An Easy Educational Tool to Teach Web Building
School’s starting soon and, if you’re an educator, you’re probably putting the final touches on your curriculum planning for the semester. One thing you may want to consider (if it’s not in there yet) is including a web building component in your course.
Why You Should Teach Basic Web Building
The ability to put together a website has become the kind of skill that people in a wide range of professions can benefit from. Even those who never encounter the need to build a website for their job may find themselves wanting to put one together for a side project or social issue they care about.
In the same way that the importance of computer literacy has become a given in schools around the country, the value of understanding how to build a website is beginning to take on similar weight. Even for courses and subject areas where web design isn’t the primary focus, it can therefore be beneficial for students to get some hands-on experience with building a website.
Luckily, as the need for web building as a skill has grown, so has the ease with which people can put a website together. You don’t have to teach students html or CSS. You can simply get them acquainted with using a web building tool like the one HostGator offers.
Use HostGator’s Free Website Builder
Anyone using a HostGator plan for their website has access to HostGator’s free website builder. You can craft lessons around the website builder in order to give your students some hands-on experience with building a website.
Have Students Build a Website for a Fictional Business
To help students get familiar with how to create and design a website of their own, assign them to come up with a business idea to build their website around. Then you can provide a series of assignments to help them learn the skills required to have a website that performs well.
1. Create the website.
Provide them some loose instructions on the steps to take here:
- Choose your template. The website builder has hundreds for your students to choose from. Encourage them to think about which template is a good fit for their business idea, not just which one they like most.Choose a color scheme. They could potentially stick with the colors the template comes in, but encourage them to at least spend some time experimenting with other options so they get an idea of how that works.
- Pick your design. Tell them to consider (and test out) any changes they might want to make to the layout – where links, images, and the menu all go, for instance.
- Write copy. This will require the biggest changes to what’s there already. They’ll need to fill in the text sections of the template with wording relevant to the imaginary business they’ve created. Tell them to spend some time browsing the websites of companies selling something similar for inspiration.
2. Make it mobile friendly.
Mobile has become a dominant force in how people shop and well, frankly, how they do most things. Making sure their websites are mobile friendly should therefore be treated as an important part of your students’ experience in learning web building.
The templates on HostGator’s website builder are responsive, so they should work well on any mobile device as well as desktop computers. Make an assignment of testing the website your students create to see how well it works on mobile and making any tweaks needed to make it more intuitive in the different format.
3. Optimize it for search engines.
A website has to be found before it can do its job (whatever that may be). Your students should be very familiar with Google in general, but knowing how to use the search engine and knowing how to make a website that’s search engine friendly are two different skill sets. Teach them the basics of SEO, and make an assignment out of having them optimize their website based on what they’ve learned.
4. Create an online portfolio.
An online portfolio can come in handy (or be a requirement) in many types of professions. Give your students the assignment to put together an online portfolio on their website of any work they’ve created in the past that they want to highlight.
5. Set up a blog.
Blogs are a big part of the online world these days and knowing how to create and publish on one is undoubtedly a useful skill. Have your students create a blog on the website they’ve created and use it for publishing future assignments you provide throughout the semester to give them plenty of time to get comfortable with it.
6. Have students use and critique each other’s sites.
A big part of creating a good website is trying to get in the mindset of what users will find easy and intuitive. To provide your students with a lesson in usability, make the final assignment in this project to spend some time on sites made by other students and analyze how intuitive they are. Students can provide feedback to each other which helps them better understand what makes websites well designed for users.
Help Your Students Save
As a way to make this project (and any future websites they create) more affordable for your students, look into the HostGator Affiliate Program. You can make sure your students get a discount on HostGator hosting plans and make a little extra yourself.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.