How to Build a Web Site Step-by-Step

by Joshua Duvauchelle

A website is a collection of web pages found under a single domain name. Some people build a website to start an online business and make money on the Internet. Others may wish to build a site for hobby purposes. Regardless of your goals, it is critical that you build a site around a carefully planned design and implement specific web standards to keep your site engaging and relevant.

Brainstorm the site's themes, ideas and contents. Most sites are text-heavy and based on informative content, such as how-to guides and research. Other sites may be focused around an interactive element, such as a message board and online forum.

Choose a paid web host. Hosting plans for basic websites can start at a price as low as several dollars per month, though this price can vary by service provider and be exponentially more as you add more services and features. Various companies offer basic web hosting plans for new sites, such as 1and1 and GoDaddy (see Resources). Most plans can also be upgraded with more features as the site grows.

Select a domain name. This is the address that individuals type into their browser to access the site you've built. Some service providers, such as 1and1, include the domain name with the hosting plan. Choose a name that is simple and easy to remember, and one that also represents the theme or purpose of the site. Keep your future goals in mind. For example, don't choose a dog-specific site name if you are starting a dog care site but plan to expand it to include other types of pets.

Plan the general page design of the site you wish to build. Sites are made up of specific components, the main features being the actual content and the navigation. Typically, the navigational features (for example, site links, search bars, etc.) are found at the top and left-hand side of the page. The empty area is typically the page contents. Sketch out the design on a blank page of paper so that you can envision what the final product will look like.

Build the site. You may use a website building software, such as Adobe Dreamweaver (see Resources). Your web host may also provide automated tools to help generate a webpage. If you are confident in your knowledge of HTML and manual website coding, you may even choose to use a basic text editor and write the code by hand. Individuals often benefit from reading an HTML resource book for the basic principles and tags for building a website. Such books are available at your local library, bookstore or online at a retailer such as Amazon.

Check that each page you've built for the site is compliant with W3C web standards (see Resources). All pages must begin with the <HTML> tag and end with the appropriate closing tag, </HTML>. Likewise, all opening tags within the two HTML codes must have alternate closing tags (accomplished by repeating the tag and inserting a forward-slash into the first portion of the code).

Upload the finished website to your web host. You may use the host's file browser, which is accessible when you login to your webhosting account. However, most web designers typically upload finished sites using an FTP program such as Cyberduck or Fetch (on a Mac) or SmartFTP (for a PC). The FTP program will connect to your server, and files may be uploaded by dragging and dropping the file on your computer into the FTP software's interface.

Tip

  • check Choose the cheapest web hosting service provider that you can find, as you can always upgrade to a more expensive service plan in the future as your site grows. Consider adding interactive elements such as a forum or chat room to keep the audience engaged.

Warning

  • close Avoid free web hosts, as the service is often subpar and detrimental to your site in the long run. Keep your web pages' content updated and relevant to avoid losing readers to other sites. Be careful to register your domain name yourself rather than going through a third party, which may hold on to the rights to the name.

Items you will need

About the Author

Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.