Unless the web master is familiar with their use and possible security implications, forms that allow a visitor to publish information on a website, such as a guest book or forum, should be avoided.
There are many ways in which a website can be created. For simplicity, these have been defined below as: the Traditional Method, which involves following several technical steps; and the Modern Method, which takes advantage of on-line template-based systems. The traditional method will appeal to those with a keen interest in technology, or those who require the maximum level of flexibility; and the modern method to those who simply want to produce a professional website with the minimum of fuss.
The traditional method involves several technical steps, all of which must be followed in order to produce and publish as website.
The first step involves the registration of a domain. The recommended format is your Lodge name, followed by its number, followed by .org.uk (e.g. mylodge1234.org.uk). You may choose to omit the number (e.g. mylodge.org.uk); however, as every domain must be unique, the inclusion of the number prevents ambiguity and is generally recommended. A .org.uk is cheaper and easier to manage than a .org, which should be avoided. The letters www are often prepended to the domain and refer to the host name of the web server. This is usually done automatically by the service provider from which you purchased the domain, or can be configured at their website. Please note that the registration records associated with your domain should be in the name of your Lodge. These records are published on the internet and care must therefore be taken to ensure they do not contain any personal information.
The second step is to identify a web hosting facility, which is the space in which the website will live. This is often provided free-of-charge by internet service providers and of often combined with the registration of a domain. Check with your internet service provider, or those of your Lodge members. Many companies also provide this service, for which they will charge. Expect to pay no more than £50 per year for a domain name, ample web space and email forwarding to a large number of email addresses.If you would like to create email addresses that contains your Lodge, such as email@example.com, you should ensure email forwarding is provided as part of your domain registration or web hosting package. Email forwarding allows an email address ending in your Lodge's domain to be linked to one of more personal email addresses. For example, email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org would be automatically forwarded to email@example.com. This has several advantages: your personal email address does not have to be published on your website; you can associate a single email address with one or more personal email addresses; you do not have to edit your website when you change your personal email address; and it gives your website a consistent and professional appearance.
The third step involves identifying and installing suitable web design software, such as Serif or Microsoft FrontPage. There are many software packages available and they differ with respect to their complexity, features and price. Members of the Worcestershire Web Masters and Internet Group are able to provide advice and support a wide variety of software packages. If in doubt, please ask!
Finally, you should design and publish your website. You can start from a blank page, or download and customise a free template. Free templates are available from a number of sources, including OSWD and Open Web Design. You must ensure that the website template you select does not contain any commercial advertising; you are, of course, encouraged to acknowledge the author.
If followed, these steps will lead to the production of a very professional and flexible website.
There are a growing number of on-line applications that support the rapid creation of websites. These are template-based and remove the need to register a domain, identify web hosting, and purchase and install web design software. They also greatly simplify the tasks associated with the production and uploading of the website onto the world wide web. There is almost always a charge for such a service, but it is usually very reasonable and often lower than that incurred when following the more traditional method.
Lodges in the Province of Worcestershire are encouraged to produce and maintain their own websites. The production and management of a Lodge website does requires time and effort, and the skills required can be gained in a relatively short period of time. Being a web master can be incredibly rewarding, as it involves working with ever-changing technology, and sharing information with those who know little about our fraternity. Web masters act as Masonic ambassadors and it is for that reason the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire has developed a Provincial Website Standard, against which all relevant websites are assessed, and supports its on-line community through the Worcestershire Web Masters and Internet Group.
Please note that the Worcestershire Web Masters and Internet Group does not recommend or endorse any software, product, or service provider. However, its members will provide advice and support on request.