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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Personal Web Sites

Alan Applegate (K0BG) on July 8, 2009
View comments about this article!

Personal Web Sites

Preamble

I first wrote the meat of this article in January 2006, after my personal web site had been up and running about 18 months. As I write this update, it's been up for over five years, and I've learned a lot in the mean time. While you might not have a personal web site, and may never have one, knowing what's good and bad, just might make your surfing a wee bit more enjoyable. Who knows? Maybe it'll change your mind, and you'll decide to take the plunge.

Intro

The original intent of the web site, was to share my passion for amateur mobile operation, and one I've had since 1972. What I didn't realize is where it would end up (turn into), and just how busy it, and yours truly, would become.

From its humble beginnings of about 140 or so page views a day, it now average over 500 per day, and a few times in recent history, over 1,500 in one day. Twice this year, it has surpassed 1,000,000 hits in one month, but the telltale figures are the page views, and resulting bandwidth requirements. Those average about 8,000 pages and 350 mb per day. This is roughly 50 times the 2006 averages!

There are now 59 separate articles, covering just about every facet of mobile operation, with the emphasis on HF operation. There is some overlap in the articles, which I'll cover later on. It still is far from the most popular amateur radio-related web site, but it is the most popular one relating to mobile operation. My easy-chair approach of spending 8 hours per week supporting the site, has turned in to nearly that amount, on a daily basis. This is due primarily to the number of e-mails I receive, and to a lessor degree keeping up with the latest in related technology. My labor of love has sort of turned into a love of labor!

There is another aspect that's also changed, and that's the Internet itself. As browsers and Hypertalk have evolved, so has the code driving them. Sometimes for the good, and sometimes for the bad. If I've learned anything from the evolution, it is this; keep your web building software up-to-date! I've also learned a few new tricks of the trade, and this is what this update is about.

There are a few caveats which I should mention up front. Everyone has his/her own comfort level in monetary, leisure time, and other personal expenditures. What follows is not a minimal baseline, but rather what I've done, and why I've done it. In any case, it is best to remember, the level of monies and/or time spent, are no guarantees of success or failure.

Improve Your Skills & Your Software

Buy yourself a book on HTML (Hypertalk Marking Language), HTML is the underlying software that makes web pages possible. One of the better ones is written by James Pence, and published by Osborne Press called How to Do Everything with HTML (ISBN 0-07-213273-6). It's getting a little long in tooth, but the author's not overly technical writing helps the beginner.

Some may bulk at the suggestion to use HTML, rather than XML or SML, but the former is still the underlying basis for the latter. Call it a prerequisite, as HTML is by far the most prevalent web marking language, and most widely supported.

Buy yourself some good web building software. While MS Word, Appleworks, and similar word processors generate web pages, unless you're an expert with HTML, their web abilities are very limited. I now use Adobe's Dreamweaver CS4, as Adobe no longer supports GoLive. It's available for all popular platforms. Incidentally, the CS stands for Cascading Style sheets. I'll cover this in a little more detail later. Even as good as Dreamweaver is, it too has a few quirks which are being addressed, they say. Microsoft's FrontPage is good too, but there are still some cross-platform incompatibility issues. Hopefully, MS is working on them as well. Expect to pay about $350 to $500 for top line packages.

There are a couple of shareware programs out there that do a creditable job of building web pages, albeit at a lesser degree of sophistication. There is at least five freeware web page builders, and some of them are very good. The Web Developers Journal site has a host of support freeware you might want to check into as well.

Hosting

Hire a good web hosting company to host your site. My original hosting company is no longer in business, and neither is the one I almost choose. Longevity is a positive attribute in the hosting business, even if you have to pay more for it. As a side light, it took almost 3 weeks to get my site relocated, and nearly 3 months before everything worked correctly. Again, choose your hosting company wisely!

All but a few hosting companies will help you get your own domain name. I pay $10 per year for my domain name which is about average. The hosting costs vary depending on how much storage you need, but typically starts at about $5 per month. My hosting company is iPower, and I pay for additional storage, disk space, and bandwidth, as well as daily backups. This amounts to about $165 per year, including the Photo Gallery.

There are cheaper hosting companies, and even some freebie ones. The problem is, you'll have ads all over your pages, and you won't get any of the revenue from them. That's why the hosting is free! Worse, they limit your bandwidth, and if your site gets busy and you use too much, down goes your site! Believe me, this happens a lot!

If you do use a paid hosting company, do yourself a favor, and pay by the year. If you forget to pay your monthly bill, your site will be blocked. As luck would have it, that's always when the web crawlers (spiders) will try to access your site. Spiders are what Google and others use to find new sites. Since there are several billion sites (you read that correctly!), it is important that spiders find you every time they're out looking.

Stay away from having domain names like www.superhosting.com/personal/amateur/xx4xxx. These make your site difficult for the spiders and others to find you. Besides, there is something special about your very own domain name. There are several different suffixes you can use, although they're not strictly adhered to. For example, .COMs are usually commercial sites which sell or advertise a product. Those with .NET are usually ISPs or e-mail providers. Those ending in .ORG are organization like the ARRL. I chose .COM because at the time I really thought I might like to sell something over the net, but I have since thought otherwise. It does take a lot of work, and I'm retired and I want (ed) to stay that way!

