Web site development requires good planning and a good book will help you plan the shortest, fastest way to reach the Web site you want.Web site management and development requires good planning so you can choose the right starting point and direction. In the early days of the Web you would hire a Web designer to create static HTML pages. Then Web sites switched to dynamic Web pages created by Web developers, in the tradition of the online systems that predated the Web. The dynamic aspect requires a database but makes the pages more relevant and the Web site more focused.
Today we start with a Web Architect to plan your complete Web site, to select the right CMS, Content Management System, to build the Web site, and ensure the result is efficient, effective, and enduring.
The new WWW is EEE, Efficient, Effective, and Enduring.
Watch people visiting a Web site for the first time. People are so used to Web sites that are engaging but not efficient that people switch off to the gimmicks, the flash, the animation, and move on to the next site looking for a site that makes efficient use of their time.
If you own a Web site and do not know everything that makes a Web site efficient, contact me about a workshop for your content creators and Web designers. Web designers are usually the last people to adopt efficient because they are used to accessing Web sites direct over high bandwidth direct connections that are nothing like the real world.
Repeat ten times each morning. Effective. Effective.
A Web site visitor considers a site effective if the site is effective for that visitor. You make your Web site effective for them or you point them to another site. Work on attracting visitors to a page only when that page is the right page for them.
Make your content timeless or update the content or date the content. Get your content creators into one of my workshops on enduring content.
There are online demonstrations of Web software but the demonstrations do not tell you how the Web site owner implemented the software or what options are in use. You could try random tests yourself or you could read a book that shows you various ways your site could work and takes you step by step from the start to the result you want.
Content Management Systems
CMSs arrive with most Web site functions pre programmed. You flick a few switches to turn on what you want now and flick another switch each time you want something extra. A great CMS, Drupal for example, has a base part to start your Web site and additional modules for specialised functions. You install the base part then add modules to fit what you need. The base part may require some Web knowledge then after that, the base part should automatically install the extra modules.
There are books on all the major CMSs. Buying and reading a book is easier than installing a CMS then learning all the intricate details. Comparing a few books on CMSs is easier than trying to install and test the same number of CMSs. A good book will tell you the easiest way to accomplish whatever you want, assuming the CMS can do it. If the book does not describe how to do what you want then read books about other CMSs.
Drupal release 5 has an automated installation procedure that performs 90 percent of the installation work. Some ISPs, Internet Service Providers, will preinstall Drupal for you. After the basic installation, you download optional modules and Drupal automatically installs them. Drupal release 6 will automate the download. For 2007 you need books on Drupal 5. 2008 will bring Drupal 6.
When you build a dynamic Web site from the start, or build custom extensions to CMSs, you use PHP as the programming language because every useful Web developer knows PHP and nothing else is as flexible or complete. Books on PHP rarely cover just PHP programming, because PHP is so easy to learn. The modern PHP book shows you how to do something useful with PHP.
Your Web site needs a database. MySQL is the most popular database followed by PostgreSQL. There are expensive commercial alternatives, if you want to fight licensing issues. They are all described in detail by books in the database section.
SQL is the language spoken by databases and books explaining SQL are in the database section.
Your Web site needs a Web server and the only universally useful Web server is Apache. If anyone tells you another Web server is better than Apache, suggest they apply their imagination to writing science fantasy or ending world poverty.
There are plenty of books to get you started with Apache. If you set up a lot of Web sites then after a while you will find you can easily configure Apache without a book. Apache is very stable which means your Apache book will last many years.
You can create all the photographs for your Web site using a good digital camera and GIMP. Illustrations are created using GIMP or Inkscape. There are books on both listed elsewhere.