In the Design section:
What Do I Need To Design A Website?
If you choose to design your eGovernment website in-house , i.e. using resources internal to your organisation (see: Whom Will You Make Responsible For The Site? ), you will need to acquire the necessary software and hardware.
- Web design software : there are a variety of software packages for web design, at variable prices. If you choose to design and maintain your site in-house, it would be advisable to adopt professional software packages, such as Macromedia Dreamweaver or Adobe Golive . These enable you to control some if not all the aspects of the design of a website in a single environment, and are widely used in the professional industry. There are also some free tools for web design (e.g. Netscape Composer , which is usually bundled with Netscape's Communicator browser), although these usually have limited features, and are inadequate for delivering a complex, professional e-government website. Finally, Microsoft products like MS Frontpage, or the HTML features of MS Word are also available, although some consider them not to represent the best option, as they tend to generate a lot of unnecessary code, making files very large and sometimes being not compatible with non-Microsoft browsers such as Netscape or Opera.
- Image editing software : it is likely you will need to edit images and pictures for use on your site (though you should keep their use to a minimum, if possible); while nowadays computers come with image editing software included in the price, this is often very rudimentary, and not meant for professional editing. It would be advisable to invest in a professional software package such as Macromedia Fireworks , Adobe Photoshop , or Paint Shop Pro , as these contain all the features necessary to handle graphics for web design (web images need to conform to a limited range of colours, for instance, and should be limited in size).
- Browser software : this is needed to visualise the results of your design as it would be displayed on users' screens; you should not rely just on the browser you normally use, but check your design in a variety of browsing platforms (such as Internet Explorer, Netscape, or Opera), as users may be using any of them to browse your site. It is also important that you install older versions of browsers along with more recent ones, as users may not be upgrading as fast as the companies who distribute this software would like them to. Especially in developing countries, it is likely that visitors to your site do not have access to the latest technologies, or they may be using the internet on a shared or public computer (e.g. in cybercentres/internet cafes), where they are not allowed to modify or install new software. Ideally, you should also install assistive software , if you can, such as a screen reader for the blind, or screen magnifiers, so that you can check how the site functions on these alternative platforms. If you don't have access to such software in your country, you could consider downloading Lynx , a text-only browser originally created in the very early years of the internet (when it was still all based on text and no images were used) and updated to work on current operating systems.
- File Transfer Protocol (FTP) software : this is used to transfer files from your computer to the server where the site is hosted (see: How Does A Website Work?). If you adopt professional web design packages such as Macromedia Dreamweaver or Adobe Golive, you probably won't need this, as these packages also contain file transfer features that are easy and straightforward to use.
- A powerful computer: web design is quite an intensive operation, and running professional software packages requires a powerful computer with high performance standards, so that the time taken to carry out tasks is reduced to the minimum (this is especially true when editing images). The computer(s) you use to design your site should therefore have a large amount of memory and disk space available. And of course, they should be connected to the internet.
- A good monitor: designing a website requires looking at a screen for long periods, often focusing on minute details of the layout, the design or the code that makes up your pages. The screen (or monitor ) you use should be of high quality, and large enough to reduce the strain connected with design activity to a minimum. Flat screen monitors are recommended, as they are less damaging to your sight.
- A scanner: it is very likely that you will need to create digital copies of pictures that you only have in hard copy, in order to include them in your site. You will therefore need a scanner to scan these pictures and save them in digital format. The scanner you use need not be a top of the range one, as you will probably only need to do very simple operations with it. A scanner also helps if you need to transform texts that you only have in hard copy into digital format (e.g. into a Word file): by scanning the text and running through character recognition (OCR) software, you can avoid retyping everything into the computer, as the software will do it for you (you just need to check whether the results are OK, and make any necessary corrections).
- A printer: you will need this to print pages off your site to see if the contents are all there, and make changes to the design if this is not the case.