The Basics of Website Design
Identify the best domain address
Choose the domain that best reflects the identity of the person or the nature of the business intended. Once the domain has been secured, next find online server space to store the website files associated with this new domain. Some hosting companies (ISPs) offer free server space with the purchase of a domain. These are not without their limitations. The free space is located below their own domain e.g. www.hostingcompany.com/yourname. Most hosting companies that offer the www.yourname.com domain purchase options will also charge a small fee to rent space on their servers in the form of different packages to park the domain and website files. These hosting packages range from a small website containing a few pages to a major multi-level website for large corporations. The many options range from free to several hundred dollars a month. Some hosting providers have a user-friendly Control Panel indicating that their software is up-to-date and well-maintained which provides for ease of interaction and a positive customer experience. When choosing this host provider, look at their home page and ask if it is confusing or too crowded to understand? If so, this indicates lack of attention to the customer, and possibly out-of-date software. Look for simplicity and ease of use from the homepage.
Prior to the actual creation of the website, first identify what visual graphic and verbal message the website is to express. Next, write the web copy for each page that will determine the number of pages the site will require. This writing process will incorporate words which will create the “spider food” or metatags used by the search engine crawlers to drive traffic to a website. Careful editing of this copy--by more than one set of eyes-- will avoid costly errors in the web coding process. At this time, using the stated intention of the website, consider the current trends of color, the color’s message, then select the colors for the website. With this basic skeleton of these first ideas, create the wireframe or mockup, drawing the pages and navigation structure. This wireframe skeleton will expand as the project gains depth. At this point, one critical factor to consider is the final flow of the homepage. Draw a sketch of this page, how it is supposed to look with color, fonts, logos and images. Add the navigation structure with all the important information and links that will be needed. This wireframe or mockup determines the look of the website and how it will flow to the other pages.
Once the wireframe is approved, it is time to build the website using available software templates, or using a paid custom website designer and webcode expert. This choice will determine if the website will be canned or tailored to the wireframe as designed and intended. A multiple page website with lots of graphics, text and forms will require a person whose expertise is in this area. As part of their domain packages, most hosting companies offer web building tools in the form of templates to create your own website. This canned software has obvious limitations, but for a very simple website quite often a template is more than sufficient. Some offer a selection of fonts, graphics and colors. However, these lack the flexibility of a custom designed page, and might restrict the intended purpose of the website. If the decision is made to build the website from scratch, Dreamweaver is the most popular package for designing and building high quality websites. The more complex websites require custom building each page, line by line, with code. This process will require a web coder. For simple websites there are several tools such as Bluefish, Chameleon and several others.
Launch the website
When this process is completed, upload the coded pages to the assigned directory on the host server. Inside Dreamweaver is an integrated FTP program for the file upload. FTP software is offered from several host providers, or a small FTP program like FileZilla can be used to upload the files. Several online websites do offer free downloads of FTP software. After all the files are uploaded to the host server, the site is now live on the internet. Launch has commenced.