Eric narrowly averted a career in food service when he began in tech publishing at Ziff-Davis over 25 years ago. He was on the founding staff of Windows Sources, FamilyPC, and Access Internet Magazine (all defunct, and it's not his fault). He's the author of two novels, BETA TEST ("an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale"--Publishers' Weekly) an... See Full Bio
Whether you are using WordPress or a Website Builder, there are a range of external tools and resources you will need in order to give your website a professional touch. Note that if you are building your site with WordPress, it is likely you will have hired a developer or designer for the creation process. In this case, they should be able to assist you with the following (expect a higher price than using the online resources mentioned below).
Hi wbs, Getting started is definitely the easy part - no doubt about that! And I take your point that it can be challenging to make a design that you're 100% happy with. So, I guess we're pretty lucky that website builders like Wix and Squarespace offer such eye-catching templates that we can edit to our liking or use as jumping off point! (Our 3-step guide can help you pick the right template too..) Not having to work with a blank canvas certainly makes things much easier and gets the creative juices flowing. I think the best thing we (as amateur designers!) can take from sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc is the simplicity of their design. Your users want to find what they need quickly and easily, so the key lesson is to keep designs eye-catching but user-friendly (oh and don't forget the importance of color on a website!). Thanks for joining the conversation, - Tom
openElement is a free website building application with a WYSIWYG interface ("What You See Is What You Get"). The software automatically generates the necessary code for a website to display and function correctly, without the creative constraints imposed by other tools. The benefit to users is a simpler approach for beginners and a faster approach to repetitive tasks for professionals. The concepts of "elements" and "packs" allow users to insert, modify, and customize commonly used web objects by simply dragging & dropping them onto pages - without writing any code. That said, users are not confined by the built-in elements: you can create, reuse, and share your own custom elements. openElement is a hybrid between a CMS and a standalone app. It really stands apart from other applications of its type. It works through an internal intermediary format that facilitates content updates, and maintains the structure and consistency of the resulting code. openElement provides you with all the tools you'll need for your projects' success.
Hey Amanda, Yes. Squarespace has partnered up with Google Apps to offer you the ability to create custom email addresses. The interface is the same as Gmail, which we like as it's user-friendly, reliable and secure. If you sign up to annual Business or higher plans, you get a custom email address for free for your first year. After the first year, you will pay about $4 per month for the email address. If you sign up to Squarespace's Personal plan, you won't get a free custom email but you can definitely pay $4 per month for this. In our view it's a pretty reasonable price so you can brand your email and business (or whatever you are building) properly. Looks so much more professional than just using a generic Gmail address. Jeremy
Hi Leon, I think Wix, Squarespace or Weebly are potential candidates. I also heard that some affiliate marketing sites use WordPress. But with WordPress, it is much more technical challenging than drag and drop website builders. But WP does offer more flexibility, if you know how to use it proficiently (with a bit of coding knowledge). Give the ones I suggested a try. They're free to test, before you commit to upgrading to one of their paid plans. That's the best way to get a sense of what works well for you! Jeremy
List of Required Features: Think about what your site needs to do in order to achieve its purpose. For example, if the site needs to display your portfolio, then it must have a good quality photo gallery; if you want to collect leads, you need to have a form and a “thank you” page; selling products? You will need a shopping cart and secured checkout page and so on… You will most likely list a number of required features for your site.

The front end is what your visitors will see when they come to your website. Many of the tasks performed on the back-end will be visible on the front end, such as theme customizations, plugin functionality enhancements, and content publication. Actions can also be performed by you and your visitors directly from the front-end of the website, including commenting and social sharing.


Thank you, I found this article pretty informative, nicely laid out and an enjoyable/easy read. I do have a question about the programs. I am looking for a program that I can run on my laptop to log into my company’s website and make little data changes on the small end. On the big end just copy a page template and input new information. It looks like some of these software programs are for installing on the web server and not for use on the personal computer. The last program I used for web design was FrontPage about 15 years ago. Any suggestions on the best program for these needs? Joomla was recommended, but you didn’t reference it at all.

