You may be building a website for a small business, youth club, or other organization for which you are responsible (or have been asked to do so). Where does one begin?
You don’t begin by hiring expensive web consultants to complete the task for you! Consider performing it yourself, or at least a portion of it. The tasks you must complete can be divided into three phases.
1. Developing a website
2. Construct your website using software
3. Publish your website through a web hosting service (you can host a website on your own computer, but this is an option for the more technically advanced)
Creating a website
If you know how to turn on a PC and have experience with Word and Outlook, you will be able to use many of the free software packages to design and create your own website. However, even if you decide that building a website from scratch is beyond your capabilities, putting together some initial design ideas will prevent you from spending too much money on someone to tell you what you want. After all, nobody knows your company or organization better than you do!
Knowing where to begin is often the most difficult aspect. This article intends to provide some ideas. So, let’s begin by examining what you intend to include on your website; remember, you can start small and then expand. Ensure that you have the essential information first; you can always add more information later. Your website should include information about who you are, what you want people to know about you, what you have to offer (either in terms of products or services), where you are located, and how to reach you. You may begin with a list of headings including:
Brief summary of who you are and what you do
Whereabouts you are (particularly necessary if customers or clients are to come to your premises)
Separate pages for each activity you undertake (or ranges of goods or equipment you sell)
Prices (for membership or goods)
There are likely to be other organizations similar to yours. Examine the information and organization of Google and Yahoo by conducting a search on them. Consider yourself a customer; is it simple to locate the information you require? If not, then why? Notate what you would change about their websites.
Consider yourself as the competition; what can you provide that is unique? Are your membership fees or prices higher? Perhaps you can provide a better product. If your prices are lower, you may want to emphasize the value you provide. Even if you are considering a location for a youth club there, what distinguishes your organization from the others?
Remember that all content on the Internet is protected by copyright, so you must not present copied text or images as your own work on your website. You may, however, reprint articles such as this one (as long as you credit the original author), and business-related articles may be a good way to add content to your website.
Examine the color schemes and layouts of other websites that you visit. There is a great deal of variation in the presentation of websites; some are simple black text on a white background (probably the easiest to read and best for conveying large amounts of information), while others are very colorful. You should consider your intended audience; a youth club, for example, will want to appeal to the younger generation and may therefore employ a more vibrant color scheme. Age-appropriate websites may be more subtle. Consider the use of sound, images, movies, flash introductions, web polls, and RSS tickers (news feeds). These gimmicks are not necessary when you first build your site, but if you like the look of them, file the information away. You may believe that adding these to your site will always be beyond your abilities, but if you decide to build your site yourself, you will be surprised at how quickly you become an expert.
After conducting research and gathering basic information about yourself, you should have some ideas about how you want your website to appear and what content you believe you will need. What is the next step then? You could now contact a website developer to implement your ideas, but why not give it a shot yourself? It will be much less expensive in the long run.
Even if you doubt your abilities, it will not cost you anything to give it a shot.
Let’s talk briefly about the software. Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) is commonly used to create websites; however, you don’t need to remember this. Using software such as Frontpage or Dreamweaver, you can construct a website using HTML. This is a lengthy process that requires you to learn all the code. If you are not interested in becoming a computer programmer, you should consider using an HTML generator.
An HTML generator is a web development tool that allows you to design your website using Microsoft Word-like functionality. It enables you to insert, for instance, a text box along with images, and its drag-and-drop functionality allows you to position the elements where you want them to appear on the page. As you gain experience, you’ll be able to add multimedia elements to your page, such as videos and audio. The HTML generator will transform the page you are currently working on into HTML code, which can then be published. The beauty of these web design tools is that you will see the page as your visitors will, allowing you to easily experiment with different layouts until you find one that you believe will work.
Many web hosting packages include a free website builder, but beware: although the free tools provided are excellent, you will typically be restricted to publishing your site with the hosting company that provides the builder. This is not necessarily a problem, but it does mean that you should investigate the cost of the web hosting package with that company before building your website. It can be very disheartening to construct a website only to discover that the hosting package is beyond your budget. Remember that nothing is ever completely free, but that does not mean you cannot find a good deal! Vodahost, for instance, provides a hosting package at a reasonable price and an excellent website creation tool with straightforward online tutorials.
3. Post your website online
As stated previously, you will typically be limited to publishing your website with the same company that provided your website-building tool.
After creating your first web page, you can publish it to the Internet. It is actually absurdly simple to create a website. Your company will become a member of the online community with a single click. Nonetheless, it is necessary to issue a warning.
Finally, good luck and enjoy yourself!