Building Your Website
HTML & CSS
This guide is primarily aimed at people building their first website and those who have tried in the past but struggled with some of the technical terms and processes.
It will not take you from a beginner through to becoming an HTML & CSS guru,
there are plenty of resources online to help you do that (see the resources page). What it will do is introduce you to the concepts behind building a website for you to hopefully grab hold of and run with.
Deciding how you will build your site
Before you can start you will need to choose the software you are going to use to build your web
site. Depending on your level of experience and aspirations there are three ways for you to build
• HTML editor
• Web building software (aka WYSIWYG)
• Web builder templates
Manually code your site using an HTML editor
Hand coding obviously requires at least a basic knowledge of HTML but benefits from being by far
the most flexible option. Although slower to get going than the other two methods, the long term
benefits include a greater understanding on how web pages are built and the ability to apply that
to your own. Examples:
• Adobe Dreamweaver
• Microsoft Expression Web
• Notepad++ (free)
Although you will be faced with a blank page when you first start that doesn’t mean you have
to create everything yourself from scratch. There are so many free resources online (templates,
images, scripts…) for you to use that the challenge will be going through them all.
Use WYSIWYG software
What You See Is What You Get software uses the same principles as a desktop publisher and
allows you to build a website pointing and clicking with no coding required. They work by
generating the HTML/ CSS in line with your design on screen with the added benefit of letting you
then dip in and manually change the code. Examples:
• Serif WebPlus
Website builder templates
A lot of web hosts provide these with shared hosting accounts or as standalone products. They
require no coding knowledge (in fact most don’t let you make any manual changes at all). The
templates are pre-set and all you have to do is make some colour/ image selections, add your
content and click ‘publish’. Although very quick to start and finish a site, the quality of the results
Getting started with the code
When a visitor arrives on your site and the web page is displayed on their browser quite a lot has
gone on behind the scenes to make this happen. A couple of terms you may come across are
‘client side coding’ and ‘server side coding’.
browser whereas server side coding (which covers PHP & MySQL, Perl and ASP/ ASP.NET) is script
first executed by the server before being shown to the visitor.