Top article Jeremy ! I own a cosmetics company, pre start up and I am looking at a web presence. I want to keep costs down but quality very high due to the nature of my business, lipbalm. Can I run my own video ad on a homepage of any of the drag and drop site s? I will be creating one for initial social media marketing campaigns) I want it to start playing as soon as someone lands on the homepage. And are they mobile / cell friendly ? Thanks Paul
There is a lot of information to digest, and because of this, I suggest you read these tutorials over a number of days. To help you, I've separated them into different steps in the following table. Although some of the tutorials are quite short, you may need to spend several days on others. That's fine, in fact, I recommend you take your time so that you really understand each technology.
In terms of absolute design and development freedom, I recommend using MODX which is more a CMS and framework combined. It likes to market itself as a CMF. I used to use Wordpress for basic sites and MODX for anything more complex but over time clients come back asking for added functionality to their websites and I came to realise I could save more time overall just using MODX for everything. There are some other promising CMS options that have appeared too that are quite customisable such as Processwire, October CMS and Craft CMS (although the last one is paid).
My name is Steve Benjamins and I’ve designed and coded websites for the last 20 years (since I was 10 years old). My websites have been featured in Wired, The Next Web, Smashing Magazine, The Huffington Post and Forbes. I am the sole developer, designer and reviewer at Site Builder Report— you can read more about my story in my interview with IndieHackers.
Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools for tracking how people view your site. The Google Analytics Dashboard connects your WordPress site to Google for proper tracking. It also displays your traffic in your admin panel of WordPress in real-time. It's very useful if you want to plan content strategies or just see how people are accessing your content.
But testing gets complicated because some browsers only run on certain operating systems. Apple Safari runs on iOS and Mac OS, while Internet Explorer runs only on Windows. It's best to take advantage of services like Browsershots or Browserstack. Browsershots furnishes screenshots of your website as it will look in various browsers. Browserstack actually gives you full remote access to virtual machines so you can test your site in the most common environments. Alternatively, you can set up your own virtual machine, but that takes some expertise. (If you're going that route, Microsoft has some tools for developers including a ready-to-use virtual machine at modern.ie.)
If you’ve ironed out the details in Stages 1 and 2, then designing the home page and all subsequent sub pages should be straightforward. For example, knowing that the demographic of your target audience is single, female, middle-class, age 18 to 24, and college educated versus married, male, upper class, age 65 to 80, and retired definitely affects what design elements and applications to use.
When your website is ready for public viewing, you'll have to upload your webpages to your web server. You can buy space on a server from various providers (see How much does it cost to do something on the web?). Once you settle on which provider to use, the provider will email you the access information, usually in the form of an SFTP URL, username, password, and other information needed to connect to their server. Bear in mind that (S)FTP is now somewhat old-fashioned, and other uploading systems are starting to become popular, such as RSync and Git/GitHub.
In most cases the owner of a small business has so much on their plate that mastering the technical skills required for web development is far from a priority, and the great investment of time and money needed to learn how to build a website from scratch wouldn’t help this case. This is where Web Building Platforms come into the picture. There are two main types of platforms enabling website creation with minimal to no coding required.
Once you have an overview of your website plan/sitemap, you can drill down to the specifics of the content you need to create for a website launch. It will be important to create evergreen content (content that will not be changing much and will appear on the static pages) and also important to have fresh content appearing on your website on a regular basis.
With all that being said, I want to share some things you can do to improve your website’s SEO. To keep things simple, we’ll take an 80/20 approach here – as in 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. Yes, there are lots of tiny little tweaks you can make to marginally improve SEO – and if you’re curious about them, you might want to check out this set of tutorials.
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Given the role that the internet plays in our lives, the ability to build a web site seems like it should be as important as learning to read or write. Whether you’re aspiring to become a published author, record a CD, or build a business, the ability to build a web site is going to be an essential asset. There’s no way to really be relevant without it. But it’s not something that’s taught in school.
Personally, I find the free Simple theme to be enough for my needs. If you need additional features and even more flexibility, though, Ultra is my top recommendation. Note: Since Simple and Ultra are made by the same people and use the same foundation, you can start out with Simple and transfer everything you’ve created to Ultra if you end up needing it.
Great article! Having trawled the internet and read quite a few websites on how to build a website, I can honestly say this is the most comprehensive and easy to understand - to a complete novice! Your step-by-step guide is thorough and very informative and has given me the confidence to go ahead and try to set up my own business website ... A big THANK YOU!
Hey, Jeremy, thanks for an informative article. I'm planing to start my own blog but choosing the right hosting provider gets me a bit confused... I'm still a beginner at this, so would prefer something that would offer a free plan, at least for testing purposes. A (very!) user friendly interface is obviously a must... Could you please share some hosting companies that match my requests or at least point me in the right direction where to find them? Many thanks.
However, in 2018, a website building platform, also called a “content management system” (CMS), can be used to easily build and customize a website without having to use code. A website building platform is software that does all the complex work of coding for you, so you don’t need to learn how to create a website from scratch with code. It lets you build and edit a website through your internet browser, change your design and layout with the click of a button, and create pages and posts using a simple editor that is similar to most common text editors.
There are a number of free and commercial web editors available. If you use Windows, one of the best around is Microsoft Expression Web. This was a formerly commercial program that Microsoft now distributes for free, presumably because they no longer want to be in the web editor business. It is fully-featured and very polished (as befits software that was once sold in shops) with facilities that both new and experienced webmasters find useful. You can find a guide on how to use this program from my Expression Web Tutorial. The latter takes you through the process of designing a fully functional multi-page website that is mobile-friendly (that is, your site will work well on both desktop/laptop computers and the smaller screens of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets). Instructions on how to get the editor can also be found in that tutorial.
After all the work you put into it, I feel not a little stupid, in needing to ask you anything else. The truth is I am a slightly long in the tooth septuagenarian with about as much nous as someone dropping in on a day trip from the fourteenth century. I want to promote (tell as many people as possible) about my new book, and hopefully sell one or two.
The best place to find themes is through WordPress’s own Theme Directory. Search for the types of themes you’d be interested in. If you’re setting up a newspaper search ‘newspaper’, if you need a site for your café search ‘cafe’. There’ll be dozens, if not hundreds, of contenders. Clicking on a theme takes you to its own page where you can see user reviews and preview the theme in action.