If you are a business person or hobbyist who wishes to express your passions publicly, it is mandatory to make your own website. Websites allow you to easily find information on businesses you need to solve your problems and provide a convenient outlet for you to share your hobbies or interests. You can build your own website with relative ease for free. In this article, I’ll walk you through process of creating a website from beginning to end. Creating an attractive, basic website takes minimal skills. If you are familiar with computers and the Internet you should have no problem completing these tasks. I will use the Weebly platform to create the website.
However, there are other free website resources available. Weebly is one of my favorite platforms for website creation for several reasons:
- It has a very simple user interface, and you do not need programming or coding skills to get a website up and running.
- The platform is free to use.
- If desired, you can purchase a domain and move the completed page over to your personal web address easily. A custom domain name looks more professional and creates an air of professionalism, which immediately builds trust with the website audience.
- Weebly has hundreds of attractive free templates and adds more every day. If you have knowledge of hypertext markup language (HTML) or cascading style sheets (CSS), you can access the code to make changes directly.
- Weebly hosts your website for free, sparing you the cost of paying for separate hosting.
Because of these factors, Weebly is the platform I suggest to future website owners when they want to create their first website. Before beginning, I recommend having a few things available before starting the process:
- It’s a good idea for you to have a credit card handy in case there is a service that you would like to add.
- You should install Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer web browsers. These browsers are the most common and most compatible browsers available. Websites look slightly different in different browsers. You should know what your website looks like in all three browsers.
- You should have pre-written content that relates to your business or hobby.
- Most of all, as a first time website builder, you need a generous helping of patience. At first, the user interface is a bit confusing. Over time, as you become familiar with the user interface, the process becomes easier.
Begin by going to www.weebly.com. I recommend signing up with an email address created specifically for your new website. Using a separate email address will make your life easier in the future should you decide to add metrics measuring or social media accounts. As a new website owner, I urge you to think of your website the same they would think of your business banking account; it is easier to keep everything separate. I have experienced the nightmare of separating personal accounts from a website I’ve started as a hobby and then deciding to explore its potential further. It is not fun.
Once you have completed the simple sign up form, Weebly will direct you to the theme selection screen. Here, Weebly will present you with a large choice of ready-made templates. It helps you if you have already thought about what colors and styles you want to use. The best practice is to find a color scheme that matches your existing or planned promotional materials and a theme that is right for your product, service or interest.
Once you choose a theme, Weebly will prompt you to choose a domain name. Whatever domain name you choose, Weebly will append their domain name to it, and it will become a subdomain of Weebly. For example, if you choose coolsite12345.com for a domain, the entire web address is coolsite12345.weebly.com. Subdomains do not inspire confidence. They are long and difficult to remember. A subdomain is a fine option to make your own website to share with family members and friends. But, if you want to look professional or create an air of authority a registered domain name is a must.
At this point, you have created your basic web page. Weebly will now direct you to a video tutorial when you click continue. Watching this video provides you with basic answers about navigating the website controls and making changes. Once the video has finished, Weebly will direct you to the page editor.
Customizing a New Website
When you get to the page editor, you will see the theme you selected earlier applied to your webpage. The editor displays the website in the bottom right of the screen. On the left, there is a toolbox loaded with different content types that you can drag into your webpage. At the top of the editor, where it reads “My Site”, you can type in the name of your website. You can change this at any time.
If desired, you can change the background image of your website. To do this, hover over the image with your pointer. An edit image dialogue will pop up. Once you click on the pop up, the editor will give you the option to choose an image from your computer. If the image is not already edited, the Weebly editor has limited photo editing functions. You may also use the image function to create a photo slide show for the website. Once you add all images, you can click the save button and move on to customizing the website’s written content.
The next task is to add relevant pages. Most websites contain an about me page and a contact information page. Businesses will also want to add a product/services page to highlight their offerings. You can do this by going to the top of the editor and clicking on the pages button. The pop up dialog will offer you the option to add a standard, blog or store page. There is also an option to add an external link as a page. Header size and page layout adjustments are also available in this dialog. You can make changes to the layout at any time by revisiting the pages section of the editor tool. You can also rearrange the pages as necessary by dragging and dropping them into the desired order in the editor.
Now that you have created your pages, you can add written content to them. Begin by clicking on the page you want to edit then choose the desired object type — in this case text — into the work area. Once you drag the text object to the desired location, you can click on it and enter text. I have found it easier to type this content in a word processing program first, then copy and paste it into the text object. However, the text object does allow you to enter text directly into it. The editor also has objects for adding an image with text, a standalone image, a gallery, a slide show, a map or a contact form.
An added benefit of Weebly is that, once you complete your page, the editor will also help you build a mobile compatible version of your website. To do this, click on the Mobile icon to the left of the publish button, and the Weebly mobile editor will show you what your page looks like on a mobile device. Once you have made all desired changes to your new website, your final task is to click the publish button and enter the CAPTCHA code. Your website changes will then become available to the viewing public.
Your website is now complete. As you become more advanced, the next steps you take will include linking the page to social networks (or deleting the buttons if you are not ready to use them) and configuring the search engine optimization (SEO) settings.