Archive for Consulting

First Steps on Your Business’ Online Presence

A friend of mine asked me how to get started with the website for his business idea.  I thought that because I took the time to write this down, I’d share it here too.  I can’t say anything specific about this business, but it relies on some sophisticated, social-network-related algorithms to rank candidates.  Here’s what I told him:

The best way to fiddle around with the algorithms for ranking is in a spreadsheet.  Excel or Google spreadsheets are both fine.  Translating the formulas into website code will be easy.  Finding the right formulas is hard and spreadsheets make it so you can experiment agilely.

The best way to make mockups and design the pages and website structure is honestly on a piece of paper.  Lots of people, including experienced designers, try to write the pages in code too early and get locked into it.  This won’t take very long and will let you start coding it up soon to show people soon.

To learn HTML, you should have some sort of sandbox environment.  I imagine that your firm or program must give you some sort of webspace.  If so, talk to the IT department about how you can upload files to it.  If you don’t have space there, you can create files on your laptop and look at them locally in your browser, or use Google’s Pages application.

To write the HTML files, you can use a text editor (not Word it has to be like notepad) or a WYSIWYG editor like Mozilla Composer.  Mozilla Composer is free and pretty good: http://www.mozilla.org/editor/ .  WYSIWYG is an acronym for “What You See Is What You Get” which basically means you aren’t writing in code.   Rather, you’re formatting the webpage the way you would a Word document with the underlying code hidden from view.   However, you can choose to view the code which is a learning-experience.

To get to your actual question: how to learn HTML, I would say that any book on amazon that has a lot of stars is as good as any book I can tell you about.  I would just say that before you get the book, give a try to a couple of online HTML tutorials.  Whatever comes out on top of a google search and gives you the right vibe is fine.  If those don’t work for you, get a book, but if they do work, they’ll save more than money.  I’ve often found that web-based tutorials were easier to use, more up-to-date, had cooler and more interactive examples and had better self-referencing structure.

Use the comments to tell me what I missed.

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