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Easily edit a custom web page? Answered

I recently created a website for a local church in my area- everything went great, but now the secretary wants to be able to edit those pages as she wishes. The thing is- every thing I have done is through Dreamweaver and is all custom coded. She wants to be able to edit it like you would a Word document. Is there an easy way I can export the pages into an easily editable file that almost anyone can figure out even if they have little technical know how? 
I know the computer it is editing on is WIndows (I think) Vista (or XP), if you need a program to edit the files.

Thanks in advance.



Best Answer 6 years ago

What about a WYSIWYG HTML editor?

so far the best answer (and what I was thinking along the lines of)
Ill try to find one that works well (as well as one across both OS)
Trying SeaMonkey (I already had it for cross browser testing)- it gives ok results but not perfect...

There are many WYSIWIG HTML editors out there. Wikipedia has a comparable list of editors to choose from. I hope that you find the right one.

Just to be clear, there are NO true to term wysiwyg editors that give you the "what you see is what you get" effect across all platforms and web browsers. That's just a misnomer. Additional coding is usually needed for compatibility and to improve appearances because most browsers don't interpret or accept code the same way.

Tried a few out. BlueGriffin seems to work well enough for the occasional update (its updated once a week max probably), and it is free.
Right now I am not concerned as for compatibility because as of now it works on all major browsers (looks good even in IE6 *gasp!*) and all but the audio player (flash) works on mobile devices. And I am replacing that with a javascript player this week...

Well if you got IE to cooperate and behave then I would leave it alone; and if the secretary is only going to make text changes, then you should be okay.

Out of curiosity what are you using to update the site (you mentioned you're not using FTP?) Is the site live yet or does the host provide an interface to upload with?

BTW, cudos to you for doing them a favor by doing the site for free. :)

Met with her today, everything went ok and she has the basics of WYSIWYG down :)

Not just because of him :)
There was a lot of other help too (hint hint)

Well its definitely nice to have so many people here willing to help. ;)

BTW, I wanted to also give you a link to a good website, you'll find helpful as you continue to learn. It's called stackoverflow.com. Its a resource site for developers. The members are very knowledgeable and you'll get good, prompt answers when you need help. Just search the site first (they don't like redundant questions), and all you need is a free account.

I have yet to try IE with the new java/jquery player, but it states it works down to IE6... I am using jPlayer to do a simple audio playlist.. (edit: doesnt work in IE6-7 but I have a fallback)

I am writing it in dreamweaver and uploading it with the sites web uploader. It states it can use FTP but haven't found the server ip's yet..

Well, whatever way you decide, you actually need to spend some time with the secretary teaching her about how coding a website works and why it is different from WORD. Yes, it can be a drag, but as you learn, so shall she.

I used to use EZPAD3.0 until I upgraded to Win7. Can't install as it is not a minimum of 32-bit. :( Then I started using Nvu (the kid's school made them use it for a class), which is the precursor of BlueGriffon. The good thing about it is that there is no install - download, unzip and you are ready to run. Doesn't mess with the registry at all. I like that! It works okay, as does just about anything that is free.

One thing you might want to do is make a backup of the original webpages with different file extensions, such as .TXT. Keep them in a subdirectory of the website in case she really messes one up. Then you can go back in and have it back in a snap by copying it into the original page/overwriting it. Make sure you have an index.html there that redirects to the main index.html.

FTP is great, but not necessary if all you are going to be doing is minor text updates. As a matter of fact, the sites I had were coded in EZPad (kept it really clean - no fluff or overhead junk) and copy/pasted into the online editor. Save and done.

You may want to teach her the 3 step process.
1.) Type it out in WORD so she can spellcheck, etc. Tell her not to do any formatting (including TABS) as you will do that next.
2.) Copy and paste the text into NotePad.
3.) Copy and paste from NotePad into the WYSIWYG editor and do formatting. Set WYSIWYG editor to view the HTML source, copy the updated section, paste into online editor in the correct place and save.

