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4 steps away from your own website
In the last decade, the Internet has become one of the most important and effective platforms in which to promote yourself and your products. But if youíre not an experienced webmaster, getting such a project underway can seem a bit overwhelming. However, this article will show you how such a project can become both a fun and an enriching experience for anybody who wants to create his or hers own website. You will learn how to built and maintain a practical and efficient website for all your visitors to enjoy.
The first and undoubtedly most important, but often forgotten, step is drawing up a plan. In this stage of the process, it is the time to lay out the details of your website project. Of course your website is a work in progress, and you will most likely change many things along the way, but if you do not have a clear idea of the direction you want your project to go in, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the magnitude of such an ambitious project and give it up all together. Here are a few things I strongly suggest you do not overlook when planning for you Internet project:
Give yourself a deadline:
Of course this is not set in stone and there are no consequences for not finishing in time. But it is a good idea to set deadlines in order to maintain some sort of order in your project.
Make a list of people who can help:
We all have that friend or relative who is good with computers or even an old college buddy who has a knack for writing articles. You can ask them if they can help you in any of the aspects of your project.
Make a budget:
How much are you I willing to invest is an important question you must ask yourself at this stage. You will have to do a bit of research at this point. Again, none of the decisions you take on are set in stone, but having a good idea of how much designing your website, registering you domain name or hosting you website will cost is an important part of the first step.
Define your website:
A few questions you should ask yourself at this point are what will the overall theme of the website be and who is your intended public. A good idea for a first website would be to build it around a passion of yours.
Plan the overall look of your website:
Without getting into specific detail, such as logos, pictures or color scheme, it is a good idea at this stage to have a clear idea of what you want your website to look like. Depending on the overall theme and nature of you website, you will have to decide on the look you will want to achieve. For example, a site talking about your favorite sport or television series will not have the same look as a website promoting business related books.
Decide how much time you want to put in:
Finally, in this step you will have to take some time and think about how much of the work you would like to do yourself and how much of it is going to be done by professionals. There are certain aspects of a website that are more time consuming than others, so you will want to spend your time on the things you deem most important.
If youíre having problems with this stage, donít get discouraged. Like I said earlier, it is without a doubt the most difficult stage in the process. While you can have professional do things for you in subsequent stages, deciding the overall look and theme of your website is a decision you have to take all on your own.
The next step in creating a popular website your visitors will consistently come back to is to offer them the information they need through useful and up-to-date content. If you have already defined a clear picture of what your website is about in the first step of the process, you can now easily understand what your potential visitors are looking for. You should also decide at this point, in what way you would like communicate this information. Articles and tutorials are a great way of offering free and compelling information to your visitors.
There are numerous website that offer articles you could use on your website. You can browse through an extensive collection of articles and add them to your website. As long as you follow the guidelines set by the website and the respective authors, you may use these articles on your site as a way to offer compelling content for you readers. There are several of these article directory websites out, such as goarticles.com, easyarticles.com and articledashboard.com just to name a few. It may also be a good idea to write your own articles. This isnít as difficult as it may seem, especially if your siteís theme is based on a subject youíre particularly passionate about. You may even share your articles on these article directory sites. In return, your article may be published on other websites with an active hyperlink to yours.
You may also have a product to sell or to promote. Even though this part of your website is indented to get you a profit, this does not mean you canít offer any relevant free information to your user. In fact, offering the reader a good and honest review of both the pros and cons of purchasing such a product can be a great way of concluding sales.
Another great way of helping your visitors in their search for answers is by redirecting them to other websites that offer complementary information. You should however note that asking for permission to link to these websites is highly recommended and is the ethical and acceptable way of doing things.
As important as the content is in getting your readers to come back to your site, the graphics and overall appearance of the website is just as important in creating a great first impression. Everything, from the color scheme, the graphics used, such as your logo, to your picture selection all work together toward achieving the look you ultimately want your website to have. The important thing is not to get carried away with the graphics on your website. If you take a look at any corporate website on the Internet, you will notice they have a nice clean look, relying on nicely positioned photos and carefully selected graphics. You should also try to remain fairly consistent in your overall layout. Essentially, every page on you website should look the same. This will maximize your sites usability, allowing visitors to navigate with ease throughout your website.