As far as actually doing the nuts and bolts building and design of your site, you also have plenty of options. You can hire someone to design and code a website, or you can try your own hand. You can use an online service to create web pages, or build it offline using a desktop software tool. Or, if you're a coding dynamo, use a plain text editor to create a site from scratch. How you mix and match these decisions depends on your skills, time, budget, and gumption.
Creating a website is not as complicated as it was before. Today, you don’t have to know much about technology to develop and successfully run your own site. That’s because there are more than few popular content management systems that are designed for the users. So, the first thing you should do is to choose a content management system. Although it depends on the site you want, we would strongly suggest self-hosted WordPress.
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Given the role that the internet plays in our lives, the ability to build a web site seems like it should be as important as learning to read or write. Whether you’re aspiring to become a published author, record a CD, or build a business, the ability to build a web site is going to be an essential asset. There’s no way to really be relevant without it. But it’s not something that’s taught in school.
Hi Jeremy! Thank you so much for posting this! I found this to be very helpful!! So I do have a few questions though... First off, I am wanting to build a website that advertises a service I offer, displays images in two separate galleries, can be involved with a separate calander that can be accessed from my phone and be up to date on available times to schedule an appointment, and, most importantly, can have a payment option to prepay for my service to secure a time slot with a possible escrow type function to be able to add payments onto the set appointments. Does this make any sense? If it does, does this sound possible? Which website builder would you recommend to have access to these functions? I am just starting out so cost is also a factor, although I am willing to pay a reasonable amount of money to get this set up and to maintain it. Thank you in advance!!

Thanks for the article Jermey. I was looking into making a site that serves dual functions. I wanted to create an entertainment news site that also functions as an online business. I purchased a subscription with godaddy for an online shop, but the templates are pretty bland and the customization is dreadful. Is there a site you could recommend for something like that?
Hi Jamie. I am not a web developer (yet) but I am aspiring to become one some day. I am using Django Framwork for the backend. But for the frontend , I am confused. Should I study HTML , CSS and javascript and then build a website (frontend) from scratch? Or should I not waste time , and just get a theme from wordpress? How much control over the look and feel of the website do we have, when we use these themes pre-tailored for us?
Firstly you should decide what you want to create for example you want to create a social app, portfolio or you have some great idea for your business or other requirements because if you decided once what you want to make then it will easy for you to gather information about it and when you gathered full information then you will create sitemap your website, Actually sitemap describe the relations between the main areas of your website. Such representation could help understand how usable the final product will be.It can show you the “relationship” between the different pages of a website, so you can judge how easy it will be for the end-user to find the required information or service if he starts from the main page.
With so many options available today, it can be difficult to choose the best instruments for the job. Choosing the best platform upon which you build your site will be one of the most important decisions you make. This choice is critical because you’ll be tied to that platform for some time and it’s never easy (or possible) to move your website from one platform to another.
CSS has only one drawback - a steep learning curve. It is not instantly intuitive. You need to study it and understand it and only then it will ‘click’. You cannot get on a bike and ride, you need to learn to ride a bike. You do not just start drinking beer when you turn 21 - you need to learn to appreciate the taste. CSS takes time to learn and appreciate.

Great article! Having trawled the internet and read quite a few websites on how to build a website, I can honestly say this is the most comprehensive and easy to understand - to a complete novice! Your step-by-step guide is thorough and very informative and has given me the confidence to go ahead and try to set up my own business website ... A big THANK YOU!


