So you want to start your own amateur radio related web site...

Discussion in 'Discussions, Opinions & Editorials' started by K0BG, Jan 3, 2013.

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  1. K0BG

    K0BG Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    My web site ( has been active since April 27th, 2004. From humble beginnings, the current visitorrate exceeds 1,000 per day, and the hits average about 1.5 million ormore per month. These figures double during the beginning of the vacation season, and wane a bit during the winter months, except forabout 2 weeks just before Christmas. I'd like to think I'm on tosomething.

    Over the years, I've learned a few things which might help others wanting to start their own web sites. They're in no particular order, but the more important ones are close to the top of the list. You're obviously free to comment about them,as we'll all hopefully benefit.

    1.) Decide whether your site will befor personal consumption, or public consumption. If it is for the former, do whatever you want to do, and read no further. If it is for the latter, then pay attention to what's below.

    2.) Bite the bullet! Buy yourself adecent web layout program. I use Adobe's Dreamweaver which retails for about $350. There are others, but you get what you pay for. Whatever application you purchase, make sure it supports HTML5. Whatever you do, don't use a word processing application to do a webpage, especially MicroSoft Word. Ugh!

    From a personal standpoint, I've never liked any of the offerings from MicroSoft, including their new $400+Vision Studio suite. But, if you have Winders 8, a really fast CPU,and tons of RAM and storage space, it does have some fancy layout options. Speaking of which...

    3). The index page—the first thing you see what accessing a web site—is the most important page ofall. It tells visitors what your site is all about. Spend whatever time it takes, to put your best foot forward. Expect to change it several times. However, once it looks good, and tells the rightstory, leave it alone!

    4). Don't get fancy! Busy backgrounds, music overtures, rolling messages, scrolling photo montages, flashing icons, and animated GIFs just aren't conducive to revisits. Pictures of your favorite pet or breed shouldn't be used either unless that is what the site is about.

    5.) If your site will have a lot of photos, then invest in a good gallery program. Most hosting sites have one or more available. It is best to choose one with FTP capabilities.

    6.) Don't use more than two fonts for dissertation pages. If you have to highlight a point, use bold or italics rather than a different font. If the content is mostly verbiage, Times New Roman is the ultimate for easy reading.

    Not everyone has a brand-new, HTML5-capable browser, so use one of the seven universal net fonts.

    The same goes for background colors. Ofthe 255, eight-bit colors, only 240 are universal. Once everyone switches over to HTML5, it won't matter, but it does at the moment.

    7.) Don't put everything on the index page! Instead, do a logical index page with links to the information inside. Keep re-paging to a minimum. That is, don't link to a page containing nothing but more links to yet other pages.

    8.) If at all possible, the subject matter should be unique. That's sort of difficult to do nowadays, asthere are over one billion web sites, and growing every day! One way to accomplish this is to stick to one specific area or facet. For sure, amateur radio is full of them!

    The name (URL actually) should beunique too, and one way to assure that is to use your call sign. Finding a unique one otherwise is getting nearly impossible. In anycase, it should fit the contents if possible. If not, the index page should. And, while you're thinking about what the subject should be, think about the following.

    There isn't much that hasn't been published about antennas, so that's a poor choice as a simple Google search will attest. Contesting is a close second, DX chasing is about third, and not too far behind is operating techniques. I don't want to start a trend here, but there seems to be a dearth of home brew amplifier sites. Same goes for tower installation sites, at least theones that know how to do it correctly!

    Josh Wolfe said ages ago: …it is best not to know very much, than to know a lot things that aren't true! In other words, there are a whole lot of amateur radio related sites full of misinformation. So whatever you choose, know your subject!

    9.) Stay away from all of those free web-site Java scripts. No one but you will care about how many visitors you've had. What's more, most folks don't care what your local weather conditions are like, what their IP address happens to be, or what country they're from?

    10.) Forget about free (and/or cheap) hosting sites like GoDaddy. The problem is, you have no control over the ad content that's presented. Imagine a sanitary napkin ad atop your treatise on safe tower erection! Ugh!

    A decent hosting company like iPower, which I use, will set you back up to $150 per year depending on the other services you opt for. In my personal case, the total is close to $225 per year. That includes 10 TB of storage, one of the best Photo Galleries ever designed, daily stats, a daily backup of the site, and unlimited email accounts (which I don't use).

    If you're marketing a product, most hosting companies have a plethora of applications to help advertise your site. If you're an individual, then think about this.

