Lipstick Monkey Design
home - resources - help center - faqs - contact

Building a Web Site: Bells and Whistles

There are lots of "bells and whistles" that you may have seen on someone else's site. Some of these things are harder to implement than you may realize. Below, we've tried to describe some of the more commonly desired web site features along with information on what you can reasonably expect. We'll talk about:

Flash Animations, Intros, or Sites

Flash-enhanced web sites range from "embedded" animations in an otherwise normal web site all the way up to full Flash sites, where the site is completely done in Flash. If you aren't sure if something is a Flash movie or not, try right-clicking on it. If you see options like "Settings" and "About Macromedia Flash Player," then it's a Flash (or Swish) movie. Typically, you'll see web designers and movie or music artist sites with all-Flash sites, while "larger" sites (such as www.macromedia.com or www.microsoft.com) will have HTML sites with embedded Flash movies.

It won't take much time to learn how to do some simple text or image fading animation effects using Flash or Swish (Swish has a lot of built-in text effects), but if you're looking for high-quality Flash work, it will take a lot of time to learn, and you might not even be able to get the job done. It's best to outsource any high-caliber Flash work until you have time to take some classes or buy lots of "learn Flash" books. Expect custom Flash work to come with a hefty price tag.

  • Macromedia Flash can be purchased from www.macromedia.com and runs in the hundreds of dollars range.
  • Swish can be purchased from www.swishzone.com and is currently around $50. It's not as easy to optimize Swish movies and there's definitely less functionality than with Flash, but it comes with lots of built-in text effects that are easy to use if you just want to create simple animations.

DHTML Menus (Pop-out Menus)

You've probably seen those cool "pop-out" menus - some with some really nifty effects. These are usually done using a third-party software. If you are using a FrontPage template, you will NOT be able to use FrontPage built-in navigation bars if you want DHTML pop-out menus, but will have to build your own images and use the third-party software to generate the code.

  • Sothink offers a nice program that creates these pop-out menus that are compatible with all the major browsers.
  • xFX Jumpstart also has a nice program that creates pop-out menus that are compatible with all the major browsers.

JavaScript Drop-down Menus

These are the drop-down menus that look like:

(this doesn't actually work)

When you select the choice, you are sent to another page -- kind of like clicking a button or a link, but it saves a lot of space.

This is done using JavaScript. You can find lots of free code online if you type "javascript drop down menus" and see what comes up. One place to look is http://www.webreference.com/programming/javascript/goodies/chap6/6.html.

Music/Sound

There are two ways that you can integrate music and sound into your site:

  1. By embedding a "background music" file into your web site.
    This is obnoxious and annoying and we don't recommend it.
  2. By using a Flash movie that has background music in it.
    This can also be obnoxious and annoying. If you decide to do this, please include a "mute" button on the movie so that the user can turn of the music if desired.

We won't go into depth on how to do this. You can find Flash support or search online for how to embed music into your web site.

Member/Client Login

This can also take many different forms. The most common variations:

  • A subfolder that is password protected (a system dialog box pops up to ask for the user/pass - this is different than a login box that is ON a web page). Once someone enters the username and password, they can access the subfolder. You will need to talk to your hosting provider or server administrator to help you do this - basically they will set specific "permissions" on the folder so that you have to log in to access the folder.
  • Some kind of database that holds usernames and passwords and programming on the pages that checks the usernames and passwords. You will either need to outsource this to someone who knows how to do it, try to learn it yourself, or find a third-party tool. For FrontPage users, check out the Spooky Login from Outfront.net. You may also try typing in search terms like "password protect web site" and see what sponsored links show up.

Collecting Information in Forms

There are two main ways you can do this:

  • Email the form information to yourself. You'll have to check with your hosting provider to see if this is possible, then create a form with a "mailto" statement. There are lots of tutorials online that will help you do this. If your web host allows form emails, then you can do this for free.
  • Collect the form information in some kind of online database. You may want to outsource this or find a third-party tool if you don't know anything about ASP or similar programming. Type "collect form information web site" in a search engine and see what comes up.
  • FrontPage users who are hosting on a server with FrontPage extensions may be able to collect form information in a ".csv" file (able to be opened with Excel) as well as email the information to themselves. They should check with their hosting provider to make sure that this is possible.

Guestbook's and Forums

There are plenty of free (and not free) guestbook and forum programs online. Just search for "forums" or "guestbook" at a search engine.

We were recommended Snitz forums - http://forum.snitz.com/ - they feature ASP, fully customizable forum.

Email Newsletters

If you want an email newsletter and don't have a friend who is a programming whiz, look for a third-party solution. Type "email newsletters" in a search engine and see what comes up.

A nice, cheap solution that we've heard of is www.newsletteradministrator.com. There are no up-front fees and it costs $1 to send 500 newsletters.

Live Chat

Be aware that you should check with your hosting service to see if they allow live chat - some don't! Other hosting services offer live chat as an add-in for an additional fee. If you're looking for a third-party solution, Volano.com is pricier than most but we've heard that they're good.

Site Search or Product Search

If you want search functionality that searches the text on your web site, the cheapest way is to sign up for Google's free SiteSearch. Go to http://www.google.com/services/free.htmll.

You can also see Google's other search solutions at http://www.google.com/services.

There are also plenty of third-party solutions. Try keywords like "search functionality integrate website."

If you want product search capability, you'll have to find a web developer who is proficient in ASP or CGI-type programming. You will also have to integrate your products into a database so that you will have "fields" that you can search. Some shopping cart systems may also come with search capability. Read on to find out more about ecommerce!

Next: E-commerce

home - contact - policies