I have spent more hours than I wish to admit researching and comparing the best ways to create a website. I have narrowed it down to three options (programs) depending on what kind of site that I want to create: Dreamweaver – WordPress – Joomla.
Programs, such as WordPress and Joomla, that are used to create web sites that can store and retrieve data, are called CMS programs (Content Management System). Dreamweaver is normally used to create good HTML static websites, although with programing knowledge it can do other things.
FREE – OPEN SOURCE – Lots of plugins available.
Joomla – For a more complex, data intense website, I like Joomla. Especially for a web site that interacts with readers, like search options. Joomla has more of a learning curve.
FREE – OPEN SOURCE – Tons of extensions available.
Dreamweaver – I love Dreamweaver for basic, static websites and single page work, and for creating and visualizing my web site ideas, even if I am going to use WordPress or Joomla for the actual web site.
PRICEY – NOT OPEN SOURCE – Need to purchase additional, independent programs to handle data needs like classified ads and shopping carts (unless you do your own coding).
So why, you ask, did I decided on these three programs, Dreamweaver, WordPress, and Joomla? Good question, you should ask that. I decided on these three because they are good programs and they are the most popular in their respective groups, which means they will hopefully grow and prosper and attract developers who will create needed templates, extensions, and add-ons.
WordPress, to me, is the easiest to use, and it can be used to create a blog or a website, or commerce site and more. It has plenty of plugins to spiff it up to do all sorts of things. The top competition for WordPress are Blogger and Moveable Type. Blogger is a free, open source program, while Moveable Type has a cost.
Joomla, is in my opinion, without a doubt the best choice for an extensive website that needs to be able to handle lots of data and sort articles “pages” into groups. Thanks to the thousands of extensions available, Joomla can be expanded to create shopping sites, members lists, classified or auction sites, blogs, and so much more. The big competition for Joomla is Drupal, but to me, Drupal is more for people who just really enjoy coding, Joomla is more user friendly for the average website developer.
Dreamweaver is the ultimate in website and web page design (a website is a collection of web pages). Dreamweaver has a bit of a learning curve, but once you know it, it is just flat fast and easy to design a web site. However, handling serious data, more than just collecting some form type information, requires getting into coding or finding, and probably buying special programs, like a classified ad program, or membership software, which will probably not look anything like your website. You can generally make some adjustments to the design of these special programs, but it may require going into the code, and that is a lot of extra work.
Note: A collection of web pages, strung together, create a web site; whether the sites are blog sites, catalog sites, information pages, directories, and so on. Coding is required to create these pages, but there are programs, like the ones mentioned in this article, that simplify this coding process, so people can spend more time creating their web sites, rather than coding their web sites.
What do you need to create a website?
1. A Domain Name (Sometimes you can get a subdomain name free.)
2. A Hosting Service (Most charge a fee, some are free and some have short trial periods.)
3. Website Software: Dreamweaver, WordPress, Joomla, Site Builder Type, or other.
Note: There are free HTML editors, but is takes a program with a template system to run a web “site”. Most hosting services offer a free site builder program, which does not require any coding knowledge, just fill in the blanks and drop in pictures, great for beginners.
4. It’s not required, but I would recommend an FTP program. Most web design programs have internal file management options, but I prefer having the control of an FTP program.
(Note: Free services may come as a user cost, such as restrictions, so check that out.)
When selecting a hosting service, you need to be sure that they, “A” support the web design software you have selected to use, and “B” that they have an easy install option if you want to use Joomla or WordPress. You can manually install WordPress and Joomla, and create the necessary database folders, but an easy install program does all that in literally a couple of minutes.
Also, when selecting a hosting service, a big factor is the control panel, I like cPanel. And a comment here about your hosting service and your website. You will get bombed with user names and passwords, it’s necessary for security, so be prepared to keep good notes and to remember that accessing different areas of your hosting service and website will require different login information. These are examples of different logins: Control Panel, Billing/Payment Area, FTP Access, and Joomla and WordPress are programs which require their own unique login info.
Some Easy Install Programs are:
Generally, your web site files (at your hosting service) will go into your “public_html” folder.
When you select an open source program, such as WordPress or Joomla, there are usually two or three versions available, the most current version is not always the best choice, depending on your needs. There are add-ons that you might want to use, but the add-on extensions or plugins that you need may not be current with the newest version of WordPress or Joomla. It makes a huge difference, they can conflict and not work properly together. If you are just starting, it’s not a big deal to re-install a different version and blow away the other version (and your work), but once you’ve done a lot of work on your web site, you can not easily convert to an older version, it gets complicated.
To get started on your web site, find free images for your working site, you can look around for better pictures later, which is time consuming, so just find some free images to give you a feel for what the design will look like. Also, free web templates can be a good source of pictures, buttons, and objects. Download the template and extract what you need (Note, “free” does not mean that you have the right to resell parts and pieces of a template.)
Here is my best tip. SNAP! Learn HTML. If you want to go beyond just a simple blog on WordPress, or have real control of your Joomla site, then learn HTML.
I can not say it enough, learn HTML. It looks confusing and hard, but it’s not, it’s like anything you learn, you just have to sit down and study it. There are not that many coding terms for the basics of using HTML. You will never have full control of your website until you learn at least the basics HTML. Let’s say you have a link, but you want it to open in a new window, so that the reader does not leave your website, how would that happen? Simple code, target=”_blank” that simple; inserted into the link code after the last ” and before the > closing bracket.
Dreamweaver Note: Dreamweaver is often sold second hand on eBay, it can be a great way to pick up a copy at a good price. But Beware. Dreamweaver is extremely popular with scammers, and fake copies are often sold on Craigslist and eBay. When serching eBay, there is a check box (on the left) to limit your search to the US only, that eliminates China stuff. When you receive your Dreamweaver program, real Dreamweaver copies do not require some quirky filter to block the software from going online. The Dreamweaver software must be properly uninstalled by the previous owner before the new owner can install it. Educational copies require a student ID registration for the first registration of the software. So ask sellers questions before buying, has it been uninstalled and if it is an educational version, was the program properly registered the first time with a student ID.