Step 7. Building the Website

Now, we are going to discuss the tools and ways to build a website and the common standards for a good web design.  You don't need to become a webmaster, a computer geek or a web design expert, to earn an income and be profitable, but you do need to follow some basic guidelines, or you just won't get a good ranking in the search engines and people probably won't like your pages.

For the most part, in order to build a web business, you'll need to learn the basics of web site design, using a web editor.  But don't panic: if you can use Microsoft Word, you already know much of what you will need to know.  Don't listen to teh computer geeks who try to intimidate you with "you will need to learn html, javascript, ASP, XML and AJAX before you can make a website.  Simply put, they're just being jerks and they are wrong.  They just don't want any competition.  Most of the web editing tools are very easy to use and are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get).  That means, just like Word, you can type, drop and drag, copy and past images, etc., building your website visual.

Of course, understanding some of what does on behind the scenes in the code is very helpful and over time you will need to learn some of that.  But the simple aspects of web design may well meet your web business's needs.

 

The checklist back on this page (Step 5) listed some of the major  items you'll need to download (and in a few cases purchase).

Here's the step by step approach to building your website

  1. Install your web editor, FTP client and WAMP or XAMP (Apache-MySQL-PHP). See this page about choosing a web editor.
  2. Be sure you have any other programs you'll need (Notepad and a graphics editor are necessary)
  3. Download the appropriate free tutorials (see the resources / tutorials section) to help you learn)
  4. Find a simple CSS-based template online to use, so you don't need to start from scratch.  One may be built into your web editor.
  5. Edit the CSS template page to customize it for your website. Be sure to
  6. Sign up with your affiliates and ad sevice programs (like Google's Adsense) if you haven't done so already.  Get the HTML code and add that to the CSS template you are creating.
  7. Save it to make it your own template.
  8. Build the top level pages: home page, search page, feedback page and your top product or service pages.
  9. Start writing the content for your deeper level pages.
  10. If you will be using dynamic pages, databases, etc., start writing that code, or find already written scripts online (usually free) to install and test.
  11. Test and debug all links and functions (locally is best!)
  12. FTP (upload) and test again!

The best tools and sources

  • Standards: Covered earlier, but still relevant. What are the standards I should follow? Which matter and which are trivial?
  • Tools:
    What tools and programs do I need?
  • Content:
    What is content, why do I need it?
  • Learn HTML or use an editor?
    WYSIWYG v. HTML editors
    All about editors and how to chose one
    • Dreamweaver, now called Adobe Creative Suite 4, Adobe CS4 Web Standard - the top notch tool for web design professionals; also horrifically expensive.
    • ExpressionWeb 2 from Microsoft (formerly called FrontPage ), good, solid web design tool for most people, moderately prices (around $100 on sale)
    • Free editors
  • How design the website
    • Choose a design or layout
    • Templates
    • Navigation
  • Interactive (or Dynamic) Websites
    What are PHP, ASP, ColdFusion, Flash and JSP?
    How do I do it?
  • Database-Driven Websites
    What are databases and why or when do I need one?
    MySQL, Postgre, SQLServer?
  • Fonts:
    Font type:
    The top ten most popular fonts use on websites in January 2009 are:
  • Font sizes: a significant percentage of the population has trouble reading anything below 14 point times on paper. Screens are less readable than paper, because of their lower resolution. Better than simply using 14pts as the default font, with CSS you can specify font size as a percentage of the font size of a parent element.
     
  • Look and feel - how do you want to lay out the pages? Style? Colors? Buttons? For tutorials about how to design a website and lay it out, click here.
     
  • Other topics to consider:
    • Navigation - How will visitors find their way from one page to the next?
    • Organization - How will the pages be grouped? By topic? What are the topics and hierarchy?
    • Files - Will their be any files (documents, pdf's, music, pictures, video, etc. ) to download?

Legal Standards - While there are few "official" standards, the average internet surfer, by now,  has quite a bit of experience with other websites before visiting yours.  Consequently, he or she will have expectations about many functions and features.  Adhering to at least the basic commonly accepted standards will result in users that are able to navigate your site better and are more likely to return. Click here for a list of the defacto standards.

Standards to consider

  • Screen resolution:
    While it is impossible to design a website to look the same in every browser, platform and screen resolution, if you use a fluid, tableless CSS layout for your design, with % widths, it will automatically expand and contract to fit the visitors browser settings.

    I find it is best to use CSS to design for the 1024x768 setting and ensure it contracts properly, or 'transforms gracefully', to the 800x600 setting.

    See this page for more information.