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Archive for May, 2008

Should You Build Your Own Website or Hire a Designer?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

As we move further into a global economy, more and more people are realizing that they’ve got to have a web presence. Whether they want to build a business, share personal interests, or take part in global activism, web design newbies face the common question of whether to build the site on their own or seek out professional help. As you might expect, there are several factors to consider before making this decision.

Cost of hiring a web designer

Depending on the size and complexity of the site you want to create, hiring a web designer or team can cost anywhere from $30 to thousands of dollars. More reputable companies will command higher prices in exchange for the guarantee that the work they do will meet your needs. On the other hand, when you create your own website, your only expense may be the actual cost of purchasing web hosting that will give you access to the web design tools you’ll need.

Timing considerations

If you don’t know HTML – and don’t learn new computer programs easily – it can take you days and even weeks to learn to create the perfect website. If you’re a busy business person – the time it’ll take you to build the site may be better spent on activities directly related to your business. However, if you hire someone to build your site, you’ll likely cut this time in half. If the site you want is fairly simple, a professional designer may even be able to have your site up and running within 24 hours.

Uploading and installation

Once the website is completed, you’ll face a whole other set of hurdles in actually getting the site to run properly online. Typically, issues can range from broken links to scripts that are not compatible with your web host’s operating system. If you build your own website, you’ll have to try and sort out these problems out on your own. If you hire someone to build the site, ask if they’ll also include installation and a final check to make sure that each aspect of the site works properly.

Future changes to the site

If you can create your own site, you’ll be able to modify it whenever you want – which is important, since you’ll want to update your site with new information frequently. Unfortunately, if you hire someone to build and install the site, you’ll have to depend on them to make even the most minor changes for you. If your web designer becomes unavailable, or decides to raise their prices, you may have some difficulty getting these changes made.

As you consider whether or not to hire someone to build your website, it’s important to think about future needs as well as current ones. In addition to cost, you’ll need to take into account your ability to learn how to create a website and the skills to maintain it. If you’re anxious to get up and running, you may find that hiring out the project makes more sense for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking to put up a personal page about your life, you may find that you enjoy the process of learning to build your own website.

HTML Tags You Need To Know

Sunday, May 18th, 2008
Even if you use a WYSIWYG or other drag and drop tool to create your web pages, you may find it helpful to know some of the most commonly used HTML tags. This is especially true if you’ve worked with a professional web designer to create your site. If your site needs only a minor change, you may not want to spend the time or money to have the designer do it. Of course, if you do decide to make changes on your own, be sure to save an unchanged copy in case of mistakes!

The following are some of the most common HTML tags you’ll use as a beginning web designer:

Text tags

To make a word of text on your website bold, simply enclose it with a <b> tag, as in the following example: <b>Please</b> be on time! You can follow the same structure to italicize or underline text using <i> or <u>, respectively. When you’re working with HTML tags, it’s important to remember to close the tag – using the </i> or </u> after the words you want to change.

You can also use HTML tags to edit the color of your text. For some of the most commonly used colors, you can simply use the tag <font color=”red”>. If you want a less common color, like a specific shade of purple used in your business’s logo, look up the six digit hexadecimal code online. For example, you could wind up with a tag that looks like this: <font color=”FF0000”>.

Another common use of HTML tags in modifying text is in the creation of headers. When you want to create definition to a line of text – or a single word – you can change its size with a header tag. Headers come in six sizes with a “1” being the largest, and a size “6” being the smallest. To change a piece of text to a header, simply enclose it with the tag: <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, and so on, depending on the size you want.

To change the look and feel of your web page, you can change the way text is aligned on your page with HTML tags. Before a paragraph of text, insert the tag <p align=”left”>, <p align=”center”> or <p align=”right”>. Be sure you close your paragraph with a </p> tag. Play around with these different styles until you find the one that works for your site.

Creating a bulleted list

Using lists on your web page is a great way to break up information and highlight important points – and it’s easy to do using HTML tags. To start a bulleted list, type the tag <ul>. Next, before you type the first item to appear in your list, add the tag <li>, which stands for “list item.” At the end of your first item, close the tag with a </li> and then add as many list items as you want using this formula. When you’ve added all the items you want, close the text with a </ul> tag.

Adding space between paragraphs

When you’re working with several paragraphs of text on your web page, be sure to enclose each paragraph with a <p></p> set of tags. This will automatically insert a certain amount of space between each paragraph to improve readability. If you want to add extra space, you can insert a <br> tag, which corresponds to a forced break in the text. This tag is unique because you don’t need to add a corresponding </br> tag – just insert it wherever you want extra space.

Combining tags

On their own, these tags may seem simple, but adding them together can get complicated. For example, what happens if you want a centered, bold, underlined piece of text? Whenever you’re working with multiple tags, make sure you close them in the correct order. To create the headline mentioned earlier, the correct structure is: <p align=”center”><b><u>Headline</u></b></p>. As you can see, each tag is closed in succession.

Working with HTML tags can be a lot of fun and knowing them will give you an unprecedented level of control over the design of your webpage. Practice with them using a drag and drop editor – or look at the source code for web pages you like to see how certain elements are created in code. Although you may need to seek the help of a professional web designer when you’re first getting started, you may soon find yourself able to complete most web design tasks on your own.



How to Build a Website If You Don’t Know HTML

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Don’t let not knowing HTML stop you from building a website – there are a number of editors available that will help you design pages and install them on your web hosting server. These editors – often called WYSIWYG editors (for “what you see is what you get”) – come with handy tools that make setting up links, changing fonts and editing colors easy. But these tools aren’t just for the beginning web designer – in many cases, professional web designers also find these applications indispensable.

HTML editors and design software

Today, you can buy HTML editors for under $20 that will allow you create professional looking websites in minutes. In some cases, your word processing software will also allow you to design websites. The major advantage of these programs is that you can simply drag and drop various items wherever you want them on the page. Without question, this is much easier than trying to manually code HTML tags and trying to visualize how the site will look. You may even be able to find editors that will help you write and incorporate various kinds of scripts.

In many cases, HTML editors will also come with basic templates that suit most needs. As you click through the simple website creation steps, you’ll also be given the opportunity to edit the images, text, font colors, and sizes that will make your page unique. These software packages will also create link structures that will make publishing your site as simple as uploading the files to the server. Depending on the browser that you have, it may also have a web design module.

Online HTML editors

Many web hosts today provide free online HTML editing software. As with non-internet based packages, these scripts will make it easy for you to design and publish your sites using the same drag and drop interface. In many cases, you’ll have access to the hottest new tags and templates, without having to pay to upgrade your software. If you’re a beginning website owner, seek out a hosting provider that offers this service for free and offers support for new users navigating the program – this could prove to be invaluable.

Using blogs and other pre-engineered tools

Many people are taking advantage of blogs and other pre-designed tools to get their sites up and running with a minimal amount of effort. Aside from making it extremely easy to embed links, images, and videos, you can also add links to Ebay stores and other revenue generating features – without knowing a single HTML tag. Some of the most popular blog solutions are Blogger and Blogspot – both of which offer free, easy to use setup and design features.

The internet is no longer the sole domain of professional web designers and publishers. As more people have gained access to the internet, new tools have been developed to help them create and publish websites as quickly and easily as possible. As a result, you’ll find a number of solutions – from online editors to complete software packages – to help create your website.