Do it Yourself
Disclaimer: This is my professional opinion -- my job involved analyzing web sites and consulting with web sites -- but it's still, in the end, only my opinion. If you don't agree, that is entirely your privilege. And after all, that's the purpose of this page: to encourage you to do it yourself! -- caryn
Five Horizons was started because we personally didn't like any of the Pearl Jam web pages out there. That doesn't mean we thought they all sucked. We just did not find the kind of resources and information that we personally would enjoy out there. We found ourselves saying, "Why don't they have ..." and "Wouldn't it be great if ..." and "When is Caleb gonna get his server up again?!" over and over again. Finally, we decided to put up or shut up, and began working on Five Horizons.
It took us nine months to conceive, develop, create and implement this site. And that's about right for a major web site undertaking. You don't have to spend the same kind of time, money or energy that we do. You can create a site that's fresh, original and worth visiting if you're willing to spend a little time and thought on it. We decided to go all out, but that's what we personally thought was right.
Concepts and ideas
Pick a theme: Try to choose some kind of theme or idea to base your page around. Pearl Jam may be your favorite band, but do you really know everything there is to know about them? Can you really provide a resource that isn't already provided? Probably not. Why not pick one aspect of the band that interests you? If you're a guitar player, perhaps discuss Mike's guitar playing, with links to the musicians who influenced him, some tabs, some good pictures, some sound files of his better solos.
Who you are: Unless you're an expert on a particular subject, the most interesting thing you have to offer to the net community at large is what makes *you* unique and interesting. Can you write? Can you draw? Can you take photographs? The web is the ultimate fanzine -- and you don't have to pay for photocopies and postage!
Simple is better: Avoid intense graphics and flashy graphics, frames, java, what have you -- unless it serves a specific purpose. How many pages have you seen chock full of the latest net tricks? And how many times have those pages crashed your browser, or took so long to load that you gave up? It's the net equivalent to the big flashy car.
Don't duplicate resources: There's no point in creating yet another Pearl Jam page with the same photos, lyrics, discography, and video clips that are already out there and have been out there for years now. "But I don't have a scanner, or access to photos, or the time or energy to make my own sound files!", you say. Then don't make a Pearl Jam page, or keep it simple with perhaps a review or two of a show you went to, or your interpretation to song lyrics, or maybe it's just your tape list and a photo or two that you like and links to your favorite Pearl Jam pages. That serves the community far better than a page that you start that you lose interest in and never update.
However, having said that, if you see something out there that you think you can do better, or add a new twist or approach, then by all means GO FOR IT! That's the whole point!
What works, what doesn't
Links are OLD: In the early days of the net, it was a useful resource to include lists and lists of links on your home page because there was no Yahoo! or Google. It no longer provides a justification for a web site's existence. If you decide to include links, make sure they're good ones -- check them out yourself -- and use them sparingly. Duplicating the entire Yahoo! Pearl Jam listing is pointless; you're not offering anything new or original. If you want to go through the listing and annotate each one with a detailed description of what you can find there (someone once did something similar when there were far less pages and called it "The Pearl Jam Cyberbase"), then that would be a really useful resource for PJ fans.
Respect other's work: I find my Pearl Jam pictures from San Francisco scattered all over the net, no credit, no link back to my page. It's called plagiarism, people, it's called stealing, and it's called violation of copyright. Most of all, it's just uncool. If you find something cool out there, link to the main page of the author's site, or ask him or her if you can link directly to the resource. Ask if you can borrow that photo or that sound file. It's polite, it's the right thing to do, it's respectful.
Spellcheck! : You wouldn't turn in a paper with grammar and spelling errors (or maybe you would), but it amazes me how many people will put up a web page for the world to see with blatant and copious mistakes. Run a spellchecker. Ask your sister or your roommate to proofread it. Give it a little thought and a little care. It's your face to the world.
Okay, you say, I've got a great idea, I've thought about this, I want to do it! But ... how??
When I first had to learn html for work, all my (male) coworkers acted as though html was like learning C++ or something. Well, I've got news for you all: it's not. It's as easy as word processing.
View/document source: Okay, so how do I write it? Well, are you using a browser? Click on "View"; then on "Document Source." Go ahead, I'll wait.
See all those brackets? Well, that's html.
For more information, here's the Yahoo! page with html info.
Web space: Okay, now where do I PUT it? Hell, even AOL gives their users web space these days. Ask your ISP if you get web space with your account; many do but don't advertise it.
There are also companies that will give you "free" web space in return for advertisements. We used to endorse one of these, but nowadays everyone knows who they are and where to find them. Five Horizons is hosted on DreamHost and it is a great service provider.
Copyright © 2004 Five Horizons