Join James Williamson for an in-depth discussion in this video Getting online quickly, part of Introduction to Web Design and Development.
- Okay, let's say that you're brand new to web design, and that you're watching this title because you need to get a site up and going immediately. And chances are, after hearing about how much time, effort and focus it takes to create websites, you might be pretty discouraged. Well please, don't be. It's not uncommon at all for someone to need to get a site online quickly, before they have the time to properly learn web design. Or they may create a web site even if that's not their main job. In these cases, I want to offer a few recommendations about getting online quickly and establishing an online presence without needing advanced technical skills.
One way to get a site up and running in a single day, even with no technical skills, is to create a blog. Now, blogs have come a long way since they first started offering a way for people to publish their thoughts online. The basic premise of a blog, which is a quick way to publish an archived content, hasn't changed that dramatically. But the abilities, features and design of blogs have come a long way. Many blogs have become so powerful, in fact, that the line between what's a blog and what's a full-featured site is increasingly being blurred.
There are basically two paths to take when considering a blog. The first would be to use one of the many free blogging sites and services that are available online. For those, often just signing up for a free account is all you need to do to get started. From there, you can usually choose a theme, upload a few graphics and then just start publishing. In my opinion, it is simply the fastest way to get your content online. This approach does have its drawbacks, however. Since you're using a free service, your address might not be exactly what you'd like it to be.
And many blogging sites will also serve ads on your pages without your approval. And feature sets can also be limited. Honestly though, with so many choices of blogging platforms available to you, a quick Google search and a single day of research should be all you need to choose the blogging solution that's right for you. Now, if you want to take blogging a bit further, you could register your own domain, choose a hosting company, and install blogging software yourself to run and manage your own blog. This is a bit more technical than going through a blogging service, and it will probably take you a few days to get your site where you want it.
But don't be intimidated by this approach. First, most hosting companies have single click blog installs that take care of the installation process for you. So you could look for a hosting company that has WordPress, Movable Type or some other blog engine just ready to go. Second, there are a lot of really cool themes that you can install into your blog, so you don't have to customize it yourself. Themes control more than just layout, and can add an advanced degree of functionality to your blog.
Most blogging platforms have powerful admiminstrative controls that are well-documented and easy to use. From that standpoint, maintaining a blog is a quick and easy way to get a robust site online quickly. Now if you already have some web design experience, or if you want to challenge yourself to learn by doing, you may want to explore using a hosted solution through companies like Squarespace. These hosting companies specialize in creating out-of-the-box sites with little or no code editing at all. Most offer site templates that you can customize and use for your own site, and have a site editor that lets you create pages and enter content that is very similar to blogging platforms.
Often, these hosted solutions allow you to have rich interfaces, eCommerce, built-in blogs and high degrees of design and functionality. Starting out this way gives you a functioning site with features well beyond that of most novice designers. And it's a great way to get your feet wet with editing and maintaining a more complex site. By customizing the CSS, modifying the existing HTML and exploring the site's structure and functionality, you can explore how these sites are put together before attempting to build your own.
I do want to caution you, however, that the quality of these sites can vary wildly. So make sure you're using a hosted solution that practices good design and offers well-written code. Finally, if you're looking to get content online quickly, don't underestimate the power of social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. While not technically offering you a way to host a site, these sites allow you to get your content online, and network with your target audience in a way that your own sites cannot. A better way of looking at social media is to use it as a way to support your site, and enhance your online brand and presence.
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- What is web design?
- What is a web designer?
- Learning to code
- Choosing a web host
- Working with a CMS
- Exploring how websites are structured
- Choosing your framework or software
- Designing with standards and accessibility in mind