16 April 1999

Constructing your own web site isnt that hard

CHANGING trades from shepherd to computer programmer will probably make many flockmasters tear their hair out, but it is possible to create your own website.

To write the program you will need to use a programming language called Hyper Text Make-up Language (HTML), which will appear daunting at first, says Alistair Crust.

But there is a lot of information on the net about HTML and there are books than can help you learn it. It is complicated, but is essential for creating the site unless you have software to help you.

Software packages can greatly reduce the headache by giving you a step-by-step-guide to creating your own site.

But Alistair learnt the HTML code by deconstructing a friends website. "This way I could see how the various codes affected commands and changed website design.

"It does take time to learn and it is pretty complicated, but it does become more apparent once the whole thing clicks."

Teach yourself?

Giles Crust thinks it is possible to teach yourself how to do it. "Having certain type of mind might help. I have a logical mind, but I was not able to pick it up as easily as Alistair."

There are certain things to follow when designing a web page, says Alistair.

"When you are on the Internet, look closely at web sites and see how quickly you can look at information on different sites. Is the layout pleasing to the eye? Is it readable? Do the pictures complement the text?

"Too many pictures complicate the page and it can look cluttered. It is best to work out the text layout before beginning the site."

Alistair also warns against using too many graphics and designing a complicated web site. "This slows opening the site, which means someone has to wait. But you want your potential customers to access the information as quickly as possible before they move to another site."

Working out what you will call your site is important. It also needs to contain information that can be picked up by one of the search engines, such as Altavista or Yahoo.

First port of call

These hunt for selected topics and are most peoples first port of call on the Internet. There is advice on the net about the search engines and what type of information they look for on related sites which can be used on your own web site.

It is also good to update your site regularly, says Alistair. "Most web sites will tell you when it was last updated. There is no point displaying out-of-date information because the whole point of information technology is to have up-to-date information."

WEB SITE

&#8226 Good publicity.

&#8226 Advertise your web page.

&#8226 Update it regularly.

Minimum Computing Requirements

&#8226 Computer – PC or Mac at least 486 dx processor

&#8226 1.2GB hard drive

&#8226 16MB RAM, 2MB graphics card

&#8226 Windows 95

&#8226 30.8cm (14in) screen

&#8226 14.4 kbps modem

There are many Internet packages to choose from offering standard browser software, such as Netscape and Explorer, free.

According to farmers weekly Interactive editor, Julian Westaway, browser software gives access to the world wide web. Once there most people use a search engine such as Yahoo or Altavista to find information they require.

"Some interactive sites also offer the software for creating a web page. There are various software packages that can help create a website."

farmers weeklys new Internet service farmersweekly.net offers one of these packages and 5MB web space free, says Mr Westaway.

The package is a good one for helping beginners start. It is a template which guides you through creating a website, making life easier.

"The cost of developing a site can range from buying a couple of pints of beer for a friend who knows a bit about computers to a full-blown site which can be as expensive and as comprehensive as you want."

For those worried about setting up their own web site there is information and on-line help available through farmersweekly.net as well as via its phone support line.

Plenty of packages to choose from

There are many Internet packages to choose from offering standard browser software, such as Netscape and Explorer, free.

According to farmers weekly Interactive editor, Julian Westaway, browser software gives access to the world wide web. Once there most people use a search engine such as Yahoo or Altavista to find information they require.

"Some interactive sites also offer the software for creating a web page. There are various software packages that can help create a web site."

farmers weeklys new Internet service farmersweekly.net offers one of these packages and 5MB web space free, says Mr Westaway.

The package is a good one for helping beginners start. It is a template which guides you through creating a website, making life easier.

"The cost of developing a site can range from buying a couple of pints of beer for a friend who knows a bit about computers to a full-blown site which can be as expensive and as comprehensive as you want."

For those worried about setting up their own web site there is information and on-line help available through farmersweekly.net as well as via its phone support line.

WEB SITE BENEFITS

&#8226 Good publicity.

&#8226 Advertise your web page.

&#8226 Update it regularly.

Minimum requirements

&#8226 Computer – PC or Mac at least 486 dx processor

&#8226 1.2GB hard drive

&#8226 16MB RAM, 2MB graphics card

&#8226 Windows 95

&#8226 30.8cm (14in) screen

&#8226 14.4 kbps modem

Rams

Producing quality rams

demands high standards

of stockmanship, but

marketing is becoming

more important, and the

Internet offers new

opportunities for breeders.

James Garner reports

WEBSITE design is never normally part of a shepherds CV, but for pedigree breeders looking to increase ram sales it may be well worth considering.

Put simply, designing a web page and placing it on the Internet is cost-effective advertising. And once installed it is there for 365 days a year to help attract customers and boost sales.

In todays world, good marketing can give a competitive advantage. For years, pedigree ram sellers have been adept at marketing their product, and in many cases have done so with great skill.

But the age of information technology could lead some to search for a way to gain further advantages over other breeders.

The principles of selling rams have always been the same, says Lincs pedigree Texel and Suffolk breeder Giles Crust. "To sell rams you have to be publicity-conscious."

Mr Crust sells 20-30 rams a year at sales on and off his farm at Stone Pit Lane, Skendleby, Spilsby, where he keeps 100 Dutch Texels and 30 Suffolks.

He has also set up the only registered pedigree sheep web site in the UK. It was designed by his 17-year-old son, Alistair, who is studying engineering at college, but found time to create a web site for his fathers business.

Since launching the site on the Internet on Jan 28 this year, the Skendleby Texels web site has been visited 196 times, resulting in six serious inquiries which could lead to sales in the summer.

Despite its success, creating a website is difficult and time-consuming, he says. "I think it took Alistair at least 50 hours to create the web site. But it would cost £800-1000 to have a commercial company design one," says Mr Crust.

But cutting initial costs, designing it yourself means it is cheaper to maintain and keep up-to-date. "When a commercial company has designed your site, would you know how to change it or add new things to it?" asks Alistair.

Each time you want to change your site it would cost you a further £300, says his father. "Designing it yourself means it can be regularly updated and can display photos, taken by digital camera, of individual rams for sale.

"Its a tool that can open a lot of doors once you know how to use it. But, the key is advertising the fact that you are on the Internet. Once people know this, you are advertising 365 days a year, 24 hours a day and it costs nothing."

Clever web site designers will also provide a reply form which can be returned by e-mail so the originator has a contact name and address to update his database on potential buyers.

seeking buyers on the net