Making your own website has never been easier due to the many different types of web building software now available and a growing emphasis on user-friendliness. Familiarise yourself with the basics before getting started.
Dreamweaver and HTML editors
Adobe Dreamweaver is the industry standard for web design. It comes with a raft of advanced features such as built-in FTP, integrated CSS and PHP editors. Much of the coding is taken care of via a graphical editor, and HTML knowledge is helpful but not essential due to ready-made templates. It comes with a high price tag, but can be trialled for free for 30 days. Download the trial from the Adobe website, and opt for one of the ready-made web site templates to keep things simple.
There are also a multitude of free HTML “WYSIWYG” (What You See Is What You Get) editors, such as HTML-Kit and WebDwarf. These lack the power and flexibility of Dreamweaver. However, they are fine if you want to build your own website simply, quickly and cheaply, and are not fussed about functionality.
Content Management Systems
Open source content management systems (CMSs) offer a relatively simple and free way to start your own website, with excellent results and impressive features. They provide a “back end” graphical interface to your website, allowing you to add new content, such as web pages and blog posts, with ease. An increasing number of commercial websites now use open source CMSs.
The most popular, including WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, can be improved with extensions, modules and plug-ins to provide front end functionality such as tag clouds, search facilities and image galleries. This is great for the newcomer to web design as it means all the complex coding has already been taken care of.
There are also many free and paid-for themes to choose from, to help you get the look you want when you make your own homepage.
A note about hosting and domain registration
Unless you choose to create a website with a blogging service like WordPress.com or Tumblr.com, you are going to have to choose a web host in order to make your own web page. This is where you will place your website, usually by “file ftp’ing” to your web hosting. Popular hosting websites include Go Daddy and Tucows.
Most popular web hosts also double as domain registrars, through which you can secure the web address you want. The various web suffixes, for example “.com” and “.org”, can be bought for various annual costs.
Choose a web hosting package which suits you. Go for a high bandwidth package if you expect a lot of traffic, or large storage if you want to host your own media files.