Friday, 9 February 2007

Building A Club Website

A common question I see asked on websites is something along the lines of "I've been asked to create a website for my club/organisation, where do I start?".

Often things like Dreamweaver, Frontpage and Notepad are suggested. These are combined with guides on CSS & HTML plus descriptions of how to upload changes to the site. Not forgetting hosting solutions, domain names, etc, etc.

That's a lot of stuff to learn if all you want to create is a fairly standard website and have no intention of becoming a web guru, but there is another way...

If you want to drive a car you don't need to learn how the internal combustion engine works, you just worry about how the mechanisms of driving.

If you want to create a blog you don't need to write your own blogging system, you simply sign up to Blogger.com and create a blog. No need to worry about the mechanisms involved, just worry about what you want to say in your blog!

You can do the same thing with an entire site, all you need to do is worry about what content you want on the site, all you need is a Content Management System (CMS).

A CMS removes the worry of how you create the site and leaves you to think about what you want on the site. A club calendar can be added with just a few clicks. the same goes for forums, articles, photo galleries, classified adverts and a whole host of other content.

Recently I was asked to help a friend with updating the website of The Lusitano Breed Society and it quickly became obvious that the existing site needed a complete redesign and an awful lot more functionality. We decided to use a CMS as the administrator of the site was more interested in getting the site running then learning to be a web site developer.

The first problem was which CMS to use - there are an awful lot out there. We looked at a few CMSs and tried out the demo sites of each before settling on Joomla. We then signed up to a hosting provider who pre-installs joomla as part of the package.

All we needed to do now was to worry about the look of the site, its possible to buy or download templates to provide the look you want, but in this case I simply took the standard template and hacked it about a bit.

All in all, I think, a more preferable and maintainable option than coding the whole thing from scratch.

If you need to create a complex site it is always worth taking the time to investigate the CMS option. It could save you a lot of hassle in the long run and will provide you with a flexible paltform to meet your future needs.