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Here's some comments, tips and details of the software and harware I use to create the site and what I can recommend, especially for the budget conscious.

Site Design

Firstly, what I'm not going to do is tell you what you can and can't do or how your site site should look and feel. But what I will offer is some advice that was given to me and it's what I use when looking at other peoples' websites.

  • I suppose the cardinal rule is not to make a page too big, that is, something that takes forever to download, especially your home page. The old addage, 'time is money' was never as true as it is on the Internet. What the optimum is, who knows, as it varies from visitor to visitor or site to site. The biggest offender to this condition is large (file size) images or long pages with volumes of text. (eg. this would be my longest page)
  • Another big turn off is pages that are hard to navigate, by that I mean links are hidden in text or attached to images and are not readily apparent.
  • Probably the hardest thing to come to grips with is the dynamic nature of the web and the links that you provide to it, always maintain your links both within your site and to external sites.
  • Lastly is spelling, its a simple thing I know, but it can drag an 'OK' site down, quicker than anything else. There are a heap of other things that you can read about at all the 'Good Design' sites, like the use of colour and animated GIF's etc, but as far as I'm concerned, what ever turns you on.....

    I should also point out, the easiest way to jazz up a page is to add some graphics and there are many 'clipart' and image libraries online, with literally hundreds of buttons, bullets and bars. The entire contents of the Hot Rods Down Under site was created by me. All the graphics (banners, buttons, logos etc.) and most of the photos were taken by me or given as a contribution to the site.

    The Hot Rods Down Under site was done on a fairly tight budget. Well, nothing actually. That's right, the site is hosted by Geocities, which has not only given me access to 3Mb of server space (for free), but also page counters, a file transfer facility, cgi scripts, forms builder as well as some other features I don't use like the HTML editor and a free EMail address. The great part about Geocities is that if you want to, you can do it al,l on the web. You don't need to buy any additional software or anything.
    Having said that, there are several other applications that I find make life a little easier and these are listed below.

    Dida & DiDa Pro

    It's a HTML editor. Dida is the free - evaluation version and free for non comercial users, Dida Pro is shareware. It's also very small and portable. The program and its associated files fit on a floppy disk and I use it on a variety of PC's from the 386 in my garage to the 233 Mhz Pentium II I use at work, you can even run it off the floppy disk. The only drawback, especially for someone just starting out is, you need to know HTML code as it's a text based editor, not WYSIWYG, but you can preview what you've done in either Dida or your normal browser. It can produce forms and tables and supports most of the standard HTML tags.
    I use Dida to create and update my pages offline and then use the Geocities file manager to upload them. For those of you who are not as confident with HTML, I suggest you use the Netscape editor or some other non-text based editor. - Dida Home Page - Australian Mirror Site

    Paint Shop Pro

    Used to create the weeky images. It also has a handy feature where when you are working with files inone directory, you can save these files to another directory and it remembers the paths, so you don't have to change them all the time. It can also batch convert images.
    Version 4 has some features found usualy in much more expensive packages or specialised business packages, it can use histograms, image arithmetic and colour channel functions to manipulate or create images, these are not something used for creating images for the web, but I use them for my work in Geographic Information Systems, especially when viewing aerial photography. This is a evaluation / shareware program. - Jasc Home Site

    Thumbs Plus

    Thumbs Plus is a graphic file viewer, locator and organizer which simplifies the process of finding and maintaining graphics, clip-art files, fonts and animations. It displays a small image (thumbnail) of each file. You can use ThumbsPlus to browse, view, edit, crop, launch external editors, and copy images to the clipboard. You can use drag-and-drop to organize graphics files by moving them to appropriate directories. ThumbsPlus will also create a slide show from selected graphics, and install bitmap files as Windows wallpaper. You can print individual graphics files, or the thumbnails themselves as a catalog. ThumbsPlus can convert to several formats, either one at a time or in batch mode. You can also perform image editing in batch mode. ThumbsPlus will also convert metafile graphics to bitmaps (rasterize). ThumbsPlus can process dozens of file types internally. There are 30 day evaluation or shareware versions available. - Thumbs Plus Home Page

    Netscape Navigator

    I use versions 3.01 Gold and 4.1, for testing and viewing of the finished pages. When I first started creating web pages I was using the Netscape editor, but I found it difficult to modify some of the formatting options and did not afford the same level of control as actually writing the code myself. For the novice its an ideal way to get started, but there are a lot of features to a web page that are hidden in the code, that you need to be made aware of. I also use Internet Explorer to check the pages before they go online, but it is not my browser of choice. - Netscape Home Page - Microsoft Home Page

    WS FTP

    If I choose not to use the upload facilities provided by the Geocities filemanager (which are very good) I use WS FTP, I have found it to be very easy to use, quick and reliable. There are evaluation and shareware versions of WS FTP. - WS FTP Home Site

    Umax 1200S scanner and Presto Page Manager

    These are used to scan any photos for the site. Generally I scan the images at 300 dpi Sharp Colour, saving them as TIF files. These files are typically 1.5 Mb each. I then use Photo Impact to change the resolution to 150 dpi, crop, resize (typically 333 x 220 pixels) and convert them to JPG files, ending up with about a 10 - 20K file.
    The UMAX is a one pass, high quality scanner and is capable of much higher resolution and quality. Page Manager comes bundled with the UMAX, the image scanning is fine however the character recognition software (OCR) has minimum functionality. If you we wanting to scan a lot of documents, I would be looking for some better specific software. - UMAX Home Page

