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How to Build a Website

The importance of a website as an online presence for an individual, organization, business or institution is now more important than ever. The presence of a website amongst other things makes an organization more professional in the way they appear to the public, especially if the website is properly designed and used. Here, we will outline various ways to build a website, hands on and show you the various methods you can use to create your site and their various advantages and disadvantages. We shall also be looking at the different ways to create web pages and how to design your web pages to be stylish and presentable and professional.

Domain name and Hosting

Domain names

A domain name is basically the way people will know your website, and is unique and also differentiates your website from every other website. Domain names can easily be purchased from popular websites such as google.com or namecheap.com for your business. Getting a domain name gives you singular access and right to that particular name, and you can begin to build on it. Anyone who types that URL gets sent to the webpages that you have designed.

A domain name is also one of the most powerful tools you can use to market your website. It is the first impression people will have of the represented entity, and the ease with which people remember your domain name at first will depend on its uniqueness and simplicity. In fact, a whole business exists online for the buying and reselling of domain names. If you have a good idea for a domain name, it is best to look it up very quickly for availability and buy as soon as possible. You can always look up a domain names’ availability on domains.google.com, where you can search for domain names and find out if they are available or not and possibly make a purchase if you are ready.

The ending of domain names also tells a lot about what kind of institution owns it. The most popular and generic Top Level Domain ending is .com which goes for generally any kind of business or individual who may be business inclined. It could also represent schools, and other bodies like associations and enterprises. Other endings like .org are meant to be used by non-governmental organisations, while .gov is used by government institutions. There is also the possibility of having customized domain ending such as: .business, .school, .family, .church and what have you. Once you have made your choice on what domain name to buy, quickly make your purchase, to avoid the embarrassing situation of coming the next day to find that it has already been bought by another person.

Web Hosting

The next step in building any website usually is in getting web hosting services. Consider this like a virtual machine online that stores your information and comes preinstalled with software that provide several ways to build a website or any other web applications you may want to run with ease and convenience. The specifications that you require for the server will determine how much you will be paying for it. The common ways to build a website available on servers is through the use of PHP scripts like WordPress and Joomla, etc. as well as website builder applications

The first specification of the server which usually determines its pricing is the bandwidth, which can simply be described as the total amount of data which can be uploaded or downloaded from the server. Your need for bandwidth is also determined by what kind of website you will be hosting and the number of users that your website will host. If you want to embark on a data-hungry project such as building a video-based website in the likes of YouTube or Vimeo, which will need to serve a lot of videos to several users, will necessitate a vera large bandwidth supply. There are certain subscription plans which grant unmetered bandwidth, which simply means unlimited.

Large bandwidth may not always translate to high storage needs because several users requesting for the same source file increases the bandwidth consumed but not the storage. So if the website you are building will have a fairly static database of files stored on the server. But if your storage needs will ever be increasing, you will need to strongly consider getting an unmetered storage solution.

Another option that usually determines a hosting solution’s price is the ability of email support and the number of email accounts which can be supported by that server. Having a domain name in many cases means you can have email accounts which can easily be attached to that domain name, and you have the assurance of having the uniqueness that is required of email accounts, depending on the needs of your project, you will know how many email accounts you would need and what payment plan you will need to engage.

Securing your website

Securing your website might not look like part of the building process, but it is one of the most important facets of web development. This is because there are those who do everything to break into your databases and installation, and use it for their own purposes. For this reason, you must create your site, with security in mind. Security ranges from securing the data that moves between the website and the users, and the front end of the website and the database and backend storage of the website.

The SSL/TSL encryption solutions are the main implemented solution in securing the data exchanged between the website and the end users. It ensures that sensitive information such as the bank details of a customer or credit card information is kept only by the intended recipients, that is, the operators or owners of the website. It is very important to buy this encryption package and apply it to your domain name.

