Heading - Stage 1: Creating your website

Firstly, welcome to FGD's complete website design guide. This guide was created to enable you to learn how to create your own website and enhance it's chances of being seen on and making money on the web and all for FREE.

Sub heading - Before you get started

Before we start on the nitty gritty, I can not stress enough that the most important stage to building an effective Website is to clearly define your Website objectives. This must be done before you open your Dreamweaver Web authoring application or acquire your Web space.

Simply ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of your Website?
  2. What do you want to promote on your Website?
  3. What content to you want to include in your Website?
  4. Who are your target audience?
  5. What do you want your Website to accomplish?
  6. How will your target audience find your Website?

More in-depth questions:

  1. What are you going to do to make visitors stay at your site?
  2. What do you want visitors to do once they get to your site?
  3. How are you going to get people to want to return to your site?
  4. How are you going to monitor the success of your website?

These questions form a firm foundation for you to build your new site on. Experience has taught me that spending a bit of time answering these questions will save you much time in the long run. I learned the hard way! Next, plan how you are going to layout the pages of your site. I normally do this using pen and paper. Make rough sketches that show what content is going onto what page.

Two issues that need to be aware of in the early design stages of design are usability and accessibility. I could quite easily create two more Websites that explain these two topics alone; however, at the very least, a small section on each that will give you a basic understanding as to what they are.

Usability is often the most neglected aspect of Web design, yet in many ways it is the most important. The Web offers people immense freedom and many choices so no one will put up with a poorly designed site. If the users of your site have to work too hard to achieve their goal (the reason why they are on your site) or even worse, fail to accomplish their goal; they will leave and never return.

Your design needs to have a clear and easy to use navigation system. The ones you decide to use must enable the user to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. Navigational systems are the features on a site that tell the user where they are, where to go and how to get there. Exactly the same information we need if we want to get from say one town to another. The more time and effort the user consumes trying to work out how to use your site's navigation to find what they are looking for, the less time they will spend buying goods and services. Don't make your visitors feel as though they are embarking on a quest for the Holy Grail, when they visit your site.

This is usability in a nutshell and I mean a nutshell! Jakob Nielsen, the world's leading expert on Web usability, has a site dedicated to this subject called useit.com. It is definitely worth a visit.

Accessibility refers to how available your site is. With the internet rapidly growing in popularity and consequently the number and type of people using it, the fact that a Web site looks good is no longer an acceptable demonstration of good Web site design.

These days it is not just a user or client requirement, but in many cases also a legal requirement that Websites are accessible to all who have access to the Internet. The people who are most affected by Websites that are poorly designed are those who have difficulty in seeing and hearing; or users who cannot use a mouse. These types of users are those with either disabilities, low spec equipment or restricted movement due to their environment.

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), have developed Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (1999) for designing Web pages that are accessible by the types of user previously mentioned. For more information on how you can make your Website more accessible, visit the Web Accessibility Initiative Website.

Sub heading - Step 1: Getting started

Firstly I suggest (if you haven't already) at this point you get a notepad and pencil and think of ideas for the layout of your site. Once you have planned your site you can begin (remember to add an About Us and Contact Us page to your website). To start you will need a Web Creation and Managing Application, also known as a Web Authoring Tool, for this site Adobe Dreamweaver 8 (formerly Macromedia Dreamweaver 8) was used but you can create website's in many other programs like FrontPage, Kompozer and even Microsoft Word.To get a completely FREE web authoring tool try KompoZer, this is a complete web authoring system that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing. KompoZer is designed to be extremely easy to use, making it ideal for non-technical computer users who want to create an attractive, professional-looking web site without needing to know HTML or web coding> To download Kompozer, click here. Alternatively, to download a FREE 30 day trail version of Adobe Dreamweaver 8 click here. If you don't want to install new software on your PC another way to create a website is by using an online website builder these can be used for FREE at sites like Freewebs and Geocities. Once you have a web creation and management application or registered with an online website builder you can start to create your site.

TipOnline website builders include all aspects of web design from creating to publishing your site but you will might have limitations on the website's address. If you choose Geocities for example and called your site Cars your web address would appear as http://www.geocities.com/Cars/ additionally adverts may be added to your page by the builder provider.

Sub heading - Step 2: Authoring tool help

Start the web creation and managing application (Dreamweaver, FrontPage, Kompozer, Microsoft Word) or login into the online website builder. If your using Dreamweaver, FrontPage or KompoZer at this point you don't have to be connected to the internet, your probably thinking '"What I'm suppose to do now! " .Firstly with Dreamweaver, FrontPage, Kompozer and some other web creating application tools you don't need to know any HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language), this is the language used to create web documents, secondly if it is Dreamweaver, FrontPage or Kompozer press the F1 button on your keyboard for details on how to use the application, if your using an online website builder there will be a help options available. If you are using an online website builder please go to - STAGE 2.

TipAll help suggestions can be printed and they make a good future reference source.The best way to learn a new application is to simply start it, and just take your time clicking on menu options and see what happens.

Sub heading - Step 3: Cascading Style Sheets

Back in the 90's web developers realized that updating large file website's individual was not only time consuming but frustrating, so began the era of stylesheet's. Basically a CSS is one single file that you can link to your web page and you simple update the style sheet and it will update the whole website in one go. Other benefits of CSS are pages download faster, sometimes by a s much a s 50% and the look of your site is kept consistent throughout all the pages that work off the same stylesheet. To learn more about CSS and get a FREE tutorial click here.

Sub heading - Step 4: Content Management Systems

If you are thinking of running a large scale business website then you may need to think about a CMS. A CMS supports the creation, management, distribution, publishing, and discovery of corporate information. It covers the complete lifecycle of the pages on your site, from providing simple tools to create the content, through to publishing, and finally to archiving. It also provides the ability to manage the structure of the site, the appearance of the published pages, and the navigation provided to the users. There are a wide range of business benefits that can be obtained by implementing a CMS, including, streamlined authoring process, faster turnaround time for new pages and changes, greater consistency, improved site navigation, increased site flexibility, support for decentralised authoring and increased security. To learn more about CMS and get a FREE CMS of your own click here.

TipIf you are doing a small website or personal website, CMS is not advised.

Sub heading - Step 5: Publishing

Once you have created your site you need to publish it on the web.If you are using an online website builder your site will be published automatically. If you are using Dreamweaver, FrontPage, etc., you will need to upload (copy your web files from your machine to the internet) your web pages. Firstly if your using a web creation and managing application you will need to buy your web address (example - www.mywebspace.com) which can be purchased for as little as 7($14) for a year, for more information visit - Dotster. If your using an online website builder then this is done automatically for you. To find available names, prices and who owns a website visit - Whois. If you are purchasing an address try to add the product you are selling in the address (if you are selling cars for example try and include the word cars in the address - www.bestcars.com) as this will help get higher ratings with search engines.

Sub heading - Step 6: Assigned space

Now you have your website name you will need assigned web space to upload it to the internet (not needed with online web builders). To access a list of FREE assigned space available click here. If you used an online website builder then your space is already assigned but will be limited compared some other services.

Sub heading - Step 7: FTP

Once you have your web space and address you will need to upload your files to the internet, to do this you will need a FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program.This program basically just moves your files from your PC to the internet. You can get a FREE FTP program at Smartftp, CoffeeCup and Classic FTP. All FTP programs come with help guides to get you started.

Now your website is completed, your next step is to learn how to optimise it by reading Web Design Guide STAGE 2: Optimising your Website

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