History of Kathy's Kritters Website

It has taken me about 5 years to get my website to this level of sophistication. At first, I started out very simply. Then, as I learned more and practiced what I learned, I began to expand my horizons. It's been a lot of fun and a great learning experience, but also a lot of hard work. Following are a few details of my progress.

THE SOFTWARE

Originally, I created a Microsoft Word document, a daily journal of a hamster litter with photos, and saved it to the web. Later, I switched to Broderbund Print Shop software to add a little pizzazz to my site. Next, I bought Microsoft FrontPage 2000, software whose purpose is to help you create and manage websites easily, great for a first-time website creator. The main drawback is that you have to make sure that your web host supports FrontPage extensions (note this requirement may not be needed for FrontPage 2003). Finally, I "graduated" to more sophisticated software, mainly Macromedia Dreamweaver to create the site and Adobe Photoshop to create the artwork and edit photos. Both of those are my favorites, but they can be rather expensive and take a significant amount of time to learn completely.

THE CONTENT

My original site, years ago, was just the Hamster Journal. I simply typed in the words and added some pictures each day, creating separate pages for each day and linking them together (by inserting hyperlinks). Later, when I created the pet stories, I gave each of them its own web site (at first). After I got my own domain, in February 2002, I combined all 3 websites into one and, over time, added a bunch of other information (FAQ, gallery, etc). The latest redesign, in March 2003, made the combined websites more cohesive and easier to navigate among.

THE HOST

I started out with a free site at Yahoo Geocities. In fact, I still have a simple Geocities site to redirect people to my current site. When I started to add my pet stories, I put them on a different free web host (I don’t remember the name). The main disadvantages of the free web hosting sites are pop-up ads (Tripod sites drive me crazy, but it’s not so bad now that I have PopUpCop) and limited bandwidth (think of those Geocities sites that won’t display pages for an hour, because they have hit their maximum hourly bandwidth – it doesn’t take much). With my internet provider (Roadrunner) I was able to have a free web site, but unfortunately, it only allowed 5 MB of space, which wasn’t enough for all my photos and pages. So I finally decided to get my own domain and web host provider. There are many low-fee hosting services for under $10 a month, perfect for the hobbyist like me. I went with a friend’s recommendation and set up my site at OLM with a plan costing about $9 a month. At the same time, I registered my own domain name (kathyskritters.com), which often can be done in conjunction with signing up for a web host provider. I paid for 5 years in advance for the domain, to save money and the hassle of paying each year.

1 and 1 banner

Note: In January 2004, I switched to 1and1 web hosting, which offers shared hosting for only $4.99 a month and domain names for $5.88 a year. So far, I have been very pleased with them.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS

If I were starting out today, I would probably go to Yahoo Geocities and sign up for a free site. They have a lot of help features and helper applications to get you started. In addition, Web Monkey for Kids has some good ideas about building your own web site.

Your internet provider may give you access to creating your own web site. If so, you can use software such as Microsoft FrontPage to help you get started. Just make sure that it is compatible with your online service.

After you get a simple website up and running, then you can research on the web or through books different ways of improving your site. It really would be a good idea to study HTML, and there are many websites and books about that. Depending on the level of sophistication you want and your willingness to work at learning new information, you can gradually create the website of your dreams.

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