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Free or cheap web design software?

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Last response: in Applications
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August 16, 2005 4:27:10 AM

Man it has been a few months sinse I've been here, but I have not gotten much off the other message board I frequeant. I was a big poster on that Stress Test MK2 biased junk.

Long story short is my brother has a few servers and let me set up a website on one for free... well sort of (a portion of and ad revinue goes to him). It is a computer news link site with a few articles I wrote up:

<A HREF="http://abbott.ms/techcove/" target="_new">http://abbott.ms/techcove/&lt;/A>

I originally wrote everything with a free copy of Mozilla. This program worked nice, but was getting a bit combersum. My brother had an extra copy of Front Page 2003, which is better, but is still a bit clumzy and lacks a few features. This is all a new experience to my. I'm a hardware geek, not a software geek, so HTML has been an interesting experience. My brother set up the sidebar and style sheet and currently will not let me touch those, but he is not very creative, so I have been trying to get him to change things. This takes a lot of time before he does it. Hopefully everything will be done by me (within a month or I will beat him silly).

Well long story short, is I want to know if there are any tools or programs kicking around the net for free or cheap (under say $50) that I could use to generate mouse-overs and pop-down menues. Also something that can generate a bit more graphically enhanced boarder with pictures in part of the border (like a corner). Just remember I am at the begining levels of HTML programming, so it has to be something not too hard to learn

I need to completely redue the design very soon as we dropped Google Ads and are switching to a few others (Amazon Assiat program and at least one other) soon. I do not plan on making money off this site for a long time if not ever, but my brother would like to re-coop the server cost of possible. It is sitting idle and unless the bandwidth usages go crazy it is not costing him any money really.

Hey check out the site and tell me what you think. I know the articles could use some work, but I can only review what I own. The news links though I think are pretty good. I normally browse through the net looking for articles anyways, so now I just compile the ones together that catch my interest. I think they are better than most sites. Tell me what you think about the content mostly as the image will change a lot. I might also didth the abbott.ms part of the name as this is my brothers own domain. We have a techcove.net site registered now and might be switching everything over after we get things the way I want it, not my brother. He is a coding guru, but has no design or artistic ability.
August 16, 2005 1:12:44 PM

CoffeeCup is a nice little program that allows you to do coding.. it has all the code there, you just need to pick what you want and enter in arguments, etc. This way you don't need to know how to do everything and you can look at websites and see how they're laid out.

It's all coding and the software is 20 dollars and with that you get another app that does javascript for you.

I'd check out a free download of it..it's nice, I use it but I just picked up a book on Perl, CGI, and Javascript for 12 dollars (50% off) because.. amazing, computer books aren't hot sellers. :)  The book isn't even that old.
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August 17, 2005 1:35:15 AM

My brother wants to stick 100% with HTML and not use Java. I have heard Java is easier to do, but he insists any extra applications running on the server just makes it that much vulnerable to hacks and virusses. I think he is paranoid as everything is backed up in triplicate.
August 17, 2005 7:57:26 PM

JavaScript runs client-side, it's not on the server.
It embeds into HTML which is nice. I'm teaching myself it right now and it's really not that hard, just grab a good book. The book I'm using ran me 12 dollars brand new, so it's cheap and easy to learn.

CoffeeCup and Firestarter are $20 combined and really good for doing HTML. It's all encoded in there, you just pick what you want and it'll do the rest - but it's all in code, not pretty pictures.
August 17, 2005 10:59:10 PM

Yes but notepad will not actually help me. Maybe he was talking about Flash and stuff like that and not Java. I will look at those if things do not go well Friday. I'm tempted to pull everything. I know I can do it, but without a style sheet I will have to do a lot of work updating all the pages as I tweek them. I already have about 20 pages total and growing.
August 18, 2005 12:52:04 PM

Learn JavaScript.. it's not that hard, plus you can put all your scripts in outside files and call them, meaning you can use the same script over without cutting/pasting or rewriting it.

If you're doing the coding, CoffeeCup will cover all your bases.. it's a really good program, designed strictly for HTML and scripting.

Actually, I think I have the registered version sitting around if you wanted to test it out. Let me know..
August 19, 2005 1:55:22 AM

I'm going to give my brother one last chance tomarrow to get everything updated. I am supposed to go to his house in the morning. If he ditches me again, I am going to pull his style sheet out of my articles and set up my own. I'm not too sure how to do it, but I am getting better at this. I got bored last night and manually added some of the Amazon ads to the main page. With the style sheet editted, some of those would go in the side bar with a bunch of other things. The buttons would include mouse-over menues, and all the stuff in the sidebar would change. I kind of ruffed in what I wanted for now,so we can take some shortcuts tomarrow. He was hinting he "might" get called into work.

I am getting really pissed off at him.

