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No Cost Website

Preparation
Here I am going to go through creating a website from scratch all the way to publishing it and getting it in the search engines. The site will be valid XHTML 1.0 Strict and will use an external CSS style sheet. I will be discussing the process here but the website will not include this web page. I will discuss the need of each item as I cover them in the process. First I need to determine what the site is about, what the minimum requirements for the site are and what kind of content I will use. After some thought I have decided to make a website on free high quality programs with evaluations and reviews. Such a site will need a home page, programs page, programs review page, about author page, links page and an obfuscated contact link. Why I chose this kind of website is simply because it is of interest to me and I have some favorite software that is free which like to promote whenever possible. Your reasoning for your site could be just as simple. The point is you need a reason to use as your guide as to what you want the site to be. This is important to allow you to set goals, foundation and structure for the construction.

Some people say you can make a site by just getting a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, selecting your background, images and just start typing your text allowing the content to define the look of the site. While this is true it is also true that the site will show that is exactly what you did and that you didn't put any thought or preparation into the site before you started. What I want here is a more professional looking site.

What to call the new website?  I like to think of this as the label of the site since it will not be the "title" for any page and probably won't be the URL (Universal Resource Locator) or web address either. However it could be used on each page to help visitors to know what site they are on and be able to see if they click on a link that takes them to a different site. It should be short, simple and flow well. For it to contain meaning and pertain to the site is also good but not necessary. I think FHQ Programs sounds good to me. In the introduction of the site I can spell out the meaning and it will make sense to visitors after that and still be easy to remember, allowing it to become a possible keyword for search engines. What programs do I want to feature as my original selection?  I say original selection because I want you to be keeping in mind that at a later date other content will be added (not of course to this FHQ Programs site) but for your site you will need to keep this in mind. I am making notes in a free program called Cetus CWordPad using WordWeb to check my definitions and writing this text in NVU. Later I will be using TopStyle Lite, FileZilla, GIMPshop, XnView, Firefox with the Tidy extension,  Metty, IZArc, and OELC. These are all free programs. I will need these programs to do my work so I am making each name a link to where they can be obtained. Always keeping in mind to avoid virus infected and spyware programs. OK I assume you now have all these programs installed them and are ready to continue.

First I created a folder (fhq-programs) on my computer that is where I will store my new web site FHQ Programs. I created sub folders to help me organize the parts of my site. Remember this is not just a page but a complete website. The folders I created are "documentation, gif, jpg and png". Documentation is for keeping track of notes or other text files I create in the process of building my site. The other folders gif, jpg and png are for the graphic images that will be used on the site sorted by their extension. This will be a big help later when the site grows due to new content or changed content. All the web pages will be in the main folder or root directory.

One of the biggest mistakes a new website builder makes is to want their site to look cool, sharp, smart, flashy and on the cutting edge. This is a mistake because most of the things people think of as cool, sharp, smart, flashy and on the cutting edge are nothing but fads that someone else thought up to catch interest and make their site remembered.

Some problems with cool, sharp, smart, flashy and on the cutting edge is they are not often supported by all browsers and so many people will see what looks like a broken site if you use them. Also until something has been out for quite a while it will probably have bugs in it that make it unstable which again reflects on your site if you use them other than in moderation. Frames is an example of this. They work pretty well for what they were intended to do. They do have some major flaws also. Like search engine spiders can not follow them so if you use frames for your site you will have a very hard time getting into search engines. Flash has the same problem, even though it looks great ans cool it makes it harder for you to get good search engine results. Too many graphics can cause the same problem and they can cause you site to load so slow that visitors will just click on something else just to move on.

I know it sounds like I am saying you have to just use words and nothing else. But that isn't true. You just need to use moderation and make sure if you use some of the fancy and cool stuff that it actually helps your site or is needed. If your site needs flash, like say your site is about how to get the best from using a certain kind of flash program then by all means go ahead and use it but with moderation so it doesn't hurt more than it helps.

The cool things out there are not always bad but generally if it pertains only to the look it is only smart if the look of your site is every thing. If look is all you have then once it has been seen then why would someone return and what do they get? You need to have some good content that you can update and will make people think if they come back or tell others they will get something out of it the can use. An artistic site that has examples of a persons work may cause you to think that the look is every thing and that once a person has seen it then that is all. But what if this same site rotated the art and took the time to explain why they created the art and how they created it, with tips on how others could do the same thing. Then people that even didn't like the images may decide to return to see if they could pick up some pointers. Thus they get something out of it.  Remember content is king. This means that if you want a good website you have to have good content. Since I have no idea what your site will be about I can not possibly tell you what good content for your site is. I can give you some pointers and some ideas as to where you can get content to help you in making your site more desirable.

Articles about things related to your site are always a good source of content and there are many sites that offer free articles for your use. Of course it is better if you write some of the articles also as these carry more weight with the search engines. A quick search of Google for free articles finds 181,000,000 links and at the time of this writing the 3rd one on the list is ArticleCity.com which has 19 categories of free articles and they are just 1 of the many possible sources. When you do something like try a new program, create a new image or ride a different kind of skate board you can write down your experiences and use them for reviews. Of course you need to keep the reviews in context with your site and you need to write the papers you do as best you can but the rewards are there for the taking in providing you with good content and remember content is king.

I guess the most important preparation you can do is to gather the best content you can find or make. If you have good content it will help your site come together.

For content on the example site I am making here I am using my instructions, some free high quality programs, program reviews (I have written and found that I like) along with some graphic images that I had already made for my programs. Because I have them and since making graphics is not within the scope of this tutorial. However, you will need at this point to gather or make some of the images you will be using. When you insert your images it will effect the layout of your site and may require some changes so keep the originals. Also your images can give you a clue as to the colors you may want to use. Don't forget to keep original images and make copies that you will be optimizing for size and quality. The originals are to allow you to remake the image you use if when you see it in the page it doesn't look right.

I believe this is enough on preparation to give you the idea and sends me on to planning.



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