Setting Up Your Site

If your site is meant for public consumption, then choose your subject matter carefully. For example, there are hundreds of sites dedicated to antennas, and antenna theory. If you start another one, and you're looking for a wide audience, then choose a facet not well covered, as reruns don't do well these days (remember, there are billions of sites). Above all, be precise. If your knowledge of antennas is anecdotal, perhaps you should choose a different subject.

Do a lot of thinking about your site's overall layout. The art of web building has matured to the point, that layout (call it the look) is a key ingredient towards repeat viewership. This raises the question, should a personal site rely on repeat viewership? Maybe not, but if you choose your content carefully, and you laid out the site well, you just might become the next eham.net!

How you set up the individual pages is important too. Far too many people, amateurs included, don't have a clue about what works and what doesn't. Part of this is because they're viewing their site locally (using Relative links, i.e.: index.html), and everything loads quickly. If you want to test the real world access time, you need to use Absolute links (i.e.: http://www.mysite.com) directly to your hosting site. If these terms are unfamiliar, then you need to buy an HTML book as I already suggested.

There are other good reasons for checking your site remotely, and one of those is loading speed. If you're really interested in people visiting your site and looking around, then at least the index page (the first page people see) has to load fast! The next few paragraphs are essentially unchanged from the original, and for good reason; the hints given are the most important ones in garnering repeat viewership.

Let's talk about that index page. Far too many people try to make their index page the whole web site, instead of breaking it down into multiple pages like it should be. It really doesn't take any longer to do another page, and it makes editing easier. The index page should be designed in a way to make people want to look. It needs to be neat, orderly, and quick loading. I'll put the latter in another way. The index page should be less than 100 kb in size, and 80 kb is better. Ten years ago, even 40 kb was too large in most cases. Once again, not everyone has broadband access to the net. One of the biggest mistakes (especially amateur radio sites) is getting cutesy. Flashing lights, blinking wording, traveling banners, and the like not only take time to load, they distract the visitor. Besides, some browsers don't support these kinds of attributes. When it comes to index pages, the KISS system (keep it simple stupid) applies.

The secondary pages of your web site need to be organized well too. One common mistake is to have a different list of links on each page. This is fine if you have your site sectioned into say amateur, family, or friends, and each section has multiple pages. Just be careful and make sure you list links to Home (your index page), and to the other sections. Don't do like far too many commercial sites do, and add to many pages. Here's an example. You're looking for clothes, so you hit the link. That takes you to another page that lists just men's clothes and women's clothes. So you click one of those, and get sent to another page with a myriad of styles... and on it goes. I sometimes think (and usually correctly) that the companies who do this hired someone who gets paid by the page. Popups, tables, and lists are a better way to provide navigation to your viewers.

There are a myriad of different web designs as any surfer can tell you. A program which supports Cascading Style sheets is of great help. It allows you to propagate type styles and fonts throughout your site. They're important for several reasons. When XML support becomes more prevalent, the use of CS sheets will allow web builders to use custom fonts instead of those built in to most web browsers. There's more to it of course, but CS sheets are the wave of the future.

Another design aspect hidden below some sites are what are called frames. My site is framed. The left frame contains the links to the individual pages which contain my articles. When the articles are accessed, they load in the right frame replacing the intro to the site. Personally I like frames because pages are easier to build, and most importantly, they load fast because less information has to be downloaded. All isn't rosy, however. Some spiders don't handle frames at all, and other don't do a good job of it. In other words, they can't tell what the content of your pages are. There are ways around this, and I'll touch on them in a minute. One of the things you don't want to do, is use frames with a standard index page preceding them. This is important because even the most sophisticated spiders have a hard time with this type of set up.

If you use frames, there is an index page below them that viewers cannot see. You can see the text if you use LynxViewer, however. To make frames work correctly with most spiders, the root layer of this index page should contain Relative links to the various pages, and not Absolute links. In other words, the URLs should look like this antennas.html, not like this http://www.k0bg.com/antennas.html. This way most spiders can scan the pages for content successfully.

Sites which load a large animated GIF, or movie are a pain because they take so long to load. Worse, a lot of them won't let you bypass the intro. Even worse is background music! Even worse yet, is a busy background image, like a repeating schematic diagram! Not only do these take time to load, they often contain color combinations which tend to mask links on the page. Speaking of which, don't you just love sites with a black background, and unreadable blue links? Yuck! These are bad design elements especially for amateur radio sites.

Another faux pas is automatic redirection. This is when the index or other page has a timer to automatically reroute you back or to another page. Some browsers hang up or don't support redirection, and unless you've added a clickable link to take the viewer there, they'll just go someplace else, and they may do so anyway.

I was talking about being cutesy before. If you've just got to be cutesy, design yourself a Favicon. This is the little picture just ahead of the browser header bar listing the URL. Favicons actually are all the rage. I use one, and so does eham.net. If you're looking down a long list of URLs in your history file or bookmark sections of your browser, it makes sites easier to find. Just don't make them to busy or large. Even 1k maybe too large in some cases. If you're not using web page building software, you'll need to know about Meta files in order to implement a Favicon, which is another good reason to own a good HTML book.

I mentioned Photo Gallery above, and I mention it again for good reason. In my case (and most others), it is the single biggest page in terms of viewership. It generates virtually 40% of the traffic to my site. The look and feel is fully programmable, although I haven't taken the time to do so. Since it is user supported, you have to know a fair bit about how it works. Thankfully, their site contains a myriad of documents, and FAQs for the novice user.