    Most search engine sites (Google for example) have forms you fill out to register your site. You input the important points about your site. This aids them in setting the database search words which drive visitors to your site.

    Learn about meta data! If you want the low down on meta data, then do a Google search for same. The one thing you want to remember about meta data key words is this simple fact: Don't get verbose! Use too many, and traffic will be diverted, rather than be directed. By the way, each page should have the same meta data, so it pays to build a template to be used for new pages.

    11.) The old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words is true, but to a point. Any picture file larger than about 150 kilobytes takes too long to load, especially if there are several on one page. If you have to purchase a photo editing application to accomplish this, then just do it!

    Photo file types are important too. Although most browsers support GIF, JPEG, TIFF, and PGN, it is best to stick with JPEGs even though they're slightly larger than other file types. The simple reason is, they scale better. For example, you typically do not want full-sized photos to appear on a page full of verbiage. All decent layout programs allow you to thumbnail almost any sized photo, and JPEGs always look better than other reduced fileformats. All that is necessary is to link the photo to the full-sized image. This may seem like Greek to a neophyte, but if you buy adecent web page layout program it won't be!

    Make sure the photos are tagged with a descriptive name. This helps sight-impaired visitors to grasp the content without actually being able to see the photo.

    12.) I use a lot of links both on-site, and off-site. On-site links should replace the existing page, and off-site links should open a new page. This is easy to do if you bought the software I suggested above. It is also important to enter the complete URL. In other words, include

    All links should be regularly tested, as they change almost on a daily basis. Web layout applications do this for you, but for external links, use Integrity by PeacockMedia. It is free, but they do ask for a donation, or at least a link to their site.

    There are dozens of other things you should avoid, and the following speak for themselves.

    A) Plagiarism! Quoting a specific statement, or even a paragraph, is within the confines of the law, as long as you cite the reference. When you don't, it is plagiarism! In other words, stealing! This is true even when the information presented is generic (well known fact). And make sure you state on the index page that the contents are copyrighted, even if they'renot.

    B) Copyright infringement. Just don'tdo it! If you need the reference (typically photos), ask first. This includes governmental sites like NHTSA, OSHA, FCC, and others. Personally, I've never been turned down! I tell the copyright owner why I want to include the information, and that typically suffices. Just make sure that you cite the reference. However, if your site is a money maker—non-personal—then expect to pay royalties.

    C) Most photo galleries have provisions for visitors to up-load their own photos, or at least comment on whatis already there. Whatever you do, shut those features off! If you don't, you'll soon discover all manner of porn-related postings. This is a particular problem with blogs.

    D) Blogs. Unless you have a whole bunch of friends to watch over what's posted, don't even think about it! QRZ is a blog of sorts, and look at all of the folks they have to watch over erroneous posts! Blogs should always require some sort of logon to post comments. I'm in favor of that. However, personally I'd go a bit further and demand verification of call sign and identification. When you don't, you get a whole lot of miscreants who hide behind an anonymous pseudonym.

    E) Cookies. Cookies are little bits of information downloaded to a browser's data files. They can be useful in many ways. A good example is saving logon information, a form of ID as it were. I don't use them myself, but if you decide to, make sure you bone-up on their use. Again, Google is a good source of information.

    F) I've save the most important issue for last, but in reality it is the first. If you don't have the time to keep your site regularly updated, forget about having one! Nothing is worse than searching for a specific issue, only to find out the data is 5 or more years old!

    Good Luck!
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  2. W7UUU

    W7UUU Platinum Subscriber Life Member Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nice article Alan. And yes, I've referenced your site MANY times in Google searches. Very nice work and TONS of good info there

  3. N0NB

    N0NB Subscriber QRZ Page

    I chose to move away from one of the big hosting companies and over to hosting offered by another radio amateur. Working with Scott, KA9FOX, of is a breeze and the reliability of the hosting and my email has been top notch. Far fewer problems than what I had with the prior company.

    I don't claim to know anything about Web design. My static pages were built up over a period of years from 1997 until about two years ago. All of my new content is being placed in Wordpress now.
  4. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    My answer is "no," also.

    I think it's "too late." Everything's already on line. I can look up stuff about myself I didn't even know.

    John Wayne was really only 5'6" tall and Marilyn Monroe was a man. It's so great to be able to find this good information, I can't imagine how our ancestors did without.:eek:
  6. AB3RI

    AB3RI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm going to have to disagree with this statement. As of January 14, 2011 Godaddy doesn't offer free hosting and they've never placed ads on paid hosting account websites.

