Note that the online version of this article contains
screenshots that are helpful but could not be included in this
article. To view it http://dollarware.us/websitedesign.htm
You need your computer, some software and a connection to the
A website can be on the Web, (the Internet) like
http://yahoo.com or it could actually be on your own computer.
When it’s on the web, in order for it to be seen by others using
their Internet Service Provider, it must be hosted. That is the
files which comprise the website must be placed on a computer
with an “always on” connection to the Internet.
A Web site is just a place where a collection of web pages or
html documents are located. There are around 16 million of them
as of early 2003. You can design and setup a website of your own
fairly easily in as little as a day or two. I am going to walk
you through the steps that you will need to follow, giving a
little explanation along the way.
If you can type a letter in Microsoft Word, you can be live on
the Web in 2 Days.
The Internet is just a giant network of computers all connected
together so that they can share information with one another.
Thirty four million of you are connected to that network by a
modem in your computer, a telephone line connection to AOL’s
computers and then through their connection to the Internet. If
you have a cable modem, or satellite modem, then no phone
connection is needed.
Telephones and the Internet
Telephones have been around for all your life. You don’t even
think about how you can call the local access telephone number
to AOL. But the Internet is much newer and you don’t understand
modems and Internet Service Providers and bandwidth. Who cares,
you don’t know that much about how your telephone calls are
switched to get you to your final destination. You don’t have to
understand how your connection to the website you want to visit
gets switched either. Actually today there is some merging of
telephones calls and the internet in that some voice and data
phone calls are actually travelling over the internet. But
that’s another story.
So that’s how you would get to someone else’s website, but how
would they get to one that you setup? Or what would you have to
do to make your website available to others?
Create content, get hosted and tell others.
First if you have an idea for some information, graphics,
pictures or sounds that you would like to place on a website of
your own and have them available to others what would you have
to do? Well, first you create the content, whatever it is. Then
you arrange to have it hosted and then just tell others how to
Creating the content on Web site pages. For most web sites, the
information is in the form of a page containing text and
probably a few graphics. It is much like a word processing
document. They are created in a plain text file which is written
using special coding called HTML. Hyper Text Markup Language is
the code in which html pages are written. It has various words
and symbols that it calls tags. They are just special code words
which are standard and which tell your Internet Explorer (for
instance) browser how to display the information and graphics on
the html page.
I am creating this html document using Microsoft Word. So for
right now, I am doing nothing different. The difference was that
when I asked Word to start a new document, I specified a new
webpage. It’s File-New-Blank Web Page from the main Word menu.
And then you just type. You can use whatever menu choices are
then showing on the menu bar. You could insert a graphic,
pictures, diagrams or a table, all from the Word menu bar. You
can format the text to different fonts, make it bold, italic,
underlined just as you can do in a word processing document.
So you probably have Microsoft Word or another competitors word
processor. Word can create html documents and if you have a
competitive product it probably can also. You can start to
create the pages that will make up your website. But there are
some things that are not so obvious when working with a word
processor. How do I get from one page to another and then back
again or to yet a third page? It’s done with hyperlinks. A
hyperlink is just a special word or phrase, that is usually
bright blue in color and underlined which, when clicked on with
your mouse loads a different part of that web page or loads a
different web page. Back at the top of this page when I typed
Yahoo’s website address in it’s proper form, Microsoft Word
recognized what it was and automatically made it into a
hyperlink, and made it blue and underlined it. But here’s
another one #Top of the Document which takes you to the top of
this document. You create a hyperlink in Word from the menu bar
with the command Insert- Hyperlink.
You can do a webpage in Word, but it has some limitations. The
Microsoft application that is specifically created to design web
pages is FrontPage. It is a wysiwyg (what you see is what you
get) html editor or webpage creator. Now it is set up for the
specific purpose of making web pages. But it has some other cool
stuff that is going to make creating your web site really easy
and once you learn a little, a whole lot of fun. There are other
web page programs that are less expensive, maybe even free,
those that are more expensive, maybe more powerful in certain
ways and those that the professionals use. But many professional
web designers like FrontPage because it is powerful and similar
to applications that users are already used to and because it is
easy for a non-professional to take over and manage his website
once the pro has set it up for them. You can probably find a
copy of Microsoft FrontPage 2002 for $50 or so on Amazon or
Ebay. You may even have a copy on your computer that came with
What is html and what do I have to know about it?
Its that code that tells the internet browser how to display the
information and graphics that are on the webpage. You can find
the html tags and some basic information about them in many
places on the internet. Just search for “html tutorial” in a
search engine and you’ll probably get more information than you
want to read. If you are using a wysiwyg editor, you probably
don’t need to do much more that a quick read through of one of
the tutorials that you will find.
See how html works… go to the Source.
Another way to see, in the real world, what the html coded page
and the page as displayed by your browser is to do this. Pick a
simple website that you normally visit and go there in your
browser. Now with your mouse, right click on a blank part of the
page. You should get a popup menu, choose, “View Source”.