Don't be abashed at promoting your own site. I add my URL on every post I make on eham.net, and on almost every e-mail I send. Further, you need to list your site with the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, Altavista, Searchsite, and others. You can pay companies to do it for you, but each of the sites I mentioned provide a method to request a listing. One thing to keep in mind, if you commit any of the following common mistakes, you might not get listed. Incidentally, all search engines rank sites based on a whole lot of variables. Unless you're the ARRL or eham.net, don't expect your site to be at the top of the list.

They are there because they have made an impact in more ways than one. While having a personal web page that's built for friends and family is perfectly okay, if you're looking for repeat viewership, you have to have something to say. Blogs (personal soap box sites, I call them stump sites) are all the rage, and if that is what you want to do, that's fine. No matter the subject line, I'm sure you'll garner a good following. Personally, I like my site to be publicly viewable by any age group even though it is aimed at a specific aspect of our hobby; mobile operating in my case. What ever site type you choose, put your best foot forward. You never know, you just might be the next hot site on the net.

Web advertising, typically in the form of banners, has always been with us, albeit getting a bit obtrusive nowadays. I made a decision up front, that I would not have advertising on my web site, and it's going to stay that way as long as I can afford the yearly cost. However, if I had a site like this one (eham.net), I certainly would have to subscribe to banner advertising. I don't know the storage or bandwidth requirements of eham.net, but you can bet it costs a hefty amount. If you decide to use banner advertising, keep it in the hobby. Going to a amateur web site, and viewing ads about constipation, is not a bright idea in my opinion. This fact all but eliminates most free hosting companies.

No matter how careful you are, sooner or later, someone will accuse you of favoritism, something that has happened to me many times. My answer to that is simple. Sometimes, some device or product, is so superior to every other similar product on the market, that is sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb. Just be honest about them when you describe why you like them. And, if there is a drawback, mention that too.

Most Common Mistakes

There is one item you don't ever want to do, and that's plagiarize someone else's work. I have had this happen on several occasions, where as whole paragraphs have been lifted from my site without my permission, and used as someone else's original material. Should this happen to you, you have a federally-supported, legal right to demand removal. From my experience, the FBI acts on these complaints, promptly. I should note, the law does allow some copying, excerpts actually, as long as you acknowledge the author. When I'm asked, I always give permission, with the admonition that it be properly credited.

No doubt the most often made web page mistake is using very high resolution photographs (>5 mb). With the exception of some laptop and LCD screens, all monitor resolutions (regardless of size) are 72 dots per inch. This means that a photograph meant to fill half a standard web page can't be much larger than 100 k, and preferably half this size. By the way, a standard web page is about 735 to 850 pixels wide, or about 8 to 10 inches. The best way to handle images is to make thumbnails of them, and link them to higher resolution photographs on another page. You can also use Photo Gallery. I use Adobe Photoshop to batch thumbnail my photographs, but there are hundreds of programs that will work just as well. What's more, most site building software, Dreamweaver included, also thumbnail albeit on a limited scale.

There will be some variation in file size depending on the file format of the photograph. By and large, the best photograph format is .JPG. JPG stands for Joint Photographic Group in case you are interested. It is supported by every web browser currently available. I wouldn't use TIFFs (Tagged Image File Format) as they are not supported well. GIFs (Graphic Image File) are okay too, and are the standard for animation. Remember what I said about being cutesy. Some animation is fine, but too much is really too much!

One of the newer, compression-lossless, formats, is Portable Network Graphics, or .png for short. Although supported by most email programs, older browsers don't always recognize the format. Incidentally, they're easy to convert to .jpg.

Using the correct colors on web sites is very important. There are 256 basic colors which can be used, with 204 of them common across platforms. While you can use in between shades, your pages might not look the same on every browser. How you use color is important too. Placing black letters over a dark blue background, or visa versa, is one of the worse color combinations, and I see it done all of the time. This occurs because most people use Internet Explorer, and Relative links to preview their site. As a result, the site looks good locally, and poorly to others. This is another good reason to use Absolute links.

If you want to make sure how your site looks to others, download it (using an Absolute link) to two or three different browsers, and compare them. If you have access to both a PC and a Mac, you already know there can be a vast difference of how some sites look between platforms. This is especially important if you use non-standard colors.

Speaking of colors, if any given page uses more than four colors (three or less is better), you've used too many. Even then, they shouldn't be stacked on top of one another. Remember the KISS principle! Eham.net is a good example of well-used color. I hesitate to give you a lousy-looking site, as there are just to many. Repeating myself, don't use background patterns especially on index pages as they can be very confusing. If you use a photograph for a background like I do under my index frame, reduce the opacity so the links will show up better.

Speaking of links, don't change their color just to suit your fancy. Frequent users of the web are accustomed to seeing unused links in blue, and used ones in red. Changing them leads to confusion. If these colors blend into your background, change your background, not the link colors. If you use objects (i.e.: photos, icons) as link buttons, do so sparingly as it isn't always evident that they are links. And please, properly label them.

Links are great tools to help your viewers, but don't use them unless there's a reason. Allow me to explain. A lot of amateur radio sites, contain links to manufacturers of amateur radio gear, typically scattered about. Yet, the site itself contains no further data regarding the link. Here's a suggestion, and it's sort of an either/or scenario. If your site has no content about a specific make or model, do not include a link, even if it is your favorite brand! If you just have to, then add a Links page, and put them there. If you do the latter, add a description for the link, not just the link itself even if it is self explanatory. There is a good reason for this. Web crawlers and spiders, are getting very sophisticated. Not only can they search out e-mail addresses, they can also read links. While you might not care, the owners of linked sites can easily compare their incoming link stats with those found by the crawlers and spiders. If you give them traffic, they'll do the same for you. The simple truth is, properly notating links significantly increases traffic back from them.

