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Web Development Thread, new to web design - what should i use?? in Coding and Web Development; Hello hello, This is quite a broad question, so apologies if I'm asking a lot of you all. The primary ...
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    new to web design - what should i use??

    Hello hello,

    This is quite a broad question, so apologies if I'm asking a lot of you all. The primary school I work in does not currently have a website, and I have been tasked with researching possible solutions. My experience with web design is limited, I have a basic knowledge of html and css and can make fairly simple websites using notepad (i didn't like dreamweaver). I am also pretty competent with photoshop, and to some extent illustrator. This is pretty much as far as my experience goes - I have no experience with php, mysql, or any content management systems, or basically anything else to do with web design.

    And so to my question...what would the members here recommend using? I am perfectly willing to put the time in and learn, but am unsure about which will be the best solution. I think that the headteacher used a cms called schooljotter at his last school (he has just started here) which seems to have a fair amount of useful stuff for schools, but I gather that this isn't free, and the sites I have seen that use it IMO look a bit rubbish.

    At the moment I am swaying towards using Joomla, especially since the Edugeek template seems to simplify the design a lot, and I have figured out how to edit it as well.

    One of the main requirements is that certain members of staff (the more technically minded) will be able to update the site, not just myself, so the cms needs to be fairly straightforward with a little instruction.

    Also any advice on hosting would be appreciated, for instance is it possible to get the council/LEA to host it, or possibly our closest CLC, or will we need to go through a private company.

    Any thoughts about any part of this topic would be greatly appreciated, or even adivce on topics i haven't mentioned.

    Thanks in advance

    Jon

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    Joomla is a very good choice, but it's very flexible which also makes it rather confusing to start with. If you're just after a few pages and maybe blog-like announcements for now, you might start with a trimmed-down Wordpress site and then play with Joomla when you outgrow it.

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    Duane_Dibbley (21st January 2010)

  4. #3
    theeldergeek
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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    Joomla is a very good choice, but it's very flexible which also makes it rather confusing to start with. If you're just after a few pages and maybe blog-like announcements for now, you might start with a trimmed-down Wordpress site and then play with Joomla when you outgrow it.
    I'd second Joomla. I've just started using it myself for some personal projects and it is very flexible if not a touch overwhelming at first.

    There's a heck of a lot of help out there though, if you get stuck.

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    Duane_Dibbley (21st January 2010)

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    Devontechie's Avatar
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    If I was you, I'd more than likely go for Joomla and use the EduGeek Joomla package. There are a few examples of Joomla sites here EduGeek.net Forums - Joomla Sites IF you did choose Joomla, there are people on here that can help with problem you may have.

    You would need to talk to your LEA about making sure that PHP and MySQL is available on your hosting.

    Cheers,
    Steve

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    Duane_Dibbley (21st January 2010)

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    gibbo_ap's Avatar
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    i used to be a full on note pad man, coding in asp, creating the look etc then coding it all by hand.....god how time consuming!

    i say joomla! i have used it a few times now, the only problem i have is that it requires a sql db and that ups the hosting by a few quid. but god does it save time

    im still getting to grips with it yet, not tried to do the design yet tho

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    Duane_Dibbley (21st January 2010)

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    Flakes's Avatar
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    coding it yourself

    contact your local authority and see if they host a website for free, most local authoritys should offer this service.

    code in notepad/notepad++/Scite (my favourite is Scite), use xampp on your local machine to test changes before uploading... recommend looking into html/php/mysql(if you can get it).


    Pay for Service

    im actually going to recommend wordpress its a nice system to use and its pretty cheap.

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    Duane_Dibbley (21st January 2010)

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    ICT_GUY's Avatar
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    I love wordpress for ease of use and modification. Great results minimal effort = win.

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    Duane_Dibbley (21st January 2010)

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    pwds's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flakes View Post
    Pay for Service

    im actually going to recommend wordpress its a nice system to use and its pretty cheap.
    If you go to wordpress.org then you can download and self host wordpress for free. The disadvantage for this approach is that you are responsible for setting up the server and securing it- your LEA may be able to assist.

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    Duane_Dibbley (21st January 2010)

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    Great advice guys, thanks a lot!

    Im still leaning towards Joomla, but I do like the idea of using wordpress as a short-term solution.

    Although the Edugeek template is very good, it would be nice to have a bespoke design eventually. Anyone here ever made a Joomla template? How straightforward is it? I'm guessing it'll take a fair amount of learning. Think i'll probably start with the Edugeek template and try to customise it over time (i'm not breaking any rules there am I? Don't really know anything about codes of practice for open source stuff).

