Programming an Olympic Website

Basically, there are three different ways of designing a website like

  1. Do it yourself
  2. Pay someone to do it
  3. Use some of the available – and free – solutions on the internet

Below some of the advantages, disadvantages, and pitfalls in the different methods are sketched out:

Homemade solution

To be able to design dynamic as well as static websites you need a basic knowledge of the language ’spoken’ by internet browsers, i.e. HTML (hyper text markup language). By means of a number of codes you are able to describe the design of the website. E.g. <strong>tekst</strong> means that the text becomes bold when it is interpreted on the user’s computer. In the same way it is possible to make tables, lay out pictures, etc. A number of HTML-editors can help create a graphic interface. The most well-known is probably FrontPage by Microsoft, but on the internet you can probably find many better and cheaper programs (e.g. Html-kit), so at first there is no need to deter from HTML.

The other part of a dynamic homemade website is to program the web pages in one of the programming languages of the internet. Unlike HTML, this code is interpreted on the server (central computer) where the website is placed. It is this part that makes it possible for the users to log on, save text and change the website when they are logged on. Without this, bottlenecks may occur because only the webmaster is able to update and change the website.

There are many different languages to write in – the most common ones are ASP, NET and PHP. IOAPA.DK’s website is written in PHP, but one language may be just as good as the other. If you know a little about programming, ASP would appeal mostly to those familiar with BASIC or the like, while PHP is mostly comparable with C+ and similar programming languages. When you understand the basics of these programming languages, you will easily be able to find help and inspiration from webpages and newsgroups on the internet.

It is certainly possible to learn net programming from scratch, but if you have not tried before prepare yourself for a very steep learning curve in the beginning. It really would be rewarding with an experienced tutor here.

Paid solution

The biggest disadvantage by paying someone to design your website is the fact that it can get very expensive. The design and layout itself is rarely cheap, and the programming part can be both protracted and expensive. In return you often get a product which works and often also a product which is thoroughly tested. You should make sure to get a website which has a so-called CMS – a content management system – so that you can update and change the website when you are online. So it is important that it does not require anything but ordinary computer skills to update the website.

Furthermore, needs and possibilities often change as far as websites are concerned. Often it is a good idea to have a clear arrangement with the company that made the website when it comes to improvements and new features. As a minimum, this should include support during the first couple of years and discounts on the implementation of larger or new technical solutions. If you do not have the skills yourself, this is quite a good solution, but it may turn out to be very expensive.

Free solution

There are many possibilities of getting different technical solutions free of charge on the internet. It almost sounds too good to be true, which it often is… Free solutions are made possible because the service provider earns money on automatically featuring advertisements on your website. Thereby you do not have any expenses, but on the other hand you are a show window to a lot of advertisers of whom you have no control. You should be aware of the content of these as there might sometimes be products which few of us would like to be associated with Olympism.

You can also find many good solutions with message boards, dissemination of news in the form of weblogs (blogs), email and profile service with international groupcare. The most popular ones are being used by millions of people, and no particular prerequisites are required besides a bit of activity on the site now and then. Also the best ones can be adjusted so that they appear in accordance with your wishes. The many free offers are a good start and definitely a good alternative to buying a website. The biggest problem is often that you have to visit many different websites in order to experience the full range of activities offered by your association. If, on the other hand, the advertisements are decent, then it is definitely a remarkable alternative.

Getting started

A good place to start is to find a domain name which is vacant. For this, you need to refer to the national WHOIS, which is often accessible on the internet. The local ones are often cheaper than the international ones (like org, net, and com), and fewer of them will be occupied. Once you find a vacant domain which is appropriate for your activities, then go ahead and book it to launch your website.

One way of getting started is to do as many things as you can yourself (with a bit of help from HTML editors, of course) and find the rest as free offers on the internet. As your skills increase, you can then replace the commercial solutions with your own homemade version.

Have fun with your own website!

Translation: Claus Skovbjerg

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