Developing a Web Site

Deciding on Content

It is often said that content is the most important part of a web site. I agree -a website with flash graphics but with sparse information is not too useful.

First and foremost, decide what content you would like to provide to your customers or visitors. Create a basic outline of what information you would like to provide, starting with the most important content to the least important. It is a good practice to complete the basic content first. Otherwise you may become overwhelmed by the amount of content that you have to create. Once the basics are done, you can flesh it out with other less-crucial content.

Once you have created an outline, you must decide how you will create and store the content. If your content will need to be updated regularly, you will want to create a dynamic web site. Otherwise, a static web site is suitable for your needs.

Dynamic Content

If your content will need to be updated regularly, you will need a dynamic web site, that is, one that uses a database. If you don't understand much about databases, don't worry. You have two choices; you can either employ a professional to set up a database and web site (if your site needs to be very specialised this would be the best choice), or you can use a free or commercial content management system (or CMS).

If you want to find a company to create your web site, then I would suggest that you do some research and ask around. Web design forums, such as SitePoint and NamePros, can be a good starting place to find quality, reputable companies.

If you want to use a content management system (or CMS), then you can either pay for a commercial CMS or download a free CMS. An excellent CMS is Mambo - it is highly configurable and is easy to use. For further information and demos of other CMS software, visit OpenSource CMS.

Static Content

If you only need to update your content occassionally, or if your web site will remain very small in size, then a static web site will be suitable. You will need a HTML editor and an image-editing software program. There are some free software packages available, but I will only discuss quality, commercial software packages.

The best HTML editor available is Macromedia Dreamweaver MX. It provides a WYSIWYG interface (what-you-see-is-what-you-get), allowing you to see exactly how your site will look on the web as you create it. If you can use a word-processing application such as Microsoft Word, you should become acquainted with the Dreamweaver interface quickly. To see the enormous amount of features in Dreamweaver, visit Macromedia's website.

Dreamweaver MX 2004
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Dreamweaver MX 2004 for Dummies
Welcome to the wonderful world of Dreamweaver.


There are numerous image-editing software programs available on the market. Two of the my preferred imaging programs are Adobe Photoshop and Macromedia Fireworks. The latter can be purchased together with Dreamweaver as a special web-design suite bundle. Photoshop has greater capabilities, but is much more complicated than Fireworks to use. I recommend Fireworks for beginner or intermediate users.

Fireworks MX 2004
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Adobe Photoshop CS


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Create Your Site

Now that you have decided on what content you need to create and how you will store it, you will need to get busy! Creating a web site takes time - but the end result is well worth it!

In summary:

  • create an outline of the content you will need to create
  • decide whether you will need a dynamic or static web site
  • choose an appropriate software package for static web sites OR
  • employ a professional or choose a CMS for dynamic web sites
  • create your website
Studio MX 2004
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