So I at least I now have my onw domain name at <A HREF="http://techcove.net" target="_new">http://techcove.net&lt;/A> and I have some of my advertisements up and some of the modifications done. What do you think? Is is looking a bit more proffetional?
August 19, 2005 12:48:26 PM

It looks good, still needs some improvements.

First thing I noticed is it took about 10-15 seconds to load, which is way too long of a time to wait. You need to figure out how to keep the load times at 2-4 seconds.. which I assume it's because the coding is new and not tweaked.

My friend created this website <A HREF="http://www.carboforge.com/" target="_new">carboforge</A> for his dad's business with some help from me on design and layout.

I'm trying to remember what he used to make the webpage now.. I want to say it was Macromedia something, maybe Fireworks or Dreamweaver.. definately a good investment.. you might even be able to pick it up cheap as a student, but you can't profit from it.

It might be worth the investment of the $100 or whatever for it..


edit:

I just caught on thing "contect us" - If you're shooting for the humor, it might be better to make it "ConTech us" .. or maybe you can't spell, i dunno. :) 

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by riser on 08/19/05 08:49 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
August 19, 2005 6:18:47 PM

Thanks for pointing the spelling error out. Front Page does not have a spell checker in the create button area and I did not catch it. I type way to fast and my spelling is horrible. Front page catches a lot more grammer and typ'os than Mozilla did as it uses the same interface as Word.

As for the loading time it is a basic HTML page with few extras. I have a style sheet for the top and side bar that my brother did up. The slowdown seems to have only come on sinse I added the ads. I think the site has to grab the information from Amazon before it draws the rest of the page. I have neveer seen more than 3-5 seconds anyways, but likely a lot is buffered already. The next time you click it should not be so bad.

Without being able to change that side-bar I am stuck on a few spots. I'm also really pissed as this was supposed to get fixed, but my brother bailed out on me AGAIN. I showed up at his house as planned to find out they had called him into work and he decided not to call me. He did e-mail me, but I do not check my e-mail until I start working on my news links each day.

OK fixed the type'o. Check the load times again. The whole page is only 32k.
August 19, 2005 7:55:35 PM

Site is about 324k actually after a fully loading it. Based on pulling all the files and images. Load time was about 8 seconds off a T1.

The side bar does need fixed, though it's not really hurting things. The TechCove portion could be lengthen to the right, since it seems the left is heavy while nothing is on the right.

What exactly is your website about anyhow? Are you building and selling computers, or just hosting your own website for blobs/reviews?

I saw you had worked at Johnson Controls. I used to work with a lady who left that job about a year ago.. Lauren or laura, in her 40s or so. She works at SSOE in Toledo now, since I noticed your native to Michigan and not that far away. Anyhow, small world.

Oh and the best advice I can give anyone is to never rely on anyone else when it comes to computers - CYA (cover your ass) - I find most of my time I have to do everything myself to get things done.
August 20, 2005 6:06:25 AM

I work in the Lakewood plant in Holland. There are 6 plants in Holland alone and something like 150 world wide. JCI is pretty big and they just love crapping on the little guy.

The site is a review and news link site. The news links was something I really wanted to do. I see many others out there and most only have one or two good links. I wanted to make one that had links to as many good articles and news stories as possible. Now I know there is a lot of personnal opinion to what is good, but I think I do a pretty good job at sellecting them. I already do this every day, so adding it to a site was not that much work.

The articles are really going to be what will draw people to the site likely. If I can get a few really good articles, then I can get some of the major sites like HardOCP to link to my stories. I'm hoping that people will look around the site when they go there and find the news links. I'm also hoping it can make some money, but that is more important to my brother than to me. His finances are messed up and he likes living the rich life. I could care less and can servive of next to nothing. It would be nice to generate a little extra cash, but really I want the hits so companies might actually send me review samples. This would be fun testing new parts and would also help draw more people to the site. If I could make a carrier off this and not worry about when JCI lays me off for good, that would be a bonus. It looks like I will only be with JCI for about another month unless I get a transfer to our Past Model Service Center... which is looking very iffy at this point.

I'm guessing even 1000 hits a day would likely net only about $20 a month unless a lot of people use the ads. I really want ads from NewEgg, but without the higher traffic, few advertising companies will touch us.

The experience in HTML and web disign though is pretty cool.

My brother told me to just do up pretty much what I want the web site to look like on a temp page and he will modify the style sheet to fit it all. He said he would let me modify the style sheets, but they are in dhtml and are a lot more complicated.

Part of the load time issue is I need to resize the pictures and save them to a new file and use those for the main/index page. I found out resizing them does not change the file size. That kind of sucks. I will liekly do that tomarrow. That might cut theload times in half. I had forgotten about that issue and forgot the HTML file does not include the pictures.

