Tuesday 10 May 2005 2.10pm
Niall, you have a good head start as a web designer because (a) you already have the visual skills of a photographer, and (b) you seem to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve.
Your choice of development computer is excellent, but bear in mind that you will probably want to host your web site at an ISP on a different hardware platform running a different OS, and you need to be aware that things will appear formatted somewhat differently for users with Windows IE browsers than for Mac users. Basically, you need a chum with a Windows PC to verify that the site looks as good from his browser.
I am not a fan of the development software you propose to use and suggest that you look at Macromedia Dreamweaver MX2004, about £350, or about £100 for the student edition. You will need a copy of Photoshop Elements (free with your scanner). You should also think hard about whether you are going to have such a substantial photographic archive that it would be worth investigating an image database -- that would affect the choice of ISP and development software.
Buy a little guide book on HTML and learn just enough about it to debug things when Dreamweaver is being moody. The "dummies' guides" are probably too basic for you, but you probably don't need the 500-page "reference manual" just yet. The W3C consortium hosts the only manual worth reading. I wish Microsoft would read it.
As far as web design is concerned, keep it simple. And the simplify it some more. Avoid frames and large complex ActiveX, Java, Flash or other "multimedia" content unless you really, really need them.
Whatever you do, keep in mind that the true value of your web site is its CONTENT. Nothing else will keep bringing visitors back to your website. Your website can look as ugly as sin and still get thousands of hits, see http://www.norbry.net
if you dont believe me.
One more thing: invite collaboration. Once you have set the rules for your website aims and policies, let other people contribute towards the freshness, completeness and accuracy of your resource. I've got a pocket file of old news clippings and stuff about the area and I'm sure lots of other LondonSE1-ers do too.