    Cannon Powershot 650 Digital Camera

    This camera takes an excellent image, on either the fine, normal or economy modes, with or with out the flash. However, on normal mode it can only store 11 images, on economy it can store 20. I thought this was a great camera until I went on holidays. Unless you take a PC or laptop with you, you are restricted by the number of images you can store. Download occurs by locking it onto a docking station and using software to transfer the photos. - Powershot Home Page

    Ulead Photo Impact

    This came bundled with the Cannon Powershot 650 Digital Camera, its actually a suite of applications, there's the image editor, a multimedia filemanager album, screen capture capability, a viewer, Explorer and CD browser for locating images. I use it to convert and resize the TIF images from the scanner to the JPG files for the website, the images seem to be of superior quality. Of course I also use it the down load images from the Digital Camera.
    NOTE : Photo Impact will run on W95 and NT platforms but the twain software bundled with the digital camera is W95 only. Ulead Home Site

    The low cost alternative to the three topics above is to get your photo shop to create the images in the format of your choice, when you get your film processed. This has been available in the US for sometime and is just now being offered in Australia.

    Feedback and Comments pages

    These can be created in several ways, from simply providing your EMail address on a page, to building forms that automatically send you EMail or append to a log file. Don't expect everyone you visits your site to provide some comments or take the time to fill out a survey. Probably the best way to encourage them is to provide some sort of reward. For most individuals this of course is out of the question. So I suppose my only advice is make then available, but don't make them too long to fill out, and if someone does use them it's a bonus.


    Most Internet Service Providers will be able to supply a counter as part of hosting your site. If not there are many 'free' counters available (you will usually find they will be accompanied by some sort of advertizement. For a free counter check out Yahoo or Alta Vista and do a search on access counter or cgi counter.
    The biggest problem with counters is that there is so many ways of inflating the number of 'hits' a site gets, that to releate the popularity of a site based on a counter would be a big mistake. Counters which regster hits or visits are really only there for the owner of the site, they are of little value to someone viewing the site and as such it's up to the owner of the site as to how a counter is used or abused.


    At the moment I have got two that I'm evaluating, NedStat and eXTReMe. So far I have found these to provide a wealth of information, that was previously was unavailable to me. I would recommend installing one of these trackers to anyone. They appear on your page as a small logo somewhere on your page, this is also a link to your reporting page. It provides information such as reference sites, number of hits per hour day, week or month, what browser, screen resolution and OS your visitor is using, plus a host more. This can be very valuable when designing a site and without it your only guessing. And the best part; NO cost.

    Page Verification / Site Performance

    This is something I'm just starting to get into, as until recently you had to download software and run it locally. Now, however there are onlince sites that will do it all for you. One that I have found and am using is the Web Site Garage not only will it make an appraisal of your page but it will also provide helpful tips about how to make the necessary improvements. One of the great features is Image Optimisation, where you are presented with 8 different versions of an image with progressivley smaller file size. This makes it easy to select the level of optimisation you want, as file size is always a trade off against image quality.

    Advertising and Promotion

    Once you've gone to all the trouble of creating your page(s), just like any proud parent you want to show them off.
    There's a couple of ways you can do this, but first make sure you have the appropriate META TAGS in the header of your html document. At the very least you should have tags for the author, keywords and document description. These tags are used by the search engines to classify and list your site.
    The next thing you can do is, rather than waiting for the search engines to find your site you can tell them. Somewhere on most of the Search Engines is a button or option for adding your URL or you can use one of the web based automated promotional sites like Submit-It, that will basically do it for you.
    Another good way to bring people to your website is to provide links to other peoples websites in return for a link to yours. These will usually be sites of a similar nature to your own, but, hey, there are no rules. These links can also be in the form of banners and there are heaps of banner exchange sites.
    A variation on this is the award sites, where you can submit your site for review, if it's considered good enough, it may be featured and you would be assured of more visitors coming to your site.
    It's one thing to get people coming to your site, it's another to get them coming back. Your site should undergo constant revision and improvement. Another good idea is to provide regular weekly updates.

    How hard and heavy you want to go is entirely up to you. But then that's the best part about the Internet and publishing on the Web.

    HP Vectra VL 5/100NEC 486Sun SPARCstation 2Sparcbook 2
    32 Mb RAM4 Mb RAM64 Mb RAM32 Mb RAM
    1.2 Gb Hard Disk40 Mb Had Disk200 Mb Int, 1Gb Ext Disk1 Gb Int Hard Disk
    1 Mb Video Card - GX Graphics AcceleratorGraphics Accelerator
    16 bit Sound Card - YesYes
    17 in Ultra VGA monitor14 in Multisync Monitor21" Sun monitor10" Colour LCD screen
    Windows 95 Ver 4BWindows 3.1Sun OS 4.1.1Sun OS 4.1.1
    Hayes Accura 288 Modem - WorldBlazer 28.8 ModemInt 28.8 Modem
    HP VX 233 MMX Pentium IIToshiba LaptopSun SPARCstation 20Sparcbook 1
    48 Mb DRAM32 Mb RAM64 Mb RAM32 Mb RAM
    3.2 Gb Hard Disk800 Mb1Gb Int, 2 x 2.1 Ext Disks200 Mb Hard Disk
    2 Mb Matrox Milienum Video Card - GX Graphics Accelerator -
    32 bit Sound CardYesYesYes
    17 in Ultra VGA monitor10" LCD screen21" Sun monitor10" B&W LCD screen
    Umax 1200S ScannerCartridge, Exabyte, DAT tape unitsInt 28.8 Modem
    Iomega ZIP DriveCannon Powershot 650 Digital CameraExt CD drive
    64K ISDN Connection

    - Copyright © Greg Wapling