Tag: blog

Blogs Killed Forums

I am not sure about the whole Web 2.0 debate, but something which is very noticeable about the Internet in 2006 is that forum based sites are dying a slow death, and the sites that include a forum as part of their main site are doing even worse. Forums on those sites are being posted to less and less. It seems that much of the forum posting community has gravitated to either posting primarily on their own web blogs or commenting only on blogs. This has created a shift away from forums and for sponsored forums, it has meant a loss of ad revenue. It may be possible that this trend may continue and cause some sites to scale back or disappear completely.

Lack of Discussion

The most obvious turn off to forums is the moderator. Keeping the conversation going between multiple members is quite hard to do. Most moderators are faced with either not moderating at all discussions and letting other members get offended while a couple of members go at it and argue pointlessly about which operating system is the best or whether you support The President or not. Eventually moderators do buckle down and impose some civility and this causes hard core members to feel censored. Once they leave, the forum becomes a ghost forum with only old discussions left. A moderator is pretty much a thankless job.

Not Enough Ad Revenue

As for the webmaster, you have to pay for the forum software which is not exactly cheap or risk going with an open source script that will require more technical maintenance. Then you have to pay for the domain and hosting services; all of this is added cost. Most webmasters depend on some sort of steady revenue from sponsers and forums have a reputation for not performing well in this area, unlike blogs.

Ease of Publishing

The irony is that while forums were once the easy way to publish quickly, they are now being outclassed by blog scripts. Today almost anyone can learn to publish on Blogger or in WordPress, but learning to navigate, search, and setup your profile in most forums takes longer than the five minute WordPress install.

Not Trendy

Then there is the obvious: web blogs have adapted the latest technologies like CSS, XHTML, AJAX, and other Internet buzzwords. Forums are just catching up and unlike small blog scripts, forum scripts are quite complicated and large, making even small changes sometimes requires thorough testing.

Internet Evolution

All of this leaves forums on the brink of unpopularity, forcing forum script developers to rethink their audience anf evolve into something else. Perhaps the web blog is the natural cousin to the forum, and the Internet may still have future uses for the once popular online forum.

Filed under: News & TrendsTagged with: , , , , , ,

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:

Filed under: Web Site BasicsTagged with: , , , , , ,

Your First Web Site

A while back I covered the subject of how to choose the right weblog CMS, but what I forgot to mention is that many people who start their first website do not even think about using a weblog or a content management system to begin with. They usually put together some sort of site using either a basic web site creator tool which usually relies on frames for navigation or use template that they found. The results usually are not very eye pleasing and barely functional. This is why for many first time web sites I recommend WordPress, because it does two things very well, the first being that it is feature loaded with almost everything a beginning site author needs to create content easily, and secondly because it adds structure to help make your site more pleasing to search engines and site visitors. For a long time I thought the Kurbick template which many blog systems use now, was boring, but then I realized that blogs do something which no Dreamweaver template does. It takes care of the layout and structure for you, so you can get on with writing your content. This has allowed the Personal Web Page to flourish with new content almost daily. The personal publishing revolution is in sense only possible because of tools like WordPress and Textpattern. So if you are considering your first web site, consider a blogging or content management system to drive your site.

How To Define Content

When it comes to new websites, less is really more. What that means is that you need to cater to your audience and you need to add content and less features. Many first time web site owners feel the urge to visit sites like HotScripts.com, and install every script and web application they can find for their site. The result is usually a site that has multiple areas, many of these areas go unused and are seldom updated. The gallery, the forum, the chat area, guestbooks which are so 1990-ish, are all examples of additional areas that you see on many personal sites. The more options you add to to your site, the more confusing your site will be to your visitors. The idea is to focus on two or three main areas of your site, typically your blog and one more area is enough. This is especially important if you will be the only person updating the site with content. Eventually you might find a forum to be very popular with visitors, that this area will eventually take care of itself, but this is not always the case. What matters most is content, not content areas. The number of pages, blog entries, forum posts are what matter most, and not how many different directions site visitors can take on your site. So if you are thinking of adding a forum, a gallery, a second blog, think about how often these additional areas can be maintained and if you really need them at all.

Color Schemes

Another topic which is hard to understand for first time webmasters is color scheme. Although a good CMS or blog script can give you layout, most of the time you will want to change the color scheme and this is where perhaps not taking art in school really does become a weakness. Color schemes are not exactly easy to come by for many people, and after so many hours of watching Trading Places, you can still not know much about picking the right ones. This when looking at other sites and asking for opinions help. What I mean by color scheme is your overall design colors, graphics, and of course your link colors. For me personally, computer operating systems tend to use shades of gray and blue on purpose, mostly because gray is neutral, and blue is the one color which is pleasing and not harsh on the eyes. Even Apple’s Mac OS X, which started out as white with pinstripes, has started to change back to a more subdued gray white and forget some of its original white and rainbow gel colors. Windows98 is an even better example of gray and blue design. Choosing something besides white or gray is really very hard to do, but some web design actually manages to pull it off, usually its a white and red or a green nowadays. However for me, blue and red are still the defaults for links and it is hard to choose anything else.

The Web Is Not Suppose To Be Boring

One of the more annoying things that I find nowadays with web sites is the growing number of garbage sites, many of which are nothing more than just random collections of RSS feeds or scrapper sites, which copy their content from other sites via scripts. It is not that I have strong feelings on republishing content, it is that these sites are in fact pretty boring and really not useful at all. If you can’t entertain or have a legitimate use, then yes, I would say your site is boring. The harsh reality is that many of these sites are being indexed more and more, and end up coming up on most search engines as being relevant, but in fact are not even close. If you really are going to do a web site, make it either useful (informative in some manner) or at least interesting by making it personal (adding your opinion or views). Scrapper sites really do suck and they really serve no purpose to real web surfers. Perhaps I am being harsh, but after doing so many searches on Google and ending up at so many scrapper sites, its bound to dawn on anyone that scrapper sites are boring.

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