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Designing Your Own Website: 5 Resources

Do you need your own website, but don't want to go through the hassle (and expense) of hiring a professional to do it? You can do it yourself and get professional-looking results with online resources. This article will introduce you to five, and go over some important website design tips to keep in mind as you create your own corner of the Internet.

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By: Joe Eitel
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 3
November 02, 2010
  1. · Designing Your Own Website: 5 Resources
  2. · Yola, Homestead and Wix

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Designing Your Own Website: 5 Resources
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Whether you’re a freelance writer, a small business owner, or anything in between, having your own website is crucial these days. Essentially, it provides a customer with their first impression of you and your business; it gives them a feel for what you offer, and it gives them a way to get in touch with you. The only down side to having a site is that hiring a developer can be quite costly, not to mention frustrating. They may not convey your vision the way you’d imagined; they may miss deadlines; they may overcharge. Basically, there’s a whole lot that can go wrong from point a to point b.

One way to avoid all of these headaches is to do it yourself. It may seem overwhelming at first, but there are a number of awesome resources online that will expertly take you through the process. Before we get into five such websites, first let’s talk about some design basics.

Designing Tips

Obviously, the look of your site will be the first thing that people notice, and a big part of that is the color scheme. When designing your own site, you’ll most likely go back and forth on a lot of design elements, but it’s crucial that you pick a color scheme and stick to it.

When choosing colors, a good place to start is with any logo or stationary you’ve already associated with your business. If you’re starting from scratch, choose no more than three colors and stick to them on every page of your site. If after giving it some thought you’re still at a loss, simply get online and browse websites. Pick out sites that you find aesthetically pleasing and then figure out why you like them. There’s nothing wrong with modeling your color scheme or layout after an already-existing site. After all, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

You’ll also want to take templates into account, especially if you can’t find a website online you really like. When designing your site, no matter what resource you use, you will no doubt come across a wide array of templates and other types of pre-set designs. Templates are usually a part of web design software, but if you’re not using any particular type of software you can also check out websites that specialize in providing templates or custom designing templates.

When designing your site you’ll also want to keep in mind that one of your top goals should be making the site easy to navigate. After all, how useful will your site be if potential customers can’t easily find the information they’re seeking out? To make things simple, consider placing your navigation bar on the left-hand side or at the top of your site. Most people are used to this type of navigation, so why stray from it? You may also want to consider placing a second navigation bar at the bottom of each page; this way customers don’t have to scroll all the way to the top to navigate away from the page.

Also, keep in mind that too much fuss will distract from your site. A few photos or graphics are great, but tons of ads, logos, and spinning graphics will just annoy potential customers. Those types of graphics take forever to load, and they distract Internet surfers from the content of your site -- and in case you haven’t heard, content is king.

Apply the same restraint when choosing a background. Don’t make a repeated logo your background, or worse yet, have dark text on a dark background. Just remember this simply acronym: Kiss (keep it simple, stupid).

When you’re designing your site, try to keep these tips in mind as well:

  • Consider having external links open in a new window so that visitors can easily return to your site when they’re done browsing the link.
  • If your site is going to have multiple pages (more than six), create a search feature or site map that will ensure your visitors will easily find whatever it is they’re looking for.
  • If you’re aiming to create a site with a professional appearance, avoid the following at all costs:
    • Flash intros
    • Pop up boxes
    • Blaring music
    • Videos that start automatically

Just remember to keep the appearance of your site clean and simple. You want your visitors to find what they’re looking for and like what they see.

Now that we’ve gone over design tips, let’s take a look at five useful sources for designing your own website.

1. Weebly

The folks over at Weebly promise to provide “web creation made easy” and they deliver. Keep in mind that the site offers you the ability to create your own site completely free of charge. If that didn’t get you interested, consider some of the features Weebly offers: 

  • A drag and drop editor, meaning videos, pictures, maps, and text can be added simply by dragging them to your website.
  • No technical skills or HTML knowledge of any kind is required to build your own site.
  • We already mentioned it’s free, but it bears repeating: It’s free -- hosting included with no restrictions, including no bandwidth restrictions, no storage caps or limits, and no limits on the number of pages allowed.
  • We touched on templates earlier; Weebly has 70+ professional designs already available, or you can customize your own.
  • Weebly also offers a variety of content elements, meaning you can add pictures, videos, music, audio, documents, maps, or photo galleries to your site.
  • Powerful blogging features, including the ability to receive comments.
  • No advertising, meaning Weebly will never place ads on your site, but they’ve enabled their users to use Google AdSense if they choose, so that they can monetize their site

2. Artisteer

Artisteer's claim to fame is that it’s the first and only Web design automation product that instantly creates unique website templates and blog themes. Unlike Weebly, however, Artisteer comes at a price: $49.95 for the home and academic edition and $129.95 for the standard edition. According to the site’s creators, users essentially become a Web design expert, able to edit and slice graphics, coding XHTML and CSS, and create templates, themes, and skins without any Photoshop or Dreamweaver knowledge and without any technical skills.

Here are some other features:

  • You can generate your own web designs.
  • You can adjust already-generated designs to create personalized web and blog templates.
  • Write HTML and CSS without prior knowledge of either.
  • Web designers can generate ideas, prototypes, and quick websites for friends and clients.
  • Choose from a wide array of already-included design elements, such as backgrounds, photo objects, and buttons.
  • Automatically solve problems with image aliasing and Web browser compatibility.

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