website design
 
 

How to create a website the do-it-yourself way

So you have a product, service or information that you feel the whole world should know about. But you aren't quite sure how to tell them? Fortunately, for you it's the 21st century and we have the internet.

By using this short article as a reference we will have you creating your own website in a matter of hours.

The first thing you will need is a website. There are many options for getting a website, some expensive and some are even free. Depending on whether you are selling a product, service or providing information will determine which option you should choose. Personally, I recommend that if you intend on making any profit from your website that you hire a web design company or (often far cheaper) a web design freelancer. If you just want to share some information online then you will be fine doing the design yourself.

If you are on a tight budget, then you may wish to use the do-it-yourself methods described below instead of hiring a website design company. However, once you do make any profit you should invest the money into a professionally created web site design.

Methods for creating a website

If you are unfamiliar with HTML, you will have to use either an online website creator or what is called a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) editor. The former option is available with almost all online hosting companies so I won't go too much into detail on them. However, I do recommend SiteStudio as one of the best in this category. SiteStudio is available through nearly every web hosting company that uses H-Sphere. H-Sphere is a full featured web hosting control panel (I will go further in detail in the choosing a web hosting company section).

The later option will give you a lot more flexibility; however it will cost some money. The flexibility that you will get will far outweigh the cost in some of the software packages listed below. Some of the largest benefits include the ability to easily modify your website, have a unique web-site tailored to your design requirements, you created it!, and if you do a good job there really isn't a need for hiring a web designer at a later date to redo your website.

Here are some of the most popular WYSIWYG editors:

- Macromedia Dreamweaver MX
- Adobe GoLive CS
- Microsoft Frontpage

I recommend that you avoid Microsoft Frontpage, while it is easy to use and fairly popular, it isn't standards compliant. If you are going to learn how to create a website you should learn how to do it right.

Choosing a domain name

One of the hardest things you will have to decide, yet almost more important than any of the others is choosing a domain name. A domain name is what people will type in the address bar of their browser to get to your website. For example, google.com, yahoo.com, amazon.com, and ebay.com are all domain names. If you will be selling a product, service or if the site is business related try to stick to a .com or .net top level domain (tld) extension.

When choosing a hosting company avoid choosing a company that offers free domain registration with hosting (or do not accept the free domain registration) because what they often don't tell you is that you can't transfer the domain to another hosting company or even that the next years fee due will be a hefty one.

Domains are typically renewed yearly and the pricing ranges from around $8.00 to $35.00 each year. The cheaper domain services typically don't offer as many features as the more expensive ones.

I recommend the following companies for domain registration:

- Register.com - Expensive, but a well featured control panel.
- GoDaddy.com - Cheap, yet full featured.
- Domainplus.ca - Best current prices you will find for the quality Hosting, using state-of-art and technology .

I recommend that you avoid Network Solutions, while they are large and have a big budget they are often criticized for doing shady things.

Choosing a web hosting company

Now days hosting has become a commodity item. There are literally tens of thousands of hosting companies, most offering exactly the same features and most of them perfectly fine for your new website.

When choosing a hosting company you should try to compare features, not necessarily price. The end result is to have a website online with your product, service or information for everyone to see right? Often the cheaper hosting companies lack the redundancy required to ensure that your website is available 24/7. If this is a business venture you do not want to miss any potential customer due to the dreaded 404 error page. However, if you are just going to be providing information you could choose a cheaper host as you don't intend on making a profit.

Some of the features you should consider when comparing hosting companies are:

- Disk Space - This is the physical amount of space that the host allocates to you for the files that you upload    to the server.
- Bandwidth - Bandwidth is the amount of space that you have available to transfer files from your website to    another end-user of your websites computer.
- Windows, Linux or BSD? - While a user of Windows XP may think it is preferable to use a windows host, in    actuality it really doesn't matter. In-fact a hosting company that uses windows as a hosting platform    sacrifices themselves a little bit on reliability. Choose a Linux or BSD hosting provider, they are typically    much more reliable and often cheaper too.
- Email accounts - If you're online you probably already know what an email account is, make sure you get    some with your hosting account.
- Control Panel - Make sure that they offer a control panel. CPanel and H-Sphere are both popular ones with    hosting companies. H-Sphere hosts will typically be more reliable because it distributes your website to    various application specific servers. Cpanel hosts typically have everything on one server, so if your    websites down your email is too.
- Finally, if you chose to use an online website creator above for cost or usability reasons; make sure that the    host has an online website creator.

Avoid hosting companies who offer unlimited in any of the above categories. I recommend and personally use MegaHosters (http://www.megahosters.com).

If you build it, they will not come - how to promote your new site

One of the biggest errors many people make is the thought that all you have to do is build a website and people will come. This is completely wrong and if you follow this thought it won't be long before you give up on your new website.

You have to promote it, then promote it some more and once you think your done doing it twice over, promote it again.

Think of it like this, a website is like a business placed a half-mile off the freeway, while you may occasionally get visitors (2-3 times month from type-in traffic) you will never be successful unless you can move your business closer to the freeway, promotion does this. Every time you promote your business you move it a few feet closer to the freeway.

Since there are literally dozens of ways to promote your new website I will not go in detail on them here, but I will provide a brief list of some of the more common methods.

- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising - a very quick way to get targeted visitors from search engines to your   website.
- Forums - Forums are a place that you can go and write with other people about various subjects. Chose   one similar to your website and participate often. Make sure not to directly post about your site; but if you   provide good information in your posts people will visit your website. (How will people know what your   website is if you don't tell them about it? Put a link and a short descriptive text in what is called a signature).
- Search Engines - submit your site to search engines (Manually, one at a time. Never use the submission   tools that submit your site to dozens, or even hundreds of search engines. Search engines forbid automated   submission tools and may even ban you from their index - very bad.).
- If you're a business put your website address (or URL) on everything that anyone can see (e.g. your car,   letters, email signatures, business cards, invoices, packaging, clothing, etc.).
- Reciprocal links - find other website that would compliment yours and offer them a link on your website in   exchange for one on theirs.
- If you have employees, hold a contest with them to see who can get your website address shown in the   most prominent place.

Avoid the following when trying to promote your site as they will never help (never).

- FFA - Free for all link exchanges
- Spamming in any form - Sending unsolicited emails, posting unrelated messages about your business in  forums, Usenet, or in IRC.

In closing, this overview of how to create a website leaves out many important details to consider; primarily on the different promotional methods and on some additional alternatives for each of the sections. However, it was intended to only address the essential portions of creating a website.

This article should have helped you to create a website, buy a domain name and promote the website, all of which are essential to the success of your website.

Remember you have to promote your website, then promote it some more and once you think your done doing it twice over, promote it again. It is the only sure-fire way to ensure that your website isn't like many of the other millions of websites that are closed each year because of lack of visitors/sales.