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How To Clone A Website

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If you’ve ever created a website from scratch, you know that it can be a complex, time-consuming project. There are so many elements to consider, from the color palette to the navigation to optimizing the load speed — and that’s just the beginning.

But luckily, starting from scratch isn’t usually necessary. Instead, you can clone an existing website or parts of a website, and then customize the cloned code to fit your needs and make a totally new site. This process can be a much more efficient way of creating a website. So whether you’re cloning a website for a client or for your personal portfolio, here are the steps to follow, as well as some things to keep in mind when working with a cloned website.

First, some ground rules

The process of cloning a website is common in web development. But you obviously don’t want to just copy someone else’s website — you want to ultimately make your own unique site. Thankfully, there are simple steps you can take to avoid outright copying someone else’s external-facing work.

First, think of cloning a website as a starting point — like a template — that you get to tweak and personalize. Then you’ll be able to add your own ideas and designs to that template. The idea is to make the website totally your own so that you won’t have legal issues to worry about.

To that end, watch out for content that’s copied over when you clone a site. You’ll need to replace any written or visual content.

How to clone a website using Google Chrome

One way to clone a website is with Google Chrome Developer Tools (DevTools), a toolkit for developers that’s conveniently built directly into the Chrome browser.

Follow these steps to clone a website using Google Chrome:

  • Select an element on the page
  • Right-click on the selected element and choose “Inspect”
  • At the top, you can see the site’s HTML
  • As you scroll, you can see all the elements of the page, from the header to the footer
  • As you select elements, you can see the CSS, which shows details like the maximum width and margins
  • Click on the three dots at the top-right of the page and select “Open File,” which shows you all the files associated with that page
  • Type in the file that you want, such as styles.css or index.html, then select the code and copy it into a text editor or into a Skillacademy workspace if you’re signed up for Skillacademy Pro

This method also works with JavaScript. You right-click on the element, choose “Inspect,” and scroll through the elements on the page. When you find the JavaScript files, you can open and copy them over to your text editor.

Cloning a complex website

Simple websites likely have just one CSS and HTML file, but more complex sites, like Twitter, can have several. If you want to clone a site like this, follow these steps.

To copy the HTML, select an element and click “Inspect” to open the DevTools. Next, click “Sources” at the top. You’ll see the HTML appear on this tab, and you can select it, copy it, and then paste it into a text editor. Save the file with a .html extension (​​myfilename.html).

To copy the CSS, click on “Elements” at the top navigation bar of the DevTools. You’ll see the CSS in the middle of the page. Click on main.CSS, which will open up the code. Select and copy the code, then open a new sheet in your text editor and paste the CSS. Save the file with a .css extension.

Working with a cloned website

Once you’ve copied the code into your text editor, it’s ready for you to edit and make it your own. Working with a cloned website is also a great way to learn how to code, since it gives you a look at the inner workings of a live website. Here are the programming languages you’ll work with as you edit a cloned website.

HTML

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s used to create the structure of a web page, including paragraphs, images, and bulleted lists. HTML uses elements to make components of the page act a specific way. For example, to designate text as a paragraph, you would use the tag <p> before the paragraph and </p> to end the paragraph. The items in brackets are called tags.

CSS

While HTML gives websites their basic structure, like headings and paragraphs, Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, gives these elements a style. For example, with CSS you can change the size and color of your text and links. You can also create interesting layouts with sidebars and create effects with CSS.

CSS starts with a selector, which selects the HTML element you want to change. For example, for an H1 heading, you would use h1 as the selector. That’s followed by brackets { }. Inside the brackets, you have the property and the value. Here’s what it would look like for a heading:

h1 {
color: blue;
font-size: 5em;
}

JavaScript

JavaScript is a programming language that lets you add more complexity to websites. It’s used alongside HTML and CSS to do things like zoom in or out on an image, display real-time updates, play audio or video, animate 3D graphics, and change the color of a button when you hover over it with a cursor. JavaScript can also be used to create mobile apps, build web servers, and design and create browser games.

Getting started with web design

As you can see, the steps to cloning a website are pretty straightforward. The real work comes in once you’re ready to start modifying the cloned website; and to do that, you’ll need to know your way around HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

New to programming? HTML is a good starting point for learning web design and how to get the most out of cloned websites. Our Learn HTML course walks you through the basics, including tables and forms.

Learn CSS is a course that builds on your HTML knowledge and teaches you about colors, text size, typeface, alignment, and positioning elements. After that, you can look at Learn Intermediate CSS, which teaches you how to create more advanced visual effects and layouts.

If you already know HTML and CSS, our Learn JavaScript course will help you build more advanced websites with JavaScript fundamentals. Once you have the basics down, our Building Interactive JavaScript Websites course will help you put everything you’ve learned into practice.

Want to learn it all? Sign up for our beginner-friendly Front-End Engineering path.


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Web Development is the practice of developing websites and web apps that live on the internet. Whether you’re interested in front-end, back-end, or going full-stack, the content in our Web Development domain will help you get there.

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March 8, 2022

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