Done. That is, if she is confident enough to do so.

What this does is gets rid of the special characters that WORD applies to the text. That crap can wreak havoc on the web.

Anyhoo ( :) ), that is my 10 cents worth. Good luck with the website.


Thank you for the in depth answer. I actually met with the secretary today, and went over the software with her. BlueGriffon has a built in spell check, so no problems there... I installed the software, copied a local copy of the site to her hard drive, and gave her step by step on how to edit, insert, and save a web page. Then I told her how to upload it... so far I dont think its going to be a problem. I have the most recent copy of the site on my computer at all times, and I am cleaning up the code as much as I can in the next month, so I am not afraid of her deleting it... Thanks for the help!

There are ways of setting up something like this, but they aren't going to be free, nor will she necessarily find it super easy to do. We have a number of clients who've requested the same sort of thing (after the fact) and its usually resulted in more work than we cared to deal with. Inevitably they have problems getting things to work because they assume its really easy. Then they need FTP access, and if they don't know what they're doing, they can overwrite files on the server.

What I would do is find out how often she wants the site updated, and if we're only talking about text changes done weekly, you can consider offering your services and making the changes for her. Tell her that the cost to set things up is greater than the church (or you) can afford, and that making the changes herself will be far more time consuming than she realizes. If she insists that she be able to do this herself, then you might have to consider moving over to wordpress and letting her update in that environment.

I hope that helps.

Thanks for the info. What do you usually do in your practice? So far I am just going off the books in terms of design- I have not done wordpress, but if the need gets that great, I will probably re-design it in wordpress. Right now she just needs it for the occasional text/photo upload, but not much more. Is it possible I could do a blog page from wordpress embedded in the site? That way it will be kept updated, but the basic design stays the same.

Also- I would love to see some work an actual web designer did, in terms of design and functionality. Right now I am going off the pastors wants and my Mom's graphic design major (huge bonus!! I would probably do the whole animated GIF buttons if not for her).

So if you feel like it, could you PM me a link to a site you've made/worked on? If not, I understand perfectly... I would also be willing to send you a link to the site if you want.. I will not post it in the comments due to spambots, etc. Just be warned that I am still in the entire "it just went live ohmygosh there seems to be so much more to fix" mode, and the code is a bit choppy..

I code most sites with CSS, jquery and sprites, so for you to see my work wouldn't be of much help to you. There isn't that much code on a root page. I also work with other developers and being a graphic artist, my contribution is sometimes only graphical.

In your case you might want to look at the wordpress environment based on the fact you need this to accommodate a secretary who has limited skills and tools. This link from wordpress discusses how to integrate wordpress with your website, and may be the solution you are needing.

Shoulda used Word-press.....


6 years ago

I assume you did this for a low fee or non at all.
  • Show her how ftp works
  • Show her how dreamweaver works
  • Explain the cost of the software.

1. This is the most possible solution... But even now I havnt gone to ftp yet for the site- Ive been using the built in editor because the server kicks me out... I am planning on getting ftp up though

2. Not a chance. I am pretty sure they arent going to foot the $400 bill for a software licence for software that takes some serious time to get used to.

3. Hehe... I might :)

I did do this as a free job- I started HTML this semester and needed some practice. It doesnt look half bad as of now....

I was leading up to helping you extricating yourself
from Endless servitude and hand holding,
that good hearted consulting types like you can fall into !

You know how desperate users latch on to what little they understand
the enormity of simple requests of you, being their only source for their
dream web presence.

And I got my Dreamweaver on ebay from a university with valid license
for $175  some years ago.


As of now, I dont mind the endless servitude, as it is for a good cause and really is actually somewhat fun. Sometimes.... I just got my java player in today and it sucked to put in :)

Could you build her a web-form to submit updates?
Maybe you can script it with expiry-dates to stop showing old-content without anyone having to delete stuff?
(Could be a bit advanced...)