Building a Website with iWeb

Our website http://www.aardvarkvideo.tvwas built around 2000 when we were in NY and though it gets a tremendous amount of traffic from referrals, links, SEO and people that know us, it is a little dated and we wanted to have something that displays more current information.

Because of all the history the site has, particularly in terms of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that steers traffic to us, the adage “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken” applies and we didn’t want to alter it. Our solution was to have our http://www.aardvarkvideo.tv remain virtually unchanged and build a new website,http://www.videographerlasvegas.com with new information.

Here at Aardvark Video, our core competency is producing video, not building websites and understanding html code. My editors are the ones great with software; I’m certainly not, so I wanted to challenge myself and build a website myself using the easier to use website creation tools that are out there. iWeb, which is a Mac program was recommended to me by a colleague that had built a pretty darn good site with it.

iWeb certainly can’t compare to the options you have if you have a site built by a professional web company but it lets you start with any of the many templates that are built in the application or available from other places on the web. I chose to use one of the native iWeb templates with a rich black background that I could use to contrast with all the lighter text and graphic elements.

The process is very simple. I didn’t learn all the features but there were enough I did learn to be effective. There is an “inspector” box where you can add text, pictures, hyperlinks, etc. If you want text, you just add a text box, choose your font from all the fonts on your machine, type, size it, color it, align it and you have text. If you want to add an image, you just add the image and size it. iWeb has built in aligning tools which make placement of objects really easy. You can control opacity, reflectance for pictures and a lot of features that build a professional looking site. Adding a hyperlink is just selecting what you want linked and typing in the URL for the link in the appropriate inspector box.

Once I felt happy with the site, I needed to “publish” it. iWeb lets you publish to an online server or to a local file. I didn’t have a server when I finished so I published to a local folder. The entire website with images and everything else was less than 8MB. Once the website was in a folder, I sent it to Jennifer at Jennifer Web Design, one of the best known local web companies in town just by sending a YouSendIt message with all the files. She posted it on one of her servers and just like that I had a new website available online.  She is very easy to work with and it took less than 10 minutes from the time I sent her the files.  I do have to mention there is another step which takes about a day and you have to do this before your site can be loaded on a server. That is that you have go to the company where you registered your domain and point the “DNS” to the server where the site will be hosted (your hosting company will give you the names of the servers).  In my case it was very simple to do on GoDaddy (tech support can walk you through it if needed) where I registered the domain name.

Where there any shortcomings? Well a few for the more advanced features.  There is no “save as” feature and iWeb automatically saves to “Users/username/Library/Application Support/iWeb/Domain”.  To keep better track of my file, I made a backup and put it on the desktop and used that to open the program. I also couldn’t find a way to add keywords, titles, site description, page descriptions or to work with the source html such as adding the code for Google Analytics which lets you measure and analyze traffic coming to your site. Though I could have done this while I had a local folder, I chose to add these features while it was online. The procedure would have been the same. I connected to my new website in Adobe Contribute where adding the titles, description and keywords are part of the toolset. You simply connect to your website through your website administrator login, and when you click the Edit Page button it creates a draft you modify. To modify the html code itself, Contribute while running lets you open Dreamweaver (the default text editor), edit the source code, save, close Dreamweaver and by doing this the changes are reflected in your Contribute draft. To make this work, you need to enable the ability to “insert html snippets”. You can find how to do that at http://help.adobe.com/en_US/Contribute/4.1/con_permissions_pm_11.html

To edit the source code, in Contribute before choosing the Edit Page button, you navigate to the page you want to add or change html in, then you hit the Edit Page button. Next from the top task bar you choose: File/Actions/Edit Page in External Application. Dreamweaver is the default for this if is installed (though it can be changed to a text editor or other applications). In my case Dreamweaver launched and the source code was there. I added the analytics code right before the closing tag like Jennifer told me, saved the file, quit Dreamweaver and published the page in Contribute. Very simple. You’ll need to have Google Analytics code and first start an account with your website to get the Analytic code specific to your site but that is easy too.

For a video gallery to show samples of our work, all we had to do is insert a hyperlink to the Youtube URL where we have individual videos and it puts a player right on my page.  I put in 4 pages of video samples so that they would load quicker than having them all on one page.  This I learned through trial and error after having them all together caused a loading bottleneck.

We are producing a video which tells about our company and will play when the site opens but it isn’t ready yet so we have the site opening with an audio introduction. We also put other audio clips for people to listen to if they don’t want to read the text.  Adding audio is as easy as adding anything else in iWeb.  There are a number of enhancements we will do in time.

Again, an iWeb website can’t compare to what a professional web person can do but we did OK for who we are and what we know about building a website.

I know as much about html as about how to fly a rocket ship but I was able to build my new website without getting ulcers. Take a look at http://www.videographerlasvegas.com and let us know what you think!

P.S.
When I bought the videographerlasvegas url I also bought another one and guess what?  I’m going to build another website because it was fun (mostly) and I want to get better at it.

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