So you want to set up a website? A professional quality website that doesn’t look like you threw it together in 10 minutes? If you don’t care about content or spending time on a site, stop reading.
NOTE: This is NOT a lesson in HTML, CSS, or Photoshop. If you don’t already have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS, read a book or website.
Choose a Topic
Before you fire up your text editor, decide what your site will be about. Use the same sort of skills you’d use to pick a topic for a report for school. Pick a subject, then slowly narrow it down until it fits your needs. For example, your site will be about Harry Potter. You probably won’t cover this entire subject, so we’ll narrow it down more. You decide it’ll be about the books, not the movies. You then decide you don’t want to cover any speculation or theories about the next book, and that you don’t want to have Harry Potter news (release dates and such). You finally say “My site will document every book, place, spell, etc. ever mentioned in the books.”
Choose a Name
It’s time to pick a name for your website. How does “Fluffy” sound? I’m joking, it needs to be much more professional then that. Think about the topic. It’s best if your site’s name at least vaguely says what your site is about. Humor is good, too. Sites can be called pretty ridiculous things, as long as you don’t go too far. Do NOT call your website PeanutButterAndJellyPizza if it’s about computer games. Well, actually, that might be a good name for a gaming site…
Whatever name you choose, make sure it’s available as a domain name. It’s best to get a domain name that matches your site’s name. For example: Webmonkey’s domain is www.webmonkey.com.
Another thing, don’t put “.com” at the end of your site’s name — especially if your domain isn’t like that. Example: If your domain is megageek.net, do not call your site Ultimate Computer Game Reviews.com. It’s dorky, and it confuses people. Another note involving domain names: If your domain is megageek.net (this is an example, it probably doesn’t exist), never refer to your site as MG.net unless you’ve actually registered that domain. You may, however, abbreviate your site’s name in the form “MG”.
Here are another two things you should know about site names and domain names:
- Your site’s name should be prominently displayed on your site as a banner or logo
- When it comes to domain names, “.com” is king. Try to use “.com” if you can, it’s easier for people to remember, and it’s more familiar to new users.
Get a Layout
It’s time to get a layout, or template as they’re sometimes called. For those of you who don’t know, a layout is a bunch of HTML, CSS, and images making up a sample website. Basically you change all the content, navigation links, site, name, etc. to fit your site. Don’t put much in the way of content in yet, just navigation and the other htings that’ll appear on every page. If your reading this, you probably don’t know how to make a layout from scratch, so you’ll want to visit the links section and look for a template.
The content is the most important part of any site.
Your content should be clear and easy to read. You should update your content regularly as well. Just because your site’s online, doesn’t mean you should never add to it again. Update it every week or two, depending on the site. Remember this: Endless Updates. If you don’t update, people won’t keep coming back.
You finished your site already? That was quick! You have enough content that the site will be a useful resource? When it comes to content, it’s quality and quantity. Well, if your ready to go live (not to be confused with Adobe’s GoLive software), continue reading.
Your webhost is where you’ll upload your site to. It will make your website available to the world. After all, it’s not doing much good sitting on your hard drive!
I recommend buying cheap hosting from a company like 1and1, and getting a domain name a well. There have been very few successful websites without domains. If you’re on a really tight budget, get a domain and use free hosting. I’m not joking! You can, for free, get a hosting account with no ads on it, at least 100 MegaBytes of storage, over 1GigaByte of bandwidth, a few e-mail accounts, DNS access, and cPanel. Just get a domain name (1and1 offers domain names for $6/year. Yes, that’s six dollars per year!) and use a free host (look in the links section) On our links section, we have NOT included hosts with forced ads or hosts that require monthly posts on their forum (though some require a few posts once at registration). Instead of paying $3-$20/month, you pay $6/year. Some of the hosts offer multiple plans and upgrades for more posts (one time, not monthly). You decide. We have found some good free hosts that are suitable for a real website. Just steer clear of Freewebs, GeoCities, Tripod, and others of the sort. Pick a host and get a domain.
It’s time to go live (not the software!)! Organize your files, fix bugs, and make last-minute changes. Fire-up your FTP client (I use FileZilla) and upload. From the moment the transfer completes, your site is online. you’re not done, though. Endless updates, remember?