Welcome to The Web Toolbox

Learn how to build a professional web site for a fraction of the cost of a design company with zero experience.

My name is Ian Cliffen and in 1984 I had my first experience with so called computer experts. I was working as a very young manager of a knitting and sweater production plant in Ripley, Derbyshire. The company had invested in a new technology called the desktop computer. They had bought Apple 2e computers. No hard drives just 5 1/4 inch floppy disks with dot matrix printers. The job that they had been bought for was to print batch tickets for the production lines. As the technology was so new, we had a service contract with a company from Alfreton (5 miles away). The printing was time sensitive but the computers kept breaking down. I had to call the technicians every week to repair the machines. We paid them a monthly retainer plus a call out charge. They gave us a reasonable service but being young I wanted to find out why they kept breaking down. I made friends with one of the technicians and made a deal with him that if he taught me I would do the basic repairs and let him charge the usual fee without him having to visit. This was a win win as we got the repairs done faster without voiding the warranty, I learned a new skill and they still got paid. I was shocked at how basic the machine was inside. The usual repair involved undoing 6 screws , removing a circuit board, cleaning the contacts with a soft pencil eraser and putting it back together.

Over the years I have come across many examples of so called experts charging a premium for some kind of wizardry that in truth anyone could master if only pointed in the right direction. Since the very early 90's I have never bought a computer, I have always built my own, saving thousands and having the satisfaction of knowing that I could repair or upgrade as and when I wanted rather then trusting someone who had a vested interest in charging me for their expertise.

I have worked for several companies that have been charged crazy prices for web design, hosting and maintenance services. I have seen companies pay tens of thousands for web sites that basically did nothing, they were what I would call flat - a series of connected pages that had pretty pictures, listed prices but did not save the company any money. These web design experts even charged flat fees for making slight changes to a page that could have been put into the design from day one. A great example was an annual fee of £50 to change a year number in a footer in a copyright statement. So if the footer said say © 2010 - 2020, when it came to 2021 the charge was £50 to update the footer to © 2010 - 2021. Okay, shame on the client for falling for this but shame on the programmers for hustling the client so blatantly. I have sacked 3 design companies for this type of behaviour.

When I have visited designers for project briefings, I have found that the team doing the coding are usally very young with next to no business experience. This has meant that web sites have been very poor in saving clients time and in adding to the clients business offering.

In 2014 I sold my shares in the company that I was a partner in and in 2017 I decided to learn web design. I worked through loads of resources online and bought many text books in an effort to make my own web based business.

What I ended up creating was https://trainingcoursebroker.com. This site has now been running for 3 years and in June 2020 had its 1,000,00th visitor. The site is fully automated and allows me to move on to new projects.

I have learned many skills and most of all I have found that the internet is really stacking the odds against the beginner making their own web site. I intend to put this right. I have made this very simple page to illustrate what can be done without experience in 15 minutes. I will add pages showing you how to set up a site, register it and start coding. I will give you access to the code so that you and copy and adapt it to your needs and I will take you through the back office management processes so that you can build a sophisticated site.

Ian F. Cliffen

14th December 2020