Building a website might seem like a daunting task. It might also seem
like something that is outside your ability level. This might have been
true in 1996, when you needed to know more than even HTML to get your
website up and running, but with the tools, resources and free programs
available to you today there is no reason why you can't build your own
Why you might not want to start building a website
Yes, you can build a website. However, think about what your goals are
with your website before you launch into building a website from
scratch. What do you want your website to do for you? This is more
important than even asking what you want your website to DO.
For example, if you're building a website so you can sell the widgets
that you hand craft in your garage, spending the time to learn to build
a website is a waste of time. Instead, sign up for an ecommerce store.
Depending on what your sales goals are, there are pre-designed,
pre-hosted, easy-to-use solutions out there which won't require you to
learn more than how to register a domain name and give them your credit
card. Then, you can spend your time making new, better widgets and
If you want to keep a blog about your weight loss, your family
vacations, your new baby, etc. building a website, and the time/energy
it takes you to learn how to do that, will kill your passion and
enthusiasm for this project before you get off the ground.
Click here to learn how to create a blog easily so you can be up and
running in less than a day with a beautiful, professionally designed
site for less than $20 initially and $10 a month which will be easy for
you to update.
If you don't want a blog, consider using Google Sites to create a
website using a template which you can easily modify.
If you're building a website to make money online, spending your time
and energy learning how to design and code a site might be a waste of
your time and not get you the traffic and money you need. Instead, read
about how I make money from my information websites without needing to
know HTML or web marketing.
So you're still set on building a website?
Great! Chances are you've done some of the above and learned a thing or
two about websites, how the web works, and what you want to do on the
internet. Either that, or you're doing it as a learning exercise (which
is an equally valid reason!).
Building a website starts with research. Seriously. Research the
keywords and such of the topic you're looking into building a site
about. Get a clear idea in your head about what your website will look
like, the structure it will have, how the pages will link together, etc.
Ready? Now create a blueprint. I do this for my sites on everything
from a spreadsheet to a napkin. I love this part of the process, so I
now carry a booklet of paper with me where I can plan out website ideas
as they strike me. You'll want your website to be a 3-tier structure
(as close as possible) that has 1 main home page that links to your
Tier-2 categories. These categories are broad and will link to one
another as well as to deeper pages which are your tier 3 pages. Make
sure you have a plan for how your tier 3 pages will inter-link. When
I'm coaching other websites on SEO practices, I alway find they have
'orphan' pages which aren't linked to from anywhere and they're
wondering why these aren't indexed by Google. It's like building a
house in the wilderness without any roads and wondering why you don't
get mail from the USPS.
Got your blueprint? Now I like to draw a picture of what I want the
page to look like. I'm not too precise about this, and perhaps I should
be more so, but I just use a pen and paper and sketch out a rough
layout of the site. If you were building a website professionally,
you'd do a full mock-up of the site using Photoshop or another image
editing software. I don't particularly want to spend a bunch of time in
Photoshop, so I don't do that. However, if you've got a
graphic-intensive site, you should probably do this.
Next, I steal from others. Well, steal legally. Do a Google search for
"Free Website Templates." You're going to want to find a site that has
pre-coded templates in CSS that you can get for free. Sometimes they'll
ask for you to link back to them from your site if you use their
template, sometimes they'll have other restrictions. Basically, these
are design firms who are getting their name out there offering freebies
to the world so that folks who have money to spend on a unique theme
will hire them. That or they make money from ads or something.
Find a template that looks like the layout that you're looking for.
Download it. Unzip it and save it in a place where you can find it
Now, go download Composer. It's a free WISIWIG (What you see is what
you get) website creation tool. Mess around with it a bit and read a
tutorial or something to learn how to use it. Once you're ready, open
your free template in Composer.
Using a WISIWIG editor is a lot like using any other program (like Word
or Photoshop or whatever) where you can modify things by typing,
clicking, dragging, etc. You don't need to use all sorts of fancy
coding language. However, if you have a few moments to read an
introduction to CSS, you'll understand how your editor is working and
why it's working that way a lot easier.
Modify your template using your editor. While you can create something
from scratch, having a template to start from will make your editor
make a lot more sense and it'll make building a website go a lot
faster. Then, once you've gotten the hang of it, you can try starting
from scratch if you need to.
Done? Is it beautiful? Now to get it on the inter-webs....
The final step in building a website is to put the files on your
server. To do this, you need to FTP your files to your web hosting
account (what? you didn't buy web hosting when you bought your domain?
Click here to read about choosing a reliable web host).
I use Firefox as a browser and Fire FTP is a plug-in for that
is an easy to use. Drag-and-drop easy. And it's quick and light. Drag
all the contents of your folder to your website and wait for them to
upload. Don't drag the containing folder, however do drag entire
folders within that folder just as they are.
Once you got your whole thing uploaded open a new browser and type in
your web address. Did your website show up?
Chances are it didn't. Sorry, that's just how it is- this is your first
time you try building a website, you'll make some mistakes. Most
commonly, you don't have an index.html file in your folder as your main
homepage file. Don't name this sucker anything else, keep it
index.html. And it needs to be in the lowest level of your file system.
Figure out what went wrong, and tweak it until you see your website
when you go to your URL. YAY! you did it!
Finally, go to the W3 Validator and check your website to make sure
your code is valid. If it's not fix it until it is. Congratulations,
you have a website!