Another window will open and display the html source code that
is being used to display that page in your browser. You can
actually copy that code and save it as a file on your computer.
If you save it with the proper extension .htm or .html, then
using My Computer to view the contents of the directory where
the file is saved. If you double click on the file name, it will
start your internet browser and load that document into it and
it will seem that you have gone to that previously visited
So what’s different about visiting a site on the web instead of
the one on my computer?
Not much difference at all, except that the page that you will
first see is on another computer at some unknown to you
location. And that some how your browser must find that computer
and asked it to send a copy of that page over the internet to
your computer where it eventually arrives loaded into your
browser. Exactly how all that happens is another story, but
basically, your browser sends a request for a page whose
location is really given in the address or URL (Uniform Resource
Locator) that you typed into your browser. The request goes
outside through your Internet Service Provider to a nameserver
computer and asks what path it should take to send the command
to the webserver. All this happens automatically, kind of like
when you dial a phone number, but not exactly that way. Anyway
the request for the webpage finally finds it’s way to the
webserver on which the web page is stored. The webserver
receives the request and sends the data contained in the html
document back over the path through the internet and back to
your computer where it is delivered and read by your browser
which properly displays it for you. All this happens in seconds!
Now, you create the html documents using whatever program you
choose. But your computer is not a webserver. A webserver is a
computer with special programs which can receive and act on
commands to deliver a webpage to another computer. It finds the
page that was requested and sends it out over the internet back
to the requesting computer. You could make your computer a
webserver by installing the proper programs and making the
connection to the internet. But the normal way for most of us is
to arrange for web hosting from a company who offers that
service to the public for a fee. There is a full range of
hosting packages with various features and from free to
expensive. An average for a reliable, full featured package will
probably be in the $20 to $25 a month range.
Once that service is arranged you are told what their URL is so
that you can know how to send the html documents that you
created to the webserver computer. Most of the time this is
accomplished by using an FTP (file transfer protocol) program
which acts like a translator and sends the pages from your
computer to the webserver. A username and password setup allows
your access to your space on the webserver and prevents others
from gaining access to your files. It can get a little confusing
when you use FTP. That’s why I prefer and recommend that you use
a program where the FTP is built-in to the html editor.
FrontPage is a wysiwyg html editor with built-in FTP
FrontPage has this FTP program (actually Word has it too) built
into it and uses it to send and receive html document to and
from your computer. You only have to use one program and believe
me, it’s going to save you a lot of aggravation over dealing
with two. So remember when you are comparing prices of html
editors and whether or not they have a built in FTP or require a
separate one. You can get a free one or a free trial of one, if
But of course many of you have Microsoft Word so just type up a
little page, click on the menu bar File – SaveAs
Notice the slashes instead of backslashes in the file name box
and notice that the address of the website is added before the
file name in that same box, the Save as type is set to Web Page.
Now click the Save button and if you have worked through this
carefully Word will send this document (web page) to your
To see if the transfer worked, just enter the same address that
was in the File name box into your browser and it should
retrieve the document from your site and display it.
How about domain names?
Oh, you don’t have to have your own domain name to have a
website on a webserver somewhere else. You can use the domain
name owned and hosted by someone else. Geocities is an example
of this. You use their domain name with some variation such as a
subdomain or a subdirectory. Here’s an of example.
Domain names and email accounts.
In most cases, though, you think of a domain name that you would
like to own and you go to a Domain Name Registrar’s web site and
do a search to see if that name is available. If it is you pay a
fee and get exclusive rights to that domain name for a given
period of time usually one or two years. Prices vary quite a
bit. I’ve seen them as low as $8 or $9 for one year to $65 for
two years. For less than $10 (ten dollars) you can get a domain
name, and get 5 email accounts. Even if you don’t get a hosting
account. You can have the email forwarded to your regular email
box. But the email address will be at the domain name you have
chosen, email@example.com for instance.
Ok, now that you have the domain name, you need to also tell the
registrar where you will be hosting your web site. You give them
the address of the hosting company’s nameservers (usually two of
them) . The name servers addresses will have names like other
web sites. Something like this:
Nameserver 1 ns.my-ehost.com Nameserver 2 ns2.my-ehost.com
You give this information to the registrar, usually by just
typing it into a special form on their website. You usually find
it under something like “Manage Your Domain”. The registrar
then, will send this information, the name of your new domain
and where it can be found to all the other name servers on the
Internet. Actually new information is transferred from one
connecting device (Routers) to another automatically until it is
said to have “propagated” throughout the internet. This just
means that anyone can now find your website by typing its
address into their browsers. This propagation process takes from
24 to 48 hours to complete.
You’re done. That is, you have your web site’s html pages
created, you have them “uploaded” to the webserver. You have a
domain name which becomes the address of the site.
Now just tell the World about your new website.
About the author:
John Wilson, BSIM, A+, Network+, CCNA, MCSA. Webmaster for
http://website-how-to.com offering help to those who want to
create and setup their own site.