Building a Website -

Without re-inventing the wheel...

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 website.

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 doing marketing.

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 later.

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!

Return from Building a Website to Make Money From Your Website

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