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Beginners' guide to building a website

Getting stared with a website is easy, and you don’t have to be a design genius to get the best results. There are plenty of templates where the hard work has been done for you.

These days having a blog or personal website is all the rage.

There are basic personal sites where you can post pictures of events, parties or kids birthdays and keep people informed with what you’re up to. Or, you can use them to sell your professional side, giving examples of work or by keeping a professional journal of your achievements so any potential employer can see how great you are. As well as this the web gives you an opportunity to set up a worldwide business available 24 hours a day with very little time needed.

Getting stared with a website is easy and there are loads of ways to make sure that the design you choose is best for you. Firstly, you don’t have to be a design genius to get the best results, as there are plenty of templates where the hard work has been done for you.

You need to think about how much work you want to put in to your site before you begin and how much content you’re going to need and what type of thing you’re going to post. If you take a lot of pictures you’ll want to think about how to display those best and the same is true if you intend to write long text-based posts. Making the site as readable as possible for the people who drop by your site should be of paramount importance to you.

If you’re not that tech savvy or up for learning how to code HTML then perhaps one of the best template driven choices is Wordpress. There are two variants on offer from Wordpress, both of which are free.

You can host your own site or simply set up an account on the Wordpress site. The advantage of hosting yourself is that you can choose any web address that’s available and you’re in complete control of everything.

With a Wordpress hosted blog the address will be something like www.mysite.wordpress.com so less individual. However, whichever version of Wordpress you go for the main advantage of the system is the number of templates and plug-ins to choose from. With Wordpress there are hundreds of pre-designed sites that you can use to make your pages really look great. Best of all is the fact you can change the design of your site at the click of a button and everything will be formatted appropriately. If you don’t like the changes you simply select another template or revert back to your original.

A Wordpress site offers you massive flexibility and choice when it comes to design and you can have a website up and running in minutes should time be a factor. There are hundreds of widgets and templates that can help make the site more interactive or even help you run a complex ecommerce site with very little effort.

Take control

Of course, the way to completely take control of your website is to design it yourself with a tool like Adobe Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver can make it easy to create your own bespoke site, but naturally there will be a steep learning curve if you’ve never done any design before. Dreamweaver can help you take control of every aspect of site design and management, but you’ll have to work out how to implement everything yourself and host all the files on a web server.

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals of the application and deployed your website you can keep tweaking and improving it to your hearts content. Also, you’ll have gained yourself a skill that’s widely in demand and could lead to other work opportunities in the future.

You don’t have to spend any money at all if you don’t want as it’s possible to code HTML in any text editor, though naturally this can become incredibly complex if you want anything more than a really simple site. Alternatively, you could use something like Tumblr or Google Blogger - these sites give you less control over design, but do allow you to get up and running incredibly quickly. You can post updates and add content really easily from just about any device imaginable and they are designed to be easily shared amongst their relevant communities.

The things you need to take into account when designing your own site is how much work you want to put into the process and how much control you need. If you choose a site that’s hosted by a third-party for free you run the risk of losing out if the company goes bust or decides to turn the service off. However, if you go for a do-it-yourself tool you’ll always be in control, but it will cost you money.

Design tips

Whatever tool you choose to use to design your site there are some simple things to do and to avoid no matter how you make it. Firstly, it’s best to keep things simple and try not to plaster loads and loads of images everywhere. Make sure that the main content is easy to find and easy to read, don’t bury it in Google adverts or flashing images that may sound great, but really take away from the quality of your pages.

Keep things simple and remember to optimise the site for quick viewing by keeping image sizes down to a minimum. Also, gimmicks like white text on a black background can seem like brave and edgy design decisions, but for long form pieces of text they really are uncomfortable to read so steer clear of that. For search optimisation make sure that the topic you choose to write about is relevant to the site and keep on updating to help your site rise through up the search results rankings.

The best thing about the web is that you can make multiple changes for free to see exactly how they work so experiment with what works for you and your content.

You can make a really professional looking web presence nowadays incredibly quickly and in some cases completely for free. Making the right choices when you start off will let your site grow with you. If you intend to have just a simple blog presence then a template driven website will be more than adequate, however, if you might want to expand your site then consider some of the more technical options and be willing to get involved with the code at some point.

This article is part of the Dell Tech Zone series. Click here for more

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