Creating a New Website

A few things to remember before we get started:

  • Every page should start with a doctype declaration.
  • Be consistent in the extension you use for your pages - htm or html - either will work.
  • Use lowercase letters to name your pages. Unix servers see INDEX.HTML and index.html as two different file names.
  • Your home page should always be named "index" or the default for your server. Don't use spaces in file and directory names! Windows operating systems do allow spaces  but UNIX operating systems (which run most servers) have problems with them. The Web server interprets the space as a "%20" character and family.html will look like this If you use gearyfamily.html the search engines see it as all one word, use the underscore geary_family.html and the search engines still see one "scrunched" word. geary-family.html is seen as two separate words.

Genealogy Templates and Graphics

If you are using graphics from a site that offers them, make sure you read the terms of use and give credit to the designer. If you don't want to design your own, some good templates are:

Remember, not all templates are created equal. If you find one you like, make sure it is one you can work with and that it validates without a lot of tweaking. Also check to see how it renders in more than one browser. And check the requirements for using the template. Linkbacks may be required.

Create a new website

Cheri Zuber's Genealogy Computer Tips is a great resource for the FreePages Community in creating a website. Pat Asher's Your Genealogy Website is also an excellent resource.

If you choose to use the RootsWeb Online Editor to create you site, you may find Using RootsWeb Online Editor helpful.

I use Expression Web (the successor to FrontPage) to design and maintain my sites - Create New Website in Expression Web.

Creating a new FrontPage Web is an excellent step-by-step tutorial by Cricket Walker of GNC Web Creations complete with screen shots. If you follow this tutorial, you will now have a fully validated index.html page.

It looks pretty plain, so let's add some style to it. My recommendation is to learn how to use external style sheets. Cricket's External CSS FrontPage Tutorial will give you a start adding an external style sheet to your site. The tutorial includes how to create the style sheet without using FrontPage.

You now have the beginning of a style sheet you can add to and change. A change in the style sheet will change all pages it is attached to. Check the Resource page for additional links on learning how to use style sheets.

You might want to create a template to base each of your pages on. If you are using FrontPage 2003 or Expression Web, you can use a DWT - Dynamic Web Template. DWT - Dynamic Web Template FrontPage 2003 by Tina Clarke available for FREE download. Tina also has one available for Expression Web.

If you would like some basic layouts to start with, try CSS Based Layout Templates. Both the html coding and the external css validate. If you would like to change the color, do so on the style sheet. All templates are available as a zipped file, including sample images. Some of the templates use include pages. Additional templates are available for Expression Web.

Before publishing your site

Before you publish your site, you should check the following:

  • Check how the page looks at several different t screen resolutions. Many people still have smaller monitors 800x600 resolution. How will your site look to them?
  • Check how the page looks in several different  browsers. Check them at least with Firefox and Internet Explorer. You can check at if you do not have multiple browsers downloaded.
  • Validate the HTML code. Before you can  test an HTML document you need to make sure it includes a document type declaration (DOCTYPE) and character encoding to each Web page.  The W3C Markup Validation Service, is a free service that checks Web documents in formats like HTML and XHTML for conformance to W3C Recommendations and other standards. I choose the extended file upload interface and tick the show source so I can easily find the problem if there is one. If the page does not validate, go back and fix the problems one by one and recheck. Downloading and installing the web developer toolbar, will allow you to validate your pages easily from your own computer.

Once you have validated and tested your site and the corresponding style sheet, you are ready to publish/upload it to your web server space.

RootsWeb FrontPage & Expression Web Mailing Lists

Are you hosting your website on one of the RootsWeb servers? Are you using FrontPage  or Expression Web to design and maintain your website? If so, join us on the
RootsWeb FrontPage list or the RootsWeb Expression Web list.  Two other lists that are not specific to RootsWeb are FrontPage List and Expression Web List.

CSS Layout Templates - FREE

CSS Layout Templates using external style sheets and written using XHTML Transitional Coding. They are meant to be used with FrontPage or Expression Web but can be used with any editing program. Free to use and enjoy. Additional DWT's specific to Expression Web.

Would you like some help with the design and layout of your site?

I am willing to work with you on setting up the design and layout of your genealogy website. Why? Because I enjoy doing it and it is a way to "pay it forward" for the help that I have received. See some examples of sites I have helped with. I do this on a volunteer basis so may have to limit the amount of time I can spend with you. If interested, contact Pat.


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