Category: Web Site Basics

Web Authoring Software

One of the first steps to making a website is of course creating it, and not every webmaster starting out knows HTML and CSS. Yes, it may surprise you but many web sites are actually made by non-programmers. Mostly I think because, programmers do not always write good content, so a competent writer can output plenty of good content, but he or she does not know how to design the web site. This is where web authoring software comes in. This allows people who can make great content, publish it easier. Although the web site that comes out of web authoring software may not be as polished or as pixel perfect as a manually coded web site, it still is a web site and it is the content that matters in the end.

There are today a variety of web authoring packages that can give you a website in a very little time. For the most part they can be divided into either one of these categories: applications and scripts.

Dreamweaver and Nvu

Applications were once the only way to make a website for non-coders. The most popular application being Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. This expensive piece of software can help you design a website in less time and has extra features for more skilled webmasters that can help with programming languages like PHP and ASP. Of course, if you can’t afford Dreamweaver, then Nvu is probably the application for you. Nvu is based on the old Netscape Composer module and does most of the basic things that Dreamweaver can do. In between Dreamweaver and Nvu are all sorts of other applications, many are HTML editors that are for intermediate webmasters.

Web Blogs & Scripts

Scripts are programs that can create entire web sites for you, once you install them and add your content. The web blog is the most famous type of script program that webmasters use. A web blog is made up of two interfaces, a backend system that allows a webmaster to administrate and add content to the blog and a front end which is the rendered web site. Even though web blogs help organize content and make easy to publish it, you still have to install and setup the weblog software to start out with. That was until services like Blogger came around, that allowed anyone to setup their own blog without needing to install anything.

Most other scripts that are not web blogs, are multiple user based. Meaning they can handle multiple authors or administrators. These scripts are usually called Content Management Systems or CMS for short. For a while the CMS was very popular, but the rise of web blogging scripts like WordPress and MovableType have made content management systems less desired by webmasters who only want to publish personal sites.

Choosing Between The Web Blog or Static Web Site

Web blogs have the advantage of easy publishing, but many webmasters still choose to use Dreamweaver to put up sites, because Dreamweaver outputs actual files that they can backup and change. Web blogs are in fact complicated and if you make a mistake and mess up their configuration, it usually means the entire site is down until you fix it. Static files from Dreamweaver won’t have that problem. Using a web blog service too has its downsides. If you depend on a free web blog service, your site may disappear overnight without explanation. Your content may be lost or unreachable in the process. It is important to note that if you value your content, you are better off setting up a proper web host and domain for your web blog. This way you have more control over your content and down times.

More Resources

Macintosh based applications:

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Dealing With Aggressive Spider Bots

It seems like every month, I notice a new search engine bot crawling my web sites and aggressively using up a lot of my bandwidth. Google’s own bot can easily take a gigabyte of bandwidth a month, if you have a decent size website with at least 300 pages of content. But AWStats does not identify all bots, so you have to look at the Hosts section and see how much bandwidth your top hosts are taking. An aggressive spider will appear at the top of the list. This will let you know the IP address of the host. Most spiders though use multiple IP addresses, so what you really want to know is the actual agent name. An easy way to track down this is to look at the actual webserver logs and search for the IP address you have listed in AWStats. In cPanel, there is the Latest Visitors script (under Web/FTP Stats) which gives you the last 300 visitors to your site. Once you find the agent name, then do a search on Google for it.

Most spiders will be documented by the sites that own them. In general it is a good idea to let spiders search your site, but if they take too much bandwidth or are making your site slower than usual, then you have to take some action to either slow them down or ban them from specific areas of your site or entirely. Depending on the spider’s documentation, you might be able to deter or reduce crawling requests using the robots.txt file. Some spiders obey only the meta tags in the html header. It is best to use the robots.txt file since this change is easier to do than editing all your html files.

If all else fails, you are left with blocking the entire IP range that the bot uses. This is a last resort option and you should be extra careful in figuring out the exact IP addresses to block since this will make your site unreachable to any of those IP addresses.

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Domain Auctions

In Finding Deleted Domains, I talked about using WhoIs.net to search for expired domains, but this is not exactly the best way to get a valueable domain. For a high quality domain, you probably have to go with one the auction services, like Snap.com. You should be prepared to pay more as the bidding process can be quite costly, but cheaper than directly dealing with a domain owner who wants thousands of dollars for their domain name.

Before jumping in with the bidding process, read How to Snatch an Expiring Domain, which is a thorough and interesting look into the way registrars are retaining deleted domains and making it harder for the rest of us to actually catch an expired domain.

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