THE ARTIST COMMENTS - (Updates Monday, Wednesday & Friday)
Wednesday, February 3rd 2010
How I Create My Website
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I get a lot of questions about my website and how I made it, so I'm going to try and answer those right now. This might be a little boring if your not interested, but I really needed to write this down somewhere, so I can just link to it when somebody asks, rather than constantly have to rewrite it into separate emails.
So here we go.
My site is actually a free blog from Blogger, (as many of you have already guessed, from the grey tool bar at the top) Anyone can get one, there's nothing special about it, I'm just using one of there standard templates, I think its called 'Simple II'. All of my pictures, pages, everything, it's all hosted on Blogger, which is awesome because its all free. The only thing I pay for is the domain name JeffLafferty.com and I buy that through Godaddy.com and redirect the link to this site.
The galleries are all actually individual posts that I create and then date earlier than the initial start of the blog. I know that's a little confusing, but basically when I create a page for the gallery (like the new Red Sonja piece for example - link) that is actually a blog post, just like the one your reading right now. When I publish it, (when I actually push the button) I change the date from the current date, (today) to a day four or five years ago. Now why do I do that? Because it hides the page underneath all the other pages of your blog. So when someone comes to your site, they can't see it, they only see the front page.
The reason I date the page so far back (four years ago) before I actually started the blog, is because I read somewhere that this will make sure the page won't accidentally pop up in a RSS feed. I'm not completely sure about that, but you want it far enough back that, if someone is clicking through your blog that they wont eventually run into your gallery pages.
A few more things about making this system work, the comments need to be turned off on the gallery pages, also the blog has to be set to display a single post per page, because each post will need its own separate page. That's easy to do, just go to your blog editor, hit settings, click formatting and its the first one on the top.
Ok, now you've got a gallery page sitting out there in space, somewhere in no mans land, that no one can see. Now all you've got to do, is link to it from your front page. Put a thumbnail up with a link pointing to the gallery page. That's basically how my front page works, the only difference is, I just have sixty thumbnails, with links that point to sixty different pages.
Now there's a few things that can still trip you up. One is the 'newer' and 'older' links that are standard in all the blogger templates. Basically they're a link at the bottom of each page that will take you to the previous post and the next post.
Here's why you don't want them, in theory a visitor can be reading your blog and click back, and back, and back, until he gets into your gallery, or your about page, or whatever else, and then your site just doesn't make sense anymore. The best thing to do is remove them.
Here's how, open your Blogger template and choose Edit HTML, and then search your code in your blog template for the following text:
Now replace that code with the following code:
That takes care of that, but now I'm sure you wondering how do you navigate through the site, once those links are gone? Well, basically, that kind of addresses the bigger way my site works. I've taken away all the automatic links and replaced them with my own links. So as I make a blog post, I manually create the link that points at the previous days post.
I know this is probably a backwards way of making a website, and there's probably a million easier ways to do it, but its kind of like ... if Blogger gave me a free car, but I didn't need a car, I needed a truck. So I took it apart, put it all back together, and made myself a truck. I don't know if that's a good analogy or not, but it's sort of the same thing. I needed a free website and free hosting, Blogger was giving away a free blog with free hosting, so I took my free blog and I made it into a free website.
The last thing I wanted to talk about is the navigation at the top of the site. Now that needs to be on every single page. You don't want to actually have it coded into each page, because if you ever have to change one of those links, you'll have to go in and edit hundreds of different pages. So you want to put that code into either a gadget (which you can easily create inside your blog editor) or (and this where mine is) put the HTML inside your header, in the blog description box. Then it just sits up there on top and you never have to worry about it, and if it does ever need to be changed, you only need to fix one piece of code.
Ok there it is. I'm going to leave the comments permanently enabled on this post, so if anyone has any questions, go ahead and ask and if anyone wants to add there own tips or tricks, feel free.