Having Fun in the Web Design Sandbox

April 18, 2008

Look out world! I am armed with pass codes and HTML!

For those of you whose eyes glaze over when talk turns to the internet, I offer a disclaimer. My big accomplishments this week are all web-related. But be heartened! One scenic turnout in the road led me to a good idea for technophobes.

First, biggest, happiest, and best accomplishment – I learned how to edit my SteveCoxsey.com web site! My web guy is actually a programming and database expert, so websites are a small profit center to him. I like to make little changes here and there, much faster than we could work out. He got brave, and I got brave, and he decided to show me some basics with Front Page last night. I can edit and reformat and change themes and colors and completely screw things up now!

My other accomplishments might seem small by comparison. It was such a little idea I just let it float around in the back of my head for a while before deciding to act. I got three new URLs. I redirected two of them to my blogs. My “Anything But Marketing!” blog on TypePad can now be accessed at AnythingButMarketing.com. This “Twisting Road Travel Log” on Blogger can be accessed at TwistingRoad.com.

Why does this matter? In part because it’s neater and a little cleaner. When I reference a blog the name is the URL. This looks nicer in my e-zine, which I send out in simple text format. That’s the use for my third new URL. I set up a basic free page at OnTheTwistingRoad.com for my e-zine. Eventually I’ll build a “squeeze page” that gives a better enticement for people to sign up. For now there’s something functional at that address.

What’s the point? I can focus on creating a free offer and design the squeeze page to give a free report or free audio or whatever I come up with to people who sign up. It’s another step to building my list, with many more to follow.

Other technical accomplishments weren’t as important. Unless you consider the lighting store adventure I wrote about in Wednesday’s edition of “Anything But Marketing!” Finding those halogen replacement bulbs was a huge accomplishment when you consider the effort it took!

I tweaked my DiscoveryLookout.com site so it is more consistent and flows better. Playing with the little bit of HTML code I’ve learned is fun and takes over my time.

Which brings me to the idea for technophobes. Coaching colleagues will talk about needing to set up a web site but having little knowledge, or they’ll talk about the price of hosting and having a web master design a site for them. Many don’t have a point of comparison and it seems like a lot of money to invest for a basic informational site. A few weeks back I talked about this to a friend who helps a couple of businesses maintain and update their sites. She got back in town this week and was able to give me some ideas yesterday.

She doesn’t have the expertise to design a web site from scratch, but she works very well with templates. She doesn’t know extensive HTML coding, but she knows enough to customize parts of templates and add things the business owners need. The technophobe-friendly idea is to purchase a templated site for a reasonable fee or buy template software. With the free help of a friend who knows a little HTML coding, or the affordable help of someone who is not a web master but can do web maintenance and updating, a technophobe can set up a site fairly quickly for just a little money.

The best part is that this approach lets you learn little steps and be comfortable gaining skills and mastery. The second best part is that it lets you have quick access to and control of your site, which you’re going to want. Trust me!

Technophobes of the world, take heart and move forward into the ominous world of web technology. Technophiles of the world, step up and guide us into the future! And teach us while you do it. And only give us as much as we need each time, and only charge us for the little bit we need!

You may now de-glaze your eyes.

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey

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