As you may have heard or even read here before, it’s become far more feasible for someone without coding experience to design a website. Indeed, while some knowledge of computer language certainly doesn’t hurt, you can now design a beautiful, fully-functioning website without having to plug in a single line of code.
If you want to launch a website you intend to really build into something though, there are of course difficulties that go beyond the initial build. Whether you’re trying to set up an online store, design a blog that will attract thousands of readers, or whatever else it may be, you’ll need to learn how to keep things fresh, how to do the necessary digital marketing to attract clicks, and how to adjust the site according to visitors’ needs. In short, you’ll need to learn how to succeed and evolve, and sometimes it can be best to figure this out with a sort of trial run – a site you launch just to practice, rather than to turn into your primary online venture.
If that idea appeals to you, I put together some suggestions, not for thriving businesses or (necessarily) long-term ventures, but for site subjects you could use to practice. These are subjects that play to specific, large audiences, meaning they should be among the easier ones to use if you want to attract site visitors and learn the ropes.
Updates On Streaming
Streaming is effectively taking over the TV and film industries, and yet we don’t necessarily have go-to places to see what’s new on the top streaming channels. That is to say, there’s no Fandango or IMDB specifically for Netflix, and no TV Guide for Hulu. To imagine that you’ll start the go-to streaming update site is likely a stretch (there are sites doing it – just none that have made it big). But it’s a nice option if you want to practice building and maintaining a site, and keeping it updated with the latest content relevant to any readers you gather.
The design of a site like this could be relatively straightforward, as you would essentially be keeping a running list of shows and movies added to streaming platforms. However, in this sense, you can get further practice by building it up as you like along the way. For instance, you could advance from lists to lists with small synopses or embedded trailers. You could advance from synopses to including small reviews for each of the shows or films you list. And eventually, you can even look into adding a social media component, such that you can send out updates when new material is added to your site.
Updates On Online Gaming
This refers specifically to casino gaming, which is a more popular genre than people tend to realize if they’re not directly involved with it. Millions of people around the world engage in online gaming on a daily basis though, whether for real money or just for fun. And the game selection is so dynamic that, as with TV and film streaming options, people could do with a place to go for general updates. Whether you’re identifying the latest pay-to-play options for a British audience or identifying the free slots for the U.S users, there’s something to be said for starting a blog just to make note of and describe new games.
As with the streaming concept above, you could start with what amounts to a rolling list and gradually expand it as you see fit, or even in ways that speak to what your sites’ visitors want. That might mean adding your own reviews, recommending similar games to the ones you’re posting about, or even keeping side lists of your favorite new additions, or the most popular ones. The point, though, is that you’d gain more experience keeping a site freshly updated.
Niche Social Media Amalgamations
Here again, we’re discussing the idea not of creating original content, but of helping your site’s visitors to make sure they don’t miss things they’re interested in. The idea is to pick a niche – say, online fashion influencers, or popular athletes in a given sports league – and engineer your site to post any and all social media updates related to that niche. It’s a nice, natural way to attract a visitor base fairly quickly, and it also gives you practice dealing with social media (which is an essential side venture for any successful site these days).
In this case, you might get a feel for how to grow a site without actually having to write or create anything of your own – which isn’t how most sites or businesses end up working but might be a good way to focus all your energy on learning site design, upkeep, and outreach. If the platform is literally a collection of screen-grabbed social media posts within the niche you choose, you’re essentially allowing your subjects to create the content for you. Your only job is to organize it in an appealing and intuitive manner and get eyes on it.
If you want a little bit more practice doing something similar to running an online store, but you want to know how it would go first before you put your own products or services online, one way to do it is by designing a site revolving around style recommendations. Essentially, you can set up a catalog based on your own taste, but linking to stores selling the products, rather than any products of your own. For all intents and purposes, you can use this to learn things like how to present products best, what readers respond to, etc., so that you’re prepared if and when you decide to launch your own personal e-commerce site.
That point about the presentation is actually a vital one. These days, people don’t stay engaged with any sort of website that doesn’t reach out to them visually, and posting fashion looks is usually good with to catch the eye. However, you might just learn quite a lot about how and where images have the most effect, which can come in handy in the long run.
If you’re more interested in spreading your writing on a given topic to the world, consider opting for a team blog – one of the best ways to quickly establish at least a medium-sized reader base in a short time. It may seem like a few platforms dominate sports writing online, but this actually isn’t the case at all. SB Nation alone has hundreds of team and league blogs, and this is only one of several similar platforms. Designing a site with updates about a particular team can help you learn how to cater to a particular audience, and give you a feel for keeping a content blog regularly updated.
This too is another great way to build a practice site that will give you experience with social media. Most professional and college teams have fairly active social media audiences, which means there could be a built-in following to you if you manage things correctly. Be warned that engaging with a sports fan base can involve a lot of strong opinions and criticism. But you’ll still learn quite a bit about engagement, and hopefully about how a social presence can bring more readers to your site.
So, these are some ideas for relatively simple sites to design in the meantime, to get a bit of a warm-up for all the upkeep challenges that follow the site’s initial construction.
So – what do you think? Do you agree with this list, or are there other ideas you might suggest? Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to post any relevant questions as well!
Recommended Training – Treehouse
From beginner to advanced, our recommended coding training is Treehouse.
Treehouse is an online training service that teaches web design, web development and app development with videos, quizzes and interactive coding exercises.
Treehouse's mission is to bring technology education to those who can't get it, and is committed to helping its students find jobs. If you're looking to turn coding into your career, you should consider Treehouse.
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