Recently two friends asked me for information on how to build a website. One friend wants to specifically learn HTML. (Shout out to Charrisa and Stacey.) I’ve learned to blog my answer when asked questions like this one. That way I can help more than the person(s) who asked. It also gives me an easy way to help future persons who ask the same thing. I can just send them the link to this page. Cool, eh?
First, I must tell you a secret. And it’s the truth. These days anyone can be a fabulous webmaster. With free tools out like Wix, WordPress, and many other free tools to build websites, you can build a great-looking and functioning website with little to no technical or creative skills, at no cost!
At first I was even going to say that you don’t need to know a lick of HTML either. Which is true. However, I admit that it comes in handy. A lot. To tweak things here and there. To go where no WYSIWYG editor has gone before. Or to go where an HTML editor seems to have a problem going. Particularly tables & CSS.
Since 2007, I exclusively use WordPress for building sites. Which does most of the programming and coding for me. And my sites are setup in a fashion that’s super-duper easy for my clients (or me) to update. (To learn more about WordPress, click here.)
People are sometimes amazed to see the diversity of the websites that can be created using WordPress as a platform. And some pretty major players use WordPress: CNN, NY Times, Forbes, Martha Stewart, Pepsi, SamSung, The Wall Street Journal, and plenty of others.
WordPress is actually one of the top three content management system (CMS) solutions in the industry. Joomla and Drupal being the other two. And due to WordPress being open source, there’s hundreds of templates & plug-ins available to achieve any look or functionality possible. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll start off with the basics in this post. And I aspire to create future posts with more intermediate and advanced resources. Deal?
5 Avenues or “Resource Groupings” for Learning HTML & Building Websites
Below are my Top 5 suggestions for persons getting started on the journey of web building or learning HTML.
1. Books. First, buy some books on HTML. If you have an e-Reader, here are some free e-books you can download. Just download the free Kindle App. From the Android or Apple store. To read those e-books on your phone or tablet. Or you can read them online using Amazon’s Cloud Reader. As stated, knowing basic HTML coding comes in handy big time. You can tweak things behind the scenes as needed. I do this all the time. I first learned HTML in 1997, a year after graduating college. I wanted to create a website. So I went to Wal-mart and bought a book on HTML 101. Yes, Wal-mart. I can’t recall the book’s title but was similar to the HTML for Dummies books that are out now. HTML Editors are great (I was praising God when BBEdit first came out, one of the “first”), but I assure you that knowing coding is invaluable benefit.
2. YouTube Videos. There is a truck load of videos you can watch on YouTube that will literally show you just about anything you desire to know about web building. Some even show you how to create a website from start to finish. So YouTube is a great resource for learning. I did a YouTube search just now on “How to create a website.” Here’s my results. I even found a YouTube Playlist featuring a HTML Tutorial for Beginners. That’ll keep you busy! Of course, you gotta sort through the rift raft. Some of the videos look scary. But some look spectacular! Keep in mind too that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Or in this case, to build a website. In fact, there’s no one “right” way to do it. There’s so many variables and methods involved. Gravitate towards the videos that you find easy to understand and help you learn the most.
Here’s a short playlist of web & HTML training videos from YouTube I put together:
3. Training Sites. There’s a galore of training sites online to teach you HTML & web building too. Every now and then I’ve considered producing training videos, but just haven’t gotten to it over the years. Life is pretty busy with a full-time job, being a wife and mother, etc. And with a plethora of great videos already online, I’m not prone to “reinvent the wheel.” But maybe one day! Below are some training sites I recommend. I’m either familiar with the webmaster or company. Or I came across them in a search and it passed my “this is good” test (smile). You can find more by doing a Google search.
• http://www.2createawebsite.com/ (this sista has a banging YouTube channel too)
• How to Make a WordPress Website – Step by Step
4. Cheat Sheets. HTML/web cheat sheets can come in handy. My suggestion is that you can print them out and stick them inside of sheet protectors to put into a binder. This way you can create a homemade reference guide or training binder that’s in easy reach as needed. Alternatively, since they’re all PDFs, you can save them to your local computer or to your free DropBox account that you can access from any computer (I’m a big fan of cloud computing).
• 25 Handy HTML Cheat Sheets
• HTML 5 Cheat Sheet (PDF)
• Cheat Sheets for Front-end Web Developers
• HTML – HyperText Markup Language Cheat Sheets
• WhatIs.com’s Favorite Cheat Sheets
• 30 Web Developer Cheat Sheets
• All The Cheat Sheets An Up To Date Web Designer Needs
5. Practice. Practice makes perfect the saying goes. Don’t be timid about jumping in and getting both feet wet. Get a web server; I recommend Bluehost (that’s my affiliate link). And you can install as many websites on your account as you want. At no extra cost. You can even start a web business. Install WordPress into different directories. Do a Google search for free WordPress templates (there are hundreds; my business website uses a free WordPress template. I did that intentionally to demonstrate that you can do a lot with free templates). But you can use a free one just to practice downloading and installing one. Or use one of the many that come pre-installed to pick from. And practice installing plugins. Thousands of plugins are available for free. Practice HTML coding and the things you’ve learned from the resources above. Before you know it, you’ll be a wiz! (NOTE: When I mention WordPress, I’m referring to the self-hosted kind; not the kind at wordpress.com.)
So now you’re equipped with enough resources to get started. Or to continue your journey in learning. My goal is to blog on these topics regularly. Maybe I’ll even create videos. Uh, oh. Watch out, world wide web! Here I come. If you know of other resources that may help beginners, please share in the comments section below or click here.