Other methods of security exist such as installing security plugins when using content management systems such as WordPress or Wix, otherwise, there are good programming practices which ensure that no loophole remains open which can be exploited by hackers. Setting good passwords and hidden login pages also can go a long way to keep the website management platform out of the reach of unauthorised personnel. Of course, a few paragraphs can never give you all you need to know about web security, so you might want to consider going for a couple of good courses that will give you a good understanding of the subject matter and the ability to actually secure your website.

Content management systems

There are many ways to create web pages that look beautiful and are functional, performing the assigned tasks. Ordinarily, you would be expected to do the complete coding yourself, or pay a team of experts who will build the website from the ground up, giving you as a product, a completely customized end product. This is the absolute dream website and is usually a more difficult case for hackers to try to break into, it is not an affordable solution for someone on a budget, because the cost of paying developers only, will undo you.

Of course, many tools have been developed to ease the website building process, some are proprietary and others premium applications. Some even give you the opportunity to build websites without having mastered the programming languages used to build websites and web applications. They are called content management systems, and so many of them exist today. All have their advantages and disadvantages. Here, we will look at three of the most prominent systems used in the internet world today.

WordPress

WordPress is the most popular content management system and one of the most convenient ways to build a website. More websites have been built using the framework than any other content management system in existence. This is for several reasons

  1. It is free. WordPress is an open source project that is distributed for free and has one of the biggest open source developer communities. This ensures that no matter the problem a novice may face in using WordPress, there is a place to run to in order to find solutions. There is also a very large and ever increasing database of development tools available to be used in the building process, to add functionality to a website and also to beautify it. All in All, a very professional-looking product can be cooked up with the free resources available from the free WordPress plugins and themes, provided you have purchased your own hosting, not using the WordPress hosting available at wordpress.com.

  2. It is affordable. It should also be noted that although the WordPress platform is free, many plugins and themes which add functionality and beautify the website, taking months out of the time needed to design your website, are not free. Still, they are very affordable. A very decent and professional website can be up and running with a budget of under $300. This is not the case with custom designed websites which can cost up to $10,000 in development costs.

  3. It is well documented and its developer community is very large. This makes it very easy to find whatever plugin or theme that gives you the options you need to implement on your website very easily. It is also very rare to need something that has not yet been addressed. It is therefore almost a complete solution package for almost any kind of website project.

  4. WordPress is the ultimate shortcut to creating beautiful and functional websites without the expertise normally required. WordPress gives you different ways to create web pages; you can code, as well as use shortcuts through the use of plugins and themes, which helps you to create your site faster.

The advantages of using WordPress as a solution for website development are enormous, yet, one must be careful because given that WordPress is the most popular system, the vast majority of website hackers and attackers focus on WordPress websites. Even though it is possible to secure your system from website attackers with the help of some premium plugins, it is still very difficult to make it past a very direct and more focused attack especially if the hacker knows what he is doing.

Wix

Wix is very much like WordPress in functionality and abilities except for one thing. Wix is not open source. This major difference has caused a very high percentage of web developers to go towards the WordPress platform which in a sense gives more liberty to its users. That advantage is great but at what cost? Anyone, absolutely anyone with a little knowledge on programming can make WordPress themes and plugins. This makes it very difficult for the end users to identify which plugins are good and which ones are not. Here, Wix tops the game, having a dedicated and experienced theme of developers who develop the themes and plugins which can be purchased and used on a Wix website. This makes certain that any plugins or themes found on the Wix market will be fully compatible with the platform and do just what they are advertised to be able to do. Aside from this major difference between WordPress and Wix, they are pretty much the same.

Shopify

Shopify is not very different from WordPress and Wix except on one account; it is designed completely for the purpose of building online shopping websites. Shopify basically is a content management system designed for shops. It comes with every tool you can need to make it very easy to build and design your website. It comes with a free logo design maker, free QR code generator, Terms and conditions generator, business card maker, invoice generator, and several other business tools that makes the building process a breeze.

