How to Learn to Build Websites

By Elizabeth Smith

  • Overview

    Websites serve many purposes for individuals, organizations and businesses; they build credibility, increase Web presence and serve as an information hub for users. When learning to build websites, start from the basics and build on your knowledge as you go. Website-building requires patience and attention to detail.
    • Step 1

      Understand HTML, or Hyper Text Markup Language. This is the basic coding language that you will use to build many types of websites. While you will not necessarily be writing complex code, you will need to understand HTML in order to troubleshoot problems, create links, format text and add images (see Resources below).
    • Step 2

      Create a test page. Once you have a basic grasp of HTML, try building a test page. Even if you won't be using HTML to build your entire website, it is helpful to have that ground-level understanding when you move forward. Add an image, create a link, format text, change the background color or create a table. You can write your basic HTML code in any text editor and preview the result in an Internet browser window. To open your text HTML file in a browser, select "File" and "Open" from your browser's toolbar, and navigate to the text file.


    • Step 3

      Choose your website-building tool. There are multiple options here. If your website will be large, or if you will be building many websites, you should invest in a program like Dreamweaver or GoLive, which offer many capabilities and the opportunity to create site files on your local computer. If you are more interested in ease of building and maintaining, consider an online service like WordPress, which allows you to use code or an online interface to build your website. The WebWorkshop forum is a good place to start (see Resources below).
    • Step 4

      Practice. The most effective way to learn how to build websites is to practice. Using your selected tool, build a simple website. If you prefer to learn in a group environment, find a local website-building class--such classes are generally offered at community colleges, universities and learning centers. If you prefer online interaction, try participating in online forums, where users are often happy to answer questions and provide help (see Resources below).
    • Step 5

      Learn about hosting and domain name services. In order to put your website online, you will need to have both a domain name and a hosting service. The domain name is the address you type in to a browser to find your website--e.g., www.google.com. A hosting service gives you space on a server to store your website files, and makes them available to the public. You can find cheap domain name registration at places like GoDaddy and HostMonster (see Resources below).
    • Step 6

      Use cascading style sheets. More commonly referred to as "CSS," cascading style sheets are powerful website-building tools; they allow you to implement website-wide changes by editing only one file. When you are confident in your website-building skills, CSS can be a great time-saver. You can use very simple CSS to control things like text size and link behaviors, or you can use a complex CSS to control the look of your entire website (see Resources below).
    • Skill: Moderate

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