Tips for Beginning Web Masters

If you are new to web site building then the task can, at first, seem like an overwhelming one. This is especially true if you've never built a website before and don't know where to start. Here are 5 tips for getting your first web site together quickly and easily.

The first thing you will need is a good web design software program. There are so many packages out there it may be difficult to choose one at first. If you are just starting and are not interested in learning HTML, Javascript, or any other web programming language, then you should choose a WYSIWYG design tool. WYSIWYG stands for "What You See is What You Get." Tools that use this type of interface behave like desktop publishing or word processing programs. You simply type in your content as you would in your word processor.

Many have drag and drop layout features, allowing you to place your images and text exactly where you want them. Of course, there are expensive tools such as Dreamweaver, but you can get buy equally well with a tool like Microsoft Front Page, Coffee Cup's HTML Editor, or even one of the free tools on the market such as NVU or IMS WebDwarf. Another alternative is OpenOffice, a free suite of tools that includes a web page editor. The second tip I have for you is to start by using a web page template. Web templates are pre-made web pages that you can use. They already contain all the formatting and graphics.

All you need to do is supply the content. If you are like most of us, designing a good looking site may be better off left to the professional graphic designers. This is the role of web templates.

By purchasing an inexpensive template you get a great looking web site without a huge expense. Plus, templates are completely customizable so you can us it as a good starting point and alter it to make it uniquely yours. Third, focus on your web site's main goal. Do not get so caught up in the web site's appearance or using fancy technology like Flash, audio or video, that you forget to create a site that actually achieves its goal. For example, if you are promoting a newsletter you will want as much content on the page, along with a highly visible way for subscribers to sign up. So many web pages try do too many things that they don't do any of them well.

Keep it simple is the fourth piece of advice I can give you. Remember to focus your energies on creating a truly useful site that people will want to return to. If you add too many distractions you will just confuse your visitors. Keep the ads, animations and other items to a minimum and only use them when they are necessary.

Your menus and navigation should be intuitive and easy to use. Web sites naturally grow and change as time goes on so it is important to keep things as simple as possible to make it easier to edit later on. Finally, have your site reviewed.

Let others proofread your site and give you feedback. Also, you should test your web page on as many different computers and in as many browsers as possible. You will be amazed at how differently your page may appear in different web browsers. Sometimes these changes are subtle and you can easily live with the differences. However, they can also be drastic, causing your web page to be practically unusable in one browser. If you can, load several browsers on you computer and test the pages as you develop them.

Creating your first web page does not have to be a daunting task. There are many resources and tools available to help. If you keep your end goal in mind and focus on creating a simple site that achieves this goal, then you are almost guaranteed a success.

James Pearson is the author of the "Web Building Success" newsletter which gives tips for creating great web sites. Visit for a free set of web building videos.

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