Hey, folks. So here’s a…

Hey, folks. So here's a question for you. I'd like a redesign of my site. It has looked the same for more than a decade, and lo, I am weary of it. However, I am a cheap bastard, and don't want to pay a fancy designer fancy prices. Also, I thought I was going to do it myself with Dreamweaver, and started teaching myself the program to that end, but have drowned in other stuff, and can't really make it a priority right now. But I'd probably still like to eventually, so that's another reason not to pay someone a ton of money to do a design right now.

So here's my question -- is it possible to get someone who can do a decent web page redesign for like $100-$200? Is that just insane? I don't have any idea how these things are priced these days. I don't want anything fancy -- just a nice, clean design that doesn't look like it's a decade old. Something minimal, maybe like Neil Gaiman's design, without the huge photos of Neil on the side. Thoughts? Recommendations for designers in that price range?

I'm also sort of dreading the whole conversion of the site, since of course, I didn't use CSS or anything the first time around. I think I'm going to have to edit every damn page by hand? Argh. But if I do it once, hopefully I can put in CSS and never have to do it again, right?

6 thoughts on “Hey, folks. So here’s a…”

  1. CSS isn’t as clever as all that, unfortunately — it depends how you use it. If you treat your pages like (fairly dull) printed pages — limit yourself to paragraphs, headings, lists and other basic stuff — you can swap stylesheets around to change the colors and fonts and sizes and alignments and whatnot all you like. But once you start using CSS for layout — sidebars, floating doohickeys, whatever — you pin yourself down a lot tighter. There are people who can do amazing tricks with totally flexible CSS layouts that you can swap around entirely with a click of the mouse, but they’re even rarer than people who use styles properly in MS Word.

    It might help to think in terms of starting a new site rather than converting the old one — you can always keep the old pages around as they are, and once you’ve got an overall design and structure that you like, pull content into the new site a little bit at a time instead of feeling like you have to convert everything at once.

  2. Nirupa (Andrea) Gabriel

    Hi Amirthi Akka,

    My friend does websites and as she is a student, wouldn’t over charge you or anything. She’s pretty good with html and such, if your interested, and has been hired by other organizations to maintain their websites as well…her email address is

    sequindonut@hotmail.com and her name is Shayla.

    Hope it helps.



    PS. Kavya is BEAUTIFUL! 🙂

  3. Must be something in the air–I was just thinking that my site is long overdue for a makeover.

    A few thoughts:

    1. Do you want to redesign your whole site, or just your journal? If you want a blog that looks like Gaiman’s, there’s always the option of switching over to something like Movable Type, which makes it more or less trivially easy to change blog looks/designs/layouts whenever you want to. (I say “more or less” because if you customize one of their standard layouts, it gets less trivial to change to another one.)

    2. Once you have a new design, you may have to convert every page by hand, or (depending on how consistent you were when you created the pages) it may be possible to automatically search-and-replace throughout the site. Most of your programmer-type friends could probably put together a script to do that replacement fairly easily; you might also check with Brian, who I think was the one who wrote the script to change all the SH archives to our then-new design a few years back.

    3. David’s right that adding CSS won’t necessarily make it trivially easy to do a complete change of layout in the future. But a combination of CSS and server-side includes (like SH now uses) makes it a lot easier to make substantial changes to the look of the site than (for example) is feasible with your current setup. If we wanted to change the look of SH at this point, here are some things we could change sitewide in a few seconds: the fonts and font sizes, the line spacing and paragraph spacing and indentation of the text, the colors, the look of the headings, the look of the links, the look of the sidebars and the central column (including widths, colors, and borders), the graphic at the top, the black bar at the bottom, the placement and margins of images, the location and look of the front-page News box, and so on.

    We didn’t build in enough flexibility to completely change the layout — to switch to a different number of columns, say, or to move the navigation to the top. But using CSS and SSIs is still a big win for flexibility of future changes. (And we did build in a few tags and elements that we didn’t need yet, in order to provide for some future flexibility.) If you like the SH look, you could try contacting the designer, Elaine Chen; her website shows some more of her designs.

    If you want to see the kind of total-layout-change that David mentioned, take a look at CSS Zen Garden, where exactly the same HTML file is given utterly different layouts and looks by just changing the CSS.

    4. If you really want a really minimal design, you may be able to get Dreamweaver to do it for you very easily; it does come with some sample page layouts. Unfortunately, I think in the version you have, the sample layouts probably aren’t very good; but it might be worth a look.

  4. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Hey, folks. Thanks for the great suggestions. I definitely do want to redo the entire site, but I hadn’t looked at the Dreamweaver templates before — there are a couple CSS ones that I think may be just what I need to quickly and easily do the basic redesign myself. If I get stuck, though, I’ll definitely keep in mind your designer suggestions. As an old-school hand-coder, it’s just so appealing, the thought of doing all the design myself. I have to try, I think.

    And David, a great suggestion to think of it as a new site and import the old material slowly. I think that’s exactly the right thing for me to do, and makes the whole project seem a lot more manageable!

  5. There really must be something in the air, as I’ve been contemplating doing the same thing. One of the options I’ve been considering is to approach BroadUniverse, and do a barter — in exchange for critique of a number of pages or words TBD, get someone to redo my website for me. This might not work for you (given the time constraints you currently have) or you might be able to slip it in with everything else. . .

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