It’s very easy to design a website these days. I’m really almost jealous of people coming into it now as all the annoying things that I had to learn to work around finally just work now. I can spend time on cool CSS rather than focusing on whether my images will even display in the browser (or display where I want them).
But if you’re just getting started with building web pages, it can still be really overwhelming. There are a few things you need to get started, but don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you might think!
To Design a Website First You Need a Computer
This may seem obvious, but it is very difficult to build a web page without a computer. But the computer you use doesn’t have to be fancy. There are people out there who have built entire web empires on public computers (like at your local library). If you have access to a computer that can access the Internet, then you can build a web page.
There aren’t any hardware specifications that you must have. Your computer can be ten years old or the newest thing out there. You can build your own computer or you can create web pages on a tablet or smartphone. You could probably build them on a feature phone, but that would be pretty difficult, so I’d head to the library if that’s all you have.
Once you have the computer or other device you’re going to build your site on, you then need:
You Need a Hosting Provider
There are so many options available for web hosting these days that you may feel paralyzed in choosing. If this is the first website you’ve ever designed, then I recommend you start with a hosting company that acts as a web page builder as well. Some of the best ones out there right now include:
Weebly makes it easy to create a really nice looking website, blog or online store. They have a lot of styles and themes to choose from to create exactly the site you need. Plus they will help you set up a domain if you want one and they have great stats to watch your site grow.
Wix has a lot of categories and styles to choose from and like Weebly it offers some really nice templates and themes so your site will look professionally designed right out of the box. Wix has a lot more templates than Weebly, but they both offer equally nice looking themes. The biggest drawback to Wix is that it can be difficult to move a site from there once it’s been built on Wix. But if you like what you have, this shouldn’t matter.
Many of the small business owners I know who are considering designing a website are considering Squarespace. They offer lots of themes and styles to get exactly the site you want. Plus they have a lot of responsive website themes, which are lacking on some other builders. They also have great SEO features.
If you are looking for a more advanced hosting system, you won’t go wrong with BlueHost. They offer a lot of programs and systems, but you have to do a bit more work to build your site than on the site builder hosting companies listed above. Personally, I use Linode co-location. I’ve been building and maintaining websites since 1995, and they offer me the services and security that I look for in a web hosting provider.
You Should Have a Text Editor
If you go with a site builder like Weebly, Wix, or Squarespace, you might not even need this, but I like to have copies of my web pages on my local computer. Keep in mind that you don’t need a fancy web editor to build your site in a web builder or in WordPress. A text editor like IA Writer or Notepad++ can give you a place to write and edit your content before you paste it onto the site. And you can use your site builder to add images.
Speaking of images…
Don’t Forget an Image Repository
Note, I don’t mean you need an image editor. In fact, most of us, myself included, are probably not graphic designers or professional photographers, and we would do better just sticking with graphics from a reputable source than trying to create and edit our own.
Remember: just because an image is on the web does not mean that you can use it on your web pages!
Instead of risking nastygrams and worse from photographers and graphic artists because you used an image you found in Google images, go to a site like Pixabay and be confident that your images are free for commercial use. I use Pixabay for nearly all the sites I maintain, and they have a huge selection of really nice looking photos and illustrations.
Most Important: You Need Your Creative Imagination
Once you have the first four things, you’re ready to get your site up and running. Head over to Weebly and pick out your template. Write your first couple of pages in Notepad++ and then post them to your site with images you found at Pixabay. And then keep going.
Designing and building web pages is fun!