Web Design

J is still alive, I promise. Just seems to be me that’s blogging at the minute.

As a reflection of the fact that the vast majority* of our guests are computer literate and have internet access, we decided to create a wedding website. This means that we can display travel information and what have you without having to print off reams and reams of paper – saving on both printing and postage costs. As you will discover when organising these events, apparently little costs multiply and mount up like nobody’s business.

J had created a simple website once before (for an event that he ran while at university) and he’d had a good experience with a particular hosting company. Fine, I said. Sounds good. Even better they offered templates so all we would have to do was input the content, select a colour scheme or two, and bang!… our website!

I bet you can hear my hollow laughter now.

Basically, the templates were just awful. Even having found one that we both liked the basic aesthetics of, we found them all hideously restrictive. For instance, there was a (ridiculously low) character limit on subheadings. You couldn’t have a single column of text rather than two. And, and I think this was the ultimate deal-breaker, if you wanted more than five sub-pages then it split up the links on the home page in an incredibly bizarre fashion, arranging five at the top before sticking the rest in a corner down the bottom.

I think J might have gone with it to be honest, but he doesn’t have any experience of coding and his geekery pride was not at stake. So yes, you’ve guessed it. I decided to code our wedding website, from scratch, using my limited knowledge of HTML, slightly better knowledge of CSS, and a couple of really good online tutorials.

For those of you who haven’t built a website before, let me explain. The real issue is not getting it to work and look good, per se. The real issue is getting it to work and look good on any computer using any operating system running any browser.

I’ll be honest, I’m quite enjoying it. I’d forgotten quite how addictive coding was or how satisfying it is getting something to work, but believe me, it gives you quite a buzz when it goes well! The problems come when it doesn’t go well, and the point at which I start to blog is the point at which I am avoiding tackling thorny issues. So my current major issues are as such: (- any techies reading this are very welcome to offer solutions)

  • trying to get @font-face to work
  • coverting everything from pixels to percentages (grrrr)
  • inserting dynamic content frames for the main text on each page
  • finding a (free) site on which to host a discussion forum for people wanting to lift-share

On the plus side, it’s keeping me out of trouble and off the streets…

*Obviously we’ll do printed information for the handful of elderly friends and relatives


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lucy
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 18:30:48

    I would like to point out, however, that thus far, all of my code passes the validator test 😀


  2. Laura
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 15:26:29

    Lucy – if you need any help or a second pair of eyes, feel free to send code over my way. No idea about hosting companies though – I’ve hosted my own before having encountered the same issues, have you got a desktop that’s online all the time with which you could do this?
    Some hosting companies will not accept code that’s not written under their restrictive templates for security reasons – I came up against this issue before. Wouldn’t suspect it’d be as much as an issue for HTML/CSS as it would be for PHP (server-side scripting) but it’s a possibility…
    I’m impressed at your dedication in writing it yourself thus far 🙂


  3. Lucy
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 18:37:34

    Well, always up for a challenge! Thanks for the offer, though. Having someone to bounce ideas off is always useful when things aren’t working.

    We’ve found somewhere fine for hosting the site itself where they give you the server information and off you go. It’s just a question of trying to trying to find somewhere to create a discussion board that we can link to, as my coding skills *really* aren’t up to that (and I suspect you’d need PHP etc., which I have no wish to get into).


  4. Laura
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 18:52:52

    I hosted a forum a few years ago. I downloaded some open-source PHP files which essentially amounted to a ready-written forum for running on your own host machine (customisable, of course). This option won’t work with a hosting company as they’re likely to have a blanket ban on running scripting code in case your code gets stuck in an infinite loop or something and kills their servers…
    A site that I’ve used previously for fora which worked well without needing your own host computer was Invision Free (http://www.invisionfree.com/) – very simple, create an account, customise your forum and away you go. You get your own URL. Then just add the link to your website.


  5. Lucy
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 18:54:14

    I’m just downloading a template from Bravenet – we shall see what happens….


  6. Laura
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 19:00:02

    Definitely go for Invision Free if you get stuck with Bravenet – you don’t need to download anything or host anything yourself, your forum is totally customisable but all done from an admin interface in your browser, they host everything for you. It really is incredibly simple.
    Good luck anyway!


  7. Lucy
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 19:03:07

    Sounds like this, to be honest. It’s even letting me use customise the theme and what have you.

    But yes, thank you…!


  8. Lucy
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 19:10:51

    Yes, our server’s let the embedded script work! Score!


  9. Laura
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 19:13:49

    So you’re uploading your forum onto the hosting server? Bravenet aren’t hosting it?
    Is this just script in tags on an HTML page or is it a PHP page?


  10. Lucy
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 19:19:32

    Script tags in HTML. I’m not sure which company is ultimately hosting it, tbh. Bravenet I would assume. But either way you don’t have to click off onto a separate website.

    The only annoying thing is that you have to pay about 25 quid to get rid of the flashing adverts, and seeing as ‘budget’ is the name of the game with this wedding, I’m not convinced as to whether it’s worth it.


  11. Laura
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 19:24:53

    The reason why they would let you have the script tags is that script tags denote Javascript – ie. script that is run on the client’s computer, not on their server (PHP). So they couldn’t care less about it; it’s not going to take their server down if the script is bad.
    IIRC Invision Free don’t have adverts as standard – and if they do, they aren’t Flash.


  12. Lucy
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 21:38:53

    Anyone would think you were on commission 😛

    I’ll be honest, on first glance I do think that the InvisionFree boards look nicer, and the cost to get rid of ads is relatively minimal. The downside is that you can’t embed them, but I could always use an iframe, I suppose.

    Hum. Bedtime now.


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