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— First published: Tuesday, September 6, 2016
The website was launched in 1999

You can build your own responsive design website using no more than two dozen easy-to-remember html tags from the year 2000

Forget Facebook!

With less than two dozen html tags you can build your own responsive design website that will work just fine on desktop, mobile, tablet, or laptop.

The back story

When the world wide web was still new, back around the year 2000, most personal and small business web pages were created using nothing more than a handful of html tags. By knowing how to use no more than two dozen of these simple tags you could build your own website — even an e-commerce website. However, as the language (html tags) was limited, your design options were limited and, by today's standards, most were crude and a bit ugly.

To make web pages prettier, html tags became more robust and then the introduction of css (cascading style sheets) allowed wonderfully precise web design. Touches of Javascript rounded off the developer's web building toolkit.

These advances design made coding web pages considerably more complex. This led to the introduction of sophisticated web authoring tools. Tools such as macromedia's Dreamweaver were costly, complex, and not well suited for the do-it-yourselfer.

The professional solution and why it was no good

So we got to the point where we could have a beautiful website but we couldn't build it on our own. If you wanted a website for your business, you hired a web designer.

Around the year a web designer was generally a graphic designer armed with a tool such as Dreamweaver. Some even did entire sites using macromedia Flash (Shockwave) and even jpg images. Very few web designers hand coded the sites they designed. These professionally designed sites looked nice in the designer's portfolio but for the client there were serious issues which were not clearly stated when the job was commissioned.

Changes — corrections and updates — were the first big problem. Every alteration required the services of the designer. This added greatly to the cost of maintaining a website. Frequently the owner's solution was to simply let it became a fixed and increasingly irrelevant object, forgotten as time went by.

The second problem was one few owners were aware of: these fixed, unchanging websites were as soon forgotten by the search engines as they were by their owners. And, if the site had been developed using Flash or jpg images alone, the search engines hardly noticed their existance as these sites had no searchable content.

Mobile made the situation worse

With the rise of the iPhone followed by other smartphones, the situation for small marketers became worse. Up to this point screen sizes had been expanding. Now web designers were forced to give consideration first to mobile phone browsers and then to tablets. Hardware, software and standards groups such as the W3C met the challenge with new css layout tools and more Javascript. But, as of the summer of 2016, these standards were evolving so quickly that no practical web authoring tools had caught up with them and any textbook would have been months or years behind.

The demand that websites incorporate "responsive design" — pages that would work across all platforms — put many graphic designers, reborn as a web designers, out of business. Web developers now needed required academic training. For the small business, maintaining a website was becoming a losing game. They turned to Facebook.

Facebook to the rescue

Facebook solves the website problem. They do the site building. You manage your Facebook page, making additions and changes as often as you want. You can also promote within the Facebook community by getting social with those whose interests might align with your business. And — a very large advantage — you can interact with followers in a protected environment, free of ugliness. These are good reasons to use Facebook for your business.

But Facebook, like all gated communities, has its membership requirements and its rules. A rule violation can get your account suspended and your content blocked. Rule making is by Facebook alone. It's not something you can vote on or negotiate. But, for the most part, if you live within the rules (it is up to you to know them), you can continue to use Facebook unmolested.

Leaping over the Facebook wall

For the intense marketer, Facebook poses two problems. As mentioned, the way you can use your Facebook page is restricted by Facebook. If your promotions swing for the fence you could find yourself banned. Facebook enforces polite, comely behavior. They set the limits. There is no negotiation. If your wonderfully creative promotional efforts cross their line, you can be banned. Facebook can be very Victorian.

The second nuisance is the wall around the Facebook community. You can only share, from your Facebook page, with others within the Facebook community. If you want to promote to others, you must do it outside the walls of Facebook. This puts you into other social media such as Twitter, where the messages are short and short lived, or back onto the world wide web, wondering how, in the face of today's web technology, you might still be able to use it.

Build a website you can manage yourself

Don't quit Facebook. Keep using it for all the good things it can do for you. But build your own website too.

