How Not to Develop a Website

Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 2/13/2007

This is intended to be a comical view of developing a website, but I fear many webmasters may take it all too seriously.

Donít Bother With Design

No one really needs to worry about designing a website. Just borrow a template from someone or donít even bother with the template and go to work writing HTML. No one really knows what the website is supposed to do until it has been up for a while. It is, after all, a very simple thing to keep adding new HTML files to the website. All a person has to do is create one with a text editor and then dump it into the root directory of the website.

If you do decide to design the website, be sure to focus all of your attention on pretty graphics, and Flash elements that impress the users. There really is no need to worry about things like how to keep the site up to date, how to add new content or even what kind of structure the site needs. The users will understand. Most of them are going to find the site through a search engine, so it doesnít matter if the site homepage is just a bunch of links to random topics.

Databases are too Complicated

Whatever you do, never, never, never, incorporate a database in to your website. Databases just complicate everything. It is better for the webmaster to build everything by hand. If there is a calendar of events, it really isnít that much trouble to edit the individual HTML files. All one has to do is create a template file and then once a month go in and copy the template, remove the unneeded data and the enter the new data.

Articles shouldnít be stored in a database. Creating articles is as simple as copying a template file and entering new text. If it becomes necessary to change the appearance of the website or a link that is in the template then it is as good of time as any to just go through and delete the old articles. Everyone needs to do housecleaning and every once in a while it is good to kill the links that other sites have made to the site. It keeps the webmaster of the other site on his toes and gives him a reason to visit our site again.

Use Tables for Layout

When setting up a website, nothing works better than putting everything into a table. Tables keep all of the graphics in the right place and makes it possible to put the text in nice rectangular boxes. No one really needs Cascading Style Sheets. They were only created to make life more difficult for the webmaster.

Using tables as the main structure in the layout makes it easier to ward of those people who want the webmaster to make changes to the layout. If the website is using tables for the layout the webmaster can point out how much trouble it is to make the changes and the people will see how silly they were to ask the webmaster to put an image on the other side of the page.

Use Lots of Random Color

Color selection really isnít that important. Not sure which colors you want to use for the website? Why not just use all of your favorite colors. Unique colors make text and links stand out. Rather than just making one of them stand out, it is better to make them all stand out. Using a different color for everything is a sure way to make the user want to click on every link just to see why everything is special enough to need a different color.

When using custom colors, it is hard to remember which colors have already been used. It takes too much time to go back and look to see which colors have been used for various things. Rather than wasting time, it is better for the webmaster to just pick a new color. It really doesnít matter if the colors arenít quite consistent or if some of the colors clash or have low contrast. The users of the website are busy people and they are sure to realize that webmasters are just as busy and donít have time to be concerned with unimportant details.

Use Lots of Moving Graphics, Counters and Flashing Text

Nothing says that a website is classy quite like lots of things that really stand out. Users are pretty bored when they are surfing the web, so they will be please to find a website that wakes them up. They will enjoy watching the email GIF spin in circles. Make it even better by putting one on each side of the page.

Be sure to put a counter on every page. Users really want to know that they arenít the only people to visit a website. One user, in particular, really wants to know this. Donít forget that as a webmaster you are the primary user of the website. You may visit the site more often than anyone else, so it is most important that the website meets your needs.Flashing text is a great way to wake up the user. It lets him know that the text is important. He is sure to be awake by the time he finishes reading it. It is nearly impossible to for someone who is half asleep to read flashing text, so he will make sure that he wakes up before he reads it, even if that mean he has to drink a cup of coffee.

Bring Life to the Site with Music

One way to make your site stand out above the rest is with music that plays as soon as the page loads. A simple midi file will work, but an mp3 file with singing is even better. The users will return to the site again and again just to hear the music.

Royalty free music is costly, but donít worry about that. You can ďborrowĒ the music from someone else as long as you donít get caught. No one will know since your site is available for the whole world to see. Everyone will think you obtained it legally. You can also create your own music. Just sing a few verses of your favorite song or have someone else do it. If you really want your website to standout then record someone who is tone deaf.

Copy Content from Other Websites

The best way to attract visitors and make them want to return is to have lots of content. You donít have to spend very much time creating this content. It is better to spend your time collecting articles that are identical to the content on other websites. We donít want the other sites to get all of the visitors, so we will try to use their content to attract some of them to our own website.

There are lots of free articles available on the web. These articles can be copied to your website and you have instant content. You can be sure that the authors of these article wrote these articles for the benefit of your site and not to pull visitors to your site to their own site. You can also be sure that they are all experts in their field since they have said as much.


With a little bit of work and hardly any thought at all, anyone can develop a website that really stands out.

Timothy Fish is a church webmaster and the author of the book Church Website Design: A Step by Step Approach.