Published: Aug 18, 2004
Modified: Aug 18, 2004 3:00 AM
Sites easier to set up
By PAUL GILSTER
I wrote my first Web page in the fall of 1993, painstakingly typing in HTML code to manipulate fonts and insert an image. Using Mosaic, then the state of the art in browsers, I found I could display a list of Web links that I used every day. What I had made was a personal Internet directory that I didn't yet know to call a home page.
Since then, the tools for Web development have become quite sophisticated, but simple is better for first-timers. On that score, I like the looks of Spinsite, an online service that allows you to build pages using no-brainer tools. For $49, you'll get three months of Web hosting, and if you continue, $13 a month is the subsequent charge.
Spinsite's interface is well designed -- you build your pages using options that hover over the page you're creating. The site's buttons and tool bars make it a snap to move text and graphics around within your choice of themes. The basic themes are attractive and functional, but as you progress, you'll want to tweak the options, adjusting site security, changing the color scheme and adjusting borders.
What's more, setting up documents for frequently asked questions and other specialty pages is easily handled through Spinsite's menus. And it's only a matter of a few clicks to create a discussion forum for your readers.
What a distance we've come. Back in 1993, I had downloaded a fact sheet from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. Wanting to add a favorite Monet painting to my page, I learned all about tweaking the code, cutting and pasting, making mistakes and trying out code from other Web pages to see if I could figure out how they operated.
Today I've just set up a Spinsite page with that same image by doing this: From the popup menu as I edited my page, I chose "Add Image." I then clicked to choose the image off my hard disk and watched as it uploaded to the Spinsite computers. I could then choose the image from the online library, edit it as needed, and click to publish it.
Adding pages or menu buttons is equally simple, but I suspect the real value of Spinsite (www.spinsite.com) will be to people contemplating an online store. Beyond the basic service, a pricier package for $35 a month lets you set up user access by password and create shopping carts with checkout by PayPal (credit card options are not yet available). In addition to collecting and tracking customer statistics, the service also builds in search functions so online shoppers can find what they need at your site.
Paul A. Gilster, a local author and technologist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.