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Helping you build a website
Do you want to create a website, but don’t have coding experience? We provide thorough comparisons of the most popular and successful website builders. Take a look at our analyses – we’ve pooled our experts’ knowledge to help you decide which website builder will meet your particular needs.
Building your website
You may not be a website builder for designers or a professional coder – that’s where website builders come in. They facilitate the process of creating a website, making it accessible to everyone, regardless of your programming know-how. Using website builders’ streamlined and premade templates and themes, you can quickly launch a professional website.
Choosing a website builder
What kind of website do you want to create? A personal website might have a cleaner, more straightforward design, while an online store requires a different set of strategies and resources. We are here to walk you through these decisions and provide tips to help you make the best decision.
Web design encompasses many different skills and disciplines in the production and maintenance of websites. The different areas of web design include graphic web design; interface design; authoring, including standardized code and proprietary software; user experience design; and search engine optimization. Often many individuals will work in teams covering different aspects of the design process, although some designers will cover them all. The term web design is usually used to describe the design process relating to the front-end (client-side) design of a website, including writing markup. Web design partially overlaps web engineering in the broader scope of web development. Website builder for designers is expected to have an awareness of usability. If their role involves creating markup, then they are also likely to be up to date with web accessibility guidelines.
Tools and technologiesWeb designers use a variety of different tools depending on what part of the production process they are designing. These tools are updated over time by newer standards and software, but the principles behind them remain the same. Web designers use both vector and raster graphics editors to create web-formatted imagery or design prototypes. Technologies used to create websites include W3C standards like HTML and CSS, which can be hand-coded or generated by WYSIWYG editing software. Other tools web designers might use include mark up validators and other testing tools for usability and accessibility to ensure their websites meet web accessibility guidelines.
Skills and techniques
Marketing and communication design
Marketing and communication design on a website may identify what works for its target market. By age group or particular strand of culture; thus, the designer may understand the trends of its audience. Designers may also understand the type of website they are designing, meaning, for example, that (B2B) business-to-business website design considerations might differ significantly from a consumer targeted website such as a retail or entertainment website. Careful consideration might be made to ensure that the aesthetics or overall design of a site does not clash with the clarity and accuracy of the content or the ease of web navigation, especially on a B2B website. Designers may also consider the reputation of the owner or business the site is representing to assure they are favorable.
User experience design and interactive design
User understanding of the content of a website often depends on user understanding of how the site works; this is part of the user experience design. User experience is related to layout, clear instructions, and labeling on a website. How well a user understands how they can interact on a site may also depend on the interactive design of the site. If a user perceives the usefulness of the website, they are more likely to continue using it. Users who are skilled and well versed with website use may find a more unique, yet less intuitive or less user-friendly website interface useful nonetheless. However, users with less experience are less likely to see the advantages or usefulness of a less intuitive website interface. Driving the trend for universal user experience and ease of access to accommodate as many users as possible regardless of user skill. Much of the user experience design and interactive design took into consideration in the user interface design.
Advanced interactive functions may require plug-ins if not advanced coding language skills. They are choosing whether or not to use interactivity that requires plug-ins is a critical decision in user experience design. If the plug-in doesn’t come pre-installed with most browsers, there’s a risk that the user will have neither the know-how or the patience to install a plug-in to access the content. If the function requires advanced coding language skills, it may be too costly in either time or money to code compared to the amount of enhancement the purpose will add to the user experience. There’s also a risk that advanced interactivity may be incompatible with older browsers or hardware configurations. Publishing a function that doesn’t work reliably is potentially worse for the user experience than not attempt. It depends on the target audience if it’s likely to be needed or worth any risks.
Part of the user interface design is affected by the quality of the page layout. For example, a designer may consider whether the site’s page layout should remain consistent on different pages when designing the layout. Page pixel width also regarded as vital for aligning objects in the layout design. The most popular fixed-width websites generally have the same set width to match the current most popular browser window, at the current most popular screen resolution, on the current most popular monitor size. Most pages are also center-aligned for concerns of aesthetics on larger screens.
Fluid layouts increased in popularity around 2000 as an alternative to HTML-table-based plans and grid-based design in both page layout design principles and coding technique but were very slow to be adopted.[note 1] This was due to considerations of screen reading devices and different window sizes, which designers have no control over. Accordingly, a design may be broken down into units (sidebars, content blocks, embedded advertising areas, navigation areas) sent to the browser and which will be fitted into the display window by the browser, as best it can. As the browser does recognize the details of the reader’s screen (window size, font size relative to windoetc.), the browser can make user-specific layout adjustments to fluid layouts, but not fixed-width designs. Although such a display may often change the relative position of significant content units, sidebars may be displaced below body text rather than to the side of it. They are more flexible display than a hard-coded grid-based layout that doesn’t fit the device window. In particular, the relative position of content blocks may change while leaving the content within the block unaffected. It also minimizes the user’s need to scroll the page horizontally.
Responsive Web Design is a newer approach, based on CSS3, and a deeper level of per-device specification within the page’s stylesheet through enhanced use of the CSS
@media rule. In March 2018, Google announced they would be rolling out mobile-first indexing. Sites using responsive design are well placed to ensure they meet this new approach.
Web designers may choose to limit the variety of website typefaces to only a few which are of a similar style, instead of using a wide range of typefaces or typestyles. Most browsers recognize a specific number of safe fonts, which designers mainly use to avoid complications.
