How to Create My Own Website

By Ben Richard

Creating a website is not an easy task, even if you use templates instead of creating it from scratch. If you're game to pick up a few new skills and want to save on the expense of hiring a Web designer, consider creating your own website.

Step 1

Decide on your content. Making this decision early will allow you to structure the site based on its needs, instead of adding things piecemeal and spending extra time down the road fitting them in.

Step 2

Decide on features and a format. Knowing what features your site will have, such as comments and an RSS feed for a blog, or a shopping cart for an e-commerce site, is important before you begin designing. Always consider your audience and customers.Based on those features, you can start to formulate a format for your site, such as whether it will be multiple postings sorted by tags for a blog, or whether you'll need various categories for products.Consider whether your site will need to be structured for mobile users of iPhones and the like, or whether you'll only support full browsers.

Step 3

Choose a domain name and Web host. Take your time settling on the right domain name, as it will influence how easy it is for your readers to find your site and remember it, and is important in search results.In selecting your Web host, consider cost, storage space, bandwidth limitations and fees, server reliability, features and coding languages -- especially if you need PHP, Perl, or secure socket layer (SSL) -- for your site, and location. Some free or cheap hosts put their own ads on your pages.

Step 4

Sketch a base design on paper. You'll need to keep your audience in mind here in order to avoid problems later. Decide the basic format of your pages -- where the header will be, the content, logos, navigation menus and ads. This is a good time to gather some ideas about the look of the website, such as colors and backgrounds, and how your logo or brand will look.Consider how you browse the Web and make your page work with that. For instance, most readers of English scan left to right and top to bottom, so the top-left to the middle-right is considered prime real estate for your page. Put important elements like your logo in first-read spots.

Step 5

Begin your coding or creation for your homepage. If you use a graphical editor such as Dreamweaver, structure the page how you want it to look.Alternatively, if you prefer to type out the HTML code, begin with the basics -- A DOCTYPE declaration at the top, then html, head, and body sections. Add the other sections that you want to include within your pages and code the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) to achieve your desired layout.Start simple. Get the base layout together, and make the page functional before adding anything flashy, such as JavaScript or Flash elements.

Step 6

Buy or design any graphics you need for your page. You can design your graphics in a program like Photoshop or GIMP (see Resources). Pay attention to the size of the graphics after compressing them into JPEG, GIF or PNG formats -- graphics too numerous or too large will slow down the loading time and tarnish the browsing experience for your visitors.

Step 7

Upload your homepage and test it in multiple browsers after you have your Web host and domain name set. Many Web hosts offer SFTP (secure file transfer protocol) or FTP uploads for Web pages. Look for any errors in your coding or design here, repair, and reupload.

Step 8

Create content pages after you have your homepage set up. Once you're satisfied with the layout, colors, graphics, and navigation, the actual content of your site is easier to plug into additional pages.

Step 9

Define and link a privacy policy and contact page for your site. These are important steps for any website, which tell visitors how you handle any data collected, and how to reach you if anything is broken or rendering strangely. Write an "About" page that sums up the purpose of your site, if desired, its author -- you.

Step 10

Optimize for your visitors. If the majority of your visitors are browsing with a 1280x1024 resolution, scaling your background to match their resolution can save some loading time. Test your page loading speed and response time. Visitors are impatient, and dislike it when a site has a long delay before a link loads or the page scrolls. Be sure to keep an eye on accessibility and compatibility between browsers during optimization.