Once you have decided on your website concept or theme and sign up with a web hosting provider, your next step is to decide on the look and feel of your website. From here you have to make your own website template to be used on every page of your site.
Designing your own web template from scratch is not so easy especially if you do not know any HTML code. You can of course grab some free website template which is easily available from the internet. Many of the templates are designed by very creative individuals and offered for free. There are of course also the paid versions available which will have some added features, but I assume if you are just like me, the website you will be administering is on a low budget.
Not every person is really talented at creating a killer website. If you ask me, I don’t know how to draw or even use Adobe Photoshop effectively. Using a free template can speed up the process of designing your website. From there you can use it as is or do some customization to suit your own needs. Then again if you do not know much about coding this may be difficult to do.
The usual web hosting provider does not provide any tools for your creation of web pages. Normally they would assume you would know how to design and set up your own web pages.
If you have signed up with Site Build It! they have provided a free build-in web site builder which you can use to create the look and feel of your site. It is easy to use; all it needs for you is to pick and choose the elements of the website to create a website that is professional looking and easy to navigate. From then on, all you need to do is concentrate on writing content using their web page builder.
Other choice is to use content management system (CMS) software like of Joomla, Mambo, Post-Nuke, Geeklog, Xoops, etc. Just like this site of mine using the provided CMS software and hosted by BlueHost, it has a build in templates which you could use or grab some free ones available in the internet. If you have some budget to spare you may want to buy professionally designed templates to fit your site’s look and feel.
When choosing or designing a template, bear in mind the following points. This layout style has been tested, tried and true and used by practically every web site. You can see this for yourself by just randomly picking any website and you can see this rule in play. There are of course some website that go against this convention and strike out to do it another way. If you do want to go against this unwritten rule and come up with something else, do so at your own caveat, for a website that is difficult to use, it becomes very frustrating for visitors and a discouragement to revisit your site again.
Basic layout of a website
The basic layout of a website will have a header with your site logo on it. It can be very simple using the website domain name to emphasize the site branding. Next is the navigational bar. You can place this on the left side or right side of the webpage whichever side you feel would be most complimentary to your web design. You may also want to make use of the both side of the web page putting elements like polls, newsletter sign-ups, advertisings, RSS feeds, or side bar notes. And finally you have the footer in which you place copyright notices, your site address and other fine prints.
For the content area, the background colour that you should go for should be white or light in colour as this is representative and similar to the offline publishing of newspapers, magazines and books. They are also easy on the eyes. Using a black or dark background changes the mood of the website, and gives the website an ominous feeling. In most cases, going with the white or light background fits well with most theme and it is most recommendable.
The content area basic layout
Next we come to the content area, the layout is simple and you can follow most of the format used by the newspapers and magazines. It starts off with the title header. Next comes the content. You may want to subdivide the content with sub-headers. At the end of the content, you may want to include some recommended links to other related topic in your site or provide references to other sites. Within the content, you may want to sprinkle in some pictures to spice up the content to make it interesting and perhaps some advertisement for those of you who are monetizing your site.
A single column is still the best as it is most natural to read the entire article from top to bottom. A minimalist approach makes for a clean looking website, but it also depends on whether to clutter it with banners and links. However, do note that it is not how well you site looks but how useful is the content for visitors coming to your site.
So bear the above in mind when designing the website layout of your own website.