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1. Introduction

My aim with this blog site is to help everyone understand the processes involved in building a web site. 

I, like all web developers, will use all sorts of tools to develop a web site but the concept of each site is unique. The processes below will describe how I design, code and implement a web site. I am not saying it is the only way or even, necessarily, the “correct” way, but it is “my” way. 

Firstly, it should be emphasised that building a web site does require some knowledge of a computer, but anyone who can browse the net can build a web site. It really is that simple.

Maybe it won’t have all the bells and whistles, maybe it won’t look fantastic, but it can be done by just about anyone. Professional web designers build sites for a living, so they can take the headaches away from you and have the experience to be able to design a much more user friendly site than you should expect to create yourself (as a first time web builder, or even 10th time web builder). As you can see from my links there are a number of companies offering that service, including mine. Feel free to take a look at them.

Yes, we all make mistakes. No one is perfect – If we were then we would all be computers and not the ones that use them.

Some of us may have delusions of grandeur, but no matter what, we all make mistakes. Getting something wrong should not result in you giving up. Who was it who said “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again” (or was it “give up” – I can never Practice definitely does, in this case, make perfect – or as perfect as you can be. There is a plethora of information on the web and I would urge you to make use of it.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Don’t be put off by all the jargon. It is intended to confuse you. We computer technicians are good at that and Microsoft takes first prize in it. For instance, I have been programming in Visual Basic (even BASIC as it was first known) since it was first launched. Nothing really changes, different designs, new features added, old ones removed, but basically it is the same, even if the name isn’t.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies out there that haven’t seen the light yet, and blindly go out and buy new software because they are told they have to. But then, I can’t complain, it has kept me in work for over 30 years now, so I really do have to say “Thank You” to companies such as Microsoft corporation.

Again, I digress. so…back to Web Design for Beginners.

I personally develop all my sites using Adobe Dreamweaver ( This is a personal preference, but is the tool used by most web developers. There are a lot of web design tools available, so if this is not your forte then look around.

2. The beginning

“Where do we start”. Well, to be honest. At the beginning. All web sites come from an idea, a concept, a simple thought.

I start with getting to know my clients – that’s you. Once I understand them and understand what it is that they are trying to achieve, I can then recommend how we should proceed. But I can’t do that without understanding what it is they are trying to achieve, who their target audience is etc.

I, personally, can ‘see’ the site, in my head, as I am talking to my clients. Don’t ask me to describe how I can do that or why, because I really don’t know. However, you don’t have to have this ability to design your site. Simply know what it is that you are trying to achieve. Write it down. This is the description of the website. It doesn’t have to be pages and pages of information. Keep it concise. One Paragraph. It might sound irrelevant but it really does act as a focus.

Now you have what the site is going to do, you need to describe how you are going to achieve this.

I like to do a ‘storyboard’. This is a series of pages, one for each page on the site, describing the information that will be on each page. I do a main design page too (or a ‘template’ – this term will be discussed later as it is the foundation for each page of the site). This is the creative time. Imagine how you want each page to look. Do you want a common theme between each page. What sort of heading do you want for the page. Is there a logo. How big should it be, where should it be positioned. What should the site navigation look like, where do you want this navigation to appear (Navigation is the list that you click on to change between pages).

You need to decide what font to use on your site, what size text, what backgrounds to use. Do you want pictures on your site. If so where do you want to use them, how big do you want them etc. All these things are decided on at this stage, so should be in your ‘storyboard’.

But remember – Nothing is set in stone. This is only a concept.

At this stage, I also do a flowchart. This flowchart describes how each page will interract with the others. How each page will connect.

Remember, you need to keep each page relevant to the subject of that page.

So many web sites fail by not understanding these basic principals. If a web page is cluttered or disjointed then the site visitor will quickly become bored and will move on. You have lost them, and, to be honest, you have probably lost them for good.

Ease of readability is also another very important factor. Have you considered how others will view your site. Do they have colour blindness, sight problems etc. Is your colour mix easy to read. Is the font you use clear. What about the font size. Just because you cant read it does not mean everyone else can.

I will then take these two documents to my customer to discuss them, in detail. This time is time well spent as it makes the difference between a web site and a good web site. I like to feel that my clients are involved in all aspects of the design of their site. It is their site, not mine, so it has to meet their requirements, their preferences. They must be happy with it, or I have failed. So, in short, I need their feedback, good or bad.

