I want my own website / webpage, but:



There are a million (and one half) questions like these and we all have them at one time or another if we're venturing into the web design industry. It can seem confusing and overwhelming at first (and for quite a while thereafter). But, like anything else in your life, given enough time and practice, you can learn how to do it.


WHY LISTEN Well, I'm not just a hobbyist in this field. I actually get paid to design web pages and sites. At the time of this writing I work for a small internet retailer that aspires to be the next Amazon.com. No, I don't know it all. Yes, I can do better coding than this, but for rapid development I chose to let my software do most of the work (this written for those of you complaining about my code).     Back To Top

ISP An ISP is an Internet Service Provider. You don't really need one if you don't mind going to the library or internet cafe or just using your work internet connection. If you want access at home, though, you're going to need one (and probably already have one (if you're reading this). An ISP often times gives its users free webspace to host their website. Albeit a small space, but it's a good starting point. Contact your service provider for details and setup instructions.     Back To Top

COOL NAME You purchase (yes, that means you spend $$$) a domain name from a registrar (1&1, GoDaddy, Network Solutions). Most registrars (Google domain registrar) sell domain names for around $10.00. You can find some that sell for less, and some that sell for more. The registrars that charge more usually offer nothing more for the $$$ they absorb from you. It may be difficult finding a cool website name as a lot of the cool ones have already been taken. If someone owns rights to a name already, you pretty much need to come up with something slightly different. In the instance of mycoolwebsite.com you might try my_cool_website.com or micoolwebsite or mykoolwebsite, or maybe go with a .net or .org or .biz. If you have your heart set on mywebsite.com, you can try contacting the owner and offer to buy it from them (or you can wait till they stop paying for it). But, keep in mind, the around $10.00 scenario is probably gone for good.     Back To Top

SOFTWARE Microsoft Frontpage and Adobe Dreamweaver are good for beginning web designers. I hate recommending Microsoft products, but Frontpage is easier to use (just my opinion). Dreamweaver is more complete and writes better code (again, just my opinion) and more expensive. And for those of you trying to save a buck or those trying to actually learn HTML, everything can be done in a text editor - Notepad (comes with MS operating system), Notepad++ (available for Linux, MS, and Mac). Of course, you can use pretty much any program that you can write with as long as you remember to save as text.     Back To Top

UPLOAD Uploading and Downloading are both terms for moving or transferring data (webpages, video, e-mail, etc.) from one place (computer) to another. To remember correct word usage remember UPLOAD TO (transfer to) and DOWNLOAD FROM (transfer from). When you want to make your webpages available to the entire world (world wide web), you upload your files (pages, pictures, etc.) to your web host. When you want to get music off the internet (to listen to on your mp3 player), you download from the internet (website). If there is confusion, just use transfer, because that's all you're doing. A further example: When I'm done working on this page, I'll upload it to my webhost, so your web browser (can you say Firefox?) can download and display it for your perusal.     Back To Top

IMAGE EDITOR There is a lot of software out there for this job. If you want something for free, I would suggest GIMP (do a Google search). GIMP is a very full featured program for image manipulation. If you have $$$, you can buy the best (in my opinion) - Photoshop - part of Adobe's Creative Suite Package.     Back To Top

PIC SIZE This is a loaded question as there are a lot of ways of expressing picture size. The main concern here is the file size. File size relates directly to the amount of time it takes to download the file from the internet (so you can see it on your computer). Larger file size - larger time to download. Smaller file size - smaller time to download.

To make things easy let's just say a fairly good quality image can be had at 72 dpi (actually ppi - but that's beyond the scope of this page) using medium quality (Photoshop) when saving as a jpg (jpeg). Using these settings, a picture measuring 600 by 600 weighs in at around 80 kB (80,000 bytes). Believe it or not, that's fairly small (file size) for a picture. That equates to approximately 29 seconds using a dialup connection connected at 26.4 kbps*. Using cable or DSL, that time would shrink significantly (less than a second). Still, though, this is the main reason for curtailing the size and amount of pictures on a webpage.

*Why pick such a dismal number? I used to live in a place that was so far, and so disconnected, from civilization that was the best I got.

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FTP FTP'ing is the way to get your webpages off your computer and on to your web host (so the rest of the world can view them). It is also a way to get your webpages from your webhost (so you can modify them). An FTP program is POWER as it gives you access to the backend of the web server. Power carries with it the ability to do a lot of damage (to your website), so be careful. Whether you use Frontpage, Publisher, Dreamweaver, or Notepad, you need to FTP (transfer) your files to the host. Frontpage and the like call this publishing, but those programs just use a built in FTP program. My favorite FTP program is Filezilla (free), but WS FTP is a strong 2nd. Doing a search on download.com will reveal a variety of programs that all the do the same thing.     Back To Top

NAVIGATE Making a link from one page to another is fairly simple. In frontpage highlight the word(s) that you want to make a link, right click, hyperlink, and choose the page to which the hyperlink should point. In dreamweaver the words would be highlighted, and then in the properties area a page would be chosen. To do it manually (with notepad) you would type the words that you would like to show up on the page, such as "link to my second page" and surround them with the code that makes them a link ( <a href="address"> & </a> ).

Ex: <a href="http://www.mycoolwebsite.com/address_of_page.html">link to my second page</a> Note: The link could also be made relative to where the originating/calling page is, which will be explained elsewhere. The above code would look like: link to my second page Note: This is a real working link, meaning if you click on it, you're browser will try to go to the page that is specified. However, is there really a page named address_of_page.html at mycoolwebsite.com? I doubt it.     Back To Top

MAKE To make a webpage/website do the following. Obviously, if you've previously completed a step, skip it.

  • Purchase a domain name from a registrar - mycoolwebsite.com.
  • Point DNS at your webhost (to be explained later).
  • Create page with editor of your choice.
  • FTP (upload) your page(s) to your webhost.
  • Check/verify page(s) works as expected.     Back To Top

HARD It seems hard in the beginning, but it could be worse.  How would you write a language to display information, pictures, etc?  If you used the cartesian coordinate system, you could locate everything using x, y coordinates (which CSS allows for, it just calls it Top and Left).  What if you wanted to make a word bold?  You could surround that word with <bold> word </bold> (or <strong> word </strong>).  Believe it or not, a lot of the coding is just like that, and somewhat logical (although, not always).  The bottom line is, there is a lot of information that needs to be contained in a document so it will look like you want.     Back To Top