $29.95. There are other free alternatives, like Cyberduck, but I can't recall too many off of the top of my head.

As far as rapidweaver goes, it's nice software if you don't mind being tethered to their templates. The last time I used it (granted, this must have been 2 or 3 years ago, and they could have added much more customization since then) I just couldn't stand being limited to their templates. Sure, you could change the images and text and such, but what if I wanted to change, say, that blue bar under the logo to a green bar, I wouldn't be able to do it. A lot of the code is also not the most refined or speedy code on the net. With that said, it's still worth downloading the free trial and trying it out, it is AMAZING software if it suits your need.

Best of luck,
Glenn Fisher
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Old November 30th, 2008, 09:46 PM   #25
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For customizing CSS or PHP, I use TextWrangler (free) to load text files right off the server, change them, and save right back to the server.

To resize and upload images, and to encode and upload video, and to manage remote media, I use DV Kitchen.

Wordpress has a plugin I highly recommend, one-click install, where to install a theme or plugin, you just copy the URL, paste and click install, no need to download and upload.

I have Cyberduck, but don't use it much.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 02:37 AM   #26
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Just to add to Glenn's point about FTP . . . you don't actually need an FTP client with Joomla or WordPress, other perhaps than to install the software in the first place (which in my case was a one click install option provided by my host, so no FTP software needed).

As Glenn says, everything is server based - development, admin, content creation, template and plugin uploads, the works. All uploading of site graphics, video etc is also done from within Joomla/WP, ie server based.

The occasions where you would find an FTP client useful would be, for example, if you make any changes to the template graphics and need to upload the new files. I had a bad night last night so my brain isn't working particularly well this morning, but I can't think of any other situations where you would actually need an FTP client. I'm sure someone will set me right!
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Old January 6th, 2009, 12:45 PM   #27
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rapidweaver

so after much research and great advice, I decided to go with Rapidweaver to build my site. I found that you don't have to be tethered to their stock templates by any means. You can download a blank template and customize however u want (with help from CSSedit and textwrangler)...there are other developer tools and some great tutorials out there as well:

RapidWeaver Developers - Download SDKs

I haven't had much time to play with yet (holidaze), but am doing the tutorials currently. I wound up going with Lunarpages for hosting, good deal, good reviews. There customer service is great so far too.

I used one of the generic rapidweaver templates to make and publish a placeholder to make sure everything would work correctly.

Home

thanks for all the great advice, I'll surely be back for more as I undergo building my site..ahah

~brendan
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Old January 6th, 2009, 12:53 PM   #28
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Don't forget BlocksBox,BlocksBox. It's a theme that isn't a theme. It's a canvas for whatever you want it to be. Does require Yourhead.com Blocks plugin, but makes site design as flexible as you want if you don't want to get into the HTML/CSS coding.
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Old January 7th, 2009, 09:53 AM   #29
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There are a few things to consider. I used to be a marketing consultant specialized in helping startup and small companies establish themselves in competitive markets. You can think about these points:

1. The image and quality of your website, your logo, letterhead, Biz Cards, all your business communications and promotional material, and just about everything else visual about your company acts as a surrogate of your quality until real evidence shows up.

2. Your image and website must communicate effectively and distinguish your company from your competitors. Half of that communication is visual. The other half is text copy that should be created by an experienced copywriter.

3. Websites are not always the rendered the same in all platforms and in all browsers, but they do have to be optimized to be perfect in them. And mobile devices must be included as well.

4. Websites should be optimized to have the maximum rankings with search engines.

5. For those not experienced in website design and general branding, this is very, very time consuming. And the time and resources dedicated to the website often detract from other more important tasks.

I often see small companies and startups try to save a buck or two and do the website, brochure and other stuff internally. Rarely do they have all the internal competencies to produce something that helps them get positioned properly in the marketplace and often they do more damage than good to their company. Ironically, a $5000 investment to get a talented creative group to do this step can help them easily recover that investment through increased sales.
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Old January 8th, 2009, 04:12 PM   #30
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.
  • I've got a different take on this. I agree with everything Ken has just said, and would say that for many it's maybe wisest to leave it to the pros. I also think the 'off the peg' sites carry the risk of looking like they are just that. But, if you're at all savvy with a bit of simple coding, I think it's worth the effort trying to do something a little different. After all, we're all creatives here aren't we...?

    First off, be very careful buying your domain. Some sellers will retain ownership (seriously!) and you'll only find that out later. Don't use the same company for your web space - if you fall out with them you have twice the problem if they're also your domain host. It's happened to me. Check out what they won't let you do. One company I was with didn't allow the uploading of zip files! I use UKreg for my domain (ridiculously cheap and with free email and host name forwarding) and 1&1 for the space.

    Free HD hosting is really good these days. There's Vimeo, Exposure Room, and of course YouTube. You can embed externally with all of these. But I would question whether HD is such a good idea if your target audience has to sit and wait for it to download first...

    I like the look of Revolution, but check out Virb, which is free. Here's an example Viral Mistry on Virb.com. He uses Vimeo (free too, but they also offer a cheap 2 pass encoding service with extra features) but you can go elsewhere for free hosting - look at my Video Embedding Comparison Tests (all free) and notice how my own URL stays up top virtue of UKreg's host name forwarding. As for customising the Virb look: Free CSS Templates

    I've been creating my own showreel page on Virb too Karel's Showreel (very much work in progress, and yes Ken I'll be replacing my name up top with a nice professional graphic) but I'm now toying with the idea of moving it to 1&1 and doing some clever things with Javascript, but I won't go into that here. Not just yet anyhows.

    Or you could use ExposureRoom: SHOWREEL 2008 By Karol Pupiec or even Vimeo's own site: Sweetheart Films but they're both a bit cluttered and don't allow much customisation, which is where using Virb comes in.

    My main point is that nowdays you can do it all for free (or very cheaply) and it doesn't have to be MySpace!
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