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making a website from scratch pt. 1 - from nothing

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Making a website isn't a new thing for me. I've done similar things in the past ever since I was a little kid - the difference being what I used to make the website in particular, and how I hosted the website. These ranged from sites hosted on other services, to sites hosted on my own web server (technically, it was just a headless desktop!) Some examples I can think of include:

Of course, these websites didn't ever go very far - they were just small things I made to satisfy an interest (aka, just doing it for the hell of it). So, in the midst of 2020 and the whole situation of still being stuck inside without anything better to do (thanks, COVID-19), and with the looming threat of some of the hosting solutions being taken down due to a lack of funding (and a fear of asking for funding from other people), I decided to do one thing that I haven't done in some time in order to make a solution:

Build another website.

before nothing, an idea

This doesn't come without a pretense, however. I've been planning on building my own website for some time, in case I ever needed it. Back at the beginning of 2020, the biggest thing I could think of for using a website was just to host my photography galleries, (which you can find here). Of course, I had some preliminary designs made using only CSS and HTML, and I sat on them for some time - mostly because I didn't really know where to host these designs, and also because I wasn't really happy with the initial designs either. I did a lot of back and forth with these designs, and the website you're viewing now is very, very far detached from the initial designs I made (only a small portion of it lives on as the first demo on the front page of my website).

My initial ideas for what I would use for the website, were limited to very few things, however:

In fact, I wanted to host my images on an entirely different solution, SmugMug. I was looking through the prices - and at that point in my life, $85 a year was not attractive for what I was limited to, which was pretty much specifically only photos. So, what I did, was I sat on it. I waited until I was able to fund the amount I needed to have in order to host the website.

Except, of course, March 2020 happened.
Then the rest of 2020.

from nothing, to something

Cue December 2020.

It had been a constant stream of staying inside, and distancing myself from everybody else (which has had its own effects on me, of which I'd believe many share the same feelings), and equally, a time where I personally could not find a way to get a job - most jobs that didn't require much in the way of qualification were a bit tight to get, and equally, considering my living situation, I didn't feel like potentially taking job opportunities away from people who really, really needed the money (plus, a general fear of taking public transport in this era even with social distancing now ingrained into common decency). It's more of an excuse than a reason, but I would still feel guilty nonetheless.

My Flickr Pro subscription was at the end of its line - next month, I would be facing the potential of having to deal with having my Flickr account truncinated to only 1,000 photos - and, considering how I had at least seven conventions worth of photos, and at least several events more worth of photography, I had to find a solution to host all of my photos while still being able to afford hosting my photos. With the idea of creating my own website still in the back of my mind, I decided to start looking for webhosts that had a lot of freedom for hosting webpages, without incurring a monthly cost of any kind.

This is when I found NeoCities, the web hosting service that I started this blog with (It's very likely you're looking at a site hosted by it right now, unless I've moved on to using my own software stack). It satisfied all my needs:

The community was a nice bonus - browsing the websites so far on NeoCities has been a treat, and the variety of personal webpages have all been interesting (someday I'll compile a post or page consisting of pages that really caught my eye).

Now, all that was left was actually making the website. At this point, however, I still didn't like the initial design that I came up with. So instead, I decided to change it up a bit - and now, you get what you see on the front page of this website. I wrote up a few small demos so that the front page wasn't just a monolith of black and white, and put them right in the middle, so that people had something to look at the moment they pointed their web browser to the front page of my website.

However, that was only the beginning. I only created a landing page - something that people could look at, but it still didn't solve all of my problems (or do anything else but look fancy and have my username on it).

My next task: create something to display my photos with.

Enter fotoDen.

(Come back for further parts of 'making a website from scratch' as I write them! Up next is part 2: a den to store my photos in)