I was answering someone’s question about how to start out on web development for a personal site, here’s my answer to that question, elaborated on below.
Easiest method for a noob at web design with some experience in graphic design is Dreamweaver. Design in photoshop / illustrator, export to Dreamweaver, slide and dice, use filter to export to required file type and voila.
Why get into the custom thingie though? Tons of kick-ass templates available for as low as $10 at places. Lots of free CSS templates too – just add graphics. W3C valid XHTML and CSS is mandatory for Web 2.0 entrants. Tough call for a newbie, specially with all the hacks required for cross browser compatibility.
Best way forward – use WordPress – easy enough to use and easy enough to expand functionality. Tons of available add-ons and W3C compatible templates. Plus a real blog (not splog) creates an added sense of belonging for your visitors.
Let me give you a bit of background. Have been in Web Development since 1997… have a few sites online since 1998. Privately held company with me at the helm. Have been using Open Source Applications from 2002.
Have used the following fairly extensively – PHPNuke, PostNuke, Mambo, Joomla, OSC, PHPBB, SMF, CC3, Virtue Mart and a whole host of others. With my tech background and an inclination for design, web development as a primary earner was pretty much a no-brainer.
To get back on topic, WordPress is one of the easiest CMS to use, extend and even design, especially to newcomers on the scene. Installation is really easy, I won’t post a todo here, plenty available on the web 😉 Its lightweight, meaning it only gets as complicated as you want it to or need it to. It has thousands of free and freely available W3C compatible themes online. It has an addon for pretty much anything and everything you need to do with your site.
The common misconception about WordPress is that “it’s only good for blogs”. WRONG. Its use is only limited to your vision. It allows you to make any amount of pages, in any order, thus building your own menus, easily. It has provision for static and dynamic content.
From an SEO perspective – its pretty damn good out of the box. And with a few addons like a meta tag widget and social bookmarking systems, its geared out to use the power of Web 2.0 to its fullest potential. I mean, how many websites get crawled multiple times a day by search engines, WP sites do, even if they’re not blogs.
Even features and design are pretty simple, if you can read and follow instructions, you should have no problems achieving what you want out of your GUI. Not to mention the advantages of having hundreds and thousands of tutorials, forums and helpful people, like OSI is wont to have.
I agree that Drupal or Joomla might be better for enterprise applications, here I’m talking about a newbie’s first step into web development. WP in my opinion follows KISS philosophy perfectly