The Essential Skills For A First-Time Web Designer
It’s becoming increasingly common for people to go out of their way to build their own websites. With professional developers and designers charging a small fortune for their time, it makes sense that a lot of people are going down this path, and it isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Of course, though, making a website isn’t as simple as stitching a few images together. Instead, this type of work takes a lot of effort, and you have to be prepared to do some learning before you can get started properly. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some of the key skills you’ll need to handle a process like this.
Before starting with skills, though, it’s a good idea to think about the different types of platform you have available to you. A new breed of self-service web design platforms has hit the market over the last few years, giving you the opportunity to build simple websites using drag and drop tools. While options like Wix and Shopify are easy to use, though, they often only offer surface-level customisation, limiting you to a range of styles which have been chosen by someone else. This can make it hard to build something which will satisfy your ambitions and represent you properly.
Instead, an option like WordPress can be a lot more powerful when put into the right hands. Not only is this a free platform, making it incredibly cheap to host your website, but it also has the biggest community out of these sorts of services, giving you access to a wealth of support. You will have access to all of the code you want, while sticking to a drag and drop system if you want to. Of course, it isn’t as easy to use as some of the other options out there, but WordPress will suit the needs of most developers, and the rest of this article will be assuming that this is the choice you’ve made.
Domain & Hosting
Before you can start your web building journey, you will need to do some shopping, with your domain and hosting being incredibly important. Your domain should be as short as possible, have little to no punctuation, and work for the cause it’s supposed to support. For example, if you had a business called Moon Valley, a domain like “moonvalley.com” would be great. Domains are usually quite cheap, though they aren’t always the easiest to use, and you may have to learn about DNS before you can dive right in. Connecting up to a system like CloudFlare can make this much easier.
Hosting is a little more complicated than your domain purchase. Most first-time web designers won’t be building something which will have to deal with thousands of visitors everyday, and this means that Shared Hosting or VPS servers will be ideal in a lot of cases. As for the company you choose, Amazon Web Services is often rated the highest in comparisons of web hosts, though you will need to take some AWS training to use these tools properly. As long as you read some reviews, talk to the companies, and read the smallprint, you should be able to find an excellent hosting platform.
Most modern shared web hosting servers use an interface called CPanel to help you to manage the backend. It will be worth spending some time to explore this tool, as this will be where you install WordPress, set up any email accounts you want, and manage the security of your server, among a wide range of other things. Installing WordPress is nice and easy, with most CPanel installations coming with a software management system. It’s worth installing SSL and making sure that your domain is attached to your hosting before going ahead with WordPress. There are loads of detailed guides around the web which can help you with this.
Once you have your server up and running with WordPress installed, it will be time to dive in. Thanks to the community behind this system, it is surprisingly intuitive, and everyone has the same menu systems to use, making it incredibly easy to follow guides. There are three main tools you will be using when you first get started; the customiser, plugins, and the page editor. It’s worth taking some time to read about these areas, as taking full-advantage of them will require some time. Of course, though, along with learning WordPress itself, you will also have to expand your knowledge in the field of web development.
Thanks to the huge array of plugins for WordPress, you won’t have to worry about learning how to write advanced code, as other people have done it all for you. It’s well worth exploring the different plugin stores which can be found around the web. Along with this, though, it will help if you give yourself a background in HTML and CSS. While they may seem intimidating at first, these two tools are essential when you’re building a website, and a lot of people overlook this when they first get started. CSS will enable you to escape the style restrictions you faced on other platforms, while HTML will make it easier to build the pages you want.
There are some other tools which are work learning about when you are learning about web development. The inspector tools which are found in most browsers are an excellent resource, providing you with an incredible insight into the state of your site, while also giving you access to information which will help with your CSS. Online communities are one of the best resources you have available when you’re going through a process like this. You can ask questions and receive honest answers, while also having the opportunity to go through thousands of other people’s queries.
SEO & Optimisation
As the last main areas to consider, it’s time to think about optimising your site. This area is often overlooked, with people feeling like they’ve already done enough work. SEO will be crucial when it comes to getting other people to your site, though, and this is something which you need to explore and learn about as much as possible. This will impact the content you write, the images you use, and the services you connect up with. SEOptimer is a great website which can help you to figure out how to improve this area, and Google Search Console will also be a great resource to have behind you.
Making a site run quickly is also vital to the way that people receive it. It only takes a couple of seconds of loading for most users to get bored and go to a different site, and it’s crucial that you put time into speeding up your site. To start, a service like CloudFlare will speed up your website for free, but it will also be worth using a WordPress caching plugin alongside this. Your images should be as small as possible, CSS and HTML should be compressed, and you should make sure that your host isn’t slowing you down. GTMetrix is a great website for those trying to improve the speed of their site.
Building a website has never been easier, though taking the easiest route can often lead to disappointment. It’s worth spending a little bit of time learning about this field before you jump into it, with a lot of people making the mistake of assuming that a simple platform will have everything they need, even when this often isn’t the case.
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