The Central Outpost
Web Sites
by "MKP Dude"
July 23, 2006 (Last updated on May 26, 2007)

Here's the deal, every clan needs a web site. Your clan looks pretty crappy without a web site. There are some other useful articles here regarding web sites and things you should do with your clan, etc., etc. This focuses specifically on the facts and fallacies of web design.

Here's what you need with your web site, with things to keep in mind:
Content: Content is a necessity. What's the purpose of a web site that… has no purpose? Think of what you will say on your site, write it down (so you know how much space it takes) and determine based on what you've written how you should organize your site. Try to simplify your content as much as possible (any messages to clan members and others should be written in clear, plain English, and should preferably be spelled correctly).

Design: Generally you will want a consistent web page set up, your layout. Design this (on paper first)—it can be as simple as the standard menu-on-left, logo-on-top, content-in-middle & right—but keep in mind that people are generally stupid; if your menu system is too complex, people won’t get it and they’ll think your site sucks. Also remember that it is best to have a link to every (public) page on your site from every other one, or at least to every section on the site (for larger sites).

Building: By this point you already know what you want on your site and how you will organize it. You can make a bunch of images for your clan, generally keeping the same background and foreground colors, to put on your site, but in all actuality the images are only there to make the site look better; it is extremely important that on any given page there are not too many large images, larger than 200 KB, so don't create too many large graphics… Now you are ready to begin building your site. But where to begin? You can use free web design tools like GeoCities PageBuilder or applications like Mozilla/Netscape Composer and Quanta Plus (*nix), an expensive one like Macromedia Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage, or you can pay somebody to design your web site for you—but who wants to spend the money for that and what's the likelihood that you will get what you want anyway? Well, nine times out of ten, you will not be able to get what you wanted with any of the above options listed. If you want a good web site, you either have to get your friend, or a member to make it for you, or you will have to make it yourself. That means learning HTML. I am currently working on a site that does this (http://mercuria.no-ip.org/mkp/html/). Though it's not done, you can get the bare minimum from it. There are hundreds, thousands of free HTML tutorial sites, but for reference purposes (after you've learned the language) I definitely recommend WDG (http://www.htmlhelp.com/). Unfortunately, you will have to make it yourself to get the results wanted, but HTML is a very simple language (CSS and JavaScript make it a bit more complex, but you probably won't use them, at least not with your first site) and you can probably learn the minimum for what you need to start in under a day.

Hosting: There are many pay hosts out there, but like I said, who wants to pay? There are certain other hosts around that charge no money, though most of them put ads on your site. And there are some that don't accept all sites. You can do a search (http://av.com/?q="free+web+hosts") for hosts, and you probably won't find a satisfactory one. Luckily for you, you don't need much space (some hosts only offer 2 MB). You can stick with GeoCities or Tripod, but you can check out other ones like Prohosting (http://free.prohosting.com/) or Host Ultra (http://www.hostultra.com/)—they tend to have the fewest ads and they do not to care whether anyone goes to your site or not, despite their terms; I still have a site up that I created almost four months ago, and I know that no one has been there except me once, today. There are others, but I won't post a list. I do however support Dot.TK, so, to avoid people seeing the crappy "www.geocities.com/my_clan_is_cool/home-page.html"; or "mind.prohosting.com/my_clan_is_cool/home-page.html" URLs, you can instead have the "www.myclaniscool.tk"; domain name (and TK helps out Tokelau).