If you’re just getting started in learning a little HTML and making your own web pages, I have some great news for you — the learning curve might seem incredibly steep, but it levels out pretty quickly.
To help you get to the point where it doesn’t seem impossible, I’m going to share with you 5 rules of web site creation that will make things seem much easier.
Rule #1: Don’t Get Overwhelmed
That’s the first rule of learning to make your own site. Not only are you learning a new software tool (something like KompoZer, Dreamweaver, etc.), but you’re learning a new “markup language” called HTML and probably messing around with something called CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).
You have reason to freak out! But the good news is this isn’t a race. You have permission to take your time and soak it in a little at a time. Now that you know being overwhelmed is normal, you don’t have to pay it much mind.
Rule #2: Don’t Be Afraid Of A First Draft
Not everything you create is going to be “world class” right off the bat. While it would be cool if we never needed to “dink around,” it’s not reasonable to think that’s the norm.
Just like a writer creates a first draft, and then goes back many times to change things, so will you as a web page builder.
Don’t be afraid to rip out a whole section if it didn’t turn out the way you planned — that’s not a bad thing. While you may have more work to do before you find “perfection,” you’ve just added to your “knowledge-base” — which means you’re getting better…
There are many things you do now that take thought — that later will be done while you’re thinking of other things, talking with your spouse, and watching the local news on TV!
Rule #3: Reuse and Recycle Your Code
This is probably the biggest secret to increasing your productivity as a web page maker. Long before “being green” became a trend, designers and programmers were already big fans of reuse and recycle.
Once you’ve created one web page, there’s no sense in starting from scratch every time.
The navigation bar you created for one site can be copied to the new site. Tweak the colors or font style to match the new color scheme and voila, you have a new navigation bar with almost no work.
If you create a table structure that shows content on the left and buttons on the right, you can reuse that table in any page — just change the content to match the new site.
As you build more and more web pages you’re going to end up with a massive amount of HTML and CSS code you can reuse.
When you start a new project you’ll be able to pick and choose from your existing code and whip out a web page in a fraction of the time it takes you now!
Rule #4: Become Familiar With Your Tools
Even though someone might think you’re “not serious,” there is value in just noodling around in your web site builder.
If you have a laptop or your computer is near your TV, the next time you’re watching a show, launch whatever you’re using to make your web site and dink around during the commercials. Try things without worrying that you’re not really building a web page.
When I first got into computers I was a DJ at a country radio station in Alaska. I kept a spare 9″ monitor in my locker and would take my computer into the station with me. After the boss was gone I’d set it up on the counter next to the control board and during songs I taught myself how to program.
String enough 3-minute sessions together — whether you’re playing music on a radio station or waiting for commercials on TV to get over — and you’ll become proficient in time that would otherwise have been wasted.
Go ahead, feel free to play around without worrying about whether you’re being productive. If you’re making discoveries and getting familiar with your main web building tool, you’re gaining ground!
Rule #5: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
While there are some cases where you have more time than money and simply can’t afford to spend more right now, taking advantage of existing resources is a way to get a web site done faster…
…and, unless you’re a designer, get one that’s better looking.
I have a programming background and while I have a fairly good eye for design, I know my time is better spent doing HTML than using a graphics program to create a button.
Pre-written templates and web graphics are two areas where I go ahead and invest a little money. Because with a set of templates I can tweak them into an unlimited number of sites. And a pack of bullets, headers, and other graphics can be used and reused forever.
There you go, 5 rules of web site creation that will help you get rolling and making your own web pages. In no time at all you’ll be cranking them out with one hand tied behind your back!