Most free hosting companies don't provide site stats, unless you're willing to pay for them. However you get them, they'll tell you a lot more than you think they can, or could. The better ones give the user a clear indication of viewer trends, which is important if you want to maximize your viewership. And if you do, keep your site up-to-date! To me, nothing is worse than outdated information. This not only includes the posted data, but the links as well. Fact is, if you pay attention to your stats, they'll tell you when a link is broken.

If you can't spell, or your grammar flows like a rutted dirt road, then use a good word processor to spell and grammar check your prose. Word, WordPerfect, InDesign, and a host of others work very well. Because web designing programs are universally poor when it comes to spelling and grammar, don't rely on them. Read, reread, and then read your prose again. Then have somebody else read it. Far too often you see examples like fro instead of for, there instead of their, or your instead of you're and spell checkers and most grammar checkers often miss these common mistakes. If you're importing text from another source, make sure you have permission, and don't forget to recognize the original author. Brand names should have proper recognition too ( and ).

Organization of the individual parts of a web page are important as well. If you're writing how to articles like I do, photographs aid the reader to understand the text. The old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words is literally true when it comes to web pages. They should be logically arranged, and not all clumped together. Remember to thumbnail them, and link them to the full-sized image if you can. If you do, display them 0n a second page (target link to _blank).

If you have articles on two different subjects, put them on different pages. If they're related, then cross link them. This is especially important if the articles have to be long to cover all of the bases. I know of one, very-popular amateur radio site, where the front page is 31 printed pages long! It contains no less than 5, separate topics, and only two are related to amateur radio. You see this quite often when owners use word processors to develop web sites.

Watch what you name your links, and associated articles. For example, having a link titled Antennas, which takes to an article on verticals, can be confusing. And please, alphabetize your links. Imagine finding an antenna link after one on wiring? Just as important is categorizing. If the link takes you to an article on antennas, then add links to the top of the page to take to the various types (beams, wires, verticals, etc.). Some folks view this as unconventional (links are nominally at the bottom), but putting them at the top as a content description makes a lot of sense, at least to me.

Mixing your families photographs with your amateur photographs can be confusing. One of the best ways to avoid this is to use Photo Gallery. Photo Gallery also generates its own thumbnails, so even large pages load fairly quickly. In any case, uploaded photos don't need to be larger than about 500 k, and typically 300 k is plenty big enough. Uploading 5 mb images is a waste of time, and disk space.

Organization of the individual parts applies to menus too. Placing the links to additional pages on the right instead of the left is unconventional, and a prescription for low viewership. Scattering them all over the index page isn't prudent either. Putting the links into tables (they look like a spreadsheet) is okay, but watch your symmetry and font size so links don't get clipped in alternate web browsers.

The last item I wish to cover is page size and intended resolution. Nowadays, most everyone has a monitor capable of 1024x768 or something very close. At this resolution, a web page 8 to 10 inches wide (depending on the monitor) will be optimum as I mentioned above. Anything larger and your visitor will have to scroll the page to view it all. One way to avoid this, is to use dynamic widths. As you change the width of your browser window, so does the web page. While there used to be cases where this wasn't advisable, nowadays all web browsers handle dynamic pagination very well.

Conclusion

Web page generating software is much more robust than most amateurs, radio or not, will ever use. As an example, by using built in Java scripting, it is possible to query a web browser, and have it return its name and version number. This is true of web-capable cell phones and PDAs alike. In other words, you can build a web site for home computers, and build a secondary sites for cell phones, PDAs, or for older browsers, and automatically download the correct version. Personally, this is a little beyond the scope of a personal web site. In any case, there are other really super-duper things you can do, and some of them are very eye catching. But before you try all of this fancy stuff, learn the basic principles first, and stay with in the KISS range.

I do realize a lot of the terms I've used are beyond the average neophyte web builder's understanding. If you buy a good HTML book, some good web building software, take your time to learn all of the terms, and you'll turn out a great web site everyone will want to visit and revisit. Just don't fall into any of the pitfalls I've mentioned.

Alan Applegate, k0bg

http://www.k0bg.com

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Personal Web Sites  
by KI4SDY on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
The most important part of this article is the paragraph concerning copy right violations. A conviction can get you up to 5 years in jail and or a $250,000 fine. In addition, the original author can just sue and go for the money. Last I heard, they pay bounty hunters 10% for reporting violators. Think of the ham gear you could buy with that!

If it is not your work, in full or in part, get permission to use it in writing and acknowledge the original author with footnotes or in the script!
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by K0RS on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
The biggest problem with most personal websites is the author just doesn't have anything very interesting to communicate with the outside world. These sites tend to end up being just a collection of the same old links to "my favorites," QRZ, ARRL, eHam, and the ubiquitous weather gadget. BORING. Why do people go to all the trouble to chase viewers to their site just to link them to somewhere else? D'oh.

Here's another tip if you're writing an article to be published on the internet, whether it be your own website or eHam: Pick a font and stick with it. Then your article doesn't look like a ransom note clipped from a newspaper or magazine.

