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Website Upgrade

Posted on 2013-11-25
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Last Modified: 2013-12-02
I have a website that is more than 10 years old...I want to improve the design and I am not sure if I should redo the entire site or if I can upgrade the look by using a CSS. The URL is www.endyn.com

All the pages are .asp and we have a SQL database that we use to populate the tables on some of the pages.

All help and suggestions is appreciated.
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Question by:acpo
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by:Gary
Gary earned 200 total points
ID: 39676098
If it ain't broke don't fix it.

But if you do want to bring it into the 21st century you will have a lot of work ahead of you.
The website is written using tables to layout the pages - that's a no-no in this day and age.  Divs/spans etc are now used for layout and give greater control when using css.
Some things you could get away with just removing the table container and replacing with a div and then use some css to give any padding, margins etc.
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by:acpo
ID: 39676108
I want to bring it up to date.  What would you suggest I can do to bring it into the 21st century?
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39676128
I agree with Gary... except that there are a number of errors that should be fixed.  The single most important thing is that your web site works as it should.  And your current site does use CSS for styling.

As far as "21st century", nobody knows what that is.  If you want to use a lot of 'fancy features' and different graphics, you should probably start from scratch.  The list of changes from the time that site was done essentially require a re-education in web site design.  It will not be just some easy changes.
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by:Gary
Gary earned 200 total points
ID: 39676131
First have a read of http://www.cssnewbie.com/easy-css-dropdown-menus/#.UpPHHemYbs0

to give you a way to convert your table based menus to css/list based.
When you have your menus converted then...
Go through and remove all the rest of the TABLE html - TD, TR, etc.
And where you currently have <table>, <TD> ,<TR> replace them with <div>
And where you have </table>, </td>, </tr> tags replace them with </div>

This will give you a base then on which to convert to HTML5 - even though it might look like rubbish to start with but we have kept the constituent parts of the site that should be together, together.

Then go through the code and make it HTML compliant - it isn't at the moment as you have multiple <html> and <head> tags - there should be the one <html> and <head> section and they should be the first thing in the page.

Ohh and remove all the javascript, you won't need any for the time being and what you have seems to be mainly just for the menus.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39676139
The extra <html> and <head> tags are coming from an 'include' file and should be removed there.
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by:acpo
ID: 39676142
I am not looking to add fancy features. What errors do you see that need to be fixed?
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by:Gary
ID: 39676149
The extra <html> and <head> tags are coming from an 'include' file and should be removed there
Are you psychic Dave?
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39676187
The comment line above those extra tags implies that and I've seen similar pages that have that problem for exactly that reason.  It's unfortunately common in pages of that era.

<!-- CODE USED FOR ROTATING IMAGES IN FRONT PAGE -->
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Dave Baldwin earned 250 total points
ID: 39676203
This page from the W3C Validator will give you a start: http://validator.w3.org/check?verbose=1&uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.endyn.com%2Fentry.asp

Typically when you fix the first few problems, some of the others disappear because they were caused by the original problems.  On the page you have linked, the first problem is that the javascript at the top needs to be moved down between the <head> tags.  The <html> tag is not being recognized because it was not in the right place.

Next is to put a usable DOCTYPE in your pages.  Since they are old, I suggest using HTML 4.01.  Here is a list of the acceptable DOCTYPEs from the W3C: http://www.w3.org/QA/2002/04/valid-dtd-list.html

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"
 "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd">

Next is to put a character set definition.  Once again since these pages are old, I suggest ISO-8859-1 since that is probably the character set for the text that you have.

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1">

If you redo the site to a 'modern' version, all that would change.  However, you can't just change those things without changing the code and text on the page to match the new 'rules' that you would be using.  DOCTYPE and Content-Type actually mean something.  DOCTYPE tells the browser what rules to use to render the page and each DOCTYPE is different.  And the character codes for ISO-8859-1 are not exactly the same as for UTF-8.  Lots of details to take care of.
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by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 50 total points
ID: 39676722
To build on what Dave and Gary are saying, I would consider making the site responsive.  This means you design the desktop view, ipad view and mobile phone view at the same time.   You may have 3 columns in desktop and 1 stacked column of 3 rows on mobile.   This is done by media queries and can get complex. I like  using bootstrap's grid http://getbootstrap.com/css/#grid  There are some ready made examples such as this http://getbootstrap.com/examples/justified-nav/.  Watch what happens as you widen and narrow your browser to mimic a tablet or phone.

There will be some learning curve but it will pay off in the end.
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by:acpo
ID: 39678072
Thanks for all the comments.  I am currently converting the menus to css/list based.
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by:Cyber-spy
ID: 39682085
Building a website from scratch these days is hard work id you want it to be easy to maintain, add new content etc.

Unless you have a need for specific server side functionality, you'd be far better off starting again using WordPress. There are loads of free/cheap templates (including responsive ones if you want the site to be mobile friendly) that can be modified to make them 'yours'

Loads of plugins give you lots of functionality, and it's dead easy to add new content.
You can build static pages for most of your content - it doesn't have to be just a blog!

As your site is currently using Classic ASP, which implies it's on a Windows server.
I can see you use www.web.com for hosting, and they also have unix/linux hosting with one click install for WordPress (http://www.web.com/hosting/unix.aspx).
(Windows servers can host PHP & MySQL, needed for WordPress, but WordPress just seems to work better on *nix servers)

You should be able to get a new hosting package with them, set up you new site, then point your domain at the new site when it's ready.
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by:Gary
ID: 39682165
WP is overkill for a few dozen static pages.
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by:Cyber-spy
ID: 39682245
On the contrary, WP is ideal for small sites.
If you want a site to be relevant and Google to index it and people visit it, fresh content is really important.

I've seen so many small sites that die because keeping them up to date - adding content etc, is fiddly and only the techies can do it - the people who could be adding new content, such as marketing, have no access and the whole process is too difficult.

This site is an example. I'd place money on the fact that, over the past few years, it's hardly had any new content. I don't know what the traffic is, but it's probably low. (as an aside, there is no Google Analytics tracking code on the site either, so the OP, acpo, possibly has little idea about the traffic the site receives either).

Another advantage of WP is that there are plenty of Responsive templates, to make the site mobile friendly.
Currently, the site points some mobile devices at http://www.endyn.com.param.mobi/
This has several disadvantages.
First, the minimum width this site supports is 820px which is way too big for most mobile devices. An iPhone 4 or 5, for example, only supports web pages up to 320px wide (yes, I know the screen is 640px - that's Apple for you), so the mobile site will look poor in most mobile devices.

The next problem is duplicate content, something Google has really cracked down on.
As the sites are on different domains, and don't have any rel=canonical or rel=alternate meta tags to tell Google they are related.
This will have a bad affect on their rankings in Google.

A responsive site will not need a separate mobile version, so this problem goes away.

Acpo, sorry if my critique sounds harsh, but if we can't be honest, there's not much point in doing this.

Changing the menus might make the site look a little better, but it's not going to make any real difference to the number of people who use your site.
If a site's worth having, do it well, and make it work for you. There are loads of resources on how to use WordPress, and you'd time will be far better used learning about this, and setting up a WP site, than trying to wrestle this site into shape.
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by:Gary
ID: 39682275
It's a 17 year old B2B website that ranks very well on Google and pretty much in the number one spot.
Ever changing content is only a small part of SEO and not always a good thing.
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by:Dave Baldwin
ID: 39682282
I have have 'done' a number or Wordpress sites.  I never recommend it for anything other than a blog.
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by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39684661
+1 for "WP is overkill for a few dozen static pages."
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