May 01, 2003
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio May 2003 Current Issue
May 2003 Tech filesPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:


BY Bob Walters

Today’s tools make it easier to design, modify and continually update Web pages

One of the most frustrating aspects of the Internet is the static nature of most Web sites. In the beginning, if you didn’t have a Web presence, you were behind the times. Now, if you don’t have a living site where the content constantly changes then it isn’t relevant, and you are losing chances to market your meetings, products and services.

There are two primary types of systems for maintaining and publishing Web content: tools like Microsoft FrontPage or DreamWeaver, and more friendly systems, including CoronaWare and Active Matter, that don’t require users to understand HTML (hypertext markup language).

The most popular system is Microsoft FrontPage ( The program is very intuitive, built on the Microsoft Office platform and sharing many of its features. Using its templates and wizards, I was able to build a Web site in a matter of days the first time I used it and found the ability to cut and paste from Word a valuable time-saver. FrontPage costs $150 to $200.

DreamWeaver ( from Macromedia allows users to work with templates and pre-defined forms to create Web pages and complete sites. If your site utilizes Flash images (another Macromedia product), you can easily integrate existing Flash files or develop new ones from many templates. The cost for DreamWeaver starts at $350 and goes up, depending on the add-on features selected.

These systems do require some degree of understanding of how a Web site is formatted, mapped and designed. They are not applications where you can have just anyone on your staff maintain content. You might need to train someone to manage the site or have a tech person assigned to your department.

If you don’t have an IT staff or someone on board willing to be the Web guru, consider content-management systems. These are designed to make it easier to publish new pages or updated information to a site. Some just allow users to augment their current Web site, while others offer full-blown site development, hosting and management.

Most online membership, registration and exhibitor systems include a content-management aspect allowing clients to publish information to their sites either as new pages or as content in frames.

One choice is Lenos Website Studio ( Users need no HTML skills, nor are they restricted by one-size-fits-all templates that make many Web sites look the same. The program’s drag-and-drop process is as easy to use as PowerPoint’s.

Active Matter ( is designed for nontechnical users and has modules for managing news sites and e-marketing communications. This is one of the most popular systems for the association market.

A new option called CoronaWare ( is a complete site-development and content-management system. It has e-marketing capabilities along with the ability to build a profile form and maintain a database of visitors.

Many more choices are on the market; some are specifically linked to management systems, while others are offered by companies like Results Direct ( and feature a combination of development services and content management tools.

Keep in mind that most of these companies require that you allow them to host your Web site in order to use their tools. Also, regardless of how user-friendly the site is, the person working on it needs to have a good understanding of both your marketing message and the site’s design.

Bob Walters, based in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, is the founder of Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak software.

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