When you select a grammmer checker, get one that knows the difference between "to" and "too"....too. ;-)
 
Personal Web Sites  
by VK5SW on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Alan, a great article, full of useful information. Thanks. - Rob - www.vk5sw.com
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by CROWBAR on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
+1 for IPower. Excellent service & uptime.
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by K4DSW on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
K0RS, when you are hitting on someone for a "grammer" mistake, you may want to spell "grammar" correctly.
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by W0CBF on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
HTML not Hypertalk Marking Language but
HTML Hypertext Mark-up Language

73's
Chuck
www.callcq.net
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by K0BG on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Actually, the change in fonts was more or less intentional. It also points out a mistake mentioned by others. Cascading Style Sheets makes web font consistency a very easy task. You can even change the whole site at once, if you care to, and you don't have to reload the whole site to do it!

I touched on storage briefly. If you're not willing to pay to have your site backed up regularly (mine is done every day), make sure you have the site saved in a drag and drop, up-loadable format (HTML, etc.). This makes high-speed access a given.

Again, it all depends on just how dedicated you are.

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by LU2DFM on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Most important things are:
1) if you don't have anything relevant to put up out there, please don't.
2) please note that most things are already out there, so re-read 1).
3) If after iteration over 1-2-1 still is not enough to you, please make a link (or several) to the relevant web sites instead of making it from scratch yourself. That's what HTML is about: linking.
4) If after considering 3 you're totally decided to put up something "new" in your site, please, please, please get it peer-reviewed, put some cites (to known sources, published and available books, on-line resource, et alter) and make as sure as possible that the information is accurate.

The BIG problem with personal web sites is that what they most produces is NOISE and INACCURACY. And this is only second to marketroid BS in commercial sites.
My 2.
 
Personal Web Sites  
by OBSERVER11 on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
my personal web site is just that, a PERSONAL site. While others are welcome to visit, I use my site as a personal resource. I keep URL's there as well as hints and kinks. When I am away from my home system, and I need to remember a URL, I can go to my site and find it. I also use it as a photo/image host.
 
Personal Web Sites  
by W2BLC on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I run a "link" style site. www.w2blc.us

The reason I chose the link style is to avoid the copyright problem. Rather than lifting from someone else's site, just link to it. No violation there.

Why a link site format? Easy, it provides an easy to use one stop location for finding specialized sites without doing a lot of searching. A favorites list that is already made.

A link site is a maintenance hog, however, as it requires constant monitoring to add new links and clean out the dead links. It does not end and you will get no help - even if you ask for it.

Is making the site available worth the effort? Yes, I use it myself all the time. If others use it, that is great also. For grins, I put a counter on it and I can see it actually does get used.

My biggest complaint about personal websites: When you get bored with it and are not going to maintain it - remove it. Outdated sites and the outdated junk on them are a serious problem on the Internet. The site links given here on eHam on the right side of the page are often great examples of left over junk.

If you are interested in CW try www.radiotelegraphy.net - another link style site just for the CW ops and radio history buffs.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention: If you don't like a particular site or style, then don't go there. Kind of like changing the channel.
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by HFRF on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Having a web site is like having a black hole that takes all your time, literally. I really don't understand why so many people want a web site. It sounds cool but who is going to add all that wonderful and interesting content and what do you get out of it? And who do think is going to pay for everything?

Most web sites suck because they have nothing on them worth looking at. Do you want to do the same?

I think the best personal web sites are for people who might have a lot of research or hobby information already in paper or file form where they can use it for content to share with others. Already having pictures that are INTERESTING really helps.

But keep in mind that web site visitors only come back if there is something new to look at or they don't come back. They also like everything free. In other words a pay to site surf is a joke of a revenue plan.
 
Personal Web Sites  
by W3OZ on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Does anyone know of anyone who has been convicted of copywriter violations on personal, no commercial web sites? If you are selling stuff off your page that is a different story. The courts have ruled time and again that the Internet is an extension of the first amendment. But it is a good idea to give credit for things you use. If you know of a ham who has been convicted I would really like to contact him or her for details.
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by WB9URN on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
A very well written, informative article.
Thank you!

Allen
 
Personal Web Sites  
by AJ4MJ on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks Alan!

Most of these amateur radio sites are "so 1995" with stupid scrolling text, annoying MIDI music and blink tags. Remember, some of us still have to work and don't want our co-workers serenaded with video game music if we peek at a ham site while waiting on a build :-)

Yours and AD5X are two examples of how sites should be - sensibly formatted and packed with quality articles.
 
HyperTalk !  
by K7PEH on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
W0CBF comments "HTML not Hypertalk Marking Language but
HTML Hypertext Mark-up Language"


Given the evolution of the Internet, the plethora of blogs and personal web sites maybe HyperTalk Mark-up Language is indeed a better definition of the acronym.
 
RE: HyperTalk !  
by PULLRAFTT on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
You shouldn't be surfin' when your supposed to be workin'.....
 
Personal Web Sites  
by KD0NFY on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I do web stuff for a living, and this is great advice. Thanks for the article and all the work on your site, Alan.
 
RE: HyperTalk !  
by N3OX on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"I think the best personal web sites are for people who might have a lot of research or hobby information already in paper or file form where they can use it for content to share with others. Already having pictures that are INTERESTING really helps. "

I use my website a little as my "hobby lab notebook" in that way, and then when I need to go back and remember what I did here or there, I have some information written down.

I agree with others that if you've got no content, there's not much point.

I've done the thing in the past where I make a website where I get through the "personal" info about what I like about ham radio, and make the "links" page and then the "projects" page ends up with a COMING SOON for a year.

