Like the old Pretenders song, I am back on the chain gang. Work has been going gang busters and I have neglected my blog, waiting for that next article idea to come up, hopefully in conjunction with some insight I have gleaned (no, I didn’t have to look up that word) from my recent work. I have been mulling over a review for some time, knowing like the photo books, that it might take some time to complete. But finally I have come across the opportunity and occasion to do it.

I have been maintaining my church’s website for, oh, I think forever. And it has gone through many incarnations (or should I say resurrections, since I’m Baptist). Some of the previous designs are displayed here. There are several concerns I have as a webmaster that are particularly germane to this site, but also to many of my other sites and I’m sure your sites as well.

  1. Content – This site is a great example of content – there is text, PDFs, photos, movies, a blog, a calendar, podcasts, multiple sub-sites, sometimes a bulletin board, an occasional form – basically everything you might see on a site. It has tens of pages, and is hundreds of megabytes in size.
  2. Maintainability – How do you maintain all this information? How easy is it to post new material and link it to the existing pages? What about adding pages or whole new sections? What if I want to introduce a new design?
  3. Technical ability – The web and its related technologies are always changing. How easy would it be to introduce new technology into your site.
  4. Portability – Last but by no means insignificant, is your easy easily accessible by multiple development tools or are you locked into an application that has you at it’s mercy?

These are some of the concern I have wrestled with and I will use this site and maybe a couple of others as a jumping point to explore some of the newer alternatives to the large, complicated and costly web development applications.

If you have worked with me in the past, you know I am a Dreamweaver/Fireworks fan. I pretty much do all of my development work in those two apps. Now, with Macromedia having been bought by Adobe and having their products integrated into their Creative Suite, it’s even easier to import designers’ files in Photoshop and Illustrator and produce working HTML and images.

However, there are some clients that can’t afford to spend the money on design and production for their sites, or their clients are on a tight budget, or they feel they are not up to designing their own site, or they are home users just wanting to put some of their photos, movies, and journals online. There are a few mid-range development tools that have made an appearance, starting with iWeb and continuing with RapidWeaver and Sandvox, that have made this a much easier process.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to review these apps, contrast and compare them, and also mention other apps that are here or on there way that might ease the complexity of learning and leave more cash in your pocket. Next week, we’ll start off with iWeb.

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