Building websites can get tricky. Hopefully, by sharing my experiences I will make it a little simpler for you.

Your first thought when creating your website is: What do you want it to do?

Seems like a fair enough question… Are you selling a product? Are you selling a service? Are you informing people? Are you a blogger? Are you trying to squeeze out a bit of extra cash?

Once you have figured that out you will be led to your next task…

That is, mapping out the pages our your website.  Take your time with this, as you will get a clear understanding of where you need to go and how to get there! Here is my Home Page mapped out prior to my building this website. All in all I had 16 pages mapped out. I had a general idea of what I wanted to, putting it on paper helped me as I wasn’t making decisions on the fly.

Original Plan for the Tech Helper home page

As you can see, it doesn’t need to be fancy, or well done, just a general outline. By doing this you have saved yourself many revisions, deletions of pages that did not go quite right. Also, as you go on, you can always add things here and there. So it doesn’t have to be spot on.

The only way to learn is by making mistakes, and I have made plenty. I am not going to knock any of the products that I have used because they are all pretty awesome in their own right.

Tech Helper Rapidweaver

You may remember this version of the website. Feel free to steal the google adsense codes & add it to your website.

Being a MAC user & lazy, I thought I would start off by using a program to do it all for me. So Google led me to a program called RapidWeaver.

RapidWeaver was great in the sense that everything is contained in the one program. You have toggle switches that allow you to see what your page is going to look like, plugins that allow some extra formatting & content.

Although they were decent, I wasn’t too keen on many of the templates.I had my website up and running, but it did seem a little amateur hour. Being a noob when it comes to web design, I was not going to go mucking around with CSS Style Sheets. I wouldn’t have been able to even if I wanted to. Although, I do have a better understanding of HTML & CSS now.

Next, I ventured into the wonderful world of Joomla. Unfortunately, when I gave this a shot I didn’t give it much of a chance – lets blame it on “Lazy Nick“.  At the time I thought I was going to get it up and running without any learning curve – I am an IT God after all!! I didn’t have the patience to attempt getting my head around it. Joomla is very popular though and highly recommended.

Here is the Joomla template creator (Artisteer) in action

I did have a small development site hidden away at the time. It was live but in another directory until I developed it further. I am sure i’ll get to play with Joomlas again.

If you do decide to have a play with Joomla, also check out Artisteer. Artisteer is a nice program that allows you to create your own templates without needing any CSS knowledge.

Anyway…with that done & dusted I thought I would give iWeb a go. I played with this for about 2 weeks and loved it. Thought it was the best thing out there.

To be fair there are some features on iWeb that cannot be beat. It is like creating a document with links and graphics and videos in Microsoft Word and then pressing a button and viola, it’s on the internet.

This is what my website looked like using iWeb. This never saw the light of day

So, I decided to learn more about this. I booked into a session at the Apple Store, Sydney. I quickly realised that I knew more than the guy teaching there. Although I did learn a thing or two.

The major stumbling block were the menus. If you want a decent menu and you don’t know how to code then this will be very difficult to use.

It was time to move on to something new, so with so many high recommendations I moved on to WordPress, which is what I am using today. WordPress is a lot like Joomla (which I didn’t give a chance earlier unfortunately). There is a bit of a learning curve at first but once you get the hang of it, you’ll have a lot of fun creating.

The true beauty of Joomla & WordPress comes from it’s ease of use & plugins. You install the WordPress software on your server/webhost – in my case Crazy Domains . The advantage of this is that you can log into it from any computer in the world with an internet connection and have the software working as you would at home. This makes adding pages, changing templates a breeze.

There are hundreds of free templates/widgets & plugins that do everything you can think of. I am currently using a PageLines template called PlatformPro & this has served me well so far. Each day I am finding new features to add to my site. Some features I have not utilised yet but I will!!

A website is a living thing. If you leave it, it will quickly become outdated and old…BORING!!! You need to feed it and constantly find ways to make it interesting to your audience/customers or else they will go elsewhere. A website needs to:

  • Catch The Eye
  • Simple to Navigate
  • Obvious & Self Explanatory

In the next couple of days you will be treated with a guest blog from Anthony Magro. Anthony is Sales Trainer and an Author at artofconversation.com

 

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About The Author

Nick

Nick is an IT Professional who has been in the IT industry for over 15 years. A passion for technology & thirst for knowledge. A certified ITIL v3 professional, Nick is qualified & dedicated to delivering effective & efficient IT services with an Honest smile.