When I first decided to learn how to create my own website I had no clue on how to go about it. After floundering around for many years I finally came up with these 8 steps that I use each and every time I design a website, whether for myself or a client.
1. Brainstorm Ideas
I found that just a plain piece of paper, a pen (or pencil if you prefer), and searching the Internet through places such as Google Hot Trends, Digg or StumbleUpon is the best way to gather ideas. When I first tried this technique I was quite amazed at just how many ideas I came up with after a half hour of browsing.
Now if you already know your website's purpose, then just move on to the next step.
2. Which Pages?
Once you know your website's purpose, the next step is to decide if it's purpose warrants pages or not. If your website is going to be for your business then you'll definitely need a certain amount of pages to start with. If your website is a personal one you might want to consider setting up a weblog instead of a website.
All website's should include a home page, an about page, and a sitemap.
Weblogs are different as they're more of a time line into your life and/or your thoughts. If you go the route of a weblog you might only want to include an about page to tell people more about you.
3. Brainstorm & Create Layout
A layout constitutes of how your content of your website going to be presented to your visitors. A great place to get ideas for layouts (also referred to as templates) is Open Source Design, or do a search in your favorite Internet search engine for free templates or open source templates. There are litterly thousands of great websites that offer layouts for you to use. Just be sure to read the fine print before you use any template, as some template creators will allow you to use their template if you keep their copyright information intact.
4. Write Content for Pages
Once you know which pages your website will include, the next step is to write the content for those pages. I find that doing one of two things works best for me; writing an outline and then writing the content, or just writing the content as it flows through me. Choose what works best for you.
Always remember to proofread your content, bad grammar and/or spelling can turn some visitors into "never to return visitors". This isn't so important if it's a personal website, though if it's a business website this is extremely important. I would go far as to say it's mandatory to proofread your business website content.
5. Add Content to Website
Now that your website content is written it's time to add it to your template. If you have never created a website or edited source code before, your best bet would be to open the template you chose in Step 3 within a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. This will allow you to see where all your page elements (menu, graphics, etc) are located, and where you need to place your content.
When I first started out, I found the best WYSIWYG editor for learning to be Microsoft FrontPage as it came installed on my computer already. You might want to check in your Programs folder/directory to see if you have this also.
6. Find Platform to Use
Now that you've got your own website created you need a place to host it so all the world can visit. If you're using a weblog for your personal website I would recommend you check into WordPress.com to host it. WordPress.com makes it verily easy to step up and maintain a weblog, you can litterly have your weblog up and running within 5 minutes with their service.
A business website will need more than just a weblog platform host, you will need to find a website hosting service that meets your needs. I highly recommend looking into LotsMoreHosting.com. I have used their services since 2003 and have always found their prices to be very reasonable, and their support exceptional.
7. Getting Those Pages on Your Hosting Account
Moving your website files/pages to your hosting account for your visitors to view your website isn't a huge chore as some people make it out to be. You have two options to uploading (moving) your files, either through the cPanel of your hosting account or through an FTP (file transfer protocol) program. Both of which offer tutorials to help you use them, and most FTP programs these days have wizards built in to walk you through the steps.
I recommend using FileZilla, not only will not not cost to use it, it is pretty straightforward to use and does offer a wizard and great tutorials to help you through understanding how to use the program.
8. Validate Your Website!
This is one step that most non-professional website creators don't do, though it is vitally important step. Validating your website will mean that your website will be able to be viewable by anyone using any web browser. Not all browsers are created equal, and until such time that the browser creators decide to join forces to come up with standards that all browsers will conform to, we're stuck with having to make sure that our websites conform to their own browser standards.
The only place I highly recommend to validate your website is with the W3C Markup Validation Service. W3C is a non-profit organization that is helping to set standards for the world wide web. If the validation process comes up with errors, you will need to go back into your WYSIWYG editor to correct those errors.
I hope that by sharing my own process to creating a website, you'll find that creating your own won't be very difficult. If you continue to follow these eight steps, creating your own website will become a simple process in no time.
Tina Stephen is the owner of DesignNewbie.com that offers a wide variety of website design and development resources (article & resource directory, online courses, weekly newsletter) for those wanting to learn how to create their own website. She has been designing websites for 6 years and owns her own web design business.
By: Tina D Stephen