I’d like to share with you the answers to some questions my Create a Website-in-a-Day students asked in class recently.
Which software do I use to create my web site?
In class, you learned different ways to create web pages. One is to create the HTML code with a text editor such as Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (MAC). There are many free online resources available to you to further your HTML knowledge. Check out the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for their online tutorials and courses. There are also many html how-too books on the market for purchase.
Another alternative is to use an html editor (web authoring software) such as NVU or Kompozer. (You may use the Kompozer installation file on the CD I provided in class to install Kompozer on your computer.) There are tons of other html editors available for purchase ranging in price from cheap to expensive ($200+). Dreamweaver is a very sophisticated program, but expensive. If you have used Adobe Photoshop, you may like using Dreamweaver. Another html editor you can try is Coffee Cup. I’ve never used it, but it looks pretty good and is much cheaper than Dreamweaver.
A third alternative is to use one of the templates provided by your web hosting company, which has its advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is that you can create professionally-designed web pages without knowing how to write html. Of course, there will be a learning curve as you learn how to work with the template tools; but you may find this method easier and quicker in the long run. The disadvantage is that if you switch to a different web hosting company, you may need to re-create your web site as many templates will not transfer to the new hosting company.
A few of you are familiar with the free Wix online templates, which are fairly easy to use to build web sites. Wix provides a lot of online text and video support to help you build you site with them. The disadvantage of most free web sites is that they are filled with ads and logos, and you don’t have your own domain name. For example, the site I created on Wix is http://www.wix.com/kat223/create-a-website. The domain name is www.wix.com; Wix assigned kat223 to the name; and I choose create-a-website. If this were my own domain name, it would not include www.wix.com/kat223. I would not recommend Wix for a business web site unless you upgrade to one of their premium plans where you can purchase or transfer your domain name. If you plan to sell products online, you’ll need to purchase the package that includes an e-commerce shopping cart.
You can create professional-looking web sites with WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Both offer free blogging software, and with either you can create a web site with or without a blog. You won’t have your own domain name with a WordPress.com account; so your web site name might look something like this: 2educateyou.wordpress.com. If you have a domain name, you can use it with WordPress.com so that wordpress.com doesn’t show in your URL. If you’d like to show videos on your site, you’ll need to purchase a video add-on or use WordPress.org.
With WordPress.org you’ll build your web site online with a WordPress theme just like you’d do with WordPress.com; however, you’ll need a domain name and a web host. Notice that my WordPress.org site at 2educateyou.com does not include any mention of wordpress.org in the 2educateyou.com domain name. Or, you can upgrade your WordPress.com site with your own domain name for $18/year. With WordPress.org you can upload and customize themes, upload plugins, and use an e-commerce shopping cart. Read more about the differences in this WordPress.com Support article: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.
How do I edit my web site which was started by somebody else?
First of all, you need to know your username and password. Then you need to know how to navigate your web hosting site to find and edit your web site. If your site was built using one of the templates provided by your web host, you’ll need to know how to use the template editing tools to update your web pages. If your web pages were created from scratch with html code or with an html editor and/or with style sheets, you need to know how download your current web pages and style sheets so you can edit them then upload the corrected pages to your web host server. One method is with FTP (file transfer protocol) which I demonstrated in class. Check with your web host for your options. You may have multiple upload options with certain web hosting companies. I was able to download an icon on my computer’s desktop to log into my Network Solutions account to manage my web documents.
How do I guarantee that people find my web site when using a search engine?
You can’t really guarantee what people find with a search engine unless you pay an advertising fee to Google or other search engines to get your name at the top of their lists. Of course, you can do some search engine optimization (SEO) yourself and ask your web hosting company what kind of tools they provide. I found some good resources in the Marketing Your Business on the Internet class:
Google Information for Webmasters: Use the info at this site to improve your search engine rankings.
Megatag Generator: Use this tool to help you create meta tags. Do you remember learning about meta tags in class?
SEO Chat: Learn about search engine optimization—including optimizing your site for Google and Yahoo.
What other classes do you suggest?
It seems there’s always something new to learn in the web site world! Here are a few suggestions, which are six-week non-credit online classes:
Creating Web Pages. You’ll learn more about HTML in this class.
Designing Effective Web Sites. This site focuses on web site design, not HTML.
Web 2.0: Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts. In this class you’ll get a good introduction to working with blogs, wikis, and podcasts.
Introduction to Creating WordPress Web Sites.This is a great way to learn WordPress.com. Much of the material applies to WordPress.org as well.
MiraCosta College has an extensive number of wonderful full semester courses in their Media Arts & Technologies program including web design, graphic design, animation, typography, video production, and more.
I hope you found this information helpful. Good luck with your web site!