    Now, saying that, I can honestly say the following:

    I've developed websites since 1996. Most commercial websites. In the 1990's I've used many hosting companies, usually resulting in much disappointment. It was the weakest link in my web development and hosting of client's websites. In 2002, I purchased my own servers which I hosted in a local NOC. A single webserver ended up with 4 webservers within a couple of years. In 2006, I decided to get out of the web development and hosting business. So, I went out to search for a reliable hosting company that met or exceeded the standards which my customers came to expect. After trying out several public hosting companies, I ended up with a VPS with GoDaddy. I moved my client's over without any issues and hosting with GoDaddy has been relatively issue-free since 2006. On the occasion that I had to contact support, for what ever reason, their support staff was extremely responsive and rapidly resolved my issue/concerns.

    Over the last 7 years, I had one extended outage of approx 5 hours, which GoDaddy credited my account one full month for each account, domain, and email account.

    I still have my own webservers, mostly for development, but bottom line, I highly recommend GoDaddy as a reputable and reliable hosting service.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  7. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't know about other web hosting sites. However, GoDaddy doesn't put any advertising on my website. They may, or may not, have websites that do have advertising, of that I just don't know. However, what I pay for my website is fairly close to what BG pays. That fact may have something to do with no advertisements.

    Some of the web hosting sites have formats which allow one to get a decent looking and decent performing website without having to know how to use HTML, etc. For those who are not familiar with HTML but do want to have a website, those formats are a "lifesaver".

    There are "work arounds" which allow fairly detailed presentations (including photographs) to be included in a website, again without knowing the "ins and outs" of computer programming. One such device is to present that information in PDF format. There are all sorts of ways to create a PDF including free sites on the Internet and with word processing programs such as Microsoft Word.

    A website can be as "fancy" or as "plain" as one wants it to be. Unfortunately, a "fancy" website can be just too "fancy" and, as such, requires a lot of unnecessary movement within the site, that makes the information difficult to recognize and / or understand, and similar things. A lot of people accessing a website actually prefer simple backgrounds, simple labels for links, and other "not fancy" applications.

    I understand that there are "forms" that can be "filled out" to get search engines like Google, Bing, etc., to recognize the website and include it when inquiries are made. As for me, I have never "filled out" such "forms" yet information on my website does appear quite often when doing a search. I may have been lucky in that regard. Then, it may be because I have had a website for several years and possibly the search engines did a lot more "looking around" in the past.

    I definitely agree that some thought needs be put into the website design from simple "layout" to the actual information presented. Otherwise, the usefulness of the site to others can be compromised.

    Glen, K9STH
  8. KC8YLT

    KC8YLT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the info! I like what you posted. Im not the smartest when it comes to computers but this is a help. I would eventually like to start an imformation site for converting cb radios to operate on the lower hf bands, with detailed photos and diagrams. It was something I started on but am yet to finish. Carl
  9. AB3RI

    AB3RI Ham Member QRZ Page

    As of a couple of years ago, GoDaddy used to offer "free hosting" when you've purchased a domain. The hosting features were very limited and GoDaddy did place ads on these "free" sites. However, as I've stated, they've stopped this back in 2011 an no longer offer it.

    All of the paid hosting plans from GoDaddy are very robust, even the entry "Economy" plan which is good for a single site, and it includes all of the big features such as email, perl, php, MySql on the linux hosting platforms.

    I'm in the process of moving some "free" clients over to their own hosting at GoDaddy. Mostly clubs and friends that I've been hosting for free over the years. Over the past 3 weeks, I've moved 8 domains and websites to GoDaddy's Economy hosting plan, which each user is now responsible for. No problems with any of the moves. It was basically seamless.

    Yes, if you search you will find horror stories about GoDaddy. But, it's the internet. You can find anything that you are looking for. But, in my experience, hosting with GoDaddy has been worth every penny.
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    We use Hostmonster at work, and they've done a good job for us.

    I forgot what the rates are.

    We also use a professional web development team, which happens to be in England, but then it doesn't much matter where they are these days, does it?

    We feed them content, and they format it and do everything necessary for it to look very good. They also do SEO, which means adding keywords to the landing pages for search engines to find them easily. We pay them several thousand dollars a year.
  11. KT1F

    KT1F Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some good advice but ...

