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Building Your First Website

Not everyone can or wants to hire a professional web designer to create and maintain their website. However, if you are not a programmer, building your first website can be a daunting task. Here is some information and tips that will help you get started.

  • Get your own domain name

There are places where you can have a website or blog, hosted on a provider’s website, sometimes for free, that don’t need a domain name. Your address, called an URL, will usually come in a form such as your_username.theirdomainname.com  These types of addresses are really hard for customers to remember and they make you look unprofessional. To get your own domain name, you buy the rights to a name for one or more years at a registrar company, such as Godaddy.com .  It will usually cost $15 or less per year.  Find yourself a new address that is something simple and easy to remember.

Website

  • Get Hosting

There are lots of good quality web hosts available. One reasonably priced one is iPage, who has lots of good features for customers. They will provide the space for your data on a server in their data center. They provide the hefty connection to the internet and server software that you website will need, to serve up the web pages.

  • Set your DNS

This step is often hard for beginners to understand. Your website will be available at a numeric address, which no one would every type in manually to get to your page. The DNS system translates that numbered address to your domain name. To set this, you go back and log in at the registrar where you bought your domain name. Find the DNS section and you will enter the “nameserver” settings provided to you by your web host, usually in your welcome email. The DNS system will then tell the computers of the world where your website is hosted. You can set this and then forget it. It will keep on working as long as you keep the domain hosted in one place.

  • Build your site

Web pages are built either in plain HTML language or one of a dozen other languages, which take a long time to learn.  Luckily, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to build a decent looking website. Most hosts have web page builders for absolute beginners. They have a point-n-click and drag-n-drop interface. If you can fill out forms, you can build a site. You can also use open source (free) software to be the “guts” or “brains” of your site. A CMS, or content management system, separates the building and managing of a website into something like job functions. There is the programming, which has been built for you, over a series of years by hundreds of programmers. There are themes or templates, which give the look and feel of the site. Some are automatically built in choices and some can be downloaded for free or a small fee. So you don’t have to be a graphic designer to make a nice looking website. And there is the content portion, which you will be responsible for. If you want to write a blog article for your site, for example, you will log into an administration interface and click a couple buttons to get to a form, where you enter the title of the blog post, add some text and pictures and click go. The blog article then appears on your website. If you can send an email, you can make a post.  These CMS systems, such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal have large user communities that make it easy to use all the features. They are there to help.

If you want your own website, it is best just to jump in feet first. Put your hands on the tools and experiment and see how easy and fun it can be.

About Ford Mark

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