Font downloading was later included in the CSS3 fonts module and has since been implemented in Safari 3.1, Opera 10, and Mozilla Firefox 3.5. Subsequently increased interest in web typography, as well as the usage of font downloading.
Most site layouts incorporate negative space to break the text up into paragraphs and also avoid the center-aligned version.
The page layout and user interface may also be affected by the use of motion graphics. The choice of whether or not to use motion graphics may depend on the target market for the website. Motion graphics may be expected or at least better received with an entertainment-oriented website. However, a website target audience with a more severe or formal interest (such as business, community, or government) might find animations unnecessary and distracting if only for entertainment or decoration purposes. It doesn’t mean that more severe content couldn’t work with animated or video presentations that are relevant to the content. In either case, motion graphic design may make the difference between more practical visuals or distracting visuals.
Motion graphics that are not initiated by the site visitor can produce accessibility issues. The World Wide Web consortium accessibility standards require that site visitors be able to disable the animations.
Quality of code
Website designers may consider it to be good practice to conform to standards. Usually done via a description specifying what the element is doing. Failure to comply with rules may not make a website unusable or error-prone. Still, standards can relate to the correct layout of pages for readability as well as making sure coded elements are closed. Including errors in code, more organized design for the system, and making sure IDs and classes are identified. Poorly-coded pages are sometimes colloquially called tag soup. Validating via W3C can only be done when a correct DOCTYPE declaration is made, which is used to highlight errors in code. The system identifies the mistakes and areas that do not conform to web design standards. The user can then correct this information.
There are two ways websites that are available: statically or dynamically.
A static website stores a unique file for every page of a static website. Each time that page is requested, the content returns. This content is created once, during the design of the website. It is usually manually authored, although some sites use an automated creation process, similar to a dynamic website, whose results are stored long-term as completed pages. These automatically-created static sites became more popular around 2015, with generators such as Jekyll and Adobe Muse.
The benefits of a static website are that they were simpler to host, as their server only needed to serve static content, not execute server-side scripts. Requiring less server administration and had less chance of exposing security holes. They could also help pages more quickly, on low-cost server hardware. The advantage became less important as cheap web hosting also expanded to offer dynamic features, and virtual servers offered high performance for short intervals at low cost.
Almost all websites have some static content, as supporting assets such as images and stylesheets are usually static, even on a website with highly dynamic pages.
Dynamic websites are generated on the fly and use server-side technology to create webpages. Typically extracting the content from one or more back-end databases: queries across a relational database to query a catalog or to summarise numeric information, others may use a document database such as MongoDB or NoSQL to store larger units of content, such as blog posts or wiki articles.
In the design process, dynamic pages are often mocked-up or wireframed using static pages. The skillset needed to develop dynamic web pages is much broader than for a static page, involving server-side and database coding as well as client-side interface design. Even medium-sized active projects are thus almost always a team effort.
When dynamic web pages first developed, they were typically coded directly in languages such as Perl, PHP, or ASP. Some of these, notably PHP and ASP, used a ‘template’ approach where a server-side page resembled the structure of the completed client-side page, and data inserted into places defined by ‘tags.’ It was a quicker means of development than coding in a purely procedural coding language such as Perl.
These approaches have now been supplanted for many websites by higher-level application-focused tools such as content management systems. These build on top of general-purpose coding platforms and assume that a website exists to offer content according to one of several wells recognized models, such as a time-sequenced blog, a thematic magazine or news site, a wiki or a user forum. These tools implement such a place very easy and a purely organizational and design-based task, without requiring any coding.
Editing the content itself (as well as the template page) can be done both through the site itself and with the use of third-party software. The ability to edit all pages is provided only to a specific category of users (for example, administrators, or registered users). In some cases, anonymous users are allowed to edit certain web content, which is less frequent (for example, on forums – adding messages). An example of a site with an anonymous change is Wikipedia.
Usability experts, including Jakob Nielsen and Kyle Soucy, have often emphasized homepage design for website success and asserted that the homepage is the most crucial page on a website. However, practitioners into the 2000s were starting to find that a growing number of website traffic was bypassing the homepage, going directly to internal content pages through search engines, e-newsletters and RSS feeds. Leading many practitioners to argue that homepages are less important than most people think. Jared Spool argued in 2007 that a site’s website was the least important page on a website.
In 2012 and 2013, carousels (also called ‘sliders’ and ‘rotating banners’) have become a trendy design element on homepages, often used to showcase featured or recent content in a confined space. Many practitioners argue that carousels are an ineffective design element and hurt a website’s search engine optimization and usability.
There are two primary jobs involved in creating a website: the web designer and web developer, who often work closely together on a website. The web designers are responsible for the visual aspect, which includes the layout, coloring, and typography of a web page. Web designers will also have a working knowledge of markup languages such as HTML and CSS, although the extent of their knowledge will differ from one web designer to another. Particularly in smaller organizations, one person will need the necessary skills for designing and programming the full web page, while larger organizations may have a web designer responsible for the visual aspect alone.
Further jobs which may become involved in the creation of a website include:
- Graphic designers to create visuals for the site such as logos, layouts, and buttons
- Internet marketing specialists to help maintain web presence through strategic solutions on targeting viewers to the site, by using marketing and promotional techniques on the internet
- SEO writers to research and recommend the correct words to be incorporated into a particular website and make the website more accessible and found on numerous search engines
- Internet copywriter to create the written content of the page to appeal to the targeted viewers of the site
- User experience (UX) designer incorporates aspects of user-focused design considerations, which include information architecture, user-centered design, user testing, interaction design, and occasionally visual design.