How To Design a Website

It’s decided: you want to create a website. Whether you are a beginner, an advanced user or have a solid knowledge in the field, there are many solutions to get you started.

Has the idea been in your head for a long time? Do you want to please your loved ones or highlight your passion? Or do you need it for your professional activity? You can create your website today. Often called a website by misuse of language, a website is technically made up of a set of HTML files linked by hypertext links and stored on a server, that is to say a computer permanently connected to the Internet. It is this set that makes it possible to generate the web pages that are consulted with a browser such as Chrome, Edge or Firefox. But you still have to find the right solution to create this famous site. The one that suits your knowledge but is also suitable for the site you have imagined. Either you don’t want to take care of no technical aspect, or you want to control all aspects of the site from A to Z and therefore “get your hands dirty”. In this case, you must familiarize yourself with the main principles of the Web.

Basics of designing a website

Whatever the solution chosen for the creation of your website, from the simplest to the most complex, all are based on the same principles.

Imagine the structure of the site
This is the most important step, the one that will determine the relevance of your website. It is necessary here to imagine the contents of the home page (the Home page) and the tree structure of the pages which result from it. The organization of these pages will make it easier to see when it comes to integrating the content you want to publish. It is also at this stage that you can define, depending on the content you want to publish, whether you want to create a website rather than a blog that is simpler and more practical to update (read our selection of free services to create a blog ).

Register a domain name
You want to give your site a specific name so that it can be found quickly on the web. You need to register a domain name with a registrar. This is a company that will take care of all the steps for you. There are dozens of them with, among the best known , Gandi , OVH , iOnos (formerly 1&1) or even Domain.com to name but a few. Please note that this service is chargeable. If you opt for a turnkey platform, you can choose your own domain name or attach it to the name of the chosen platform. This simple solution is also free.

Find a host
To be visible online, your website must be installed on servers connected to the Internet. You can host it on a computer at home, but it must therefore remain on and connected to the Web at all times. Furthermore, in the event of a breakdown of the machine or one of its components (such as a hard disk), your site will no longer be accessible. If you are using an off-the-shelf platform, finding a host is pointless. Your site will be hosted on its own servers. Finally, for more experienced users, most registrars (like those mentioned above) also offer site hosting solutions. Again, the service is not free and is characterized by a subscription over one or more years. It’s up to you to compare for the most interesting offer.

Supply and maintain the site
Once all the previous steps have been validated, all that remains is to create the website with the content you want to publish. It will also be necessary to update it regularly so that your visitors come to connect to it but also so that the referencing operated by search engines (Google in particular) does not rank you at the bottom of the results pages.

What are the solutions to create a website?
Depending on your level of expertise and the time you wish to devote to the development and maintenance of the site, you can thus orient yourself towards a turnkey solution where all the tools, simple to use, are made available to you in order to let you focus on creation and content. More experienced users can turn to more powerful platforms that also offer creation and maintenance tools or rely on content management software. Finally, if you have a solid knowledge, you can also write or modify the HTML code that makes up your web pages yourself.

An all-in-one platform?
There are several such as Jimdo , Wix , Weebly or even Google Sites (read our selection of free services ). Main advantage of these platforms: you don’t have to worry about any technical aspect. The one you choose takes care of everything: domain name, hosting, design tools, etc. On your end, you just have to provide the content. Some online services even offer “all-inclusive” packages for small businesses and freelancers. This is the case of Jimdo , for example, which takes care of the legal text and the establishment sheet (mandatory), but also links to social networks and the creation of the logo.

With a CMS platform
To design and maintain your website you can also use platforms such as Joomla , WordPress or Drupalto only cite a few. This is CMS, (Content Management System or content management system in French). These tools, to be installed most of the time on your computer, allow you to design and update your site. You can thus work offline – without being connected – and send the modifications to the server where the site is hosted whenever you want. Rather powerful and allowing to design complex websites, these tools are intended for experienced users. They sometimes require “getting your hands dirty”, which requires more technical knowledge (language, HTML, CSS, Javascript, etc.). In addition, if you want to create an e-commerce site, there are dedicated tools for managing a product catalog, a shopping cart, an online payment system or order tracking. The main e-commerce engines areWix eCommerce , Prestashop , Shopify or WooCommerce . Finally, if you want to create an online community around a forum, the main forum engines are phpBB , vBulletin , XenForo or MyBulletinBoard (MyBB).

Starting from zero
If you choose to host your website, it will be necessary to create the files necessary for its operation. For this, it will first be necessary to learn the HTML language at least but fortunately, there are many tutorials on the net. Several solutions are thus available to you.

By using a web application framework , that is to say an environment in a programming language allowing to create dynamic websites, provided you know how to code.
Using a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor. This is software for creating web pages visually by placing objects and controls. The software is responsible for generating the HTML code automatically. This is a very convenient solution for building web pages, as the complexity is largely hidden. This method can be restrictive if the editor does not allow you to achieve what you want. A knowledge of the HTML language is also desirable in order to be able to master the more advanced editing options of the software, in particular making it possible to manually modify style attributes. The best known is Adobe Dreamweaver , paid orBlueGriffon , KompoZer , Brackets and Aptana Studio (free).

By editing the HTML files “by hand” , i.e. by entering the HTML code in a text file using an HTML editor in text mode. This solution is by far the most tedious (despite the relative simplicity of the HTML language), but remains the best way to learn how to create a site, to understand how it works, and thus to be able to create a Optimized and clean code. The main tools are SublimeText , Notepad++, Visual Studio Code or Atom .

Eleanore Frinqois

Eleanore Frinqois, Lead Editor at BusinessGrowthCoaching.co.uk is a business leader with over 30 years in both start-up and enterprise level organisations. Previously Operations Directer at a £1.8BN media group, alongside setting-up and later selling 3 digital brands - Eleanore has expertise across all aspects of business growth.

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