The Central Outpost
How to Build a Site from Scratch
by Oddball
July 23, 2006 (Last updated on October 8, 2008)

Is your clan one of the best out there, but your site isn't making it big? If so, stick around and I will tell you how to build a good site even if you don't have the money.

Have you ever stumbled across a clan’s website that has been built using Geocities, or some other free web hosting source? I bet the first thing that crossed your mind was, "Eww, this is a tad ugly." Well it doesn't have to be.

Where do I start?

Starting a website isn't as easy as you would like it to be, but starting a website that documents everything about your clan and more is even harder. The first thing you want to do is write out ideas for content. This includes such things as rosters, rules, ladders, forums, etc. Then, figure out the layout of the website. You don't want to build a site that is hard to navigate. Every page needs to be the same as far as structure goes. The navigation bar, header, and content tables should be all in the same place. Now if you are using a tool such as Dreamweaver, then you most likely won’t be making tables, so try to keep the layout the same on every page. Changing headers can be a good thing and a bad thing. If you have pictures, then having pictures rotate on every other page and keeping the theme isn't too bad. But if it’s just text stating the clan’s name, keep the one header.

Colors/Flash

Many people think that a Flash intro is going to attract a wider audience. I can tell you that this is false. Flash intros are one of the leading reasons why websites fail. No one likes to watch a movie more then one time; they also don't enjoy sitting and waiting for it to load up. And a lot of the time, people just have flying text and bright flashes that would give anyone a seizure. What you want to do if you have a flash intro is make sure that you don’t use music (adds to download time). Make sure you always have a "skip intro" button, which will allow the viewer to skip it, and try to keep the same theme in your flash movie that your site represents.

The color scheme of your site can be one of the most important factors in deciding if someone is going to view your site. Keep the colors simple; don't use bright neon orange as your background and hot pink as your font color. Make sure the colors are pleasant to the eye. Easily readable text is a big help. Just like the tables and headers, keep the color the same on every page. Don't switch colors too much. The background is another thing that adds to your website’s credibility. A simple, easy on the eyes background is always a good choice. Black can cause strain and any other color brighter then orange is a no-no. Try to color coordinate your font and background.

When using a tool such as GeoCities PageBuilder, or Dreamweaver, people choose to use a font header such as "<font face="arial" size="6" color="000000">", which is text that is really big and black. Instead of using the drag field text box-insert here method, make a banner in a photo editing program and then upload that picture to every page. This adds to design, and it doesn't look bad either.

Content

I have said it before and I will say it again: the most important feature of any website is content. Keep what you put on your site simple, yet informative. Give in-depth information on your goals, members, history, games, and the clan’s overall status. Never say, "We play Jedi Knight 2," and leave it at that. Go into detail about the game and what your clan has to offer in that game. Always mention each member in detail. Don't just add their alias to the roster. Give them pictures, preferably small, and have information about them as players, people, and clan members. Adding extra content is never a bad thing, but you need to know what kind of content to add. Don't write articles about your cat; if you want to give opinionative articles that will draw the viewer back, hit on topics that are of interest. People usually run across a website and just look around and leave. A sure fire way to keep people coming back is adding reviews or interviews. Keep the viewer’s interest. "Hook, line, and sinker."

Another helpful tip is: when you add a page to your website, everyone of them has an identity, such as the members page. Save it as "members.php", or if your using Geocities, "roster". This keeps every thing simple and organized.

Web Hosting

If you ever run across a website that is hosted on Geocities, you will notice that the URL is very long. It doesn't look too good, does it? No… sure it doesn't. And it's very hard to remember. Well, one way you can add a URL that will make it easier for people to access your site is by shortening it. Many people don't want to go out of the way and register a domain name, maybe because it costs money or because they don't understand the process. Well, one of the easiest tools you can use for this is something called ".tk". This company allows you to have a nice looking domain name (i.e. http://www.dot.tk). Keep the name short and sweet. The domain name can tell a lot about the clan in just one or two words.

There are many ways to build a website. I can't tell you all of the right and wrong ways, but when building a website, make sure that you understand each viewer’s interest hangs in the appeal of the site. If you know you wouldn't like it, don't build it that way.