Web Design For Novices
Paralysis of Choice So you want to create your first web site but are feeling more than a little daunted by the thought. First step… relax. Just about everyone who has ever created a web site has been here before. The feeling is not uncommon. Perhaps one of the scariest things about the whole prospect of creating a web site is the sheer number of choices out there. There is a phenomenon that I like to call the paralysis of choice.
It goes like this… give me a choice between two or three items, no problem. That’s easy. But now make it a choice between twenty items and a paralysis starts to set in. There are simply too many choices! And with people afraid of making the wrong choice, they decide that the safest choice is no choice at all. At least this way, they haven’t made a mistake.
Among the better ones is Incomedia’s Website X5 which comes in two flavors: Compact and Evolution. Think of these as personal and business. You start from a number of template choices and then color combinations. Between those two elements alone, the chances of your site looking just like someone else’s is pretty slim. The main idea of Website X5 is to divide each page into a grid. In each square of the grid you decide what’s going to go there: text, a picture, a flash movie, or a slideshow, etc. Adding those elements is easy. Not bad. And it gets you an end product better than those online web site builders. But I’m still a less than wowed.
Web Templates OK. As is usually typical I’ve saved the best for last! Unlike the canned web site templates that come with software like Microsoft’s FrontPage (now dubbed Expression Web); professional web site templates are much more sophisticated and give you much more control over each design element. Each template typically comes with a list of software you would need to edit the template before you buy it. Higher level templates may require specialized software like Flash. But for a typical price of between $55 and $75 for most templates, this is short money compared to paying someone to design a web site from scratch. Most templates also come with Adobe Photoshop (PSD) files. Even the low-cost Photoshop Elements can fully edit these. The beauty of this is that for the price of less than $100 you’ll have the ability to edit every single little design element. This makes customizing your template much easier. For most templates, the only other software you would need is the design software like: FrontPage, Dreamweaver, Expression Web, SharePoint Designer, and more.
If you’d like to add Flash elements to your website, but can’t afford Macromedia Flash (now Adobe Flash) there are the poor man’s alternatives like SWiSHmax. SWiSHmax allows you to create Flash (SWF) files without having Flash and costs only a fraction of the price. Take a look at SWiSHzone on the web for more information. If you’d like to use SWiSH as an alternative, simply look for web templates that list SWiSH as one of the softwares. Customizing Many people don’t realize that most templates can be professionally customized for an individual. Simply look for template customizing services where you buy your template. Since you are beginning with a template that you’ve picked out, you have a much better idea how it’s going to turn out after some custom tweaking and there are fewer surprises. There’s much less risk involved than with a web site designed from scratch. You can generally save hundreds of dollars by starting with a template even after adding in custom tweaking if you prefer someone else to do it.