    Microsoft Expression Web is now free for download. Maybe some will say that's all it's worth but I test drove an early version several years ago to try it out for a friend and I thought it was pretty good. Expression Web is Microsoft's answer to Dreamweaver. I'm currently helping someone who is using Rapidweaver on a Mac and that seems pretty good too. Visual Studio Express is free and probably the only edition you need if you only want to create html and css.

    But... I believe you're much better off these days tossing all that sort of thing aside and using some sort of CMS, content management system. The whole idea of creating the site locally and uploading html files via FTP or something is so 1990s.

    A free site at or is a good place to start. You can pay a little to get an ad-free real Wordpress or similar site. The only software you need is a web browser and you can do it from any computer.

    I don't think that's been true for a long time. "Web safe colors" are ancient history.

    I don't think search engines really have simple "submit your site" forms any more. For Google you can signup for WebMaster tools, set various things about your site and submit an XML sitemap if you have one. Another reason for using a CMS. All that sort of stuff is easily generated automatically.

    Meta key words are totally useless and ignored by most search engines because they've been abused so much. The meta description is important but not the list of words sites used to have. The key to success on Google is somewhat of a secret but they give a lot of good best practices guidelines in the WebMaster tools help. A good <title> tag on each page and good semantically correct html is important. i.e, use h1, h2, h3 etc tags correctly. Make sure your images have alt attributes etc.

    I thought that in general US government stuff is not copyrighted. That's why you can have photos from NASA etc.
  12. AB3RI

    AB3RI Ham Member QRZ Page

    My graphic designer is a girl in Poland. Never met her. Never spoke with her.
    I ran a graphics design contest years ago. She submitted some items. Won the contest. She has been my go-to person for any graphic designs that I've needed since.
  13. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    I went to GoDaddy when my then cable television and Internet provider, Comcast, started fooling around with the websites that were available as part of your Internet package. Comcast kept changing how one updated the website, enabling and disabling features without rhyme or reason, etc. Finally, it got to where a significant number of websites couldn't be modified at all. The prices at GoDaddy were reasonable and they had various formats that allowed me to do what I wanted to do and in an easy manner.

    Then, AT&T installed "fiber to the brick" for telephone (I have actual fiber optic cables coming to an interface box on the outside of my house, AT&T removed all copper cabling from this area after going entirely to fiber). Within a few months, AT&T had Internet capability and I discontinued Comcast for my Internet service. Finally, AT&T got television on the fiber and I completely "cut off" Comcast. Also, my costs went down by well over $100 per month for telephone, Internet, and television. The total cost for everything was about what Comcast was charging just for Internet! Of course, without Comcast for Internet, I couldn't have a website on their system even if I wanted one. Comcast sold out to Times-Warner. However, from what I understand, the system still "stinks" for both Internet and television. The infrastructure was installed over 30-years ago by Telecable and, when that company "sold out" to Comcast, absolutely nothing has been done to improve the system.

    Comcast, and then Times-Warner, has updated the systems in just about every Dallas suburb except Richardson. The distribution equipment is so old that it literally has been decades since new equipment has been available to replace failed equipment. Even getting "re-manufactured" items is just about impossible. As such, the system often goes down when there is a major change in the weather! But, since I have been free of "cable" for several years, it no longer is of any concern.

    I have checked a couple of the sites that report activity ("hits") on websites (I didn't activate a counter on my website). Those sites report between 2000 and well over 5000 "hits" a day. Not quite as many as BG is getting, but that still averages over 1,000,000 "hits" a year. Now I don't know how accurate those counters actually are. They certainly may be over-reporting. However, I don't really care! I do get enough comments about the site to know that at least some people are using the information.

    Glen, K9STH
  14. AB3RI

    AB3RI Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sorry to go off topic, but I just have to respond to these comments. I, too, have had the same issues with Comcast. For years, I used to have to reboot my cable modem 2 or 3 times a day. This problem went on for 3 years until they replaced the cable from the street to the house. After that, we enjoyed approx 2 years of trouble-free service from Comcast. I thought everything was behind us. Until, early 2012 when we started to have pixellation issues on our TVs, both HD and SD. All of the cabling in our house was new, so I didn't think that was the issue. A Comcast tech came out and took signal measurements, replaced some splitters and said that should take care of things. Five minutes after he left it was clear nothing was resolved.

    The pixellation issue ranged from mild to severe. During the most severe times, TV viewing was simply impossible. Over a 3 month period, we had three additional techs out, none were able to resolve the issue.

