Well, I've been designing websites, both professionally and as a hobby, for almost 10 years now. My thinking on whether to Do It Yourself or to use some sort of "site builder" has changed several times during this time, but here's where I currently stand.
On the other hand, if you're building a simple non-business-y Website, such as your own personal site or a website for your family members, then you don't really need to learn all that. It's enough for you to use a simple CMS, such as Drupal, or even a blogging platform, such as WordPress.
Drupal ( https://www.drupal.org/ ) is very simple to learn and use. My only problem with it is that, if you need to customize beyond the usual stuff, you need to know your PHP well. I also found it hard to find Drupal themes that suited my taste, and I usually had to heavily tweak the ones I found or make my own themes from scratch (not a very pleasant task, let me tell you.)
WordPress ( https://wordpress.org/ ) is my favorite blogging platform. It's extremely easy to use, works great out of the box, has loads upon loads of great templates, and is a snap to customize when you know its basics. There are also literally thousands of plugins for it that you can use.
Now, if you're interested in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and you need to have your websites ranking well at the Search Engines, such as Google and Yahoo, then you have either one of two routes to take. You can do it yourself, by learning how it all works and then applying this knowledge to your websites -- however, beware that this can easily take you months to understand, and perhaps a year or two to master.
The other route is to use integrated systems, such as Site Build It ( http://buildit.sitesell.com/ ), to guide you through the process and handle most of the time-consuming labor. These tools are usually pricey, but if you're going to do this for a living, then I suppose it's a good long-term investment.
The bottom line is: I don't think there's one "be all and end all" way to go about building a website. It all depends on the "purpose" of the site, your "expectations" from it, and the time, effort, and money you're willing to put into it. I know that sounds sort of vague and possibly useless, but hey, nobody said life was clear-cut
Initially, I used Microsoft Front Page to design HTML pages and make whatever little modifications in the code view. It was quick and easy but generated quite a bit of crappy code. What I most liked about Front Page is that it had so many templates for buttons/menus. I had grabbed the basics of HTML from http://www.w3schools.com/.
Then, I moved on to Dreamweaver which offers much more features/tools. Code generated by Dreamweaver was significantly better than Front Page. The code formatting options come in very handy as it allows you to format the code in one go and as per your formatting styles. I am not sure, if this is possible in Front Page.
After learning CSS and giving up on the old table way of creating pages, I hardly use Dreamweaver's Design view to create the page layout/design. Dreamweaver templates are very useful because they prevent editing the non-editable regions in the dependent pages. If you make changes to the template, dreamweaver can automatically propagate those across all the pages that use it.
One important reason for switching to Dreamweaver was that I needed to create dynamic pages and PHP seemed to be the most popular and what most free web hosts supported. So, I went back to w3schools and learned PHP. I must say, that the tutorials they offer are very effective in getting you started quickly. Sure, they don't tell you everything about PHP, but enough so that you can create your own pages. I can always google or drop by Xisto, if I get stuck somewhere.
I was introduced to AJAX by our admin, m^e and have been using the Prototype library ever since, in all of my web applications. AJAX not only provides rich content to be delivered to the web pages, but also helps save a lot of bandwidth.
Other than this, we were taught ASP .NET and JSP/Servlets as part of our Software Engineering degree at NIIT. I haven't made anything apart from a couple of projects in these two platforms, though. I found ASP .NET quite weird with its view states and all way of submitting forms. Servlets were easy to understand and JSP is very much like PHP. Given the choice, I would prefer JSP over ASP .NET or PHP. I hate Java for Desktop Applications; mostly because of the lack of an IDE as good as Microsoft's Visual Studio and a bit because of all the stupid names that they come up with for various technologies (Beans >_#). Then comes the tongue twisting namespaces, Sun.jdbc.odbc.jdbcodbcdriver. Lack of properties make you call functions (getText(), setText()) to retrieve or set the text property.
Not drifting any further away from the topic, I do want to try a CMS in the coming days. One of my friends got placed for a web developer job and is having to learn Drupal, right now.
Initially, I messed around with Microsoft FrontPage and FrontPage Express when I was 8 years old. I was always interested in the HTML code tab in FrontPage, so I decided to take out a book at the library about Creating Web Pages. For about 3 years, I have ventured in and out of FrontPage whenever I felt like it.Finally, searching HTML on Yahoo! eventually brought me to resources such as the W3 validator and the W3Schools tutorials. With a greater passion for web development, I eventually learned HTML. I have always relied on <font>, the align attribute, etc, until I decided to write XHTML. Then I decided to learn CSS, along with other things such as RSS and XML at W3Schools.Now in high school, I manage the school's website and parts of a larger website covering district sports. With knowledge of PHP and MySQL, I consider myself to be advanced in web development, even though I still have a lot to learn.Therefore, I am trying to create my own CMS to help people create their own websites without the use of programming language. It is modeled off of WordPress and Joomla! mostly, but I am trying to stay strict to my main goals, to create a CMS for a specific audience, educational systems.
I messed around with Frontpage years ago untill I discoverd the code created by FP was total crap, I then quickly switched to Dreamweaver MX. However, I found myself changing the code more often than using the WYSIWYG interface so I switched to Notepad++.
About 2 years ago I made a Joomla 1.0 template with a few friends and since then I've created a few more designs (or helped a bit with
). I'm now working on a simple Joomla 1.5 template and a e107 template and maybe I get to work on a Drupal website too.
I've also had a personal website in Geeklog, but that's a long time ago
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