While it seems that everyone and his dog (or cat) has a website, there is a plethora of people out there that never got around to creating one, even though they could profit from it. Many people feel that they are not technically gifted enough, and that building a website would cost too much time or money.
The following, therefore, is not for the seasoned web designer, but for all those artists, crafters, freelancers and small business owners who want a website, but have all the excuses because they have not managed to get one yet.
What if you could set up your own website in one weekend, without having to engage in any HTML programming? Here is how:
1. Get a host . Your website has to be hosted somewhere. The options are free website communities (such as http://www.tripod.lycos.com/ or http://geocities.yahoo.com/ ), your own ISP (internet service provider), which might offer you a personal website , or a paid host (of which there many, you can find a list of popular hosts at http://www.websitehostdirectory.com/ ). I would stay away from the free offers, as these include ads and do not provide you with a professional image (although both Tripod and Geocities also offer paid ad-free options, sometimes with your own domain name) (1 hour)
2. Get a domain name . This is optional, but having a URL such as [http://www.zebrabreder.com] (which was still available as I wrote this article 🙂 is more memorable than [http://www.geocities.com/zebrabreeder ]. The other advantage is that you can take your domain name with you, if you ever switch ISPs. Just be warned that many of the "good" and obvious names have already been taken, so you have to show some creativity. You can find a list of domain name registrars at http://www.internic.net/alpha.html . The easiest way would be to buy your domain name and web hosting from the same company, and there are many sites that offer all these services, such as http://www.godaddy.com . (1 hour)
3. Decide on a layout . Once you registered a domain and obtained a host, it is time to think about the layout of your site. Get some pen and paper and started drawing. What do you want on your homepage (which should be named index.html)? How many sub-pages will there be (for example for various goods or services you offer)? What kind of visual theme do you want? What kind of graphics and pictures should you include? Make these decisions before actually designing your site. (3 hours)
4. Design your site . Many of the hosts mentioned in step 1 offer tools that let you choose pre-made designs and just fill in your own information. This makes it very easy, but may also restrict what you can do. Another way would be to use Netscape Composer, which is a free tool and part of Netscape 7.2 (you can download it at [http://browser.netscape.com/ns8/download/archive.jsp].) Composer lets you use a word-processor like interface and contains a nifty "Publish" function to upload your pages. Of course you can also buy programs such as MS FrontPage. 8 hours)
5. Check your site . Before uploading it, you should check spelling and grammar and see that every page has at least a link back to your homepage. (1 hour)
6. Upload your page . Now you actually have to get your content to the web. Your host will have information on how to do this. You basically need a destination, a username and a password to upload the files. (30 minutes)
7. Publicize your website . Do not expect people to rush to your website. How would they even know about it? There are many services that will submit your website to "hundreds" of directories for a fee, but you can submit it yourself (for free) to the ones that really matter:
Add your URL to the signature line of your outgoing e-mails, put it on your business card and on all other business-related communications. (30 minutes)
8. Do not let you site go stale. Remember that content is king. You can start your website in a short time, but you have to keep adding to it. Why not write an article in an area of your expertise? Use the expertise you have in your field to make your website unique. Remember, fresh content will help search engines find you and will induduce visitors to come back to your site.