    I've downloaded the Edugeek Joomla package, and installed it on my local machine using xampp. Problem is I get error codes in place of the menu items, and also loads of errors in the admin console. I gather this is because the Joomla doesn't support the version of php that the version of xampp i have uses - is this correct? (using: Apache Friends XAMPP (Basis Package) version 1.7.3).

    Is there a way to change the version of php in xampp, or will I need to get an older version, or an alternative??

    Again guys, thanks for all your help and advice.

    Jon

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    also, is there any reason why I can't set up a free account with wordpress as an interim solution i.e. schoolname.wordpress.com??

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    pwds's Avatar
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    There should be no reason why you can't modify any template you haven't needed to pay for a licence to use- although you may be required in some cases to leave acknowledgements to the original author. Check the licence agreement that came with the theme as that will be binding above anything anyone else has to say on the matter.

    Modifying open source themes is usually extremely easy and is one of the enormous strengthes of open source CMS as opposed to proprietory closed solutions. Several "vanilla" base themes exist with most CMS solutions for the explicit purpose of modification.

    With reference to the errors in XAMPP, it ships with specific versions of each component and it is not possible to change one individually. Either you can downgrade to a version with the component version(s) you require (change control for each version should list component versions), or you uninstall completely and individually install apache, php and mysql. This obviously has the advantage of giving you complete control over the environment, and allowing you to exactly match your server environment, but has the major disadvantage of being a lot harder to configure and making it much more likely for an inexperienced user to make mistakes.

    Before you take any drastic steps, what is the error message and are you sure it is related to the version of PHP in use? Normally when you have installed a CMS and then move it you have to change the configuration file(s) to tell it the new site domain and database location, and often you will have to modify the database with domain details as well.

    This is partly for the obvious reasons of connecting to the database, and the usual practice of using mod rewrite to produce readable urls instead of something like www.domain.com/?p=679 which is unfriendly both to users and search engines.

    I assume you've created a database and checked user permissions in PHPMyAdmin if you're creating from scratch on XAMPP?

    Never used the Edugeek Joomla package so not sure if it's a pre-built Joomla or a standard install with an extra theme.

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    Duane_Dibbley (21st January 2010)

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    gibbo_ap's Avatar
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    i wouldnt bother with a temp solution. for general seo and linking sake

    ie if someone links to your temp site then you remove it and replace with the new one additionally getting it listed in google etc will take time

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    Duane_Dibbley (21st January 2010)

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    I have to also agree with everything said.
    Our LEA would not allow any MySql database and gave us a pretty basic hosting package with MS Access.
    Instead I went to Welcome to the home page of The BIG Host cost £20 per year; unlimited bandwidth; unlimited storage; unlimited number of MySql datebase; phpmyadmin; included an easy install Joomla package and more. I then got the LEA to point the school's URL to this site. It all works a treat and transparrent.

    Hope this is of help.

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    gibbo_ap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefighting View Post
    Instead I went to Welcome to the home page of The BIG Host cost £20 per year; unlimited bandwidth; unlimited storage; unlimited number of MySql datebase; phpmyadmin; included an easy install Joomla package and more. I then got the LEA to point the school's URL to this site. It all works a treat and transparrent.

    Hope this is of help.
    they look good! mmmm may cancel my 1&1 account as i have done bugger all with it ever (its on my personal list, which work/gf/beer over rules alot) i have used netcentral but found them expensive.

    do you know what support is like with them? i hate not being in control! so when i have issues its down to them.

    we host our own but i that has pros and cons! i am looking at redoing the school site with joomla when time permits!

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    Duane_Dibbley (21st January 2010)

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    Quote Originally Posted by firefighting View Post
    I have to also agree with everything said.
    Our LEA would not allow any MySql database and gave us a pretty basic hosting package with MS Access.
    Instead I went to Welcome to the home page of The BIG Host cost £20 per year; unlimited bandwidth; unlimited storage; unlimited number of MySql datebase; phpmyadmin; included an easy install Joomla package and more. I then got the LEA to point the school's URL to this site. It all works a treat and transparrent.

    Hope this is of help.
    they certainly do look good!! too good?? any comments on what their support and reliability are like would be great (i'll likely be needing a lot of it :S).

    @pwds:
    great info cheers. I found a post that describes the same issue a few days ago -

    Error at top of page

    I followed a tutorial last night to create a Joomla site from scratch, and it seemed to have no issues.

    think i'll try downgrading xampp. good idea?

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