How To Build A Website

This is an example page. It’s different from a blog post because it will stay in one place and will show up in your site navigation (in most themes).

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Questions answered on this page:

  • Planning, research and your site needs

  • Getting good advice about your site project

  • Planning a budget, knowing the costs of running a website

  • Decide on template or a custom design

  • Choosing a web template design

  • Finding a competent designer

  • Getting quotes for your design and production

  • Paying for a website, when should pay your developer

  • The Design process, choosing the right design, testing the design wireframes with friends or focus groups

  • Find A hosting and backups costs

  • Managing production and coding

  • Getting to a Beta

  • Revisions, tweaking to meet your needs

  • Pre-launch testing your site

  • Announcing your site and the importance of SEO

  • Getting linking partners

  • Upkeep, changes and support costs

I need a web site design, but is a web design template a good choice?

Web templates are an excellent choice for anyone on a small or medium sized budget who doesn’t need to have a 100% unique design. What does that mean, a “100% unique design”? It means that when you buy a template, it’s possible that others have purchased the same design, and might continue to do so in the future. So you might not be the only one with that design. But practically speaking, the web has tens of millions of sites on it. When you purchase a web design template you normally alter it to some degree to fit your own content. Not every person who purchased the same web design template you did, will actually end up launching a website with it (sometimes plans fall through). So the chances that you will feel like you don’t have a unique design or that you will see other sites with your same design are slim.

Templates are an enormous time saver – creating the art and programming and other files takes a lot of time, so if you choose to use a web design template you’re automatically saving a few thousand dollars.

On the other hand if you have a larger budget and want to go the custom route, and if it’s critical for your business that nobody else should have your design (you’ll want to own the copyrights to the design if you get a custom design created), then a template would not be a good choice.

What is a small or medium sized budget? And what will a custom design cost me?

Generally speaking a 10 page website will cost you anywhere from $500 to $5000 from beginning to end. That means from hiring a designer or developer, to getting the site live and completely finished.

A medium sized budget might be from $5,000 to $15,000 if you need 20 – 50 pages, or if you have special programming needs.

Using a template and a web developer with enough experience to really know what they are doing (always recommended!) will run you on average, around $2,500 for a nice professional design, around 10-15 pages and assuming you have a few bells and whistles you want added, past the standard Contact Us forms.

Why use a template? Isn’t it easier for a designer to start from scratch sometimes?

Templates allow web developers with minimal design experience or those in a rush to create beautiful professional-grade web sites in a fraction of the time.

Sometimes learning to work with files from another developer has a learning curve… but the web template designers these days tend to be so good at creating really professional looking designs that you will have a hard time locating a designer who can create such slick professional looking design in your local market. You can try a crowdsourced solution such as 99design.com but these designers are willing to fight other designers for work and many times they are not doing very high quality work (there are some exceptions though).

When you pay for a custom design, your designer will ask you questions about what you want and eventually give you a few designs to choose from. You sort of have to choose one, or it could cost you more $$ for a new round of design comps. Eventually you settle on one design direction and the designer will tweak the deign for you until you’re happy.

When you purchase a website template you have the benefit of choosing from thousands of excellent designs right off the bat, before you pay a cent! From there, you can purchase one for around $65. To get to this stage with a custom design will cost you normally a couple thousand dollars or more. Then you need to actually program the site. With a template, a lot of the programming is already done. With a custom design, the programming will take a few weeks and cost you a few thousand dollars more.

Can I purchase a web template and then have my developer customize it for me?

Absolutely! This is what most people do. That way you feel like you have a truly unique design and you also saved yourself lots of time and probably thousands of dollars in design time.

Can I purchase a web design template and make the site myself?

If you have no knowledge of how to create a web site and/or do not intend to use Adobe Photoshop to edit/adjust your template, then you will need a developer who does. You can find a great developer here at CoolHomepages in our Find A Designer area.

Any web developer in the world will know what to do with all the files. The Adobe Photoshop graphics program, which is the world’s leading graphic art program, is used by every web developer (or maybe 99.9%!)

What comes with a web design template normally?

A web design template is a set of professionally created design files used as a starting point for building a web site. When you order or download a template you typically get a number of source files that can be edited if you have software to edit the files.

Commonly, the source files will include a layered Photoshop master file, images, HTML, CSS and other supporting files such as Flash .SWF files or jQuery.js files if those technologies are used. Some files like Photoshop and Flash files require specific software to edit them (Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Flash for example), whereas CSS, HTML, jQuery and other text based source files only require a regular text editor.

This collection of design source files is built with the assumption that you will adjust and edit the original design somewhat to create your own web site. The kinds of things you might adjust and change are button names, categories, the logo file, the tagline under the logo if you have one, and various links on the page.

What else will I need to create my site?

Every web site in the world needs a ‘web site host” – this is a place to post your web site files so that others may see your site on the internet. You will need a web site host. We recommend www.inmotionhosting.com – they have all the hosting options you might want at excellent prices.

