Image source: threebrackets.com
Nowadays, designing a website has come to mean almost the same thing as making a website. So when you become a “web designer” it means you have the ability to set up your own website. Semantics aside, do you know how to design a website has also become so much easier today? Read on.
There are several choices you’re faced with when it comes to designing your website. You can choose to do it the traditional way – writing HTML pages and styling them with CSS, using Photoshop to create PSD designs then converting them to HTML templates, or using a predesigned Content Management System (CMS) template. All have the same outcome, just different paths.
1. Basic website design: HTML & CSS
You probably already understand that every webpage is actually a HTML file, with or without some CSS styling rules. Unless you’re going to use a CMS or web editing software lie Dreamweaver, you have to create your own web pages using HTML.
If that didn’t sound familiar, let’s run over some basic definitions. HTML is short for “Hypertext Markup Language”. It is a simple language that defines the markup of web pages. It is so easy, you can learn everything about it in just a day. CSS stands for “Cascading Style Sheets”, also a simple language that defines how your HTML elements are to be styled, including their layout on the web page.
We won’t go into detail about HTML but the following is the basic structure of a web page as created by HTML. Anything you see enclosed within the <> symbols are known as tags. A tag is the equivalent of a HTML element. For instance, the <head> tag says that the element to be inserted there is the head section of the HTML page while the <p> tag represents a paragraph.
<title>The Title of My Page</title>
<h6 span style=“color:#FF0000;”> Heading 6, smallest </h6>
<p>This is how I’ll add another paragraph. <p>
Look at the CSS style definition within the <h6> tag. It is a simple style rule that says the heading 6 element color should be red.
Basic website design begins – and ends – with HTML and CSS. So if you want to design your own web site from scratch, you must learn HTML and CSS. If you otherwise use a graphical website builder or CMS templates, knowledge of these is not essential – but it can still help you understand how to modify those templates to your liking.
2. Using Photoshop to make a website template
A lot of people use Photoshop to create web page designs today. These designs are in PSD format and must be converted to HTML templates before being used for web projects. If you are good with Photoshop, you can create your PSD designs with much more design freedom and precision, and have them converted to HTML or learn to do that yourself.
3. Using CMS templates/themes
The most popular way of designing your website is using a ready CMS design – known as templates, or themes. The best thing about this option is that CMSs come packed with everything you’d need to set up your own website – an administration back-end interface to manage your website and update your content, themes to control the look, and extensions to add more functionality to your site.
All the three most popular CMSs, Joomla, WordPress and Drupal provide thousands of free themes to help you set up your website without spending a dime. All these themes are built with pure HTML and CSS, and if you have a basic understanding of the two languages, you’ll find it easy modifying the themes by editing those parts you think need improvement.
There are also countless premium templates being released every day. If you want more power, and design fine tuning options, premium themes are the answer. Whatever the type of website you want, you’ll not lack a great selection of templates to match the project.
But CMS web design isn’t just about the templates. To make a website with WordPress, for instance, you need to understand how WordPress works. The good news is that WordPress is so easy to use that novices can get started with the software right away. Once you’ve grasped the basics, you can go on to make w website on your own with very little effort.
Putting together a website
As we’ve seen a CMS is the best truly all-in-one solution for designing a website. You’ll find a great collection of themes, made by developers who not only understand HTML and CSS, but PHP programming and graphic design as well.
However, if you want to learn how to make a website from scratch with your own web design skills, you not only need of HTML and CSS but also a web scripting language such as PHP or ASP.NET to make a complete website. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are all built on PHP and utilize HTML and CSS for their templates.
How you choose to make a website is really down to your motivation also about how much does it cost to make a website. Is it to become a professional web designer, understanding everything that happens behind the scenes, or to just make your own CMS-driven company website or personal blog without having to learning a single line of HTML?