Designed website layout...How do I get it to work?

I’ve been designing layouts for my portfolio website…But how do I get it to work? I have no experience with coding and don’t have a clue where to even start. What program do you use? What site do you get your domain from? I don’t want to sign up for a site where I have to choose a template. I want the site to look/work like my layouts and have a personal domain name…help.

Thanks

First step is to purchase a domain name if you don’t have one already.

If you don’t feel like spending the money, you can always join sites like cargocollective.com that will host a domain name for you (and don’t require you to use a template).

Learn your basic html/css (this will not be a quick and dirty step, learning proper web coding techniques does take time and patience). You can start with the tutorials on nettuts.com and smashingmagazine.com which are extremely helpful. Also - and warning this website looks like a 13 yr-old girl’s- lissaexplains.com is actually a VERY good website to understand basic code structure and web elements.

For programs, skip Dreamweaver (that will leave you in tears) and just try a basic text editing software. I personally use Coda, which has been the best html/css editor for me. You can really use anything though, even Textedit.

Smashingmag also has a list of the best WYSIWYG (what you see if what you get) editors which might be up your alley since you don’t have coding experience: 20 Useful WYSIWYG Editors Reviewed — Smashing Magazine (ignore the dreamweaver part)

You can go to a collective web hosting company for ease of use, if you have no coding experience or predilection for writing code, this may be the ideal step. The template can be adjusted to your own style a lot quicker than learning all needed to make a website from scratch.

If you want to jump in with both feet, and for long term use, I would recommend getting your own server and being in control of your destiny. Here are the general steps needed.

Sign up for your own domain. I have used directnic.com for years.There probably are cheaper ones, but their setup is good.

Next, find a hosting plan and company that suits you. You probably won’t need huge amounts of disk space or bandwidth, so a basic account is fine. Several email addresses will be included in with the hosting. I use www.ipower.com again, good price, good service, good tools. There are hundreds of providers to choose from. The hosting companies also provide various somewhat standard capabilities such as PHP for running programs such as Wordpress on your new server. Ipower for example will install Wordpress and other software from their control panel with a few clicks.

Once you have a domain name registered, and a hosting plan, the hosting company will send you the server details, where your server is located, the IP address. You go back to the domain company and “point” your domain name at your server. This updates the worldwide nameservers, so that the internet knows where to direct traffic.

Your host company will have a control panel for you to log into to setup email addresses and basic features or your website.

Like Linda says, learn some HTML. I agree also that Dreamweaver just makes things overly complex, old versions like 3.0 were much more straightforward. Also learn CSS, this is where the real power of arranging content comes from. If you care about having everything line up, CSS is the key. Buckle up though, this will be a long bumpy ride.

Use a FTP program to upload the HTML files you write on your local PC to the server, where they will be available for the world to see.

Content Management Systems, CMS are really good tools to use. Text, images, video, etc are the content to arrange. I like Wordpress, it has templates, but the templates can be infinitely customized in virtually every detail. CSS is the key again here. (One quick word about Wordpress, it is both a website and a program, the program can be installed for free on your own server, and is under your complete control. ) There are many CMS programs and options, search the web for CMS reviews and comparisons. Most can be uploaded and installed on your web server for free.

Once you get comfortable with the setup, get a web tracking stats service setup. Google Analytics, opentracker, Statcounter, etc., this will allow you to see how people are using your website, where they are looking at it from, the path they take through it, what they are looking at and how much time they spend looking. Very valuable for tuning your presentation.