If you're launching a new business or have a limited budget, you may have to face the reality of building your own website
However, this doesn't mean you should end up with anything less than a great looking website'. There are lots of website building software packages and services aimed at the DIY web designer - and many of them are free.
You don't even need to know any HTML (the computer code that sits behind web pages).
Content management systems
A content management system (CMS) is a great way to add content to your website quickly and with minimum fuss. Popular open source (i.e. free) CMS packages such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are used by millions of websites. In fact, the Tech Donut uses Drupal.
One of the benefits of using a CMS like this is that you're not on your own. Search online and you'll find thousands of designers and developers building add-ons and templates which you can freely use to develop your own website.
CMS packages are designed to make it quick and easy to add new content and features to your website without having to edit the HTML directly.
However, setting up a CMS-based website may require some HTML knowledge to begin with, so a CMS is a good option if you're using a web designer to create your website, but want to be able to manage it yourself in future.
All reliable web hosting companies will offer CMS packages as standard, and will enable you to install them automatically - so you don't have to worry about downloading software or creating databases yourself.
Online website building software
Online website building software is similar to the WYSIWYG packages (see below), except that you don't need to install anything on your computer. Instead, everything is done online, via your web browser.
Modern online website builder platforms are more approachable than ever before and are well-suited to small businesses. Here are some of the best:
Again, many of these packages offer cut-down free versions or have trial periods, so you can test them before investing too much time or money
Desktop WYSIWYG website building software
What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) website building software is less commonly used nowadays, but lets you create a website in a similar manner to using word processing software such as Microsoft Word.
You can add elements like buttons, images and tables in a few clicks and write your website content without having to edit any HTML code yourself.
Additionally, this kind of website building software often comes with a large selection of pre-built templates from which you can choose and adapt as you see fit.
Some packages also offer a 'hybrid' option, which allow you to use the WYSIWYG features but also edit the HTML directly, if you have the skills. This is a great way to learn how HTML works without having to start with an intimidating, blank page.
Many types of web hosting include website building software which you can download and install onto your computer. Popular packages include:
These packages usually offer a free trial, so you can test them out before you buy.
HTML code can seem intimidating if you've never worked with it before, but you don't need to be a web design guru to edit code on a website with an HTML editor.
If you have a basic understanding of HTML - or are willing to learn - there are countless free or low-cost HTML templates which you can download and adapt for your business.
Once you have cracked the basics of HTML, you can use the designs as they come and add your own content relatively easily.
It also pays to know a bit of HTML, even if you have paid a professional web designer to build your website. You can cut ongoing costs and make changes faster when you know how to do them yourself.
Here are some links to get you started with HTML:
- Try free HTML editors Notepad++ or Aptana Studio
- Learn basic HTML over at W3Schools
- Use this book to learn how to write HTML the right way
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