Eventually I committed to not putting up another site until I had something to put on it, so when I decided to start www.n3umh.net (now www.n3ox.net with the vanity change), I took pictures and/or drew up schematics of my current stuff that I thought might interest someone.

The personal bit of my site still gets stale. I haven't written any "Updates" for the front page in more than a year, but people are still looking at my simple projects...

I personally won't have a contentless website again.

That said, if you want to put up a 1995 style page with a Java scroller of your callsign and some flaming skulls on it, well... I'm not stopping you. Not like the internet is full yet :-)



73
Dan
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KG4RAY on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Regarding the need to cite use of content, while not many people are convicted and go to jail, you ought to be aware of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Many hosting companies are based in the US and thus are bound by US laws. This is the case regardless of your personal location.

The DMCA includes a safe harbor provision for hosting companies that are hosting content that infringes on copyright. They may not be sued for copyright infringement for copyrighted materials provided that they disable any infringing content when notified by the copyright holder. Most companies take these requests very seriously and will suspend an account immediately.

This means that if you are caught copying other's work without attribution, your account will be suspended if you get caught and will be offline. Your provider may require you to pay fees and/or delete the offending file (not just the bad content) prior to reinstating your account. Many providers will delete the account of repeat offenders. They do this for legal protection.

Part of my company provides hosting services. I have seen first-hand how important this stuff is. It is important to put useful and fresh information on a website to keep people coming. Rather than use HTML, however, I recommend to most people to use a content manager such as Joomla or Drupal to make management easier on an on-going basis. You still need some HTML but not nearly as much. Just be sure to get backups of your database!
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KJ4AUR on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Alan, nice article, but what's the deal with the font-family changes throughout the article; perhaps a Firefox rendering issue? I did notice in the HTML source that the depricated '<font face="Georgia, Times New Roman, Times, serif">' is repeated throughout the article; it appears you were a victim of a WYSIWYG editor injecting bloat or or a "export to HTML" gone awry.

Nice to see your hosting provider believes in 'ServerTokens ProductOnly'.

-73
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by K0BG on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nate, I didn't specify an overall font. Part of the issue is late-model browsers look for the font is a different way than old ones do. This fact has caused me to clean up a lot of the code in the other pages on my site. Had I done that with this one, it would have all displayed alike.

When I posted the original article, part of it was done with GoLive 7.0, and part by GoLive 8.0 which was a transition product for Cascading Style Sheets. This one was reedited by Dreamweaver CS4, which is the latest entry. The change to Dreamweaver was even more of a transition headache for the same basic reason. Hopefully, this won't happen in the future.

Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
Personal Web Sites  
by WA5UP on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Great topic. I think the main thing to focus on when creating a website is adding useful content, not just unorganized groups of thoughts or links.

Another BIG thing to consider if you are new to HTML / CSS is to use a content management system. There are several out there, but I'm personally fond of Joomla. This will allow you to create a professional looking site in a flash, and allow you to spend your time adding content rather than struggling with the appearance of the site etc.

Just my .02.

Andy WA5UP

www.wa5up.com
 
Personal Web Sites  
by WC1I on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
A good article, with good practical advice. I like your site a lot, by the way, and have referenced it a number of times. I wish more people would take seriously your advice regarding animations, weird colors, spelling and formatting, and simplicity.

A number of technical details in the article are incorrect, however. The line concerning HTML, XML, and SML is particularly problematic. It's actually hard to tell grammatically exactly what you mean, but I took your meaning as HTML underlies XML and also that you meant to convey that XML is somehow (for some people at least) a substitute for HTML. Neither is true. The mention of SML here is something of a non-sequitur.

Dreamweaver is certainly a good mainline suggestion, if expensive. Note that "CS" stands for Creative Suite, though, not cascading style sheets. Excellent alternatives to packaged web software like the Adobe and Microsoft products are blog-oriented, open source software like Wordpress. These are actually used far more widely than for "just" blogs, and there are huge commercial websites using them.

You appear to be confusing custom font styles with custom fonts. Custom fonts have to be downloaded (note, even with CSS3/web fonts). I'm not quite sure what to make of your comment on custom fonts and XML. There are a number of people working on better solutions to the font problem, with no consensus yet. CSS isn't the wave of the future - it's the here and now.

A note on bots: Think through what you want indexed and, more importantly, by whom. Not everyone wants to be indexed by web crawlers, despite what you may think, given all the focus on search engine optimization. There are a lot of very good reasons to stay off the search engine radar, especially if you are not selling something, or if you are likely to be scraped for content for someone else's site.
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by AE6YB on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. I'm sure I can use your advice and info with my site. It's pretty simple, but really just for fun.

73, Will

http://ae6yb.tripod.com/index.html
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KC0NPF on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
For a site that doesn't look like web 1.0 circa 1995, check out http://www.consultbyron.com Wordpress based :-D, no HTML, PHP, Javascript, or other programming languages required, though it does help!!
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KJ4AUR on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Alan, thanks for the reply. No big issues with the font situation but it seemed to iterate through each of the font-families for each separate paragraph, very weird.

User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv:1.9.0.11) Gecko/2009060309 Ubuntu/8.04 (hardy) Firefox/3.0.11

Good information in the article, the key to ALL sites is content. Layout is auxiliary to content! I've throughly enjoyed digesting the content from your site Alan long before I knew about eHam. There's a wealth of information out there for us HF mobile users, thanks.