You will also need a way to edit the Photoshop file (and Flash files if you buy a Flash Header template). Typically this means you will need the Adobe Photoshop software and if you are editing Flash, the Adobe Flash software. There are some other third party graphics programs that allow you to edit the Photoshop and Flash files also, but you will need to check and see if your program allows Photoshop or Flash editing.

You will need a certain amount of know-how to create any web site of course also.

How many web site design pages are included?

The multi-page templates that we recommend from TemplateMonster include a homepage, about us page, contact us page, product listing page and product detail page, and in some cases other pages like blog pages, ecommerce pages or showcase pages.

Can I create more pages if I need to?

Yes absolutely you can add more pages. They are editable in Dreamweaver or any HTML program. And what most designers do is buy the homepage design, make a few changes to meet their needs in Photoshop… then export any new GIFs or JPGs as needed where they made graphical changes.

Then they have a workable homepage with all their own tweaks. Then they duplicate that homepage 5 or 10 times to create the subpages and simply rename where appropriate to be called AboutUs.html, Contact.html, Services.html etc etc. and replace the body area with whatever is appropriate for those pages.

How soon will I receive my template files?

Normally you will receive download instructions for your template within 5 minutes or less, unless we have trouble confirming the validity of your order due to Fraud Prevention checks (we get a lot of fraud unfortunately). 95% of all orders are completed and sent within 5 or 10 minutes. Worst case is that you will receive your information next business morning.

How will I change the photos and text in the template to match my needs?

Using the layered Photoshop file, and your copy of Adobe Photoshop, you’ll replace any photos with your own and re-type any text in the template to match your needs…including text on graphics and buttons etc.

Note that each item on the template exists in it’s own separate Photoshop layer.. so it’s easy to delete, edit, move or replace.

Editing text in your template: When you attempt to re-type text from graphical parts of the template, you may not have the font that was originally used installed in your computer – Photoshop will alert you to this and tell you the name of the font you are missing. To correct this, simply locate the needed font(s) in the /fonts folder that you received with your template, and drag the fonts into your C:/Windows/Fonts folder of your PC. Mac users, drag fonts into your /Library/Fonts folder on OSX or /System/Fonts/ on OS9 or earlier.

After that you should be able to edit the text with the fonts that you see on the template. In rare cases, you may want to re-start Photoshop to be sure it finds the newly installed fonts.

You ALWAYS have the option to use a DIFFERENT font, any font you like, to replace what was used on the template. Feel free to use your own fonts instead of the ones that were used in the template.

After I make changes, how do I make my web page reflect these changes?

You will need to re-export the parts of your template that you have changed and get those re-exported files (GIFs or JPGs) into your /images folder that we supplied in your template files. The re-exported files must be named EXACTLY like the original image files that you are replacing.

To do this you turn on Slices View in Photoshop (click View… Show… Slices). Then click “File… Save For Web” and you’ll get a large dialog box pop up. Shift-click the slices you wish to re-export using the Slice Tool and your Shift key. Once you have all the slices you intend to export highlighted together click “Save”.

In the dialog box that appears, make sure you are in the folder called 0078 or 00231 or whatever template you bought. If you are in your template folder you should be able to see your “/images” folder.

In the dialog box select the export “Images Only” and “Selected Slices Only”. Enter simply the word “index” (without the quotes) as the NAME in the file name field. Click “Save”.

If you’ve done it correctly you will probably get a warning that asks if you wish to replace some files that already exist in the images folder.. click “yes”.

To check your work, open the .HTML file we supplied you in a web browser. You should see your changes.

If you don’t there are a few things that could have happened: Your images that you just exported are not named the same as the original files in your /images folder for some reason. Correct this manually if needed.

You may have altered your .HTML file so that it is not looking in your /images directory anymore for some reason. Re-open the HTML file and make sure all your images say <img src=”/images/index_04.jpg” or whatever the image name is.. the important part is in bold. Correcting the path from the .html file to the images is the most common problem and easy to correct.

If I can’t make my web site on my own can you do it or help me?

Unfortunately, we are not in the business of creating web sites. We supply ready to use templates, and some help files to assist you, but if you need more help understanding how to use the files chances are good that you’re in over your head and might want to consider getting a web site developer to help you. Creating a web site, uploading it, tweaking it, etc is a complicated matter that many people learn over a period of months or years normally.

Can I use Front Page or Dreamweaver or other HTML editors to edit the HTML pages?

Yes absolutely. If you don’t know how to use Dreamweaver or understand HTML you should locate a developer to assist you in our Find A Designer area here at CoolHomepages.

Do I need a graphics software program like Photoshop to make changes to the art or photos?

Yes you do… Photoshop will work best because all the art files are native Photoshop .PSD files. But you can also make due with free or low cost programs listed below.