6 steps that build a deft website

(This post was written by a guest: not the usual author but the person who set up the blog.cellarer.com website.)

You can do it

How to make a good website? You may have noticed that many people run websites without being Information Technology graduates. You can do it too!

Create a good websiteThis article does not attempt to take you all the way to being a master cook. It gives you a recipe for starting a website that will be both easy to manage and pleasing to its users.
The recipe is rather detailed so as to guide you at each step. Please forgive the length.

The schedule

Here is the planning:

(1) You get yourself an Internet access.

(2) You take your time for choosing the domain name (such as Yourtopic.com).

(3) You order a webhosting service and you order a domain name. Wait one day.

(4) Over the course of a few hours you set up the website:

  1. An FTP client;
  2. Wordpress;
  3. A first article.

Later on you consider refinements: (5) very few plugins and (6) SEO.

What you get

  1. You build a good website quickly.
  2. You learn sound basics of Internet publishing along the way.
  3. The website will offer you a friendly administration (including making posts quickly from your browser). This results in pleasure when you deal with it. This in turn induces a longer involvement from you — which gives your project better prospects.
  4. The users will find their way fast. The interaction will be a relief compared to some other websites. Therefore more users will come back.

Why this type of website is desirable

The keywords include: pleasure for the administrator, ease for the users, efficiency for both, information architecture, etc.

Why all the above is good is explained in numerous articles about web design. You can find a nice list of such texts in my bookmarks.

Pre-requisites

Create a good websiteWhat you need before starting:

  • An internet connection;
  • A PC with a web browser;
  • A credit card with a budget of 5 euros (USD 7) a month.

Domain name

You’ll also use a name. What is mandatory is that users can enter a name in their address bar and that the browser responds by displaying a page for your website. It is better that this name is your own so that you can take it to any web hosting system you’ll decide on in the longer run.

Do yourself a favour and take your time to choose a name that relates to you or your topic. Check its availability on the Internet by performing a ‘whois‘.

From the moment when you decide on the domain name it will take you a few hours for setting up the website.

Web hosting

Your website will be accessed from anywhere on the Internet but it actually will reside somewhere: in a web host. The simplest way to build this is to register at Wordpress.com but this would prevent you from using your own domain name.
A simple solution is to buy virtual hosting from a company. The website will be configured on a computer (a host) along with other websites.

The service must be robust and offer good technical support. Those two qualities cannot be guaranteed until you actually use the service. So you should take into account others’ experience before choosing.

Registrar

The registrar is the entity who maintains the records about your domain name. If your hosting provider offers domain registration, you might as well take it. Make sure that the ‘whois’ record shows the owner and the admin contact to be yourself.

If your hosting provider does not offer domain registration, pick a registrar in your area.
Once the domain name is registered, allow one day for ‘propagation’ so that any browser can access it.

Set-up the website

The software chosen are ‘Free Software‘ because they are reliable with no strings attached.

Create a good website FTP stands for ‘file transfer protocol’. It is the way to transfer files from your PC to the webhost. In your browser download an Open Source FTP client such as FileZilla or KamzyFTP (for Windows), Cyberduck (for Mac OSX) or gFTP (for Linux).
Configure your FTP client with the address, the username and password as arranged with your hosting provider (in a preceeding step).

Choose a CMS (content management system). You will interact with this software to manage your website. Wordpress is an excellent CMS in that it is both engaging and tremendously enabling. It makes life really easy for the website administrator. It also provides tagging.
In your browser download Wordpress. Unzip it. In your FTP client upload Wordpress. The installation instructions are perfect and can be found here.
After the configuration you can write a simple article. Publish it, just to feel the satisfaction of finishing the construction: your website will be complete. The Worpress admin panel is at www.yourtopic.com/wp-admin/. Type this in your browser address bar and choose ‘Write a post’.

