Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Drupal Odyssey or How I made a web site for my knitting business

Well, I agree, web site creation is not exactly what this blog is about. But knitting business is not only about knitting, it also involves many pure "business" aspects, having company site is one of them. So I'll assign this post to "much more" section as in "Knitting projects, patterns, techniques and much more…"

I've been learning a lot about creating a web site over the past several months. As I had no previous programming or web designing experience, it was a challenging project for me, and I had quite a few pitfalls on the road.

Once I almost did it (still keep learning every day :-)) (check out http://www.knitca.com/), I thought there might be other knitters like me, who would like to have their own web site/store, but don't know where to start, same as I didn't when I was just starting my Drupal Odyssey. So I'll make several posts, describing my steps to web site creation. I apologize if some of my experience seems too naive for my more proficient in web site creation readers. I am NOT a web designer or programmer.

Ok, let's get started. Here's My Drupal Odyssey, Part 1

You know, I am really passionate about knitting. When I eventually decided to make knitting my job and started a knitting business, I knew right away I will need a web site that will combine an online store and a community web site with lots of free information, tips and patterns. The first thought was to hire a company to make me a web site but this service is rather expensive (no offence meant :-), and when you are just starting a project the budget is limited. Besides I didn't want to be helpless when it comes to changing something later on. 

Then one of my friends, a programmer himself, recommended to try Drupal, one of the best free source CMS - content management system. Big part of my business is importing, so once I picked several gorgeous yarns and  comfortable needles and placed orders, I had 2 months before the goods arrive and will be available for sale, so I committed myself to my web site. And you know what - it's not THAT complicated AT ALL.

The first thing I did was to borrow all available Drupal books from local library. Drupal for Dummies and Sams Teach Yourself Drupal in 24 Hours were tons of help.

But before you get started with Drupal you need to have a web space for your future site. That means you need to find a web hosting provider. There are many companies out there, that provide hosting service, just Google "web hosting provider" and choose whoever you like better. If you plan to go with Drupal, keep in mind that you will need a UNIX package with the following system requirements (follow the link, please).

Try to choose the right package for you because transferring your site from one platform or package to another can be traumatic. That's what happened to me last week, when I upgraded my package to speed up my site - I couldn't transfer my database to the new location (hosting provider was no help) and had to reinstall everything from scratch. It's good I didn't have much information uploaded yet, otherwise it could be a huge headache, and I mean HUGE headache. So once you are just starting, consider how busy you site will become in future (hopefully very soon :-) and choose web hosting package wisely.

While you are choosing hosting I'll take a break and come back next week with Part 2 of My Drupal Odyssey.

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