How to Design a Website

Let a content-management system handle the heavy lifting

Person working at a computer

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Developing a website has grown easier over the years, but the technologies underneath the web have also grown and developed in more complex ways, in tandem.

Complex websites generally benefit from engagement with a professional graphic designer.

Technology Solutions

Advances in web technology have made it easier than ever to make websites, provided you're willing to make use of a content management system (CMS). In the past, websites were typically coded by hand using HTML and Cascading Style Sheets. Now, web development can be as easy as drag-and-drop development.

The catch? Although you're welcome to pick from many different templates, you still generally must customize your site within the framework of the tool you use:

  • WordPress: Offered in both hosted and self-hosted flavors, WordPress is a powerful blogging engine that powers a significant share of the public-facing internet. Sign up for a free WordPress site, pick a template, and customize it as you see fit.
  • Joomla: A more complex, block-designed CMS, Joomla often supports mid-sized businesses with more complex needs. It, too, is an open-source solution.
  • Wix: Want to design a site but not run a content management system? A tool like Wix, which supports drag-and-drop visual page design, may be up your alley. It and sites like it, including SquareSpace and Zoho Sites, is great for simple sites with straightforward needs.

Ideas for Personal Websites

The free WordPress themes at Blog Oh! Blog

When you design a website, you'll look primarily at two things — overall design and content.

From a design perspective, you'll likely find value in using a content management system. Each CMS, like WordPress or Ghost, offers different templates you're welcome to use for free or to purchase. Find a template that makes sense, then apply it.

Content, however, is a different beast. CMSes generally offer a mix of a blogging capability and normal webpages. For personal sites, a blog is often sufficient, supported by an About Me or a Contact Me page. More complex personal sites, like author or entrepreneur sites, might include specialized pages about your books, your hobbies, your resume, or related information.

Ideas for Small Business Websites

New small business designing own website
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Small-biz sites differ from personal websites through the deployment of additional content. For example, a family diner might include a page for menus, whereas a crafting site might include a shopping cart. Also, small-business websites generally integrate with social media sites and include contact forms so customers or potential customers can reach out.

More Advanced Designs

Sophisticated, individualized designs generally benefit from engagement from professional graphic designers and coding experts. Modern web technologies require a careful interplay of content, design, and functionality that generally exceeds hobbyist expertise.