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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Website Planning II

I almost gave up. On constructing my own website that is. I mentioned in a prior post that I would intermittently write about my thoughts and progress regarding constructing my own website, as opposed to continuing to use a template type service (albeit with multiple customizable options) with Visual Server at www.howardgrill.com.

Why almost give up? Because I want to do it right.....and if you are not familiar with html, CSS, and Dreamweaver (let alone programming in general) it just isn't that easy. Sure, there isn't much to opening a new html document, naming it index.html and typing away. But if you really want to do it correctly in order that it be durable and easily customizable with functionality into the future, it really needs to be done with templates and CSS. Not easy if you don't know how.

Time consuming, that's what it is. And one could strongly argue that it would be much more efficient to stick with what I have and use the time to process images, print, and build portfolios. And that thought really stuck with me to the point where I was about to give up. This led to a side project of looking at the available options for on-line services similar to Visual Server in order to see if any came closer to what I was looking for. As to what is wrong with Visual Server.....well, nothing really....except for the fact that their vision of portfolio presentation doesn't match mine, as well as the lack of ability to upload any type of files other than text or images.

So I looked around. Livebooks really came the closest to what I was after, but the templates (of which there are many nice ones) have limited ability to be more than minimally customized (unless you go with their more expensive custom design team), and if you wish to change something after your site is live there are fees. Thus, once you go live it becomes more expensive to tweak the allowed changes and, even then, the changes allowed without invoking the design team are minimal. Finally, the Livebooks design is totally flash based. They have the search engine 'thing' worked out whereby the site has a pure html 'sister' site that is not visible but available to the search engines for indexing (items inside flash are not indexable). But while I don't personally mind some flash in a site, I am personally not a fan of waiting for the home page to load the flash content.

So I came back to the idea that the best results for me would be had by constructing my own site. But what about the issue of time spent and the other things one could be doing with that time, particularly when time is a limited and very valuable commodity? Well, in the end, I overrided that internal objection by invoking the idea that one's website is truly the presentation of their work to the world. Imagine all the prep time it takes to make an exhibit. Hours of printing, matting, framing, etc. And all that to show one's work to maybe a few hundred people (if you're lucky) for a week or two (if you're lucky). Well, the website presents work to potentially billions (if you can get them there) of people 24/7. So isn't it worth it? I decide it was and re-undertook the project.

So how to get started? Books. Kelby Training videos. Taking Adobe up on the 30 day free trial to Lynda.com for registering CS5. And time. But I have finally reached the point where I feel I have a very basic understanding of how it all goes together and have started the coding process using Dreamweaver. That's not to say it is all smooth sailing....there is still a good bit of trial and error and research into various topics. Plus, even when I think I get it after the video, I still find myself going into Dreamweaver and saying "now how did they do that in the video again?"

And all this doesn't even touch on the non-technical aspect of a site, namely the actual design. I thought that would be easy as well. It isn't. The specifics of where elements should be placed, what color they should be, etc. is also a daunting task once you actually sit down to start making a template.

But I am moving forward. I am also giving myself a deadline, as this is theoretically a project that could go on and on. April. That's when I want to 'go live'. We will see how close I come to meeting that goal and whether I think the final result is attractive enough to have me want to use it to serve my work up to the world.