Understanding website content

The technical name for the stuff on a web page is "content". What makes a web site about Cars different from one about Spiritual Healing is the "content", or, in other words, that the author of the pages happened to write about Spiritual Healing rather than Cars.

How is this content created? Simple! Someone, or a team of someone's, spends time writing articles, collecting pictures, writing software, shooting video, recording audio, or whatever else is involved with the web site. That person, or team, collects the content together to make the web site, and then publishes it on a web server.

Okay, we know what a web server is (because we just talked about it). But what about the rest? There's specialized software applications for each of the things I just mentioned:

  • Writing articles: That is, any "content" that's words must be written by someone, yes? For the Web you use special "Web Publishing" software, sometimes called "HTML Editor's". Web publishing, or HTML editing, software handles the job of organizing all the variety of content into web pages. Good web publishing software lets you work with all the pages of a web site as a unit, and lets you send the files directly over the Internet to the web server.
  • Collecting pictures: This is all the graphics in general that go onto a web site. They may be drawn for the web site, or a picture taken with a camera. Always some graphics editing software is used.
  • Writing software: Some web sites have dynamically constructed web pages where every time someone visits the page its contents are created. A great example is Google's News page (http://news.google.com/) where the content is recreated, by software, every 15 minutes or so. There are a huge variety of uses for dynamically created web pages, and they all involve writing software. This is very specialized and highly technical work, and is only rarely done by the writing staff of a web site. The skill set for writing good software often destroys the ability to write good english (or any language).
  • Shooting video: Video presentations take a lot of bandwidth across the Internet, and as peoples homes are more and more often wired for Broadband using video will make more and more sense. There are lots of good reasons for including video on a web site, it's just a matter of your choice whether to do it or not. Basically one uses a video camera (such as a modern MiniDV digital camcorder), imports the video into video editing software, edits the video to suit, and then compresses it to an over-the-Internet video format. The formats currently used are Flash, Windows Media, Real Media, Quicktime and MPEG-4 (not to be confused with MP-3).
  • Recording audio: Pure audio recordings take less bandwidth, and are also excellent types of content for the Web. The steps to bring audio to the Web are similar with video, you just substitute audio oriented devices and software. For example a cassette deck is great for recording audio, but you can also record directly into the computer. Once in the computer you can edit it with sound editing software. You then compress the audio into some format such as Flash, Windows Media, Real Media, Quicktime or MP-3 (not to be confused with MPEG-4).
  • Multimedia animation: The "Flash" format has been mentioned a few times. You may have seen flash animations before, as it is quite popular. The makers of Flash (Macromedia) have done an excellent job of making high quality multimedia animations, and even video, available over the Internet and they work very well over basically any Internet connection.