One option can be to use templates that can be either found for free on the net, or that come with software you may purchase. It should be noted that this will require some form of coding skill to add the content you need for your website. You must also realize that finding a template that perfectly matches your needs may be hard to find, but remains a viable solution for your first website. Now for those of us who want to create a customized website that will suit our requirements, hiring a professional designer is another possibility. Of course, this can cost a considerable amount of money in the long run, especially if you plan on creating more than one website. Therefore, learning how to create simple graphics for your website is a great way of saving money that could eventually be spent more wisely on a good hosting company for example.
Mastering a photo editing program such as Photoshop may take several years, but creating simple graphics such as a logo, a banner or a content box is possible with a little help and practice. A great way of learning to design graphics for websites is with the help of tutorials. You can find loads of free tutorials on sites like tutorialoutpoust.com, pixel2life.com, good-tutrorials.com and many more. With a step by step visual approach, youíll be creating beautiful graphics in no time.
With your content and graphics now ready, you can now move on to the next step of creating the actual website. You must code everything into a language called HTML (HyperText Markup Language) that Internet browsers can recognize. Now any experienced programmer can manually code HTML using a text editor such as Notepad. You may try your hand at manually coding a website if youíre up for a challenge. You may be able to code a simple website using free online courses such as the ones we find at w3schools.com.
Of course, these days theyíre exists a multitude of software such as Dreamweaver that can help you program entire websites quicker and more efficiently. Like Photoshop, it may take a while before you get the hang of this program, but you may easily create a simple and appealing website that fits your immediate needs with the help of free online tutorials on websites such as pixel2life.com and many more.
Another option would be to have a professional programmer create a website to your specifications, but again this can be quite costly in the long run. It all depends on your budget and the nature of your intended website. If itís a commercial website, you may feel that investing in a designer and programmer may be worth it because there is a possibility you may make the money back fairly quickly.
Get up and running:
At this stage of the process, you are just one step away of realizing your dream of having our very own website. Once your website is ready, it is time to get your pet project out there to the World Wide Web, for the whole world to see.
This is the time for you to choose where you are going to put your site. There are multitudes of hosting services available for you to choose from, but it is important to do so according to your requirements. There are many places on the web where you can host your website for free. Of course, there will be some conditions imposed on you in return, such as adding an advertising banner.
If you have an Internet connection, your Internet Service Provider will most likely have a space where you could place your website for free. Although limited in space, this can be a viable second option for your very first personal website. You could also use this space to test out your website. If you plan on operating a commercial and professional looking website, you will have to purchase space from a hosting service. Depending on your needs, there are an endless amount of hosting packages that will be offered to you. The size of your website and the amount of visitors you expect are some of the factors you must consider before signing-up with any hosting service. I recommend using Godaddy.comís hosting service. They offer several packages to choose from, all of which are relatively cheap and reliable.
This is also the stage where you must register a domain name. Your domain name will be unique name (address) that will best represent your website. A good tip is to keep the name relatively short, so that your viewers will remember it the name next time they want to visit your website. For personal websites, a good idea would be to use your name. As for business related websites, this stage may be a bit trickier because a lot of the best domain names have already been taken. This is where your creativity comes into play. Once youíve done your research and have come up with a good name, I once again recommend visiting Godaddy.com and learn more about their offers.
Maintaining you website:
After all that hard work, you finally have your website up and running. At this point in the project, you can take a breather and be proud of what you have accomplished, but you also have to keep in mind that it is crucial to your websiteís success that you maintain your website. In fact, maintaining your website is perhaps the most important aspects of running a website. Some of the steps you will have to take are: making sure your links remain functional and keeping your content up-to-date. Aside from the fact that frequently updating your websiteís content will help you with your ranking in search engines; it will also benefit the lifeblood of your website, your users. Offering useful and up-to-date information to your visitors will inevitably keep them coming back for more.
About the Author: Josh Green is a senior editor for AssociateInsider.com. Visit the Associate Insider website today for this and many more informative articles, stunning web design tutorials and reviews of the best tools available.