Although I've done programming, I'm not a programmer. I've recently agreed to coordinate getting a Website up for a club. The resources are--me, who has done Web content maintenance (putting content into HTML and ColdFusion templates via a gatekeeper to the site itself; doing simple HTML and XML coding); a serious Web developer who does database programming, ColdFusion, etc., and talks way over the heads of the rest of us; two designers who use Dreamweaver; the guy who created the original (and now badly broken) site in Front Page and wants to use Expression Web; and assorted other club members who are even less technically inclined.

What we need up first is some text and graphics (a gorgeous design has been created in Dreamweaver), some links (including to existing PDF newsletters for download), and maybe hooking up an existing Blogspot blog. Later (or earlier if it's not hard), we may add mouseover menus to the links, a gallery, a calendar, a few Mapquest hotlinks, and so on.

My question--First, is there any real problem with sticking with HTML and jpegs for the initial site? Second, for the "later" part of the site development, what's the simplest we can go with? Third, are there costs in doing this the simple way that will make us regret it down the road? Also, is there a good site/resource where I can learn more about this from a newbie perspective?

Thanks all!

  1. It's fine
  2. Rails (or purchase / use a CMS)
  3. Not unless you start becoming crazy-popular
  4. It really depends on what you go with for 2. Rails has a plethora of tutorials on the net and any product you go with will have its own community etc.

To be perfectly honest though, if the dynamic part is someone elses blog and you move the gallery out into flikr you may find that you can actually live with large parts of it being static HTML for a very long time.


There's no reason to not go with plain old HTML and JPGs if you don't know any server side scripting languages. Also, once you want to get more advanced, most cheap hosting services have tools that can be installed with one click, and provide things like blogs, photo galleries, bulletin boards (PHPBB), and even content management tools like Joomla.

+7  A: 

If you don't require any dynamic content, heck, if you don't plan on editing the content more than once a week, I'd say stick to basic HTML.

Later, you'd probably want a basic, no-fuss and easily installable CMS. The brand really depends on the platform (most likely PHP/Rails/ASP), but most of them can be found by typing " CMS" into Google. Try prefixing it with "free" or "open source" if you want.

I'm pretty sure you can do all this for absolutely free. Most PHP and Ruby CMS's are free and web hosting is free/extremely cheap if you're not demanding.

And last/best tip: Find someone who has done this before, preferably more than once. He'll probably set you up so you never have to look at anything more complicated than a WYSIWYG editor.


Personally, I'd never use JPEG images on a website, mainly because of three reasons:

  1. JPEGs often contains artifacts.
  2. Quality is often proportional with filesize.
  3. Does not support alpha transparency.

That said, I'd recommend you to use PNGs for images since it's lossless and a 24-bit palette (meaning full colors + alpha transparency). The only quirk is that IE6 and below does not support native alpha for PNGs, however this could be resolved by running a javascript which would fix this issue.

As for designing a website, there's both pros and cons for this. I suggest you read through:

As for newbie resources, I'd recommend you flip through the pages at W3 Schools.

Using PNGs for everything can radically affect the speed of your site. Different images call for different formats, and that means using the correct format for the image. If transparency is necessary, PNG is often the way to go, but GIF can look just as good, and is cross-browser compatible without JavaScript.
Ryan Kinal
+2  A: 

If you're familiar with html/javascript basics I'd look into a CMS - wordpress, drupal, joomla, nuke, etc. All of these are free. Very often your web hosting company will install one of these by default which takes all of the hard part out of your hands. Next is just learning to customize the system and there's tons of docs out there for any of those systems.

All that being said there is noting wrong with good old fashioned html.


I had the same problem myself, I was just looking for something really easy to smash together a website quickly. First I went with just plain old HTML, but then I realised a simple CMS would be better.

I went for Wordpress. Wordpress is mostly known as a blogging platform, but in my opinion it is really great as a deadly simple CMS as well.

+1  A: 

why not simply use Google pages? Here is an example of a website I did, takes about 2 hours, easy to maintain (not that I do (-: ) and FREE.

I think that suggesting you mess with HTML for what you need is crazy!

+1  A: 

Plain old HTML is fine, just as long as you don't use tags like blink and marquee.

Jon Limjap
+1  A: 

I personally love tools like CityDesk.

And I'm not just plugging Joel. (There are others out there in this class I'm sure.) The point is they make making a static website very easy:

  • The structure is just a filesystem structure
  • pages have templates to consolidate formatting
  • all resources are contained in one file
  • easy and fast Preview and Publish functions

For a dynamic collaborative site, I would just install one of many open source CMSs available on shared hosting sites.

Frank Krueger

Thanks to all you folks--this gives me a much better idea where things fit in and how.

Note to those who were wondering why HTML--because Designer Guy has already created some gorgeous pages in Dreamweaver. (I mean, seriously gorgeous.)

I'm going to go ahead with the basic setup (soon is good, Fall is recruiting season for the clubs), find out what the hosting service offers, spend some time looking at CMSs, then plan the second wave.

This has been a huge help--thanks.

Designer Guy could also transform the page design to a CMS template :) This way you'll have features of a CMS and the unique design you desire. And you'll learn something along the way.
Don't post comments as answers -- either comment someone's answer, your own question or add it as an Edit to your own answer.

Plain HTML is great, gives you the most control. If you want to make updating a bit easier though, you could use SSI. Most servers have this enabled. It basically let's you attach one file to many pages.

For example, you could have your menu in navigation.html and every page would include this file. That way you wouldn't have to update this one file on every page each time you need to update.

<!--#include virtual="navigation.html" -->

If a to Implement a website With User Profiles/Logins, Extensions, Gallery's etc s a Newbi then a CMS like Joomla, Etc are good , but Else if you presently have only Static Content then Its good to go with Good Old HTML, About JPEG , I though Presently Its better to use PNG or GIF as its Less Bulky.

Also About you Query About Shifting to Server Scripts , When you have Database Driven Material or When you have Other Things that Require Advanced Prog Languages , Just use PHP Scripts inside PHP , and Rename teh File as a PHP, Thats IT, No Loss to you HTML Data.....

Do Go Ahead and Launch you Site ......

+2  A: 

In addition to some of the great content management systems already mentioned, consider cms made simple.

It makes it very easy to turn a static site into a content managed site (which sounds like exactly what you might need to do in the future), and the admin area is very easy to use. Our clients have found it much simpler to use than the likes of Joomla.

It's also free and open source.

Good luck!

John McCollum

Dude, you're talking about HTML, obviously you'll be styling your content with CSS. Wait till you run into IE issues and god forbid your client wants ie6 compatibility.

Go with the HTML for now, I'm sure you guys will hack it through. Our prayers are with you.


Hi, I agree with the other commenters that a CMS might be useful to you, however as I see it, probably a solution like Webby might do it for you. It generates plain HTML pages based on Templates. Think about it as a "webpage preprocessor" which outputs plain HTML files. It has most of the advantages of using a server-based CMS, but without a lot of load on the server, and making it easy for you to change stuff on any of the templates you might use.

Sebastian Oliva