A Quick Guide to Website Design

The beginning of the new year has inspired many of us to undertake the daunting task of redesigning our websites, or to create new ones, without the aid of web design degrees. I have just finished a complete redesign of my website, and thought it would be helpful to pass along the links and research that I did in the process.

Free Website Templates
Why start from scratch when you can download a free, professional-looking website that you can customize and make your own? These template downloads include everything you’ll need to get started including the page code, graphics, and CSS.

    OSWD

  • Open Source Web Design – Fantastic website with over 2,000 free design downloads including blog templates.
  • Free Layouts – Over 500 free downloads here including MySpace and blog templates.

Free Hosted Website Builders
These websites not only provide easy-to-use website building tools, and often drag-and-drop AJAX editors, so that you can get a website up and running in no time, but they will host the website for you.

  • Weebly - Over 30 starter templates to choose from, and easy drag-and-drop interface, and Weebly will let you use your own domain or they will host your website for you.
  • Webjam - Create personal or group, public or private pages in this community by dragging modules onto a page.
  • Pagii - Personal webpage or digital scrapbook creator which lets you drag-and-drop images and other content anywhere on your pages.
  • Freewebs - This site creator has over 300 website templates to choose from, websites can include blogs, chat rooms, forums, photos which can be edited by Picnik, and videos. More than 17 million websites created here.
  • Freewebs

  • Jimdo - Easy website creation tool which will let you copy the design of other websites.
  • SiteKreator - This easy to use design tool has both free and paid options, offering unlimited pages and 10 MB of hosted space.
  • SynthaSite - A lot of functionality available in this website creator with drag-and-drop widgets including a Flickr search, easy YouTube, Metacafe, and other video embedding, and RSS.

Widgets
Spice up any website or blog with additional content being drawn in by a widget. Here are some examples, but find more at Widgetbox.

  • MeeboMe - Embed an IM chat widget.
  • Hyplet – Create a Hyplet blogger’s box with all of your contact info and pic.
  • Hyplet

  • Eventful - If you are a writer, speaker, or performer of any type, you can list your events with Eventful and then pull them into your website via a widget which you can style yourself via your own CSS, or just use theirs.
  • Slideshare - Display your PowerPoint presentations on your website by embedding them with the Slideshare widget.
  • tumblr - Aggregate all of the content you create on your blogs, Flickr, del.icio.us, Facebook, Twitter, and other accounts and then embed your tumblr into your website. (This one’s a bit advanced, but looks great!)
  • Tumblr

Images
If you’re looking for free stock images to use on your website, there are plenty of places you can go. Here are some starting points.

Website Analytics Tools
After all that hard work, you may want to know how many visitors you’re getting and where they’re coming from. Here are some free tools to help you do just that.

  • Sitemeter - This tool is very straightforward and easy to digest. The free version will display the number of visitors to your website or blog, their page views, the last 100 referring URLs which led them to your site, and many other statistics.
  • For more, see Read/Write Web’s writeup of 10 Free, Innovative Web Analytics Tools.