The only downside is the cost. It is a way more expensive option than WordPress or Wix, but it also takes away all the hassle involved in running an online business. They even take care of the payment platform issue, receiving all the major credit cards and also allowing the integration of other payment platforms. Starting with a basic plan that costs around $29 per month, up to about $299 monthly. They offer a complete solution and charge well for it. Their services are scalable and can manage any size of store.

Styling your website

Your choice of tools used to design your website also matters. It determines how you create your site, and determines how you design your web pages. But of all the pages of your website, the homepage is by far the most important. Knowing how to build a homepage to be professional and have the ability to keep your visitors is very important. Using the different content management systems give you different tools that help you design your web pages and all support different ways to create web pages. What you should rather be concerned with is the pattern which works for your kind of website. If you are designing a shopping website, you may want to display a good array of your prominent products which customers will likely go for. You may also want to display certain milestones, which your business has achieved as well as the major categories of products that you offer.

Designing web pages without coding

When using a content management system such as WordPress, you don’t stress to design your website. Certain themes provide you with dummy data which enables you to have a website that looks ready for any particular use you may need to apply it to. They have templates for churches, shopping websites, schools and many other establishments all hooked into the theme. You will only need to go into the data outputted by the template and edit it where necessary to produce a customized product for your particular work. You won’t need to struggle to design your website from scratch.

Some other themes just give you little coding shortcuts to do complex design tricks such as putting a video as a background for webpages without actually ever typing a single line of code. These set of tools though can never really cover all your needs if you want to do something really fancy. You will have to learn the web languages and acquire the ways to create web pages.

Coding in the language of the web, Learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

Of all the ways to build a website, you may be wondering which will be best for you. Learning web programming languages is the very first step. No matter the content management system you may choose to use, knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript will prove to be very useful in the long run. It gives you the ability to further expand the customizability of themes and plugins, making the website a completely customized product. To create your site to be exactly as you want it to be is fairly impossible to do without adequate knowledge in these languages.

HTML and CSS are basically the tools that make the website look the way it looks. Knowledge of those two languages gives you the ability to add any particular items to your webpage or design your web page in a certain way. You may also want to edit the theme to make it look a particular way or behave differently.

JavaScript is the language that gives basic interaction ability to a webpage. With advanced knowledge of JavaScript, you can even turn your webpage into a game. Programming the back end of the website has now been made possible, by advanced techniques in JavaScript. Technology keeps on advancing every day. So if you want to make the web the basis of your business, see to it that you learn and gather the necessary skills which will keep you on top of every technological advancement.

 

Making your website visible online (SEO)

When you design your web pages to be beautiful and have great functionality, it is not all that needs to be done to bring in the users for which it is designed. The users do not yet know you, or the idea you want to present. How then do they get to find your website amidst the countless other websites that exist? It is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of making your website not only visible on search engines, but to also compete successfully, standing out amongst the countless other websites which all offer the similar services.

It is important to note that no one particular practice of SEO can completely accomplish the huge task of giving your website the exposure it needs. There is a right way to do every task of building your website to permit it have the best possible results.

The most prominent of these, happen to be creating a webmaster account on the various major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. You have to prove that you are the owner of the website by any designated method they choose, after which their robots begin to crawl your website. This means their robots actually access and assess your website, to determine what your website is all about and automatically index it as a response to any particular search keyword. This way, they are reliable as people get to find exactly what they are looking for.

After you have identified yourself as the owner of then website, you will have access to their webmaster tools which you can use to follow up the progress of your website, monitor the activity of visitors on your website, and also trace errors on your website discovered by their bots.

Given that your website will be evaluated by artificial intelligence, you must strictly adhere to certain rules which permit your website to be highly ranked amongst those offering similar data online. Two of the most important rules which almost have never changed is plagiarism, which is simply copying material from another website to use in yours, without properly editing it to make it unique and original. The second one is keyword overpopulation. If you try to make long write-ups containing overly repeated phrases, it rather gets flagged by google as spam and will not be featured among the primary search results. The rules are actually many and are constantly changing as the search engines develop better algorithms used in analysing a website. You must keep yourself updated and be ever learning, to beat the best and remain the best.

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