How To: Website Development

Developing a website can be a painful task, especially if you 1) want to sell anything, and 2) don't know anything about programming. Here is a guide for various different things you might want to do with your site, from blogging to embedding videos to creating your own forum!

1. For Non-Programmers
There are several good website development tools that even non-programmers will find quite intuitive. One of my personal favorites is Wix. They will provide you with a free, though lengthy, domain name along with many helpful tools and designs. They will even personalize a website for you based on your needs. If you're willing to invest some money and time, you can create a stunning website with full support for blogging, a custom domain, selling, and more.

An alternative to Wix is the new Google Sites, which is even easier to use but offers fewer customization options - for example, Google Sites doesn't support Adsense or vending (and probably never will). However, if you're just looking for a promotional or information website, Google Sites might be the way to go.

2. For Free (But High-Quality) Sites
As mentioned above, Wix is one of my favorite site engines, and it's very easy to learn. Wordpress is another common favorite, but I would definitely put it behind Wix on this list.

3. How-To: Embedding
What's embedding, you may ask? It allows you to add an element to your site that is not hosted on your site. In simpler terms, it allows you to add features to your website without creating them yourself. Examples of things you can embed include:

  • Forms
  • Videos
  • Parts/pieces of other websites that support embedding (such as forums)
  • Web features you've created yourself
If you visit the "Write for us!" tab above, you will see a form embedded into my page. This form isn't technically part of my website - it has a Google Forms address - but you see it as part of my web page. 

4. How-To: Earning Money from Ads
Google provides an ad revenue service called Adsense, which can be used with Wordpress, Wix, and Blogger (but not the new Google Sites). When you apply for Adsense, Google will review your site and analyze:

  • Content
  • Content Quality/Amount
  • Website Build Quality
  • Traffic
If your site is approved, the process for actually showing ads differs by engine. (For example, Wix has an 'app' available through the Wix App Market.) Instructions about how to use Adsense with each platform are easy to find online.

Don't expect to become a quick millionaire unless you have huge monthly traffic! Adsense revenue varies by website category and specific ads being shown, but average revenues are fractions of a cent per view and somewhere between $0.10 and $1.00 per click. 

5. How-To: Random (But Fun!) Features 
There are hundreds of elements you can add to your site to attract viewers and give people a reason to keep coming back. A few of these include:

  • Forums. Online forum builders are free (for older designs) or inexpensive (for more modern designs). Most can easily be embedded into a preexisting website.
  • Games. One of my personal favorites (especially for writers) is a game created with the Twine platform. This program, available completely free, creates JS/HTML based branching stories that you can embed into your website. If you don't know JavaScript or HTML, don't worry! As long as you aren't planning to add many complex features, you don't need to know programming at all. If you want to experiment, you can find plenty of tutorials and active Twine communities online.
  • Video collections. Showcase your YouTube channel on your website.
  • Photo collections. Showcase your photography on your website.
  • Social media feeds. Show your Instagram photos or Twitter feed on your website with a simple widget. This feature is available through Wix and Wordpress, but not Google Sites.
  • Contact form. Make it easy for your viewers to reach out and ask questions using a contact form.

If you have questions about website building, feel free to contact me through the form on the sidebar!