If you want to see kind of what the site will look like I have a temp version set up for my brother to work off of for the final disgn changes here:

<A HREF="http://abbott.ms/techcove/index2.shtml" target="_new">http://abbott.ms/techcove/index2.shtml&lt;/A>

It will likely only be up for a day or two, but it will give you an idea of what I want. I just wish those ad banners did not include the big Amazon logos on each ad. Oh well... until I get the hits and can use a better ad system, I think I will have to just deal with it.
August 20, 2005 3:23:07 PM

I went in and editted the pictures to a smaller size and saved them as a a differant file. Resizing them in the web page still was using the full bandwidth to load the originals and then it would resize them down. Now they are smaller pictures that do not need to be re-sized. This should help the page load times quite a bit as over half were reduced to 1/25th the image size. Tell me how the load times are now... on both pages:

<A HREF="http://techcove.net/techcove/" target="_new">http://techcove.net/techcove/&lt;/A>

<A HREF="http://abbott.ms/techcove/index2.shtml" target="_new">http://abbott.ms/techcove/index2.shtml&lt;/A>

Hopefully they are a lot faster.
August 22, 2005 3:14:01 PM

They're looking good for the most part. I like the menu bar on the original page, adding that to the second page would do some good.

Adding some background color aside from white would be good. Notice Tom's has beige and grays in there, something besides a bright white would be cool.
August 22, 2005 9:11:55 PM

All the stuff in the menu bar will be in the tabs along the top. The web links does not work yet as I do not know how to make a mouse-over pop-down menue to list the links. Everything else is there.

Are the load times good?

I've been thinking about a background color or a faint wall-paper, but have not settled on anything yet. I'm not sure if that is something I can add easy. I'm back to work full time over the next 2 months so unless my brother gets off his butt and does some of the things he said he was going to, I can do little more than update the news links unless I get an idea for something.

Does the Tech Cove banner at the top look better look better? The sunset a few days back was pretty nice. My 2MP camera does not do it justice, but it still turned out OK.

Am actually getting to the point that when Front Page slaughters something (mostly cut and pasting things) I can actually go into the HTML text and fix it pretty easy. I think I actually like doing this.
August 25, 2005 4:11:22 AM

I moved my temp page to the main one now. I was tired of waiting. I just need that little button for web links to work now and I'm fine. I just created a new page for the favorite web links as a cheat way of doing it. I t is not too bad, so I might keep it.

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Todd_a on 08/25/05 00:36 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
August 31, 2005 3:06:18 AM

Does anybody here know how to set up a Google search tool on a site? I have been plugging away on my news links for 6 weeks now and have already over 300. My brother said he could ad a small Google search tool to the site that could be specified to only search a certain folder. I have all my archived weeks in one folder and need a way to set this up. Even a link to a page on how to do it would be greeat.

My brother is too busy to help me it seams as he has never gotten together to update the style sheets. I likely will just have to make my own eventually or just manually modify alll the pages (which would not really be that hard at this point (about 20 or so right now). It would just be a bunch of cut and paste into a template page I would make. I was thinking of just taking the main page and changing the News Link part to whatever the new page was and the ads at the top and bottom to fit what the page is about. If I have time I might just do this this weekend. I have done this already for my "favorite web links" button. I game up on a mouse over pop-down menue and just linked the botton to a new page. That way I can give a short descrition of the link too.

I have not been doing many articles as I have been pretty busy at work and likely will be for the next 8 weeks. I likely will finish 2 that I have parts left to review. After that I will know if I have my transfere. If I get it, I will have money for some upgrades and that will give me some nice new parts to review. I paid off my car and have no depts but my mortgage. I have my finances set up for surviving off un-employment if needed. I will be back to full weeks for 2 months and hopefully a transfer and some better benifits. With full weeks I can save up a lot of money VERY fast. I figure $100 a week to save up for an Athlon64 X2 3800+, CrossFire Board, WD SATA2 250GB drive, Radeon 520. Maybe 2GB DDR, Antec 550w TP2, and water cooling for some overclocking... say $1500. That would be 4 months of saving... Maybe it will be an M2 socket and DDR2. :D 

Before the end of the year I will pore out more letters for review samples, hoping to get on some lists for next year. I will keep my main focus on my news links as I like have links to all the cool articles I read. With a search tool I can go back and find articles much easier than just searching the net for something or digging through 20 differant sites. I use these articles often on message boards to post information. I like having at least some of my facts right (as often as my queastionable memory allows for) and prefer links to back things up.

Out of all the news links sites I think only HardOCP and the Enquirer do a bitter job... well at least for finding articles I like. :D  The experience with HTML is pretty good. I can actually code a lot without FrontPage now as I go in and edit the text often. I just need to learn a few of the more advanced tools and I will be happy. Maybe some Dynamic HTML for style sheets too.
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