How to build and design your own website for free?
If you have a business, you should own a website. Creating and designing a website is very easy today. You can build your own website for free. Creating your own website isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. You could soon have it up and running – and the process doesn’t have to involve learning mind-boggling computer code.
There are many facilities for building and designing your own website for free on your computer. If you have an Apple Macintosh, it might well have come with iWeb (software for building websites) built in.
Several companies will give you some web space and host your site for nothing. Moonfruit, Google Sites and Mr Site are some of the most popular.
This tutorial shows you how to make or create your own website for free. It is intended for the beginner and layperson, taking you step by step through the whole process from the very beginning.
1. Get Your Domain Name
The first thing you need to do before anything else is to get yourself a domain name. A domain name is the name you want to give to your website.
To get a domain name, you have to pay an annual fee to a registrar for the right to use that name. Getting a name does not get you a website or anything like that. It's just a name. It's sort of like registering a business name in the brick-and-mortar world; having that business name does not mean that you also have the shop premises to go with the name.
You will need to know the steps to registering a domain name and the things you need to look out for when registering.
It may also be wise to take a look at some of the Important Precautions to Take When Buying a Domain Name, just so that you don't commit the same mistakes that some newcomers make when buying a domain name.
2. Choose a Web Host and Sign Up for an Account
A web host is basically a company that has many computers connected to the Internet. When you place your web pages on their computers, everyone in the world will be able to connect to it and view them. You will need to sign up for an account with a web host so that your website has a home. If getting a domain name is analogous to getting a business name in the brick-and-mortar world, getting a web hosting account is analogous to renting office or shop premises for your business.
After you sign up for a web hosting account, you will need to point your domain to that account on your web host.
3. Designing and Creating your Web Pages
Once you have settled your domain name and web host, the next step is to design the web site itself. In this article, I will assume that you will be doing this yourself. If you are hiring a web designer to do it for you, you can probably skip this step, since that person will handle it on your behalf.
Although there are many considerations in web design, as a beginner, your first step is to actually get something out onto the web. The fine-tuning can come after you've figured out how to get a basic web page onto your site. One way is to use a WYSIWYG ("What You See Is What You Get") web editor to do it. Such editors allow you to design your site visually, without having to muck around with the technical details. They work just like a normal wordprocessor.
There are many commercial and free web editors around. For those who don't mind spending money on a good commercial web editor, one of the most highly-regarded WYSIWYG web editors is Dreamweaver.
If you prefer to use free software, you can find a complete tutorial on using KompoZer, a free WYSIWYG web editor.
There are many other web design software around. If you prefer not to use either of the above, you can find some others.
After this you might want to read something about Appearance, Usability and Search Engine Visibility in Web Design as well.
An integral part of web design is search engine readiness. Search engine promotion does not start after the web site is made. It starts at the web design stage.
There are many other issues regarding the design of web pages. The above will get you started. However, if you have the time after you get something out onto the web.
4. Testing Your Website
Although I list this step separately, this should be done throughout your web design cycle. I list it separately to give it a little more prominence, since too few new webmasters actually perform this step adequately.
You will need to test your web pages as you design them in the major browsers: the latest versions of Internet Explorer (version 9 at the time of this writing), Firefox, Opera, Safari and Chrome. All these browsers can be obtained free of charge, so it should be no hardship to get them. Unfortunately, directly testing your site in all these browsers is the only way you can really be sure that it works the way you want it to on your visitors' machines.
If you want to improve the chances that your website will work in future versions of all web browsers, consider validating the code for your web pages. In layman's language, this means that you should check that the underlying code of your web page, called "HTML" and "CSS", have no syntax errors. You don't actually need technical knowledge of HTML and CSS to validate the page, since you can use one of the numerous free web page validators around to do the hard work. On the other hand, if the validator tells you that your page has errors, it may sometimes be hard to figure out what's wrong (and whether the error is actually a serious one) if you don't have the requisite knowledge. Having said that, some validators actually give concrete suggestions on how to fix your code, and one of them, called "HTML Tidy", is even supposed to be able to fix your code for you.
5. Collecting Credit Card Information, Making Money
If you are selling products or services, you will need some way to collect credit card information.
If you need advertisers for your website, a list of advertisers and affiliate programs can be found from internet. Those companies are on the constant lookout for new web publishers to display their advertisements.
6. Getting Your Site Noticed
When your site is ready, you will need to submit it to search engines like Google and Bing.
In general, if your site is already linked to by other websites, you may not even need to submit it to these search engines. They will probably find it themselves by following the links on those websites.
Apart from submitting your site to the search engine, you may also want to consider promoting it in other ways, such as the usual way people did things before the creation of the Internet: advertisements in the newspapers, word-of-mouth, etc. There are even companies on the Internet, like PRWeb, that can help you create press releases, which may get your site noticed by news sites and blogs. You can also advertise in the various search engines.
Naturally the above guide is not exhaustive. It is a distillation of some of the essential steps in getting started with your site. However, the above tutorial should be enough to help you put your website on the Internet.