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I’m not going to spend too long talking about how to build your site as it will depend on a vast array of things, your technical ability, the time you can devote to it, how much you’d like to spend on hosting, your personal aesthetic and many other factors. It’s also a huge subject so I’m just going to briefly let you know what some of the options are:

Something out of the box’

These are very simple tools created for non-designers and so are very easy to use, but by the same token very limited in what you can do with them. Your site will look ok but fairly generic and unprofessional. They tend to be hard to update and technically quite poorly constructed. They include iWeb and mrsite.

Dreamweaver

You can build your site from scratch using Dreamweaver. This means you have total control over the design and build of your site. Most modern sites are built using Style Sheets, this takes a little time to learn properly but is well worth the effort. If you create your site in Dreamweaver keep the design as simple as possible to minimise the risk of it looking drastically different in different browsers. Consider adding Google analytics to your site to track how many and what type of visitors you’re receiving.

Flash

You can use Flash to build your site from scratch. This has the advantage that the site will look identical in different browsers and you have very fine control over the layout and font selection. It also gives you the option to make the site media rich. Simple Flash sites are harder to update than their HTML equivalents, it’s difficult link to particular pages/articles and they’re far less Blogosphere friendly.

Blog

You could adapt a blog and host it on your own URL. You can choose from a number of templates and adapt them to a limited degree. This type of site is very easy to update. There’s a wide selection of blog sites to chose from including Squarespace, WordPress, Blogger and TypePad. To make your blog based site look more professional you should register it on it’s own domain,  it’s a fairly straight forward process with wordpress.com, find out more here.

Use WordPress.org

This is also uses templates as it’s starting point but gives you a lot more control of the elements displayed on the page. WordPress.org sites are quite fiddlely to set up initially but you don’t need to be that technically minded and there’s no coding to get up and running. Once set up it’s as easy to use as any blogging site but you can edit the look as much or as little as you like. WordPress.com largely controls how the page looks, WordPress.org lets you edit it to a larger extent.

If you’d like to start changing the site much beyond the standard templates you’ll need a little CSS knowledge. CSS is a set of rules for styling a web page. It’s also a good way to try and learn these rules as you can see how things are constructed already and tweak them rather than starting with an intimidating blank canvas. If you want to change how the site works significantly then a little knowledge of PHP is handy.

One of the potential disadvantages of using wordpress.org is that it requires your website host to have more technologies installed than most have on their standard packages. That can mean it’ll cost more per year to host it, perhaps £20 more. A good way round this is to use a ‘only pay for you use’ host like nearlyfreespeech.net, if your site’s only going to get a small to medium amount of people visiting it, it can cost less than £10 per year to host.

To learn more about any of these technologies head over to Lynda.com. For roughly £20 for a month you can access hundreds of video tutorials on all types of design software, if you split the cost between a few of you it works out to be an incredibly cheap way of learning new techniques and programs.

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