1. Technology

How to Build a Website

Build a Site in Seven Steps

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IT engineer in office - man on laptop
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How to Build a Website Step 1 — Hosting:

Hosting is where you put your website and all the web pages. While it’s possible to build a website on your personal computer and never move it online, it’s pointless. No one but you will ever see it. So the first thing you’ll want to do is find a web hosting provider.

There are several types of web hosting options you can choose from:

Most people gravitate to free web hosting without too much thought, but there can be drawbacks to free hosting. You don’t always get as much space, you might be required to run their ads on your site, or there may be bandwidth limits. There are sometimes limitations on what can be put on a free hosting provider—for example, some don't allow ecommerce or gambling or other types of content. Some free hosting providers tack on charges like maintenance and renewal fees on their “free” accounts. Be sure to read all the fine print before you put your website on a free web host. I recommend using free hosting providers for testing web pages and for personal pages, but not for websites you hope to make money from.

How to Build a Website Step 2 — Do You Need a Domain Name?:

A domain name is a friendly URL people can type into their browser to get to your website. Some examples of domain names include:

  • webdesign.about.com
  • html5in24hours.com
  • enjoyscifi.com
  • techforanyone.com

You don’t need a domain name to put up a website. You can put up a site on free hosting or even paid hosting plans without a domain name. A domain name provides extra branding for your site and makes it easier for people to remember the URL. But domain names cost money, typically between $8 and $35 a year.

How to Build a Website Step 3 — Plan Your Website:

Once you’ve gotten a domain and decided on your URL, you can plan your site. You need to decide:

  • Type of site — Most websites are either news/information, product, or reference sites. As such they each have a slightly different focus.
  • Navigation — The navigation affects the information architecture of your site.
  • Content — Content is the actual pages you will build.

Play the Web Page Types game. If you can recognize page types, you’ll be able to recognize what types of pages you need for your site.

How to Build a Website Step 4 — Build Your Website Page by Page:

Building a website requires you to work on one page at a time. To build your site you should be familiar with:

  • Design Basics — The elements of good design and and how to use it on websites.
  • Learning HTML — HyperText Markup Language or HTML is the building block of a web page. While it’s not absolutely required, you’ll do better if you learn HTML than if you don’t.
  • Learning CSS — Cascading Style Sheets or CSS is the building block of how pages look. And learning CSS will make it easier for you to change your site’s look when you need to.
  • Web Page Editors — Finding the perfect editor for your needs will help you learn design, HTML, and CSS.

How to Build a Website Step 5 — Publish Your Website:

Publishing your website is a matter of getting the pages you created in step 4 up to the hosting provider you set up in step 1. You can do this with either the tools that come with your hosting service or with FTP (File Transfer Protocol) clients. Knowing which you can use depends upon your hosting provider. Contact them if you are not sure.

How to Build a Website Step 6 — Promote Your Website:

The easiest way to promote your website is through search engine optimization or SEO. You build your web content so that it ranks well in search engines. This can be very difficult, but it is inexpensive and can have good results if you work at it.

Other ways to promote your site include: word of mouth, email, and advertising. You should include your URL on all professional correspondence and whenever it makes sense in personal messages. I put my URL in my email signature along with my email address.

How to Build a Website Step 7 — Maintain Your Website:

Maintenance can be the most boring part of website design, but in order to keep your site going well and looking good, you need to do it. Testing your site as you’re building it and then after it’s been live for a while is important. New devices come on the market all the time, and the browser makers are always improving their browsers. You should also work on content development on a regular basis. The more content you create and add to your site the more visitors you will get.

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