Once you see what skills are required for building a website, you can decide whether you want to invest the time in learning them. I highly recommend that you do learn these skills, as it will provide you with so many more options when building and maintaining your websites. Also, if you want a career developing websites, these skills are essential.
If you’re just selling one or two products, Weebly has the capability to handle this. However, if the primary purpose of your website is to sell products, you may want to choose a website builder that specializes in creating an online store. Volusion is an all-in-one ecommerce software that helps you to create and manage your online store, sell your products, and market your business. It’s pricing is comparable to Weebly’s ecommerce plan at $15 per month and you can try it out for free for 14 days, no credit card required.
No matter who you are—photographer, restaurant owner, musician, hotelier and more, you can manage your website and business all in one place. With Wix, the possibilities are really endless! We offer 200 Apps and services to make it easier for you to grow your business or brand online. Easily send beautiful emails, start your own blog, get booked online, open your own online store and more.
At its core HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is a way to add properties to text. It is a way of telling the browser how text should appear. This is accomplished by adding tags around text. For example, by adding the tags around text the text becomes bold. Over the years HTML has evolved to include tags for much more then just text. With HTML tags you can create tables, forms, pictures. Everything you see on a webpage is defined by a HTML tag.
Hey Grant, Glad you're finding our discussions helpful! GoDaddy is a pretty good website builder and we've discussed it in more details here. In general, while using website builders with hosts does give you access to a broader range of services, at times, their support teams may not be the best in terms of answering very specific website builder related questions. For instance, Weebly offers really good website building services, and you can reach them by going to Weebly.com. You can also use Weebly through hosts such as Bluehost. Both will work and enable you to build your website, but when it comes to support, if you are using Weebly through Weebly.com directly, you get Weebly's direct customer / technical support team. If you reach out for help through Bluehost, you get Bluehost's support team. We have a much deeper discussion about this specific scenario here. While some of the website builders don't provide you with email accounts, you can also easily sign up for Google Business App's email services for a few dollars a month. This way, you can take advantage of having your own custom domain email addresses, a familiar Gmail interface, and also that your email is stored on Google's servers which is probably a lot safer / reliable / accessible. - Jeremy
Finally, when you will go further and gain more skill — you will need a VPS(virtual private server). It is, to put it simply, a remote computer you have the complete control over, and will use to serve the sites you have built with frameworks. I highly recommend using DigitalOcean, it has great prices, beautiful and intuitive interface, and I’ve been happily using it to host all of my websites for the past 4 years.
Hi ify, The best advice I could offer is to give the free trials a go on Wix, Weebly and Squarespace and see how you get on with each builder. This will give you a chance to explore their functionalities and see how feasible your ideas are. Squarespace is highly regarded as a portfolio website builder and that sounds like it may be something in line with your ambitions (e.g. showcasing make up examples). Hope that helps, - Tom

You can take photos on your own or find stock photography websites that sell professional photos at a reasonable price. Some websites charge a fee for their images, and other provide them for free. If you decide to use images found online, make sure they are from royalty-free sources. Many images have copyrights and you need permission to use them on your website.


Bookmark – is a free cloud-based website builder software, which has gained popularity due to its integrated Artificial Design Intelligence tool. The service allows creating modern and innovative projects, which range in complexity and type. By using the service, you can launch business websites, online stores and landing pages that come with responsive design. Have a look at the highlights of the system now:

Hi TomN, Thanks for reading and joining the discussion. What you are looking to build is beyond the scope of our discussions here. It is possible but you'll either need to be very proficient with coding or have a healthy budget to hire a capable developer to assist you with your efforts. The reason is that the project you have seems like a very customized project. -Jeremy
Even after making all the tables on this website, I still do a search on Google for HTML tables every time I need to create a new table. I cut the example, paste it on my new web page and then edit it for my specific needs. You do not need to memorize how to use every single HTML element - you just need to know that you need it and recognize it when you see it.
Great article! Having trawled the internet and read quite a few websites on how to build a website, I can honestly say this is the most comprehensive and easy to understand - to a complete novice! Your step-by-step guide is thorough and very informative and has given me the confidence to go ahead and try to set up my own business website ... A big THANK YOU!
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