This process may require more that one re-iteration of the storyboard. But in the end, the customer will be happy with what they are getting and I will have a very clear concept of how the product will look.

Now I have talked about me and my clients. You may well be saying, but I want this site for me, I dont have a client. Wrong! You do have a client. That client is You. So, you should still go through with this process. Design it, draw it and then review it. Make sure you are happy with what you have before you proceed. It’s a bit like building a house. Get the foundation wrong and your house will be worthless.

Missing this process is where so many web site builders go wrong.

3. Site Hosting

To a certain extent, who hosts your site is fairly unimportant. I use the term “fairly unimportant” because there are some things you need to consider.

Firstly, you need to consider if you want to use a shared site. There are a lot of these that are available for free. Companies like Google, Tiscali, Talk Talk, Virgin, Orange and many many more have free webspace. It is fairly common to receive webspace with your internet access. If not then you probably have the wrong service provider, but that is potentially for another blog.

You might decide that shared webspace is not what you are looking for. You may decide you want your own website. This means you have to have a domain name. Domain names are so easy to create and can have a multitude of prefixes and suffixes. Gone are the days of having to have a web site starting www. and ending with .com or Your hosting site will normally provide you with a suitable link to be able to select your website name. It is your preference (just like sttting up your own company – You choose the name). If you are doing work for a customer, then they may already have their own domain name. Personally, I always ask my clients to set up their own domain name with their own preferred web hosting company. That way they can start to take ownership of their new web site. It also means there is no doubt who owns the site. It is registed in their name and hosted where they decide. I am more than happy to help them in this decision making process, but in the end it is their decision, not mine.

Having established your site name and bought your hosting space, we now need to build the site.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of different web design tools. Micorsoft and Adobe are probably the most well know, but there are so many other tools out there.

If you are feeling really up to it, you can build a complete web site using only notepad. I wouldnt recommend it, but it is absolutely possible.

You might decide to use legacy software, such as Microsoft FrontPage. Frontpage is an incredibly easy to use piece of software, but it is also not easy to deviate from the simple. You also need to ensure your site hosting company supports FrontPage extensions, without them your site will not display properly.

It is generally acknowleged that tools such as FrontPage are not suitable for professional web design. Many web designers view FrontPage with distain…lol. (no, I am not one of them. It had it’s uses, but is now out of date).

There are other factors you need to consider when selecting a Site Host.
(now we will get technical)
One of the most important factors is reliability. There is no point in having a web site if the web host is down, so it is important that you decide how important it is to have instant, uninterrupted access to your site. Is this something you require, or is it a nice to have. Only you can decide this, but it is an important factor to bear in mind when selecting you site Host.

Backups – how important is it that the web host provides up to the minute backups of your site. Is it relevant, or do you have your own backups, so that you really dont mind what happens on your site. Again, a very important decision that only you can make.

Do you require Microsoft Frontpage extensions. If you are going to use Frontpage to create your web site then you will require these expensions.

Space availability. Do you plan to hold mountains of pictures on your site. If so then you will need the space to hold it, so the disc space offerings are important. If your site consists of only a few pages then space is not an issue.

email availability. Does your prospective host provide email facilities. If so will it meed your needs.

Domain and Sub-Domain management. Do you need them to look after your domain name, registering it, registration renewal. If so, how much do they charge. Do they support Sub-Domains (these are domains in their own right under your existing domain – for instance, you are viewing this blog at This is a sub-domain of The sub-domain is the ‘webdesign’ which replaces the ‘www’ portion of the web address).

Will they also allow you to have multiple domains. Again, an important decision if you are going to have more than one web site and you would prefer it all hosted by the same company (hence saving you money).

What about databases. Will your site require you to hold interractive information that can change without the need to change your web pages (i.e. a blog). If so, then you will need to have a database of some sort.

What about security – SSL – or secure socket layer. This is used if you are going to hold personal information regarding your site users. It is the little ‘padlock’ icon you get on some sites.

FTP – File Transfer Protocol. This is how we transfer information up to a site. What facilities are available, does this transfer affect your site throughput (or bandwidth)

And this is only touching on some of the facilities that you may need or may be offered.

If you dont know, you need to find out before you sign up, otherwise it will simply cost you more money.

For instance. The company I use are called ‘JustHost’. They meet my needs. If you are interested then click on the link below and take a look for yourself.

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