You are lucky to get through – you nearly went into the automatic de-spammer with a subject heading of “Greetings and Intro”!!!Your family history is interesting. Trouble is, everyone in England is related to someone – especially in Somerset! They pulled a body out of the bog near here, pre-Stonehenge, and the DNA was the same as some people in Bridgwater! People don’t move far round here..
Enough of that… I did my sites using WordPress for the sole reason that someone else, http://www.acuterecords.com/ , had done the same. I asked them what they did as my site, using Dreamweaver and the old HTML coding was getting very difficult to use. This was because instead of just displaying information, I found myself adding comments all the time. This, I found out, is what a blog is(previously I’d sniffed in a snooty manner at thought sort of thing). But I didn’t want just a long list of personal postings, and it was at that point I spoke to Acute Records and realised that blogging software could do a lot more than just post personal musings in a big long list!!!
Concurrently with these events, a guy at work from whom I’d been borrowing hosting space, said he couldn’t do it any more as he couldn’t guarantee to be alive(yes really!) at the end of the year so I’d better find somewhere else. I told him about chanting but, well, y’know… He’s still alive though!
The upshot of it all is that within a fortnight, I’d checked out WordPress and hosting solutions and totally swapped my way of working. I found I needed a database to run stuff, did a load of furious copying, editing and pasting to get all content moved into the new format, and then I was live.
AND NOW THE MAIN STUFF.
Drupal, WordPress, Movable Type, PHP BB. These are few ways to do things. Check this out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_content_management_systems for CMS systems and here http://www.ojr.org/ojr/images/blog_software_comparison.cfm to compare blogging tools. This http://www.problogger.net/archives/2006/01/18/blog-platforms-poll-results/ charts blog software popularity (in a small way). I’ve seen full-on stats that show WordPress is the most popular system.
What you have to do is decide who, in your organisation, is most qualified to determine the system to use. If it’s you, then you decide what software to use, not someone else and then you get lumbered with it!
Then, you have to decide what EXACTLY your organisation wants to do on the web. You need some precision here. It’s okay for me as I’m just a personal thing, possibly doing or changing stuff on a whim. But in a professional organisation you should do things professionally, set targets and goals, strategies and limits, enforce corporate appearances and standards – all that stuff.
Then decide what format best suits your needs.
If you are still unsure, check out lots of sites. Usually, at the bottom, the site will tell you what platform they are using and even their hosts etc. You will find that there is a lot of cross pollination going on. Sites that superficially look alike are using totally different systems.
Now to my opinions:
WordPress.org (which I use), has by far the largest user base. There are pros and cons to this.
Pro – loads of support and options
Con – hacking target, because of it’s size, like M$.
WordPress can do almost anything. If it’s purely a bulletin board service you need, then use something else. Otherwise, I’d go for it. Drop Drupal. That’s the word on 75% of the street although 25% swear by it! You can try http://mu.wordpress.org/ for a big multiblog thing (I haven’t tried this)
All the different platforms have one thing in common:
They separate the content from design and layout. This is fantastic! It means you can keep all your information and pictures, messages and dates, pages and posts from your old site in one place and move if necessary. The format and layout can be literally changed at the flick of a switch!
This works by storing all content in a back-end database, which costs a bit more than a plain hosting – but not much. I use MySQL which the host provides and set it up (actually just a name and a db admin name and password) using PHPadmin (also provided). It’s virtually a no-brainer to set up, so no fear there.
If you can, stick to the non-M$ way of hosting which has two advantages (and hardly any disses). This means Unix/Linux/Apache. The advantages are that it can be incredibly secure and it’s cheaper! The security comes from the proper implementation of a .htaccess file (look it up if you don’t know about it) and file/folder permissions. WordPress has a neat 5-minute install ( http://codex.wordpress.org/Installing_WordPress#Famous_5-Minute_Install ) system that does everything including making the database. After that, you can change it’s appearance (called a theme) from the default. Check out here, http://themes.wordpress.net/, there are thousands although with a bit of PHP coding you can make your own or modify an existing one (which is what I’ve done).
NOW TO DESIGN.
There’s no need to use DreamWeaver or anything. Any code editing I do using the website admin tools or notepad(!). Content is added much as you would write an email or word document with pictures and links set by yourself. This is saved and stored in the database. Any user can do this. You, as database administrator set the permissions they are allowed. You can even set up sub-administrators to admin other users…so it goes. Crucially, there is no html formatting and stuff in with the content. To show you how this works, I’ll copy this mail into my site under the post heading Reply To Greetings and Intro, but also, it will automatically appear in Jill’s site as a comment. This is powerful stuff. You’ll see all the content and links I’ve included, but with the theme format, not plain text as here.
The layout comes totally from the theme you use which can vary from one to five columns (like a newspaper). The key point is that a “page” and a “post” are really just about the same thing. Just their display options vary. All posts and pages can be:
password protected for viewing/or not,
written/edited/deleted by “roles” with varying degrees of access rights,
The site can be:
configured to be bot searched – or not,
configured to receive or block linkis/referrers
This is just from the top of my head. There is a wealth of configurability. On top of this, there are:
PLUGINS and WIDGETS
These are add-ons that require minimum technical knowledge to implement and configure. Currently (from memory) I use them to manage and show images in a nice way, pre-view other websites, block hackers and spammers(bastards), translate pages to other languages, play audio and video, provide stats…
As with the themes there are thousands of them. You just upload, activate, test, and then ditch it or keep it if it does/doesn’t do what you want.
There are two forms of WordPress. One is wordpress.com which does all the work for you but is not very twiddle-able. The other is WordPress.org which is fully manageable as you have to have your own domain hosting, upload the software and modify it yourself.
I use WordPress.org. Go to http://wordpress.org/ Everything (virtually) you need to know is there. There is a large user base and the documentation is derived from the same user base. Updates to the software are very regular. Go for it!