Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to Make a Website

Having trouble making your own website and don't know where to start? Read on!

Think of idea for your new website. If you already know what you want to make your website about, skip this step. Search other band sites for layout ideas. Brainstorm and write down all of your ideas, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. There's no better place than the Internet to turn an idea into gold. You can also get help by searching the web with "website ideas".
Identify your market. What kinds of people would each of your website ideas serve? Some websites, like Yahoo or Google, are as general as it gets, while other sites, like Weebles, serve a very specific bunch. Write down the target market next to each of the ideas on your list. Conduct market research--Who is your audience? What do they do? How old are they? What are their other interests? All of this information can help you make your website more useful to you.
Do keyword research to determine if other people are searching for your topics and learn more about your potential clients. There are many free keyword tools to help you get more information about your topic. You will need to find keywords that are in demand (people are looking for it) yet have some chance of finding your site. Like a site on web hosting is too broad of a topic. Forum webhosting is a little better (narrower) topic.
Figure out your commitment. How much time and money are you willing to put into your website? You can start and run a website for free, but the more money you want to make from your site, the more time and money you'll have to invest. If you do not care too much about making money (like if you're just interested in showing off your dried bug collection) you can get away with free web hosting and sporadic maintenance.
Content sites will require less investment, but you will also face more competition, since anyone can start a content site. To make money from this kind of site, you provide information and generate income from the traffic you receive through advertising. The trick also will be to 'spin' your content and use specific keywords to narrow down your topic and write high quality content directed to specific people searching for those specific keywords.
E-commerce sites, which sell products, will need more maintenance and attention. You will also need to think about shipping, sales, order form security, inventory updates, and everything that a person with an offline storefront would have to manage.
You can also sell other people's products which will let you make money without investing in any products or worrying about shipping.
Narrow down your list. Which ideas stand to make the most profits? Which ideas require the most commitment? Which ideas look like they'd be fun to pursue? You will be spending time working on your website, so choose the idea you are most passionate about (that is also profitable and practical for you).
Register a domain name (one that's easy to remember and spell) and choose a web host. The best domain name also includes your main keywords and some variation of what solution you provide. You can use a domain availability tool to find an available domain name. For more complicated websites, be willing to shell out the extra bucks; or, you can opt for a free web hosting, which will probably mean having a URL like www.yourdomain.webhostname.com and have ads all over your website. Read the fine print.
Research online website building services - you may wish to learn HTML or CSS code, but there are other ways to make a site for people more familiar with desktop publishing software.
Build your website. Here you have a few different options.
Get a website-building program and do it yourself. While this might work for your dried bug page, if you are unsure of your design eye and ability, then it's probably not the best choice if you're trying to make a sharp, professional impression (especially if you're trying to get people to part with their money).
Learn a programming language (or two, or three) and build a website from scratch.
HTML is incredibly easy to learn, and if you are up to it, you will be able to tweak your web design any way you want, and you would not have to pay anybody else to update or change your site.
XHTML is the new web language set by W3C's standards. Almost identical to HTML, it follows a stricter set of rules for marking up information - what this means, for the most part, is minor changes to the way you write code.
CSS, which stands for "Cascading Style Sheets", gives more flexibility for styling the HTML.
A browser sided scripting language, such as JavaScript, allows you to make your page interactive.
A server sided scripting language (PHP, ASP with JavaScript or VB Script or Python) can be used to make things on your site move and edit or create forums.
Wordpress is another great option for building website. Wordpress is a free application that can be installed on your web server and make updating and organizing content very easy.
AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) is a technique of using a browser sided language and a server sided language to make the page get new information from the server without refreshing the page, often greatly reducing user wait time and vastly improving the user's experience but increasing bandwidth usage. Think of the possibilities: you could probably make a web based instant messaging service!
Hire a professional. This is the best option for more advanced sites, especially e-commerce sites.
Use keywords that your target audience would search for to get a better search engine ranking. There are several tools available from Google, Overture, and third party software developers that can make the keyword research process easier. Sprinkle the keywords you've chosen throughout your text, but not to the extent that it hurts the quality of your content. Creating pages that are optimized for the search engines will help you get your site found which is really more important than design. What good is a site that no one sees?
Upload your website. Your web host may have an FTP feature, or you can download your own FTP program like FileZilla. If you hired a professional to design the website, he or she may take care of this for you.
Test drive your website. When you finish your website, do usability testing. You can do this by simply asking a few friends or family members to use your website. Give them a specific task like "edit your profile" or "buy an alpaca sweater from the bargains page." Sit behind them and watch them navigate. Do not help them. You will likely find areas where you need to improve navigation or clarify some instructions.
Advertise. Submit your site to major search engines. Tell your friends. Use an e-mail address with your domain. Visit other websites that complement (not compete with) yours, and offer to exchange links. Post constructively on blogs and forums, and put your URL in your signature.
Use article marketing to get back links to your website which will also help your website get found by the search engines.
Provide quality content and service. Take constructive feedback seriously. Other band members, fans, and friends may all have easier navigation ideas. Think about your target market: their needs, their frustrations, their circumstances, and seek to make their lives easier. Strive for a win-win situation for you and your visitors.

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