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Blog entry by Blake posted 2416 days ago 1223 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife is a painter, and along with my woodworking we have always dreamed of someday opening a gallery.

A few years back we conceived the name ”The Easel Life” for our future storefront and website. I registered the domain name theeasellife.com (As you can see there is not much there for now.)

My wife has just graduated from San Jose State with a Bachelors in Fine Art. So it is time to start promoting her as an artist. We would like to take the next small step with our website by making an online portfolio of our work.

The idea is that we could hand out a business card and anyone, anywhere could access a professional looking portfolio any time. One section would have her art and another section would have my woodworking.

The other day I started the 10 day free trial with CityMax web hosting because it was recommended by my Mother-in-law who uses it for her website thebeadtrade.com.

I played around with it and built a sample web page (not published yet). The website building software is OK, but I am frustrated because I don’t want to be confined to their simple format “templates.” She likes it because it is secure, and has great 24/7 tech support. It is also one of the more expensive sites (starting rate: $20/mo).

I have seen features on other websites which I really like such as:

  • Scrolling banner of photos (of artwork) across home page
  • Embedded slide show (of artwork) on page
  • A picture (example: a box) which is also a link, and when you put the cursor over it it changes (example: box opens).
  • Clean, streamline, un-cluttered, professional appearance which lets the artwork do the talking.

I think these features really draw someone in with minimum effort on their part (which is always good). They get a sense of your work without too much clicking around. I have heard of Flash animation but don’t know much about it. I am assuming the above features probably use Flash?

I don’t know html, or much about creating a website but I am pretty computer savvy and a quick learner. I am looking for something that meets the following criteria:

  • Introductory plan for less than $20/mo, around $10/mo would be perfect.
  • Ability to grow in complexity with my website skills and needs
  • Templates are OK, but don’t box me in to too simple of a format for long
  • Ability to use Flash animation (which I don’t know anything about yet except that I want it)

So if you know of a great web hosting site or have any tips, please let me know.

Thanks!
-Blake

-- Happy woodworking! http://www.openarmsphotography.com



13 comments so far

View Zuki's profile

Zuki

1404 posts in 2674 days


#1 posted 2416 days ago

Im no expert in this stuff . . . but I believe a couple of LJer are quite “website savy”.

DW has used Freewebs. She seems to like it.

You feel the same way about flash animation as I do about a mini lathe !!! :-)

-- BLOG - http://www.colorfulcanary.com/search/label/Zuki

View YooperCasey's profile

YooperCasey

58 posts in 2430 days


#2 posted 2416 days ago

Congratulations on your wifes graduation and up and coming career in art!

We recently redid our company website and we learned a few interesting lessons along the way. First let me give you a good analogy we got from a consultant.

He spoke of if you were building a restaurant. On the outside you would want the restaurant to convey what you were selling. The outer design would reflect what you would expect. If you sold hot flamboyant cuban food with traditional garbed cuban waitstaff you wouldn’t paint the building white with black trim! So first off, get a theme to your website and stick to it, and make sure the theme matches the artwork which matches the audience. If her media is fine 17th century reproductions, I would avoid hot pink and would check out as many competitor sites as possible (I know, it sounds seedy but it works)

Then once you walk in the restaurant the number one goal is to keep you in the restaurant and then keep you happy with the product and service. It’s so easy to move away from a website. If I saw one site that may be linked to your area it would be the wood whisperers website. The theme is simple, easy to navigate yet everything is at your fingertips.

I know cash may be tight but I would strongly recomend bringing in a professional to get you started with the understanding that you will take over web site design and modification. Alot of businesses can’t afford a fulltime web design dude (or dudette!) so this option isn’t unusual. At a previous employer we would pay a local design firm to do the major site layout work, then one of our salespersons would come along and do the minor modifications, add new features and such. Basically the copy and paste sort of stuff. Every few months when we did a major sale or new product line we would bring in the pros. It looks better, feels better, works better and most of all helps your product sell better.

The end goal is to get the busines moving, which means to make money. Even though you may rebuild a table saw at work would you design one yourself and expect someone else to use it? Of course not, you would get a pro to design it and reap the benefits that come along with it. So unless cash is wicked tight and you have a knack for either learning text HTML or purchasing expensive software, I’d find a pro!

As far as a host I can’t help ya, we do it all on-site ourselves. It makes sense due to intranet and secure areas for us which are unique to our business. Sorry for the rant but hope it helps!

Good luck my friend!

-- Casey, Engineer, Escanaba, MI

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 2912 days


#3 posted 2416 days ago

Hum…I would not want to pay anything for a web site…as you can tell by mine. I’d also think twice about sharing it.

View odie's profile

odie

1680 posts in 2437 days


#4 posted 2416 days ago

I too made this discision 7 months ago. I have a Mac and a program that allows me to design and publish my own site. It is published through dotmac for $100.00 a year. My domain name http://www.dustnlint.com is through Yahoo! at $20.00 per year. If you go there, all it does is transfer you to our site address : http://web.mac.com/johnorsue . I have talked to many people unhappy with the service they get from their web host. They say a change takes forever to get posted. With my set up I can do it in minutes. I do something to my sight about once a week on average. It’s not as polished as some, but my customers seen to like it just fine. Time is a consideration though, I am retired from my career. So I have time for the woodworking and the web site.

