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Build a professional website – beginner's guide

Do you have a business or personal project and want to create your own website? How this works is explained here. Learn how to do that here. It's free.

First of all, it is necessary to think a little about your new internet site.

  1. What is the topic that you would like to have for your online presence?
    for example, crafts, services, mobile telephony, finance, sport, hobby, …

  2. Who is the target audience of the site?
    for example, potential customers, young people, fans, …

  3. What should the website look like at first glance, given the topic and target audience?
    for example, serious, calming, funny, …

  4. What information do you want to provide?
    for example, self-description, company history, products, special offers, …

  5. What content elements do you need??
    for example, images, videos, automatic banner rotation, contact form, other interactive forms or calculators, online-shop, blog, forum, …

More factors depend on the topic of your website and your target group. For example, the theme you use as layout template for your webpage. If you want to create the website for your business, a calmer layout is usually recommended than for a sports web site.

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Plan the basic structure of the website

With the answers to these 5 questions, you have already gathered a lot of information and clues about your website. You can now start planning the page structure of your website.

Remember that navigation is enormously important for your domain's visitors to find their way around. Therefore, make sure that the navigation bar is logically structured. This is especially important if the navigation bar is extensive.

The absolute minimum, in addition to the homepage (also called home page), are the legal notice and privacy policy pages, which are required by law in Germany for all websites that serve business purposes and must always be present. Exclusively purely private Internet pages do not fall under the legal notice obligation according to §5 of the German Telemedia Act (Telemediengesetz TMG).

Important: If advertising is displayed on a private website with the intention of generating revenue, this may already mean, that a Legal Notice page is required.

Further pages can contain a contact form, an image gallery, an online store, a price list or a blog.

It's usually not a good idea to start creating the website without planning. Improvisation doesn't always lead to the desired success. Planning helps you to decide what pages you need, what content is best, and how your webpages should be designed.

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Tips for planning your website

  1. Take a sheet of paper and a pencil and write down everything that should be on the website. brainstorming (unordered list of ideas) and creating a mind map (thought map to represent ideas and concepts) are very good ways to organize your thoughts.

  2. Have a look at other websites and make a note of your likes and dislikes.

  3. When you are done with your (preliminary) planning, ask other people what they think about it. You're sure to get some interesting tips and suggestions from them that you can include in your mind map.

  4. Using Microsoft Excel or LibreOffice Calc, create a list of all the pages you want your website to have. Note for each page

    • the title (meta title), maximum 55 – 65 characters including spaces

    • the description (meta description), maximum 140 – 160 characters including spaces

    • the search terms or keywords (meta description), maximum 10 relevant search terms or phrases (for more info see the meta tags) page.

    • the planned Content Types

    • the URL and the link text used in the navigation bar.

  5. It makes sense that you at least prewrite and save longer texts in a text editor. A text editor is a program that saves entered texts without formatting as so-called plain text. This makes them ideal for avoiding layout problems. Do not use a word processor like Microsoft Word for this purpose. Use the file and directory names names according to the page tree on the server. This means that you have the texts at your fingertips at all times, and can simply copy and paste them into the relevant page at the desired position.

  6. Select the images and videos you want to use on your webpage. Use only self-created or licensed images, otherwise there is a risk of a warning for copyright infringement. Optimize the images and videos before uploading them to the server, so that the webpage can be loaded quickly and the data volume is not too large.

  7. Tips for designing your website.

  8. More info about seach engine optimization (SEO).

To create your website, a good Code Editor and a good Graphics Program like e Adobe Photoshop or GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) belong to the basic equipment of your workplace.

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Website requirements

Thanks to various website construction kits (also called site builders), users today can create simple websites even without prior knowledge. With these do-it-yourself tools (DIY), prefabricated design templates and components can be used, which are positioned via drag-and-drop.

An Open Source CMS is generally the better choice because of its greater flexibility. A CMS is easily expandable through freely selectable themes and plug-ins. Especially for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) a CMS is much better suited than a website builder. In addition, an open source CMS can be used free of charge, in contrast to most website builders.

However, if you want to create a professional website from scratch without using a CMS, you need a well-founded knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript and a server-side programming language like e.g. PHP.