To do at a later date

Whenever you feel like it you can improve the website. Here are the tasks ordered by decreasing urgency:

  1. Navigate to “Options ? Permalinks” and change the tick to not being the default.
  2. Choose a theme. For example look at Wordpress, K2, xFEP, Gardner’s, Jeriko or WebRev.
  3. Install the WordPress Database Backup plugin. Navigate to “Manage ? Backup” and configure it to send a weekly e-mail.
  4. Activate Akismet (a plugin against comment spam) by retrieving your WordPress API key.

Keep it simple

Avoid options that would bloat the screen or increase the time it takes for a page to load. For these reasons hesitate before installing the following plugins: Bad Behavior (a plugin against link spam), Social Bookmarks, Gravatars, or any plugin involving MyBlogLog. Their purposes are attractive but the implementation is heavy on the user.
Before you decide on these plugins and others you could learn more how Wordpress works at Technosailor or WebDesignerWall.

SEO

SEO stands for ’search engine optimization’. It is just not necessary with Wordpress (well not necessary any longer since version 2.3). What is necessary is that you keep on posting interesting content!
So you should avoid any SEO plugin. The set-up recommended above will make it so that your web pages will be found by some users. Technically this is due:

  1. to Google working around the meta “description” tag if not relevant to the page;
  2. and to no search engine using the meta “keywords” for page ranking.

Rachel Yang, chef of the new Coupage restaurant in Seattle, WA, by OpticalOdysseyThere is one efficient step you can take to optimize your website. Create a file with the below content:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /auth
Disallow: /comments
Disallow: /feed
Disallow: /page
Disallow: /wp-

Save the file with the ‘robots.txt’ name and upload it with your FTP client to the same directory in which you put all the Wordpress files and directories.
What this will do is that the search engines will not record the addresses that start with the listed strings. They will for example avoid www.yourtopic.com/page/2/ (the page of your earlier posts) and www.yourtopic.com/wp-admin/ (the directory with your sensitive files). No more ‘duplicate content’ in Google!

Wrap-up

The arguments for all the options chosen here can be found in my bookmarks.
Once you complete the recipe you have a website with small drawbacks and big qualities:

  • It is powerful in that in lets you do almost anything that can be done.
  • It is also easy on the users (good-looking, accessible, ‘findable’).
  • It is robust for maintenance. There is no intervention in the files that is recommended here. This will facilitate further upgrades.

Thank you Estelle for the opportunity to encumber your nice blog with my guest content.

Follow up

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12 Responses to “6 steps that build a deft website”

  1. nice summary – I’ve always been amazed at how many people are afraid to try this. But wordpress really does help to make it simplistic.

  2. winebloom says:

    Thank you Matt.
    I sense that the trend is to more and more ‘ordinary’ people entering the playing field. People are realizing they might do it too. Here are interest figures.
    I meant the present article to help this trend.

  3. Vic Morris says:

    Random question: I know you are using wordpress for this blog, but have you tried any other platforms. I am trying to decide for my blog? and I ask because I like yours.

  4. Vic,
    Actually I haven’t tried others. This is because of the well known superiorities of Wordpress. Here are the current audiences of the leading platforms.

  5. I strongly recommend that you turn the No Follow off in your comment section. I’ll watch Google Webmaster Tools, and if the links don’t show up after a couple of weeks — I won’t go back to that blog again. Another suggestion: you should have a Top Commentator widget installed. Do Follow and Top Commentator will ensure that you have a successful blog with lots of readers!

  6. thinkingSeo says:

    Agree with a lot of the mentioned topics covered here, specially interested on your points regarding SEO

  7. Josef Telmer says:

    It’s a very interesting subject I was looking around about more information but you got really what i was looking for in your article so thanks and keep it up you have a great blog .
    I’m very interested in CMS and all its related subjects.

  8. Bushe says:

    Would you be interested in writing for The Neave Online Publication? I love your writing style and I feel like you would fit in perfectly with the other writers.

  9. Janet Homes says:

    I was hoping I could ask you a rhetorical question about yourself, would that be ok? great post by the way its always nice to share.

  10. jack parler says:

    Very nice information. Thanks for this. You are a very good blogger. I look forward to reading more information from you.

    Free Runescape Membership

  11. Nice blog but i’m having some minor problems with the design in Opera Browser, maybe i should change Browser!