You are in the bay area so there is a good chance you have AT&T/Yahoo! DSL. They also have a template to use if you host through them.

-- Odie, Confucius say, "He who laughs at one's self is BUTT of joke". http://woodstermangotwood.blogspot.com/ (my funny blog)

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2472 days


#5 posted 2416 days ago

I’ve been hosted by Hypermart for quite awhile. It’s about $7 per month, and has store front capabilities, as well as a site builder and some other tools. I’ve always been pretty happy with it.

If you don’t want to pay someone to build your site, you might get HTML for Dummies or some other starter book – it’s pretty simple to learn. Also, if you see something cool on a website, you can click “View > Source” and see the HTML to figure out how they did it. If you have specific questions about how to do something, I’m sure there are several people here who would be willing and able to help!

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View Don Mitchell's profile

Don Mitchell

40 posts in 2733 days


#6 posted 2416 days ago

I use microsoft office live. Its free and pretty easy.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/officelive/default.aspx

-- Don

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2834 days


#7 posted 2416 days ago

I use dreamweaver, but i also understand html somewhat. If you want help email me at obiwan_themonk@yahoo.com You dont really need a program if you have a friend or two helping you. I can send you html text (which is done on notepad in text form simply changed to an html extension. really kinda simple.

View brunob's profile

brunob

2275 posts in 2767 days


#8 posted 2416 days ago

I use Macromedia Studio 8 to build websites. It’s a complete package – Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Flash. You can really do some great stuff with it including Flash animations. I use a local hosting site – $160/year including the domain registration. It’s nice to have a local host as you can walk in their front door and talk to a real person.

-- Bruce from Central New York...now, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8715 posts in 2697 days


#9 posted 2416 days ago

I own a Mac. It is my first computer and I bought it for the advertising and marketing potential that it has right out of the box.

I use the built-in iWeb program that came with it. My .com is registered with GoDaddy for $25 per year. I have the .Mac account for $99 per year.

GoDaddy has templates but they are not Mac friendly. Nor are they better by any means than what I have in my Mac.

There are a lot of features available in the iWeb that I haven’t mastered yet. I can add movie clips and various other things. I definitely do not use the program to it’s fullest extent. I wear a lot of hats because I work for myself and I definitely don’t have the money to pay someone. I checked into website design and hosting and it would have cost me $1500 to $3500 with a monthly fee of about $35.

Do I like it? Yes.
Do I think it was worth the money? Yes.
Is it limiting? I suppose it can be at a certain level, but I am not there.

The great thing to me about the Mac is how integrated the entire system is. It is not a bundle of aftermarket programs.

I did have major issues with my computer and they were good at backing the product. They tried various repairs and then they gave me a new one. So I have been happy with the service.

YooperCasey had some great insight. He is right about checking out the competition. Make a list of what you do and do not like in the websites that you see. You both are creative, I am sure that you can come up with something slick.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View CoolDavion's profile

CoolDavion

381 posts in 2421 days


#10 posted 2416 days ago

Blake,

One ways you can get the features that you are wanting (slide show etc) without flash is by using css/javascript.
Check out the following site CSS PLAY several are free, you just need to leave in the copyright info.

There are serveral web sites that you can buy professional web design template for very little, but you would still need to slice up the images. Another option if you are looking for a design, does San Jose State have a computer science / web design degree, you could always hire/barter with a budding web designer to design you a professional looking site. You can give them a portfolio item for a small investment. Before you talk to them, spend some time looking for sites you like, try to figure out why you do, so you can give them some direction.

Learning basic HTML is not hard, there are severl tutorial sites you can look up.

As for hosting, shop around, look in the phone book for web hosting and make a few calls. Stay away from the “free hosting” companies. you would have to settle for ads on your pages, which takes away from the professionalisn you want to protray.

I’m one of the “web savy” people here, so let me know if you have any further questions

-- Do or do not, there is no try!

View dustynewt's profile

dustynewt

639 posts in 2459 days


#11 posted 2416 days ago

If you are into free, check out Google Creator. You can build a basic site (without knowing html), with a template, add as much content as you like (up to 100mb), and have it hosted at no cost. Plus there are no ads you must carry or pop-ups or any other garbage to distract your potential client. The hardest part, for me, is getting exposure on search engines. I am still learning.

-- Peace in Wood ~ http://dustynewt.com/

View Blake's profile

Blake

3434 posts in 2471 days


#12 posted 2415 days ago

Wow, thanks everyone!!!

This project will develop over the next several months. But I will be taking some of you up on your offers when I get to various stages.

That was great advice!

-- Happy woodworking! http://www.openarmsphotography.com

View scrap's profile

scrap

9 posts in 2104 days


#13 posted 1943 days ago

Congradulations to you and your wife Blake and good luck. I signed up with http://www.lunarpages.com/ for my hosting and at the time the gave me $700 worth of software by http://www.coffeecup.com/ . You can get the hosting for as little as $4.95 a month and the software is great for a guy like me who knows nothing about code. they have software to do anything you want. I am working on my site http://www.myterracehomes.com/ now. I havent tried the mouse over or flash or any of the fancy stuff yet but its all there. Good luck

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