What do you want to achieve with your web site?
A personal home page: about family gatherings, events and vacations including a photo album.
A marketing web page: to support online sales for a business or homemade arts and crafts.
An informational web site: to disperse data and information about a specific subject.
In fact, a web site can end up being a combination of all of the above too. Do you want a Free WPP (Web Presence Provider) or do you need the expanded services offered by fee based WPP’s
Free sites have some limitations on the amount of data you can upload and will nearly always put advertising banners on your page. Some of the free sites will not host a web site with your domain name. For many folks these limitations and irritations are insignificant. However, if you want others besides your immediate family to visit your site, you should know that many web surfers leave web sites they are viewing if banner ads start popping up.
Some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) include free web site hosting with your account. These sites also have fairly low limits on the amount of disk storage space (usually between 5-15mb of disk storage) but their limits are almost always high enough to support personal home page requirements.
The other option is a fee based WPP. My website is hosted at Network Eleven. For only $7 a month you get the following; Unlimited Email Accounts, Unlimited Subdomains, Unlimited, MySQL DBs, CGI Scripts, MS FrontPage web extensions, Webmail CVS/GCC, SSH Access, Traffic Analysis, free Setup, 24/7 email or web based support with complete graphical controls for all these features (web based user control panel). This is a very full featured web hosting package including just about any web functionality that you'd ever need.
Many other fee based hosting services are available. Some WPP's offer packages that include 'eCommerce' solutions like built in shopping cart applications. You can visit the following link to see a categorized list of hundreds of web hosting providers http://www.hostindex.com/. It is important to note that most WPP’s do not provide dialup Internet access. They only provide web hosting services. You will need to keep your current ISP to maintain Internet access and to use the domain name email addresses offered by some WPP web hosting packages.
Do you need a domain name? (www.myname.com)
If you own a business or plan to do business of any sort with your web site, you will want to purchase and use a domain name. If you are in business on the web you will need an identifiable domain name that you can take with you from one WPP to the next as your web hosting needs change. You should use .com for your domain name suffix unless you are a club, charity or major network. To do a search to see if the domain name you would like to use is available visit Network Solutions. If you are only interested in a small family or personal home page, a domain name is not necessary. However, domain names are relatively cheap to own at about $25 a year. Having your own personal web address might have other advantages later on as the popularity of the World Wide Web increases. Almost all WPP's will take care of registering a new domain name for you at a slight additional account setup charge.
Before we move on to web site building software, lets take a quick look at how the World Wide Web operates. The World Wide Web is the second most popular part of the Internet. Email is probably the most recognized and frequently used feature of the Internet. All Internet traffic flows through phone service lines and is made possible by a 'worldwide' network of computers called servers. Web sites consist of folders and files just like the folders and documents on your PC. The file extension for a web document is .htm or .html (hyper text markup or hyper text markup language). Either extension identifies your file as a web document. When you click on a web link (also known as a URL or Uniform Resource Locator) in an email or on a web page, your computer sends a message through your ISP to ‘lookup’ the IP (Internet Protocol) number of that URL. All web addresses are assigned IP numbers by the WPP that hosts them. As an example, my domain name of sphoto.com has been assigned the IP number of 126.96.36.199 by my WPP. The URL request first travels to a DNS server (Domain Name Server), which has a list of the domain names of every web site in the world and their corresponding IP numbers. The DNS server forwards the request to the actual physical location (WPP) and web server that hosts that web page. After the request arrives at the WPP that hosts that particular web site the extended parts of the URL tells the web server the exact path to that file. As an example, http://www.sphoto.com/techinfo/wdtech.html tells the server to go to the sphoto.com web folder and look in the subfolder called techinfo, find the file wdtech.htm and send that file back to your web browser for viewing.
Building your web site
Now that we know what we want to accomplish with our web site and where and how we are going to host it on the World Wide Web, we’ll need to get on with building the actual web site. After we’ve addressed building the site we’ll cover the technology necessary to upload the web site files and folders to a WPP.
