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Until a few years ago, you needed a website if you wanted to post blogs, share pictures of your dogs, or promote a club
or business. Today, social networks such as Facebook and Instagram handle most of the blogs and dogs, but websites remain crucial for clubs, campaigners and businesses alike.
Sites are like any other kind of promotional material: to do a really good job you need to have design talent or the money to hire that talent. However, if you aren’t a Photoshop whizz and don’t have stacks of cash to spend, there’s another good option: templates.
Templates help you to make a professional website without spending a fortune. You don’t need to understand the HTML code they generate or how everything hangs together; it’s just a matter of deciding which template you want to use and tweaking it so that it suits your particular requirements.
In the walkthrough opposite we’ll build a website for a local community group, but you can apply the same tips to any kind of site you want to build. But before we get started, we need to ask you to do something: get away from your Mac!
Imagine you want a garage. You wouldn’t just hire a builder, order a bunch of bricks and hope for the best. You’d work out exactly what you wanted, how much you were willing to spend and then make plans accordingly. Websites work in much the same way: if you plan what you want to do first and only then start building, you’re much more likely to end up with a happy result.
Set your objective
The most important thing you need to decide is what you want your website to do. Is it an information resource, or are you encouraging people to buy your products or services? Is it a shopfront for your art, an online CV, or a guide to your local area?
Once you’ve identified the purpose of your site, you can then decide what pages it needs to have and what you want to put on those pages. It’s also a very good idea to have any media – photographs, audio clips, PDFs or anything else you plan to include on it – organised before you start putting your website together. That means your approach will be “ready, aim, fire!”, not “ready, fire, aim!”