Create Your Website in Five Steps

Articles —> Create Your Website in Five Steps

Creating a website can seem like a daunting task. What is the first step to creating a website? What does one need? Can I create a website if I don't know how to program? All are legitimate questions, but setting up a website can actually be quite simple. All one needs is a little time, effort, and content to populate the website and it can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Of course without available time, creating a website can be difficult if not possible - for those in this category there are other options available - such as free blog and photo services. But if one wishes for more options to customize your content, constructing your own website may be the optimal course to take.

Domain Name

First and foremost, a website needs a domain name. The domain name defines the website - both how to access the website content as well as the content the site contains. Examples include your name or description of the subject of the website. Often however, we are out of luck: our first (or second, or third) choice in domain name is taken. Thus we are required to be creative. For instance, combining two words or using a phrase that best represents your website - a thesaurus comes in handy at this point. I would recommend spending some thought on the domain name, as it will define your website.

Next up is purchasing the name. There are many companies which offer this service, and often it can come in handy (and cheaper) to purchase the domain name alongside the hosting service (below).

Hosting Service

The hosting service is where you will put all your website files, as well as opt into other options if necessary. Prior to purchasing the service, one should at least consider the style and template (below) to ensure the required features of your website are available with the hosting company. Most common technologies (html, css, javascript, php, MySQL, etc...) are provided by almost all hosting companies. Some technologies (java, Perl, Ruby) may not be offered by the hosting service, so check carefully.

There are hundreds if not thousands of hosting companies, so how to choose? I would recommend reading reviews and checking out ratings. Check for server reliability, customer service, and available server side options. Further, check that the servers are physically located in a location in which you predict most of your audience to reside - a website directed towards one country but hosted across the world will only slow down page loading times for the majority of visitors.

Most hosting companies offer a range of services, from shared hosting (cheap) to a dedicated server (expensive). While a dedicated server offers many advantages, from higher bandwidth to custom script installation, these advantages are typically not necessary for the common website. Shared hosting on the other hand is cheap, and while it places your website on a server with several other websites - each is distinct from the others - from a user's perspective shared hosting is not noticeable from other hosting services (this of course is dependent upon who you share with, what they are doing, your website bandwidth, and hosting company maintenance).

Many hosting companies offer Windows or Linux operating systems. I am biased to Linux, however keep each in mind. The style and template may help dictate which way to go: for instance ASP pages are Windows based.

Style and Template

The style and template is how your content will be displayed. Creating one from scratch can be a complex matter, however there are many websites which offer free or cheap templates for use. When creating or choosing a template, consider what sort of content you will create. Website templates can often be broken down into sections: header, content, (sidebar), footer (sidebar in parenthesis as this can be omitted). The header typically contains the name of your Website, a banner, a menu, and possibly a search box. The content contains the webpage content, unique to each page. The footer often contains things such as links to useful webpages such as the website privacy policy, copyright, etc...Typically both the header and footer remain constant from one page to the next.

Inserting content into a website template or style can be difficult if one does not know the ins and outs of website design. Learning HTML and CSS is easy, and there are many free online tutorials available. One of the more simple and comprehensive is that offered from W3 Schools. Knowing this allows you to customize

Many technologies are available that facilitate dynamic content. This allows features such as common elements (headers and footers) to be created once and 'included' on appropriate pages. The advantage here is maintenance: change one page and create site-wide changes. Or store data in a database and let the page pull data from there (useful for large and dynamic websites such as forums or blogs). Of course, these often require the knowledge of site side scripting such as Php. There are however, common open source technologies for blogs and forums that facilitate their creation and require little to no knowledge of scripting or databases.

Of course, some have little time to go through the time intensive learning process. If this is you, then there are plenty of developers available to fill the void. While it may be hard choosing the right developer, there are alternative such as websites that let people 'rent' a developer (such as CodeHire), often in a way which allows developers to bid on a project. But do your homework - it is best to see a portfolio of the developer to see what they are capable of.

Content

Of course the most important part of a website is content. If you've reached this step the biggest hurdle is over. You've now got a place to put your content and a format to put it in - now its creating that content. I would recommend a website contain common pages, such as an about page, contact page, and privacy policy page. Pages such as news, features, gallery, articles, tutorials, etc...may also be appropriate.

Placing your content onto the hosting server is typically done through FTP (File Transfer Protocol), features provided by software such as Dreamweaver. Alternatively, your hosting companies should offer an online upload feature to allow one to upload and/or modify files on the server.

Depending upon the type of website you are creating, articles and/or tutorials are often good webpages to have, as they attract users through avenues such as search engines.

Maintenance

Last but not least is maintenance. If you've made it this far: congratulations. Now its time to maintain your website, keeping its content fresh and informative.

  • SEO - Getting your website found can be a difficult process. One can do so through getting links back to your website, or by ranking high in search engine results. Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing a website just for this purpose. Search engines are computer algorithms which search webpages for content and present the relevant websites to users searching their engine. To help your website show up in searches, properly title your webpages, and keep pages simple and to the point. DO NOT use black hat activities, such as hiding words in a webpage or using spam techniques to build links to your website - these activities will typically remove your website from a search engine altogether.
  • Growth - Growing a website requires continual work to add or modify content. How to do so is case dependent, but adding articles or blog entries is a good start.
  • Outdating - Website content can quickly fall out of date. Be it content referring to old news or dates showing how longs it has been since the website was last updated. Out of date websites can detour traffic, thus dated material should be inspected as news or events unfold.
  • Technologies - Some technologies become outdated or are upgraded to new versions. For instance, the forum software Phpbb has gone through several versions. Upgrades provide security fixes and new features, so keep them upgraded - falling far behind means an upgrade may not be possible.


There are no comments on this article.

Back to Articles


© 2008-2017 Greg Cope