It wasn’t long ago that all web pages needed to be coded by hand in HTML (Hyper-text Markup Language). It takes a special skill set to create nice looking pages that way. After awhile tools like Frontpage came along that let you create pages in a manner similar to a word processing program. Today you can even create web pages using your favorite word processing software such was Word.
Now that it has become easy to create static web pages, the industry is moving away from them in favor of dynamic content. Dynamic web pages are created on-the-fly based on the latest information in a database. It also allows a seperation between the content (your information) and the presentation (how it is formatted on the page. Most web hosting services these days provide CMS (Content Managment System) software such as Joomla and WordPress. Of these two packages, Joomla is the more powerful of the two, but WordPress is the more popular due to its ease of use. Most of the sites that I have created for people lately have been based on WordPress. I can quickly get them up and running and they can easily add their own content without needing additional technical support.
Both packages provide the ability to change how the site looks through buying or downloading free “themes” that have pre-selected color schemes and organization of the information presented. For the more technically savy users there is also access to the CSS files (Cascading Style Sheets) for more precise customization of the look and feel of the site. Both packages also support the use of plug-ins. Plug-ins are additional bits of software that can be included in the base package to add even more functionality such as eCommerce, discussion forums, chat boxes and much more.
Most of the information that you put on your site with these packages are in the form of “articles” or “Posts” depending on the package. Both systems also allow the use of static pages that can be created and managed using the control panel software that comes with each package.
In future posts I will go into more detail on configuring WordPress and suggested plug-ins.