Secrets of Website Design for Small Business Owners

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For those who are set on designing their own website, a little HTML knowledge can go a long way. Many small business owners take it upon themselves to design their own site, but they use programs to write all the HTML code for them because they are unfamiliar with it and wind up with poorly designed websites.

Adobe's Dreamweaver is one of those programs that performs such functions. If you are going this route, a lack of basic HTML knowledge will run you into a lot of formating and design problems. Secondly, you will not be able to take advantage of many free fantastic HTML templates. There are lots of websites, such as the Open Source Website Directory (oswd.org) where you can download professional templates for free, and with a little HTML knowledge, fill in the blanks to customize the site to your needs, changing the color patterns , fonts, images, and more to make your site unique. Great places to learn basic HTML include:

  • w3schools.com/html
  • htmldog.com

If you are looking for text editor, like Dreamweaver, but do not have the dough to shell out, try Aptana (apatana.com).

When designing your website, make sure to go by the W3C standards (w3c.org). Different web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera) all read the HTML code a little different and valid code will help maintain as much uniformity as possible in all browsers.

HTML is just the beginning. CSS should be your next step in learning how to design a website. CSS will add the style to jazz up your website. Almost all of the templates you will find at oswd.org as well as anywhere else are based on CSS and HTML. CSS is a coding language that tells the web browser how to style the HTML code on the page. The CSS can be written inside your HTML document by inserting a style tag,, before the CSS code and. , after the CSS code. You can also put the CSS code in a separate page and include a link to that page in the header section of your HTML page. Here are some great places to learn CSS:

  • w3schools.com/css
  • html.net/tutorials/css

Once you become somewhat familiar with CSS, CSS Mastery is a great book to learn from (cssmastery.com).

Try not to get discouraged when designing your own website. From the start you should keep in mind that it is not a weekend project by any means. It may take you several months, or even several years, to get a website design that you are happy with and want to show off to your friends. Best of luck !!!

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