73
 
Personal Web Sites  
by K5YF on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for sharing Alan.

A pretty good spot to learn about HTML, CSS, and quite a few other things, is {http://www.w3schools.com}

-Brandon
-K5YF
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by WI7B on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Why use the .COM domain for a personal ham radio website, Alan? What's the justificstion...or excuse? Is this a good way to represent the essentially non-commercial character of amateur radio? 73, ---* Ken
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by N3OX on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Why use the .COM domain for a personal ham radio website, Alan? What's the justificstion"

That since the early days of the internet, .com came to mean "the thing at the end of a website"

;-)
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KL7IPV on July 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for an informative article Alan. I will look mine over again.
73,
Frank - KL7IPV
http://www.antenna-to-go.com
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KB3LAZ on July 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I truly find it amusing when people complain about personal websites because that is exactly what they are, personal. In most cases the purpose behind the creation of a personal website is self gratification. It is an individuals way of expressing their interests creatively and with flare. Much like with my generations use of community sites such as "myspace".

As far as grammatical errors and the like are concerned; it is easy to make multiple errors when staring at a screen for hours on end while trying to create the perfect domain (within the eyes of the creator of course). I'm sure that the author does not like the errors any more than you do. So be a gentleman or lady and send them a polite email informing them of said errors. Also if you have a creative suggestion or even meaningful criticism, speak up (again politely). It really is as simple as that.

Sure the mind boggling gifs, animations, and widgets get annoying but again, ease up on people. Surely they can find reason to criticize your website and mine. Much like a utopic life a perfect website is an impossible feat.

I for one rather enjoy surfing amateur radio websites, even if their design is flawed to my way of thinking. It gives me a chance to peer into the authors world, even if it is only a sneak peak. Revealing characteristics and telling short stories that one could not otherwise obtain.

Judge not that which you do not understand.

73 de KB3LAZ
 
Personal Web Sites  
by K6YE on July 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Alan,

Congrats on a very well written article. I plan to create a site for myself later this year and will use your data.

Semper Fi,

Tommy - K6YE
DX IS
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KA4KOE on July 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Alan has a very useful site.

Thanks Alan!

Philip
KA4KOE

http://www.neidlinger.us
For Dead Electrical Dudes and More
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KF4HR on July 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Alan - Thanks for taking the time to put this article together and posting it. Very informative.

KF4HR
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by K1CJS on July 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
You've got to be careful when running a 'link' style site as well--some sites treat a link to the site as a form of copyright violation. Other sites may allow you to link to their main page but specifically prohibit the useage of any link to the individual pages of the site.

Always--ALWAYS check with a site owner before you try to put a link to it in your site. That way you'll always avoid the lawsuits that are so prevalent in todays day and age.
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by W9OY on July 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I wanted to learn something about HTML coding so I bought a domain name and hosting. It's interesting to play with. There are plenty of resources on the web to teach you.

I use a freeware HTML editor called KompoZer

http://kompozer.net/

It's pretty intuitive and it has a FTP client built in to add your files to your hosting site. It is WYSIWYG or you can code by hand if you like and you can view changes in the browser so you can see how things will look

I use GO DADDY as a hosting site. If you want to support a ham who is in small business, QTH.com will host also. I already had my stuff set up before I discovered QTH. Content is the easy part, just write about stuff you are interested in, or little projects you are doing. Its a lot of fun to get an email from someone who stumbled across your website and the information contained helped them out.

Some internet service providers include some host storage as part of their deal so if you just want to play around you may already have access some hosting from your ISP.

73 W9OY
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by WI7B on July 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
""Why use the .COM domain for a personal ham radio website, Alan? What's the justificstion"

That since the early days of the internet, .com came to mean "the thing at the end of a website"

;-)" - N30X


You mean like eHam.NET ? Or arrl.ORG ? Or fcc.GOV ?

My own thinking is that .COM domain-ending have more to do with the personal ego of the ham...

73,

---* Ken
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by W4VR on July 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I knew nothing about doing a personal web site. I went to the verizon site and created my own page...the instructions are designed for dummies like me.
 
Personal Web Sites  
by NZ4O on July 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Very nice article Alan. We don't see many good ones on eHam anymore.

I built my first web page in 1998 at www.kn4lf.com. I now have 176 web pages linked together concerning most aspects of ham radio, radiowave propagation and weather.

I think that buying a domain name related to the web page content is the way to go, i.e. www.kn4lf.com, www.nz4o.com. The ones from free web servers can be brutally long.

Almost from the very beginning I leased server space so as to be able to build web pages without distracting pesky commercial banners. The server space that I lease from Cedant.com is 1 gig and I've never had any down time.

73 & GUD DX,
Thomas F. Giella NZ4O
Lakeland, FL, USA
 
Personal Web Sites  
by W7VO on July 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Very well written article, one of the best I've seen on e-ham! This one belongs in QST.....

Again, good job!

Mike Ritz, W7VO
www.w7vo.com
 
Personal Web Sites  
by VU2LID on July 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article with a lot of useful info !

The statement below is a bit misleading !

> remember, there are billions of sites

According to Netcraft survey there are only around 80 million active domains as of June 2009 ( http://news.netcraft.com/archives/web_server_survey.html ).

There can be more than one 'Home Page/web site' under a specific domain (like web pages under www.qsl.net). Even if we count all that it may not come to 'billions'.

