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Building Your First Web


Written By Joe Bingham

Having your own domain name and your own web site can do a lot for your business. It gives you a definite web presenceand 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 independent. 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. 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.<=63 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? b makes bold lettering, p makes a paragraph, br 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 yoursite. 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 theweb 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.

Written by Joe Bingham, Editor of the NetPlay Newsletters
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Designing with Frames
an Introduction
by Kevin Yank
To frame or not to frame?
Kev steps you through the design
of a Website using frames, and
shows you how to tell when
they're a good idea - and when
they're not!

Transform Your PHP with XSLT
by Kevin Yank

Is it time to give your CMS a
breath of fresh air? In this
follow-up to his popular
XSL article, Kev shows you how
to perform server-side XSL
Transformations in PHP. A
must-read, newly updated for
PHP 4.1.0!

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