How to Create a Website
Designing Your Website
Look at websites with great designs and think about why they're great designs. It
usually comes down to the information, resources, links, and pages being laid out
in a way that is easy to see and use. To get ideas about how to design your own
site, look at sites which do similar things to get ideas about where you should
put different types of content.
Choose a Topic and Purpose
If you already have a fairly good idea about what your website will focus on, skip
this step. If not, here are some things to help you figure that out. First,
understand that there are billions of people on the Internet, and a large percentage
have websites. If you limit yourself to something that hasn't been done, you'll
never get started.
When you think, "Internet," what is the first thing that comes to your mind? E-commerce?
Music? News? Socializing? Blogging? Those are all good places to start. You could
create a website that's dedicated to your favorite band, and have a chat area where
people can talk about it.
If you're a news junkie, or want something less filtered than traditional media,
build a website and get publicly available feeds from news providers such as Reuters,
BBC, AP, and others. Build your own customized news aggregator (what used to go by
the quaint name of "newspaper"), then see and show all the news that's fit to digitize.
If you're creative at writing then you can start a blog where you can write about
anything you want and attract monthly readers!
Make a Plan
Building your website is going to take a commitment of time and possibly money, so
set a limit on both, and then dig in. The plan doesn't have to be a big, complicated
spreadsheet, or a fancy graphic presentation, but at the very least, you will want
to consider what it will do for you and the visitors, what you'll put on the website,
what goes where on the webpages.
If you intend to sell a product on your website, you will need to be able to accept
secure credit card payments. You can apply for a merchant account, which charges a
per-transaction fee, or use a free payment service like PayPal. Always read the fine
print carefully. Be aware that many credit facilities require you to give guarantees
for lost or damaged shipped items (look into insurance as well).
Never violate your visitors' trust. Respect their privacy. Spam, annoying pop-ups,
and irrelevant ads will hurt your credibility. A clear privacy statement is one way
to build your credibility. Provide a prominent link to your privacy statement from
every page on the site as well as from any location that you are asking your visitors
for personal information. Provide legitimate contact information online. If you need
to use ads on your website, explain to your visitors why, and show them that you're
doing your best to accommodate their visit. And mean it!
Gather the Content
There are lots of different types of content and many have their own considerations.
You'll need to figure out what's best for your website and your needs. Some things
to consider including:
• A store. If you want to sell things, you'll need to figure out how you
want the items to be available. If you have relatively few things to sell, you might
want to consider having a store with a hosting service.
are all well-established store hosts which let you sell a variety of items and set
your own prices.
• Media. Do you want to display videos? Music? Do you want to host your
own files or do you want them hosted somewhere else? Youtube and SoundCloud are great
examples of hosting options, but you'll need to be sure that the way you design your
website allows these media types to display correctly.
• Images. Are you a photographer? An artist? If you plan on putting
original images on your website, you might want to use a format that can help keep
them from getting stolen. Make sure the images are relatively small or that they are
hidden behind some Flash code, so as to keep them from being easily saveable.