A billion is a **really** large number. People from W land use billion lightly now a days I guess :)
 
Personal Web Sites  
by WA9PIE on July 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Alan, you're an authoring MACHINE! Good job.
 
Personal Web Sites  
by KE5MQM on July 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article. Very informative. Looks like your web site is full of good stuff too. Thanks!
 
Personal Web Sites  
by NT8Z on July 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I actually have two web hosting companies that I use for my business. I have used them before for my ham radio site. But recently I made one up on Squidoo and it's FREE and there is no HTML required. In under a 30 minutes I created my new site.

http://www.squidoo.com/kq8rp

Scott
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by W9VER on July 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
http://www.435online.com

*that* is how a ham radio website should be designed.
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by K6MM on July 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Informative article -- good job, Alan. Great advice for anyone thinking about developing a web site for personal or ham radio enjoyment.

To: HFRF -- you asked: "Having a web site is like having a black hole that takes all your time, literally. I really don't understand why so many people want a web site. It sounds cool but who is going to add all that wonderful and interesting content and what do you get out of it? And who do think is going to pay for everything? "

My response: Yes, it's a bit of a "labor of love" but the rewards are definitely there. I picked up web design by reading a few good books, and experimenting. It's not difficult. Built my ham radio website a couple of years ago using Adobe Dreamweaver and Photoshop. My website captures several aspects of this great hobby: license history, QSL Gallery (over 1,200 and counting), my shack, antennas, awards, resource links, fun stuff, etc.

Why bother? I enjoy archiving this information so my friends, relatives, and I can revisit anytime, anywhere via the Internet. Makes a great conversation piece as well as a good recruiting tool for newbies and is educational. Already teaching my grandchildren about Geography. Remember when kids new the difference between Austria and Australia? Not today.

I've had some nice compliments on my website -- but the best comments came from (1) a newbie who fell in love with the idea of combining two growing interests -- ham radio and stamp collecting -- after surfing around the web site and (2) follks who decided to build the 160M "No Excuses" Vertical after first reading about it on my website.

The cost? My ISP charges me $5 a month to host the website. Peanuts.

Building a website takes a little planning and effort, but once completed, there is great satisfaction of having put together a collection of photos and information that anyone can enjoy.

73,
John, K6MM
http://www.k6mm.com
 
Personal Web Sites  
by PA3GVI on July 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Alan, nice article.
I use sitekreator.com and you dont need HTML for this.
Have a peek, works for me!

73, Rob/PA3GVI

www.sitekreator.com/pa3gvi
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by VK2GWK on July 14, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Adobe uses the abbreviation "CS" for Creative Suite" and it has nothing to do with cascading style sheets, for which the abbreviation is: CSS.

This - and the error about what HTML means - shows that the author still has a lot to learn about web site building. He gives a lot of sound advice though - not to be ignored.

HTML is a bit dated these days. Most sites are built with dynamic server sided scripting.

What makes web sites interesting for radio amateurs is - amongst other things - the ability to check log entries. And now - on my site - you can even print your own QSL card if you wish.....
(vk2gwk.com)
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KA9FOX on July 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the great article!

As some have mentioned, QTH.com offers low cost web hosting packages ($4.95/mo), which includes a template-based GUI site builder, as well as one-click installers for Blog and Content Management Systems like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and Geeklog. We also support Microsoft FrontPage, and of course if you are creating your own HTML and just need to upload it via FTP, that works, too! :-)

If anyone has a question regarding QTH.com hosting services, feel free to contact me. I'd sure appreciate the business and will take very good care of you.

73 - Scott KA9FOX
ka9fox@qth.com
http://hosting.qth.com
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KA6KBC on July 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article. Two simple/free sites - Personal Ham Pages:

http://www.myhamshack.com/

http://73s.org/


73's - Bill - KA6KBC
 
RE: Personal Web Sites  
by KG6AMW on July 19, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Well done Alan. I've been doing a lot of reading about setting up a web site and your article seems to summarize the issues very well. Leave to a ham radio operator to have the knack to explain a rather complex subject simply so others can understand. Thank you.
 
Personal Web Sites  
by KG4RRN on July 28, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Alan, K0BG please criticise me
http://kg4rrn.webs.com

thanks and 7-3,
Bob KG4RRN
RRN News.....
 
Personal Web Sites  
by VE3XDB on July 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Hi Alan and others,

I like your site, and have made visits to the site many times over the past several years. Your content is great, and your style is very readable. I have one additional suggestion for Alan and others.

Alan's site uses frames, which allow for effective presentation of material, especially the separation of menus and content, allowing them to be viewed independently. However, this very capability can cause confusion if you get to the wrong URL, and search engines often have difficulty indexing a frame-based site. Indexing is a good thing if you are interested in having others find your site using a search engine.

To see what I mean in terms of potential confusion, please take a look at the following link:

http://www.k0bg.com/indexright.html

Where would I go from here? If I'm smart, I would just delete the "/indexright.html", and end up back at Alan's complete home page. But many viewers many not catch that or understand how to manipulate the URL.

As an simple alternative, the use of cascading style sheets (CSS) can do a great job of creating pages with a fixed menu, scrolling content, and no possibility for snagging an orphan page. For a good example of this implementation, please take a look at the following site:

http://www.w3.org/Style/CSS/

On this page you will see a really neat implementation of CSS to build a static menu with scrolling content. And, you can also learn about CSS on this page!

Have fun!

Respectfully,

Doug Behl VE3XDB
 
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