Web Development – Where to Start

posted in: The Web | 1

Web traffic continues to increase daily. With almost 250 million American users alone, plus quickly expanding Internet accessibility in foreign countries, a huge target market exists for any website. Whether for a business, a hobby, a professional resume, or anything else, the Internet has resources to help. However, one of the biggest hurdles is giving your webpage something unique. The first step is to have unique content that can be updated regularly and retains an audience. The second step is to format that information in a way that people can quickly and easily read and navigate.
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Web Design Software

Hundreds of websites exist on the web to allow you to “have your own website in 15 minutes!” While this does give you an address where you can host some of your own content, you are typically stuck using one of their twelve predesigned templates that look like every other blog online. The secret here is knowing how to build your own page and then use that. For general layouts, both Microsoft Frontpage and Adobe Dreamweaver allow a graphical view to creating a website. Frontpage is a little dated, but if used appropriately, can still make a good website.

What You Need to Know in Your Software

The first point is to know how to add and modify text, pictures, and other design elements. These are typically fairly straightforward. However, to make your website slightly more on the savvy side, different extensions can be used sparingly. If you have a content rich website, you can add a Google search box through their webmaster program to allow your viewers easy access to the articles and information they want. Other extensions can be used, such as the Facebook “like” button, Google+ “+1” button, and a Twitter link with a shortened URL to your website. All of these can encourage social distribution of your content, though be wary about having too much.

The Current Change in the Internet

The Internet is slowly transitioning to the HTML5 standard. HTML has long been the standard online, though without any extensions such as JavaScript or CSS it could not handle a varied color background or precise formatting. In short, it was a bit clunky which was why JavaScript, CSS, and Adobe Flash made such an impact on the web. They allowed for interactive, content-rich pages that could change dynamically and allow the user more control. With HTML5, many of these same actions are being standardized to give developers a new toolbox, as well as give a more similar run-time on different browsers, especially mobile. HTML5 is still largely in the planning and building stages, though a web developer who is able to learn and implement it well would have an advantage over the competition.

In short, web design is not something that can be learned in a day. There are entire degrees on the subject, though for most people, a few months of research, learning, and practice can make it a fun and fulfilling experience to create a professional level webpage. If you are just starting out, be sure to research HTML, Internet Extensions, and find a good Web Design software package that works for you and your needs.

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  1. Tavis J. Hampton

    I think Microsoft FrontPage has been replaced by Microsoft Expression Web. On the business side, I think they use SharePoint Designer. I’ve never used any of those, being a Linux user, and prefer to get my hands on the code.

    For most of my clients who don’t want to touch the HTML/CSS code, I usually recommend free content management systems like WordPress or Joomla combined with free or paid templates. It’s just much easier to maintain than expecting non-techs to update static pages or design their own templates and themes.

    HTML5 may allow us to reintroduce dynamic content without the need for a database backend, but that is still a few years away from mass adoption.

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