Getting a web site blog

One of the best and easiest ways to add original content to your site - and to keep your visitors interested - is to have a blog. Popular blogs like Blogger, WordPress and Tumblr are all free to set up and use and each of them allows you to add all kinds of content like text, photos, videos, links and so on whenever you like. When we build a site using Rapidweaver, we usually recommend that clients try Blogger first because it’s one of the easiest to set up and also integrates with a Rapidweaver site really well. What does that mean? Well, here’s how the process works.

Your bit:
  • You go to Blogger and set up a free account
  • You choose a design and template for the blog (it doesn’t matter which one, so choose the most basic - we’ll explain why in a minute)
  • Start adding content to the blog from any computer or smartphone

Our bit:
  • We link your new blog to an empty page on your website
  • The blog is automatically styled to match the rest of the site - colours, fonts, layout and so on (this is why it doesn’t matter which Blogger design or template you use)
  • Every time you add something to the blog it automatically appears on your website.

The best bit:

Once a blog like this is set up it doesn’t cost you a penny to add new content to your website whenever you like. We don’t have to get involved (so there’s no hanging around waiting for us to update the site) and there are no fees (apart from a small initial charge to set things up) so you’re not dipping into your pocket every time you want to change the blog.

What about adding my own content?

What is content management? Some people seem to think it’s the ability to completely manage their own web site, adding, removing and editing content, creating new pages, re-jigging the design - in fact, letting rip at everything that visitors see when they land on the site.

Here at Hove Web Design, we’re not so sure.

It seems to us that content management should be exactly that - the ability to manage defined chunks of content, specified from the outset and integrated seamlessly into the site so that the owner can update the content that’s important to them without having to pay for the web designer’s time, but without disrupting the look and feel and organisation of the site. There are several ways you can do this.

  • add an external blog that can be edited from any web browser, styled to fit in with the look and feel of the site
  • add ‘hooks’ to external services like YouTube, Vimeo and Flickr that allow website owners to add new content to those services as usual and have that fed through to their own website automatically
  • add areas of the site - for example news or special offers or price lists - that can edited using external services like Google Docs or a DropBox-enabled text editor
  • add areas to the site that can be edited using a built-in editor accessible from any web browser.

In blog entries to come we’ll be looking at each of these in a bit more detail and explain how they work and how they can be used.

Ilsa Brittain - figurative painter

Ilsa Brittain web site slide
Something slightly different - a pop-up website if you will. We found the domain, registered it, sorted out the hosting, designed the site and had the whole thing up in just over 24 hours. The centrepiece is a Flickr gallery which displays on two pages and allows the artist to update the content herself whenever she pleases. There’s also a Mailchimp form so that visitors can sign up to receive new whenever Ilsa adds a new painting to her collection and the whole thing is wrapped in another excellent Themeflood theme.

Family History website

Bromley Coppard blog screen shot
We’ve just completed a new family history website - a bit of a first for us over at Hove Web Design. The client was keen to present the different parts of his family history in book-style chapters rather than using a conventional family tree so we came up with a way displaying each one in a pop up lightbox that allows visitors to scroll through each chapter. The text and graphics are prepared in PowerPoint which the client is comfortable using and then saved as PDFs which sit on the server and are ‘called’ whenever a visitor triggers the lightbox by clicking on an image thumbnail. The index on the last page is actually an Excel spreadsheet which is called into the site and styled using a bit of jiggery-pokery, and is also searchable so visitors can find family members easily.

The Paint Pot Men

Paint Pot Men blog photo
Meet Nik and Ben, otherwise known as the Paint Pot Men, interior and exterior painters and decorators working in Brighton and Hove and beyond. We were asked to design a website that reflected the boys’ sense of fun as well as their professionalism and attention to detail. The site is small but beautifully formed (well, we would say that) with a slideshow and testimonials on the front page, before and after examples on page two which work on mouseover (or by tapping on a touch screen device) as well as a Tumblr blog, integrated into the site that they can update whenever they like.

Pet Bereavement Care For All

Pet Bereavement Care For All blog
’Tis another new site, this time for Anji Baker, a pet bereavement counsellor based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Anji wanted a simple site, low on graphics and high on content to give her counselling service a presence on the Internet. It comprises a home page which introduces Anji and what she does, a more detailed description of how the counselling service works and what people can expect and an enquiry form. Moving forward we may add a booking form and payment system, but that’s for the future.