    The sample below was recorded while a tech was at the house. A new coax run was wired directly to the pedestal on the street to the HD TV box in the living room, completely removing any cabling or splitters from the house. The tech saw the problem and then blamed my TV. I hooked up the rest of the house and he saw the problem on the rest of the TVs. He said that he was going to "escallate" the problem to a different department. A week later, still dealing with the pixellation issues, I called Comcast service to follow up. They said that they had to send another tech out to "take a look at the problem". I told them that the problem wasn't in my house and that they needed to replace cabling, amplifiers, etc in the neighborhood as other neighbors were having the same exact issues. They told me that they had to send out another tech. I told them to disregard and that I would take care of the problem. The rep asked me what I meant. I just hung up. Went online to Verizon and ordered FIOS. That was May, 2012. To date, we haven't had one single issue with connectivity, pixellation or any other issues on our TV, internet or phone.

    We still get phone calls from Comcast asking us to come back. I always ask the rep if they've replaced the cabling in the neighborhood....which they never have an answer for. I tell them that their TV service does not work in our neighborhood and they always tell me that it does and that they can guarantee it. When I ask what kind of "guarantee", they never have a real answer. It's just words that they say. Nothing more.

  15. M3KXZ

    M3KXZ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Re Alan's point number 11 - photo size. There is a very good program for batch resizing of photographs - it's called FastStone Photo Resizer. It's free, as well as being about the best to use.
  16. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Subscriber QRZ Page

    I really need a SITE REDEUX for my Crest radio Museum website. It absolutely SUCKS because I don't know a DOGGONE THING about website buiding and such. I know, every preteen out there are Expert website masters, but I just can't figure it out, nor have the time to. I use GODADDY's economy website service, but it allows only 5 pages of data, and that is tough to squeeze much into.
    So I have a very basic site with pix of the Museum and cats. Would be nice to have a Beautiful fancy site, but I need a WEBSITES FOR DUMMIES book to figure it out!

    Everyone has their EXPERTISE, and then things they are DUMB at. I am a Radio DOCTOR, not a Website Artist.
  17. G4OTU

    G4OTU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Photo resizing for Win XP users - MS free XP power toys photo resizer ....either in batches or individually, to preset sizes or custom.

    I have had a photo-heavy aviation history website(with well over 100 pages) since 1998.... is on Lycos/ but almost all images are hosted off-site at Easyspace where I have a commercial site.

    I have never found the Tripod ads to be a problem.Down time in 14 years has been minimal as it has with Easyspace.
    Altho there is a website builder at Tripod, I learned html way back and write my own keeping it all fairly simple.

    In case anyone is into aviation (airfields)'s the link to the entry page.......
  18. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    GoDaddy's "website tonight" hosting is excellent for those of us who are not "into" website design. However, their lowest priced websites do not have enough "bandwidth" to accomplish a lot of things. I learned that the first week I started using their services. I had to upgrade almost immediately. Fortunately, they applied all of what I previously paid to the new rate so I didn't lose any money at all.

    Glen, K9STH
  19. K0BG

    K0BG Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I didn't mean to get on GoDaddy's case, but they're not the only one to have (had) free web hosting. Even my local ISP offers it, albeit small in content.

    Standard colors went with the introduction of HTML4.1, but if you look around the net, you'll find dozens of sites still on earlier versions of HTML. Why is the question. A ton of browsers are in the same boat. My stats break down the version of the browser in use, and most are older than 2 versions back. Why is the question here too?

    As mentioned, there are a tone of photo applications out there, and most will do batch work. However, I get photos from all over, and in about every format and size imaginable. This fact sort of eliminates the ability to use a batch setup in most cases. Also, converting one format to another (GIF to JPG for example) doesn't always work as you would expect. And oddly enough, Apple's Preview does a better job of it, than Adobe's PhotoShop which I also have.

    Someone mentioned about governmental stuff not being copyrighted. That's true to a point, but if the agency in question actually funded some project, that material is copyrighted, and you have to ask to use it. I learned that the hard way unfortunately. But again, I've never been turned down if I ask, even from commercial sources. I suspect most outfits realize the site is personal, which I'm sure makes a difference.

    Thanks for all the comments. As I said, I think that's how we all can benefit.
  20. AB3RI

    AB3RI Ham Member QRZ Page

    I can't see how this is possible. GoDaddy's Economy hosting plan has 10GB of storage. You can store tens of thousands of html pages with that. Even if you don't resize and compress your photos, you should get much more than 5 pages.
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