Starting a Website for the Intermediate

By: Dusty Arlia
Published on September 1, 2011
Last Updated on Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 3:59 PM
Total Updates: 4

In this article we will assume that you understand HTML and have a firm grip of CSS. You have made websites in the past, but nothing large scale or really professional. This article will show you valuable software programs that will help you build a professional looking sites and a lot of these programs are free. Also, we will discuss problems that might arise and best industry practices.

If you fall under this intermediate category then you will still probably benefit from using a hosting provider such as GoDaddy. GoDaddy provides 24/7 support and will be a great resource when you need assistance. A lot of their customer service techs are web developers on the side. They have been in your shoes and can help you overcome obstacles you might face.

When starting your website you will need an HTML/CSS/Javascript editor. A very popular tool for this is Adobe's Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver is $120 for its latest version, Dreamweaver CS5.5. Another great tool is CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor. CoffeeCup is not as powerful as Dreamweaver, but is completely capable of getting the job done.

Once you've decided on an HTML/CSS/Javascript editor, then you will need to decide on what type of FTP program you will use to upload your files to your hosting provider (some website building programs have builtin FTP clients you can use). FileZilla is probably the most popular FTP client and it is free to use. Dreamweaver has a FTP client builtin and so does CoffeeCup, but you might prefer having a fullscreen program. FileZilla will split your screen in two halves, one for your local machine and the other for your remote web server. FileZilla gives you the progress of all your uploads and shows all the status messages and codes along the top. It may take some time for you to develop a preference in this area. More than likely your hosting provider will also have its own FTP program accessible through your browser (I've been in situations where my local FTP client fails to work, but my hosting provider's web-based FTP client works).

The last piece of software should be your image editor. Gimp is a free image editor that has a lot of the features of the more expensive competitors. GIMP is more than capable of handling most if not all of you image editing needs. Adobe makes a software program that's GIMP's largest competitor, arguably the industry standard, called Photoshop. Photoshop will run you $700 for its latest version, Photoshop CS5. Photoshop Elements 9 is also available which is a stripped down version of Adobe Photoshop available for $99. Adobe offers a lot of discounts if you are a student, teacher, or small business owner. Do the research before buying any of their products.

While coding, you should break down your webpage into objects like "header", "footer", or "right_column". When you break down your code into objects, you can save snippets of your code to reuse over and over (research web frameworks and MVC; my personal preference when it comes to web frameworks is Django, but most hosting providers don't support web frameworks if you are using shared hosting). Code reusability is extremely important for scalability. Also, using external style sheets is extremely important for scalability and keeps your code clean.

At this point in your career you should be studying and getting a firmer grip on the DOM or Document Object Model. Knowing the DOM will also help you learn Javascript which is the next important language to master.

Javascript is a client-side scripting language. This programming language allows interactivity on the website. This interaction makes the website more intuitive for the visitor. Javascript makes actions that happen on the client's browser possible.

The last step to becoming an expert web developer is mastering server-side languages such as PHP and MySQL. Before you tackle topics as advanced as these, you need to know how to run a web server. Trying to use server-side languages on a hosted server will give you headaches and security risks. Before making the leap to running your own web server, make sure you have a firm grasp of HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, and MySQL (you can also learn Python and PostgreSQL instead of PHP and MySQL). After mastering these languages you will be able to tackle the most challenging issues related to security, server availability, and server clustering.