Web site hi tech/Web site lo tech

I’ve been using WordPress as my web site design and delivery mechanism since I started my own web site, Crazybasenji.com, two years ago. It spoiled me. I had previously taken some workshops in HTML and CSS sponsored by the tech department¬† at a place of former employment. And when I say “former,” I mean 1999 – 2002. Turn of the century. So. Talking HTML 3.something, and CSS 0.1ish.

Those were the days when designing a website meant writing the code yourself, unless you had the wherewithal to buy a copy of Dreamweaver or FrontPage, or one of a few other webpage-generating programs that would write the code for you. I, of course, have never been blessed with a lot of disposable wherewithal, so if I wanted a website, I would have to build it myself, from scratch. It turned out I didn’t really want a website of my own that bad at that time. But I fancied myself just knowledgeable enough about how to do it to make me semi-dangerous. I kept offering to help with websites that belonged to organizations I was a member of. It’s probably fortunate that my offers got ignored.

Recently my bluff got called, as it were, and I found myself taking over as webmaster of a website that was suffering from a case of nearly terminal neglect. Six or more of the pages had been flying the “under construction” flag for at least the past five years. I just deleted them. There was too much to do to get the other pages cleaned up and working without having to create content for pages that would have to be updated as soon as I finished them, and frequently thereafter.

My big plan was to replace the whole website with a slick WordPress theme that would make the whole updating process a lot faster and easier. That got shot down immediately. The other members wanted to keep the appearance the same. They wanted to keep certain things on the home page and were concerned that without the “hit counters” in the footer, we wouldn’t know how many people were visiting the site. I didn’t feel it was my place to tell them about other ways of obtaining that information. After all, the previous webmaster was the one with all the experience maintaining web sites. I’m just a blogger.

So I have had a crash refresher course in writing, re-writing, and editing HTML, because that is how the whole site was built. There are no style sheets — no external style sheets, no embedded style sheets, no in-line style declarations. Which means there’s no universal page template to set background color, font style, text color, or anything else that should be uniform throughout the site. And on a few pages, the code for background color was not quite the same as on other pages, so there was no background color at all. On many pages, the links had been edited (or something) and no longer functioned, and the spacing between the links was irregular or missing altogether. Someone had put a lot of effort into formating the links on the home page and then dropped the ball on the other pages. I created a separate file for the links, and then used that to copy and paste over the code for the links on each page, and then removed the link for that particular page. I was pretty proud of the result, I have to say. Or more to the point, I was relieved that I got it to work.

There’s still a lot to be done, because I’m determined to introduce style sheets into the mix and eliminate some of the table formatting, but I have to work those things in with all the other projects I have going on, not to mention the small matter of doing something to make a living. One thing at a time.

So much for this episode in the continuing saga of my adventures in doing things I never thought I’d be doing — or any good at doing.