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1. Ways to create a Website
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Ways to create a Website14 June 2015

This article is focused on next types of Websites: Artist's Portfolio, Photographer's Gallery, Band Website, Product Website, Service Page. I'll explain where to start and what you should know before you'll start working on your new site. Everything is written for novices and based on my own experience with these types of sites, as i work only with artists.

There are few ways you can create your site and none of them is difficult enough to hire a webmaster. It's worth to spend one day to learn about running website to be able to manage it till the end of your life.

What is HTML+CSS Website?

In my opinion it's the best way for all types of sites i've listed in the beginning of this article. You can get either a free web-template, or buy an advanced one and modify it as you wish. Design is managed with single CSS file which doesn't need to be changed to update the content. Content is stored in HTML files with an easy markup code, where lots of samples presented and you can copy and paste them, replacing the demo content with your text and images. HTML lesson probably would fit in 5 pages guide, and there's nothing complicated about it. You don't have to be a webmaster or a coder or even advanced user to manage it.

Another important thing is that you can easy manage the content and make backups. You don't need any virtual servers on your computer or anything else. All files are placed within one main ROOT folder, with its sub-folders, so to make a backup of the whole website you'll have to copy the root folder anywhere, even on your smartphone or flash memory. To put it online you'll have to copy the content of the root folder on server. So it's very easy to move from device to device, from one hosting to another.

Folder structure usually looks like that:

HTML Website Root Folder Structure

On the screenshot everything inside of 'My Website' folder is ROOT of your site, and should be placed on server as it is, without 'My Website' folder holding it inside.

However, 'My Website' folder can be named as you wish and can be placed anywhere on your drive, on flash memory, on your tablet or smartphone. You can even edit your site on your tablet.

index.html - is your start page by default, where people get after typing your site address.

So, the only two things you'll need to run your website are HOSTING and a DOMAIN name.

Cons would be lack of features: no 'comments' section (you can use Facebook Comments Plugin for that feature), no market, no registration or 'members only' access area. HTML works in user's browser, it doesn't change anything on server. Though you can add some features with javascript, as there are tonns of free ready to use scripts all over the web.


CMS: Website, powered by WordPress or Joomla! engines

It has quite alot of features comparing to what you can do with HTML, but it's much harder to manage. In theory you don't need to dig the HTML code when you use CMS engine, but in practice (just for example) manuals for both Joomla and WordPress are about 500 pages... HTML manual is 5 pages.

The pros would be ability to add php features like online market (shareware plugin, your CMS template should have support of this plugin) with instant payment options, large databases with built-in search. But do you really need it for Portfolio Gallery or Band Website?

The cons: even if you'll have only 5 to 7 pages (like most of Portfolios or Band Websites do, you'll have to store all few thousand files of site engine on your server. You can't run your site from any drive. To run your site offline you'll need a virtual server to be installed. Data cannot be edited manually, as it's stored in MySQL database. Huge manuals, ignoring or misunderstanding of which leads to low security (somebody might be able to replace or damage your content), poor indexing by search engines (as a result - no visitors) and other problems. It's just not worth, especially if you don't really need any of those features in your portfolio.

Hosted Blogs for non-blogging purposes?

Quite easy and common thing nowdays. You'll have free hosting, you'll have free subdomain, you'll have pre-installed and configured WordPress. Sounds good? If not only the one thing - you don't own this site, and the blog service may delete it whenever they'll need or one day they might close the service at all. No site transfer, no offline editing. You'll have to start everything from scratch.

Also sometimes clients don't take seriously artists who run blog instead of official website. It's cool to have blog for your own pleasure, or for earning money with interesting information or articles, but to represent your business or art with blog... Better keep it OldSchool with good old Websites:)

How to choose Hosting for Portfolio or Band Website

Hosting is a server where your site will be placed, to be available online for the visitors. For Portfolio or Band Websites you don't need any PHP, MySQL support, site builders and other stuff. Just a basic plan with minimum of 300mb to 500mb of space and unlimited monthly traffic. Usually it will cost from 3$ to 5$ per month. Make sure that there's FTP access for uploading your files, because it's very fast and easy. Be careful with too cheap or unknown services, as their servers might be down for a long time and your site will not be available for visitors.

I would recommend you one of these:
AwardSpace
Hostgator
1and1

Once you will have all your files created and edited in your site folder on your computer, you will have to upload them on your new hosting.

Domain name

Domain will be the address of your site, like YourSite.com, NewSite.org. Sometimes it's included in your web-hosting plan (which is much easier to use, as you won't have to configure it manually), but some people may want to order it separately from the same or another service and then configure it. Same as with hosting - choose more experienced and trusted service, even if it's a bit more expensive. It's worth. Why?

Imagine situation: You've used cheap hosting and domain for five months and everything was ok. You've gained 1000+ visitors per day and your busines totally depends on your site, because your clients can reach you through your site. Then the service died in one day, so your domain name is unavailable, your hosting is down. Your clients can't reach you anymore. Ok, you can get a new hosting, re-upload your site but your domain name needs to be transferred (usually about 50$ fee, and some services stall the process for weeks), because you can't just order the same name from another service. You'll need to wait a month untill it will be available for purchase again. So month you're sitting home without a job. You can change the domain name, though your returning clients still have your vcard or bookmark with the old one which brings them nowhere.

So, I would recommend you to get the domain with your hosting plan from one of the services i've mentioned above. Lots of my clients and friends have sites on their hosting and never had any issue.

So the bottomline is that you will have to learn about it anyways, more or less but you'll have to read and understand. The good thing that in a couple of hours you will be able to manage your site yourself.