Friday, October 7, 2011

A simple guide on how to design, build and publish your own website

plus - a quick guide to setting up a website hosting account

Want to have your own website? Not sure how to go about it? Here’s some questions you might like answered first.....
Why build a website?
Only you can decide what your purpose is and how you want your website to function. Before you begin to plan your site however,

you must have a target audience in mind. Otherwise what is the point? First consider who your website is aimed at and why.
For example....
Is your site to be based around your hobby or family?
Or is your site to be an online brochure for your business?
Are you planning on promoting a service or selling products directly from your site?
Or is the site going to be purely for information or entertainment?
A website can be produced for any number of reasons, but do a little research first to decide whether you can generate enough interest for people to visit your site. Will your site be different or even unique? Or are there millions of sites already on the internet that will be similar to yours? Of course, you can always do it for fun, and if you like doing it then you can try doing another one.
Can I design the site myself?
Of course you can! You don’t have to be a brilliant web designer to knock up a half-decent site these days. A lot of the software that’s available can be very simple to use. But if your aim is to produce a slick professional website for your business, then it might be better to employ the services of an experienced web designer. Particularly if your site is to incorporate e-commerce features.
On the other hand, if you’re a confident person with a good eye for design then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a go yourself.
What software should I use to design my site?
The type of software you use to build your website will depend on how you want your website to look and function. There are numerous software packages available ranging from inexpensive shareware up to pricey but more professional programs like Dreamweaver
One of the best value for money packages I have found is Web Easy Pro. It has some great built-in features and can be used to design most types of site including e-commerce. Both these programs are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)
If you prefer to build your site the hard way then you could learn to write HTML (hyper text mark-up language) using a text editor such as notepad then save your page in html format. Knowing HTML can be very useful even if you don’t hand code all your web pages. Adding stuff like banners and snippets of javascript code will require some knowledge of where to cut and paste them into your page source code.
To learn html I recommend reading HTML for the World Wide Web by Elizabeth Castro
Another option for building websites is SBI. This is an excellent product which not only provides you with the ability to create great websites, it also teaches how to succeed in marketing your site and gives you the ability to get great results in the search engines through keyword research and simple to implement optimisation techniques
What design tips can you give me?
It’s been said that content is everything. Unless your website gives your visitors something useful or interesting to read then they won’t stay around for long, and probably won’t come back again. Useful articles of particular interest to the type of visitors you want to attract will prove to be the most important aspect of your site.
Of couse pictures are important too. But only use them when necessary. If you want your site to reach a wide audience then don’t get too fancy with your design. Keep it simple and avoid designing pages that are bogged down with too many graphics. Although broadband connections are becoming more common these days, there’s still a lot of people with 56kbps modems or slower. It will take ages to load a webpage if the file size of the page is too big due to large graphic and multimedia content. In other words... don’t lose visitors by making them tired of waiting for your web pages to download!
Apart from the inclusion and arrangement of words and pictures the most essential part of your website design is navigation. Can visitors find their way around your site easily without getting lost?
Make sure you have a link back to your home page and to other important pages on every page you design. The normal way to do this is by adding a navigation bar down the left hand side or along the top of your page.
If your site is being designed for your business then your main pages will probably include a contact page with your company name, address, telephone number and email address plus contact form, a page about your company, a news page, and if you’re selling stuff online, pages for your products plus an order page and shopping cart . Make sure you also include your company logo and company name on every page and in the title of your homepage so that search engines can find and list your site.
Do I need a domain name?
Yes! If you’re serious about creating a professional image then I definetely recommend you register a domain name for your site. These days a domain name can be obtained at very low cost. But be careful. My first experience at registering a domain name was a nightmare! The company I registered with wouldn’t answer my emails when I wanted to transfer the names to another company. Another one charged me over £90 for transferring a ‘free’ name which was registered for me with their free webspace offer.
One company I can definetely recommend is Their service is second to none. They also offer excellent value.
How do I get my site online?
Uploading your site and publishing it on the internet involves copying your website files to a host server using ftp transfer software.
The host server is where the webspace that your chosen ISP or web host company has provided you with to save your files to. If you ask them they will provide you with the basic information that you will need to set up the transfer process for your ftp program. This will include the host address, a username and password to log in. The software I recommend usng is Filezilla but many of the web design packages also have their own built-in ftp program. (ftp by the way stands for ‘file transfer protocol’) Once set up it’s as simple as copying your files from one folder to another.
Where should I host my site?
This is where a lot of people begin to get unstuck. Don’t waste your time with free website hosting services. These type of services often use advertising on the webspace they provide you with. If

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