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Building Your First Web Site

By Joe Bingham
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2004

Having your own domain name and your own web site can do a
lot for your business. It gives you a definite web presence and
makes your business more credible.

Ok, you know all that, but how do you go about the process of
building one? Where do you start?

First off, you are going to have to accept a couple of facts. Unless
you want to pay someone else to build your site for you, you are
going to have to deal with HTML. Other things you may want to
do on your site may require you to deal with JavaScript's and CGI
scripts as well.

Now, I may make a few people mad here, but avoid the free web
sites that require you to use their own menu driven site builder and
do not allow you access to the actual HTML code of your site.

These don't allow you to add java or cgi scripts, force you into
using their methods of taking orders from your site, and restrict
your site set up. You have to use their themes for color and
design, you won't learn HTML ever, and you will never really be

Now that I've said that, consider your own goals, time, and
investment. The free sites can be helpful, but you will be limited.
However, for many of us, free is the only option to begin with.

HTML is essential, though. Depending on your goals, time, and
money, you do have a couple of options. There are user friendly
programs like Microsoft's Front Page that don't require you to
look at actual HTML code for the most part. However, it's going
to cost you more than other HTML editors will. The cheapest I've
seen it go for is $129.

Other editors like the Coffee Cup HTML Editor work in the
HTML code, but they do most all of the coding for you. This is a
great program that comes with a 30 day free trial. Then costs $49
to register and keep. (

There are a multitude of other HTML editors available, including
some free ones. Search for them at:
( and

None that I've found are as easy to work with as Front Page and
the Coffee Cup editor for those starting out, nor do they have as
many options. However, there are many more than I have spent
time looking over.

Another factor to consider is your web hosting. Some come with
an HTML editor on the site for you to use. That will depend on
who you choose to host with, of course, but most of these are just
basic editors that require you to know how to work with the
code. Some do have menu driven site builders you can use that
do the coding for you, but again those are basic and you will be
limited in what you can do.

As with most things, you get what you pay for. Consider your
time, what you have to invest, and what your goals are. If you
want to do anything beyond just basic text and pictures, you'll be
better off to buy a good HTML editor.

Whatever you do, if you plan on making a good web site, you
need to learn at least some HTML. Here are a couple of sites that
offer tutorials to get you started.

( Scroll down to the 'For Those Just
Starting' Section.

One other great way to learn is by making a very simple page in an
html editor and then looking through the code. Look at a
particular section of your page, then examine how the code makes
that section. What <> tags do what? makes bold

makes a paragraph,
makes a break in
the text without starting a new paragraph. Often, just by knowing
what a few tags do and then looking at what else is there will teach
you about how the code works.

The better editors like Front Page do pretty much everything for
you. However, knowing at least a little about the code can help
you identify problems.

Often, items you'll want to add to your site will be available for
you by copying and pasting the actual HTML code onto your site.
Here's a tip. If you do that, and it doesn't work, it's probably
because the code didn't copy over right. At least with Front Page,
you have to copy the code from it's source, paste it into a text
editor like Notepad, and then recopy it before the HTML will
transfer over correctly.

Here is probably the best suggestion I can give you
for building your first web site, and it's something I've learned the
hard way. Stay simple. It's better to have a simple site that
everything works on than to try to do too much beyond your
abilities and end up with problems.

Start simple, learn more, and work your way up. Get an HTML
editor and work in it BEFORE you purchase web hosting. There's
no point in paying for a spot on the web before you have the
capability to fill it.

Consider what you want out of your web site and search for what
will help you meet those goals. Don't be afraid of HTML. I'd
dare say 99.9% of the web sites you see out there were made by
people that don't know anymore about it than the next guy does.
They have just practiced with their HTML editors and kept at it
until they got the results they wanted.

Learn first, start simple, then expand. You can have your own
web site, just take it one step at a time.
About the Author
Joe Bingham, Editor of the NetPlay Newsletters
Subscribe to 1 of 3 Quality NetPlay Ezines, See which one fits you at:
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