By doing it yourself you will likely skip all the technologies needed to turn a website into a work of art. But all you want is a workable, commerce friendly, website, one that can advance your online recognition and reach.

Here are a few of the advantages of building and maintaining — by yourself — your own website:

  1. You can tell your story the way you want to tell it, making changes as often as you want. It costs you nothing and you can do it in a minute or two, and exactly when you want these changes made.
  2. The content you are placing on your site and your regular updates make the search engines happy. They will index your site almost immediately. Your ranking, high or low, will depend on the quality of your content and its relevance to others, but if you put up good, original content, the chances are very high that you will be highly ranked with both Google and Bing.
  3. With your own website, you will be found, as a business, by people the world over. The web has a very wide reach, far wider than Facebook. Depending on what you are selling, you may find that you can broaden your market considerably. Web businesses in the US often find that as much as one third of their cash sales come from other countries.
  4. With your own website you can post links to all your blogs and social media accounts. This means that people who find you in a Google or Bing search will see a link to your Facebook page. Having your own website gives you the best of both worlds. You can find our Facebook page here.

This is how you can build your own website today

This page is retro in its design, or lack of design. If you go to another page at this website you'll see just how different this page is from the rest of the site. But this page offers content and it was extremely easy to produce. I'm sure you could easily produce a page like this yourself.

The content of this page was inspired by my desire to find out whether it was still possible to produce a simple web page and a curiosity as to how such a simple web page would display on a mobile (mine is the Samsung Galaxy S7).

While I won't boast over how this page looks on a mobile, I can confirm that it can be read. The content is there.

As an added demonstration, I've embedded an e-commerce link at the bottom of this page — a real product that can really be purchased, right off this page. It's a book in Adobe pdf format you can download, after paying for it.

Like yourself, I would prefer that my web pages be nicely designed. But when the choice is between no website and only Facebook to promote your business or being able to have both Facebook and a website, I'll go for the website every time, even if it has to be as crude as this page.

Thank you for reading this. Technical points and that e-commerce link appear below.

Photo of Phil Goutell
Philip Goutell's Signature
Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.

HTML tags used on this page

NOTE: The entire page is sandwiched between two tags, <html> and </html>, indicating to browsers the start and finish of an html document.

For the head section

Code in the "head" section of a web page is invisible to the viewer. To see it you need a browser that can display a page's source code. For example, with Mozilla Firefox (desktop version) a right mouse click displays a small menu with a "View Page Source" link. This gives you access to the page's source code, allowing you to view the head section. It is enclosed between the tags <head> and </head>.

<title>[your title goes here]</title> The title of your page goes here. This is important for the search engines. It will also appear above your page on most desktop browsers.

<meta name="description" content="[your description goes here]"> While your title is generally brief, you are encouraged to place a longer description of the content of your page between the description tags. When search engines display information about your page, your title will be their headline and your description their content.

For the body section

In order of their appearance, the body section of this page has used the following html tags:

<a href=""></a> These tags designate a link to another html page. The first link on this page goes to the home page.

<img src="" alt =""> "Img" designates an image file. "src" indicates its location.

<br> marks a line break.

<i></i> indicates enclosed text will be rendered in italics.

<h1></h1> indicates the enclosed text is a major heading such as the page's title, visible here to visitors.

<h2></h2> indicates the enclosed text is a major subheading.

<p></p> encloses a paragraph and will generally give is separation from the text above and below.

<ol></ol> encloses an ordered (numbered) list. "ul" would designate an unordered list.

<li></li> designates a list item.

<h3><h3> enclosed a lesser subheading.

And found below, in the e-commerce example:

<form></form> marks a "form" allowing user input. To make the form work, an action is designated, a link to code that can be executed. "method" indicates how information will be transmitted. Here, "target "is for Paypal's internal use.

<input> designates who type of input will be accepted for this form. "submit" adds the link to send the form to the action link.

When using a payment processor, Paypal for example, the processor will give you the required code. You just plug it into your web page.

Books by Philip Goutell on perfume development and marketing are available at Amazon:

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Philip Goutell's Signature
Photo of Phil Goutell

Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.

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