If you have an account with an ISP, then they probably "give"
you a few megabytes of Web space for you very own Home Page.
This is all well & good, but how do you use it without spending a fortune on software and being a software Guru? - Read on, and I will reveal how I did it!
You might have noticed from the way this site is arranged (disarranged?)
that I am by no means an expert at this sort of thing, but I have
managed to put a site together and I hope that this page might
encoourage you to do the same by dispelling some of the "Black
Magic" that surrounds the Internet & WWW.
Hopefully this page will provide you with some basic
information to get you going and by following the links you
should find more information than you need. Included here is
everything I have used to create my pages, so it can be done!
Contrary to what software vendors and (possibly) your ISP may
tell you, you don't need to spend vast sums of
money on expensive software or spend hours downloading huge (5.5MB!)
What you do need is:
- A text editor
- Windows Notepad works fine - and it's free, alternatively your favourite text editor, but it must output plain ASCII files. Microsoft (bless them!) now provide FrontPage Express with Internet Explorer 4. This gives you a quite reasonable WYSIWYG HTML editor for FREE! It has some peculiarities, and I often resort to editing the HTML code directly to make sure it does what I want, rather than what it thinks I want!
- A graphics program
- You need something that handles GIF and/or JPEG formats. CorelDRAW! and Serif DrawPlus seem to, or you can draw everything as a BMP in Windows Paintbrush and convert it using PaintShop Pro. The last method is recommended only for the masochists out there, or for small icons that are easy to draw even with Paintbrush.
- A Browser (or two!)
- The one you're using now! If you can get several you can be sure that your pages will look right on all of them - most important when you get onto the complicated stuff.
- An FTP Program
- A what??? Don't worry, CuteFTP is shareware and very easy to use. See "How Do I Get My Pages On The Web?" below. Microsoft (them again!) provide a "Web publishing wizard" but I haven't tried it.
HTML stands for Hyper-Text Markup Language, and is the "language"
that Web pages are written in. Don't worry, it's not a
programming language as such, more like a collection of
formatting codes called "tags" like those used by word-processing
programs. I won't attempt to guide you through it here, rather I
will use what is it's most powerful feature - hyperlinks - to
link you to the sites of people far better qualified than I.
The best advice I can offer is to use the "View Source..." command in your browser unashamedly - see how everyone else does it then, well, not exactly copy but maybe borrow ideas. This is how I learnt, along with experimentation. Play with HTML, create some pages on your own machine and view them with your browser. It's impossible to do any damage, the worst you might get is an unexpected display, but if you're the only person to see it who cares!
Having created your masterpieces and tested them locally, it's now time to let them loose on an unsuspecting cyberspace!
Contact your ISP or look at the help pages on their web site, somewhere it should tell you where to upload your masterpiece to. A protocol called FTP is used to transfer the files, and CuteFTP mentioned above makes this about as easy as copying files from a floppy to your hard disk. It doesn't matter that the destination is several miles down a phone line!
As soon as the files have been transferred, assuming everything is OK, your web site will be available for the world to see! Fire up your browser and be your own first visitor - just to make sure it really is OK.
Now your marvellous site is "live" but your visitor counter remains resolutely at 1 (you!). You can get some visitors by telling all your friends about your great new site, but your counter will still look embarassingly small. How can people "surf" to your site if you don't personally give them the URL?
You need to submit your site to some search engines. All search engine sites have an "Add URL" or "Add a site" page. Check out your favourite search engines and add your site to them. You may need to add <META> tags to your documents to get the most out of the search engines and ensure lots of "hits".
Alta Vista have some
good information about making your site "Search engine
The Barebones Guide also has links to search engine submissions and advice on making your pages searchable.
So there you have it, (possibly) the World's briefest guide to Webmastery. Hopefully it has removed some of the mystery behind HTML and encouraged you to "do your own thing". Part of the fun for me has been working out how to do things. Look at my other pages to see how "invisible" tables are used to align text & graphics, for example. If you find something indispensible for the "newbie Webmaster" let me know and I'll get 'round to adding it in one day!
Gary Aylward 1997 - 1998. You may use any or all of this as
you see fit.
All Trademarks acknowledged as belonging to their respective owners.
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