Software for web site building
My favorite software for web site construction and maintenance is Microsoft's FrontPage http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/. The commercial version of FrontPage costs about $129. Another very popular web authoring software package is Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. The URL for Dreamweaver is http://www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver/ The cost of Dreamweaver is about $300. There are other very capable website authoring programs available for less then $100. Try a web search for 'web hosting software' or visit your local Comp USA and check prices and features right off the software box. If you own Microsoft office some of the included programs like Word and Publisher will also make and/or edit web pages.
Building your web site
Almost all of the software used today to develop a web site uses a WYSIWYG user interface (What You See Is What You Get). This means that they operate much like a word processing program and hide the actual HTML code from you unless you actually choose to look at the code. This is very handy for folks that don’t have the time or inclination to learn to write hypertext markup language code. You can type and format text and insert photos and other objects using drag and drop and insert commands from the program's toolbar..
The actual page layout of your web site, depending on your artistic skills, may be one of your biggest challenges. You will want to pre-visualize what you want your pages to look like. You'll want to know in advance where every picture and the supporting text will fit on your page. If you are artistically challenged, do some web surfing and when you find a page you like copy as many of the design elements as you like. By design elements I mean the basic layout concept of the page. Do not 'borrow' their actual graphics unless you want to risk copyright problems. Having said that, many web designers will download small graphic enhancements from different sites and use them on their own sites.
Name your home page file index.htm. All servers look for a page named index, default, or home when opening a basic web URL like www.sphoto.com. You always want the viewer of your page to land on your home page first.
Give your home page a recognizable title. The title will be displayed in the top field of the web browser when the page opens up.
If you are serious about having search engines find your site, you will want to use 'keyword' meta tags. Tags are just a name for html language code that gives information or instructions to either the browser, the server or in this case, search engine robots. The keywords you supply in these tags along with your page title and the text content of that page are what most search engines are going to look at when they quantify and rate your page. As an example, if your page title, keywords and the text in your page all have the words 'nature photography', your site will rate well with most search engines and your site should come up in the listings in a search for 'nature photography'. Check your web building software's help file or manual to find out how to insert meta keyword and title tags.
Publishing or uploading your files to your WPP
After you have completed your web site you will need to ‘upload’ the files and folders to your WPP. The most common method for uploading files on the Internet is called FTP (File Transfer Protocol). Web sites designed with Microsoft FrontPage and hosted with a FrontPage enabled WPP use a very easy feature within the program called 'publish' to upload files. If you need to upload using FTP, you will need to have FTP software. I use software called WS-FTP, which is a very good FTP program. WS-FTP and most other FTP programs use a Windows Explorer type graphical interface and it is usually very easy to figure out how to connect to your WPP and upload your files. Your WPP will give you an FTP address, login name and password. Your FTP address will look something like ‘ftp.sphoto.com’. You will enter this information into your FTP program in the appropriate fields, connect to your server and upload your files much like moving them from one folder to another on your PC. After your upload is complete you can access your new web site with your web browser using your new web site URL.
Glossary of Terminology
1. HTML: hyper text markup language. An ASCII text markup software language code that is used to write web page content
2. WEB SITE: HTML files arranged in folders on a web server
3. WEB PAGE: One single html file representing one page of information within a web site.
4. URL: Uniform resource locator. Commonly known as a web address http://www.sphoto.com. The term URL can also be used to denote other protocols such as ftp. ftp://sphoto.com
5. ISP: Internet service provider. A company that provides Internet access.
6. WPP: Web presence provider. A company that hosts web sites on their group of web servers, usually for fee.
7. FTP: An Internet protocol used to upload or download files from one location to another
8. Domain Name: www.myname.com. A chosen name applied to a single web address. Can also be .net, .org, .edu. and many others. The number of domain name suffixes is growing rapidly.
9. IP address: 192.168.1.10. A group of period delineated numbers assigned to all domain names, and many other internet connections.
10. DNS: A server in the Internet architecture that has a list of every domain name in the world and it's corresponding IP number. DNS servers are the true 'routers' of all Internet traffic.back to the top of the page
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