Web Design – Some Quick Tips to Get Started

Web design can be quite a daunting prospect if you are new to the Internet. You would like to create your own site but have no idea where to start. Html? Photoshop? Fireworks? FrontPage? Dreamweaver? This article/tutorial will give you some tips and hints on how to get started with web design – and which shortcuts to take!

 Tip 1: Learn HTML: I can hear you groan. I said I was going to give you some shortcuts, now I suggest you learn HTML! Unfortunately there is no way around it. Even if you make use to the shortcuts to web design that I am going to suggest, learning HTML will still be the best investment that you can make. It is really not that difficult and it will greatly aid in your understanding of web design. A really good place for online tutorials on HTML can be found here: http://www.w3schools.com/html/ Depending on your enthusiasm and level of technical skill I would also suggest that you learn a bit about CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Cascading style sheets can assist you tremendously with controlling the layout, colors and images on your web page. You can also find good CSS tutorials on the w3schools website.

  Tip 2: Use a web template for web design: Now this is really a shortcut to web design! I suggest that you create your first website by making use of a web template. There are lots of commercial templates available, and frankly, they are beautiful, but I am going to give you some hints on where to find free web templates. Most people would think that searching for ‘free web templates’ in Google would be the most obvious way of doing it – but I suggest that you rather search for ‘open source web templates’. Here are three sources with open source (basically – free to use) web templates. The advantage of these templates is that they are normally well designed and will also teach you good web design principles (as opposed to most of the commercial templates which, while they are undeniably beautiful to look at, they are normally not built making use of good web design principles). My favorite Open Source web design site is http://www.oswd.org This site has over a 1600 free designs to choose from. Download any design and build your site! Most of these designs make use of CSS as well which is why it is a good idea to learn CSS. Another site with lots of free template designs is http://www.daydreamgraphics.com I suggest that if you are just starting out you stick with the designs made with tables. These are the easiest to manipulate and use. The templates on Daydreamgraphics are not for everyone – they are mostly geared towards a young funky look, so if you are looking for a design that you can use for your business or company, you might do better to rather select a design from OSWD, but if you are looking at setting up a personal website, a hobby site or a site related to music or entertainment, these designs will work very well.

  Tip 3: Use WordPress or Joomla to create your site: This option is really by far the best way to create your website in the long term. Theoretically you do not need to know HTML and CSS to create and modify your site but in practice it pays off to learn these skills since it will help you master these tools just so much faster. The steps to creating your website using these tools are as follows: 1. Log into your CPanel control panel (if you are not using a host that provides you with a CPanel control panel and Fantastico scripts – frankly, my only advice is to change to one that does!) 2. Select Fantastico from the control panel 3. Select either WordPress or Joomla from the menu on the left. 4. Install WordPress or Joomla in the root folder. You will have to select an administrator username and password to access the admin side of your site. Log into the admin backend (normally /wp-admin for WordPress and /administrator for Joomla). There are lots of free WordPress tutorials available – just do a Google search for ‘free WordPress tutorials’ and to get started in Joomla, do a search for ‘how to use Joomla’. To change the look and feel of your WordPress or Joomla website is really easy! You simply install a new template. WordPress and Joomla templates are specific to these tools (you cannot use any templates). For a guide to where to find the best free WordPress and Joomla templates you can take a look at these resources: http://www.tm4y.co.za/joomla-tips/best-joomla-templates.html and http://www.tm4y.co.za/wordpress-tips/wordpress-templates.html. I hope that these tips will help you on your way to creating your own website – web design the easy way! Christine Anderssen is the owner of Tailormade4you Web Design and Internet Web Hosting for South Africa. After spending 20 years in the corporate IT world she recently started her own Web Design and Development company specializing in custom built Internet solutions for small businesses. Visit her website for free tutorials and tips on how to use Joomla and WordPress for Web Design.

 By Christine Anderssen

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