What is a Website and How do I make one?

Vocabulary
Types of Sites
Types of Content
5 Easy Steps
Resources


Vocabulary

Web: A short way of saying "the World Wide Web", which is simply another way of describing the parts of the Internet that you can get to with a web browser.

Web Browser: A software program that we can use to look at information on the web.

Website: A collection of material presented on the Internet by an individual, organization or company. (Also: site, Internet site)

Webpage: One part of a website. (Also: page, web file)

Homepage: The first page, or entrance of a website. Should have links to all other sections of the website.

Images: Pictures on a website. May be in many different formats.

Host: The computer where your web site actually lives. Your host is owned by the company that provides you with space for your website. (Also: server)

Domain: Your website's name. For example: www.werberg.net or www.cnn.com. The "www" is not necessary, it is just commonly used. A website name consists of the site name and a top-level-domain (TLD).

TLD (top-level-domain): The "suffix" or extension at the end of a web or email address. .com, .org and .net are the most common TLD's, but you may also see TLD's for specific countries. For example, .jp for Japan or .ma for Morocco.

Registrar: The company that registers your site address for you and keeps the record of your registration. A domain name usually costs between $15 and $35 to register for one year, but some hosting services may pay that fee for you as part of a package.

DNS (Domain Name Server): The DNS computers are basically like traffic police on the Internet. When someone types the name of your website into their web browser, the DNS tells your web browser where that site lives on the Internet. Your registrar usually offers DNS service, but if not there are free services.

URL: A Uniform Resource Locator, or the exact web address of a specific page or multimedia file.

Upload: To put material up on the Internet. When we browse the web, we are downloading material from the Internet. When we create our site and load it on to the world wide web, we are uploading.

Protocol: A language or a way for two machines to communicate. All of the computers connected to the Internet must speak the same language, in this case, TCP/IP.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol): This is the main language which all computers must speak in order to exchange information on the Internet. There are other sub-languages that run on top of TCP/IP for specific Internet activities.

HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol): The language that we use to send and receive most web pages. A web address (http://www.werberg.net) is actually a command to the browser software. We are saying to the browser, "Use the hyper text transfer protocol and bring me the information that exists at the computer called www.werberg.net.

HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language): The language that most basic web pages are written in. The language consists of tags like this: <bold> something </bold>. The instructions in the tags explain what to do with the information in between them. See the enclosed handout on HTML basics or see the resource section for more info on HTML.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol): An earlier language, used before HTTP. Still used to upload files and transfer large files across the Internet.

Web Editors: A web editor is like a word processor, except that instead of creating text documents you are creating HTML documents.

Link: In HTML, a link is anything that can be clicked on to go somewhere else on the Internet. You can make a link from a bit of text, a picture or a part of a map. A link can lead to an external website or another part of the same site.

User: Your audience, the people who will read and use your web site.



Types of Sites

There are many reasons why we might want to have a website, and we should explore a few of them. Let's look at it from the perspective of "who" would want a website and then list some of the reasons why.

Individual
Organization
Commercial

Hobby

Lifestyle

Home Business

Creative

Community

 

Basic Info

Meeting Times

Event Schedules

Contact Info

Volunteering

Selling / E-commerce

Marketing

Contact Info

Demonstrations

Recruiting

Types of Content

There can be many reasons to have a website and there can also be many different types of content available on a website. Our website can consist of static content, such as text and pictures. Or we can add multimedia and streaming content, such as video and sound files. (A streaming file is played from the host computer instead of downloading it completely to your own computer first). Finally, we can also have interactive content that allows the user to submit information through a web site or do other tasks.

You may end up using all of the following or just some, depending on the purpose of your website.

Static
Multimedia / Streaming
Interactive

Text

Pictures

Charts / Graphs

Maps

Movies

Sound

Music

Animation

Email

Forms

Banking / Finance

Dynamic Pages


A Website in 5 (not-too-easy-and-not-too-difficult) steps
(see resource list at end for specific help)

1: Pick a Domain Name

Think of a number of different names for your site, in case your top choice is already taken. Search the appropriate WhoIs database. Register your domain name with a registrar. You will need to create an account with a registrar to do this. Remember to keep track of all of your login ID's and passwords. Make sure that your registrar handles the DNS service, or use a free DNS service.

You also need to decide which top-level-domain (TLD) you will use. You are free to use .com, .net or .org, but there are many other TLD's available. You can even use the country code for the country you come from.

If you do not want to create your own domain name, you can use one of the free web host services. In this case, you will not have a separate domain name or do any of the above, but instead you will have a name like http://www.geocities.com/sams-site.

2: Choose a Host

If you want a free web site, then your host will be Yahoo's Geocities, Lycos' Angelfire, or something similar. A free host is good to start with to practice creating a website, but if you want to attract many users to your site you should consider getting a paid host. The free sites includes advertisements with your web page that you have little control over.

For pay hosts, you can find one for as little as $15 a month, or about $100 a year. Some hosts include domain name registration for you, so you may want to check out some of those packages before you register your domain name.

When choosing a host, think about what you will need from your website for the first year. While you can always add to the size and capabilities of your site later on, it is better to start with something reasonable that you can afford.

3: Create the Site

To create your website you do not necessarily need to know HTML, but it doesn't hurt. You can use one of the many available web editors, and some hosting services allow you to create your site through their web page.

It is always a good idea to lay out your site on paper first, then to actually create the electronic files. Make sure that your site is easy to use and that all of the pages provide links for the user to easily navigate. The home page of your site should always be called "index.html" and the other files should have clear, short names. Keep all of the files for your website in one folder, and always keep a backup copy on a disk. If you are using images on your site, remember that legally you cannot use someone else's copyrighted image (or text) on your site without their permission. Check your whole site in a web browser before you upload it to the Internet.


4: Upload Site

When your site is ready for the web you can upload the files to your host. If you are using a free web host like Yahoo's Geocities, you will upload the files as you create them. If you are using a web editor, some programs have the ability to upload the files for you. If not, you will need to use an FTP program to upload the files to your host. Make sure that you have your ID and password for your host handy.

5: Tinker, Tinker, Tinker

As soon as you have uploaded your site you will need to check it. Click through all of the links and look over every page to make sure it all works properly and that all of the images show up. Have a friend or two look the site over and give you feedback.

Depending on the purpose of your site, you will need to maintain it regularly, checking the links and making sure that everything is current. People change things on the Internet all the time and webpages sometime disappear, so you will want to keep an eye on your links. Keep getting feedback from your users, stay current and try new things. Also, remember to keep up-to-date on your domain name registration and your hosting arrangements.



Resources to Get Started

Vocabulary

More Internet Vocabulary: http://www.matisse.net/files/glossary.html
Internet Vocabulary Hangman Game: http://www.quia.com/hm/22903.html

How It Works

How DNS works: http://www.zoneedit.com/doc/dns-basics.html
Also: http://www.howstuffworks.com/dns.htm
How Web Servers Work: http://www.howstuffworks.com/web-server.htm

Registrars and Domain Searching (WHOIS)

List of Accredited Registrars: http://www.icann.org/registrars/accredited-list.html
A Good One: http://www.gandi.net/
Search for Domain Names: http://www.register.com/ (also a registrar)
Universal Whois: http://www.uwhois.com/domains.html
Advanced Search Tools: http://combat.uxn.com/
DNS: http://www.zonedit.com

Web Hosts

Paid:
FatCow: http://www.fatcow.com/
CI Host: http://www.cihost.com/
Host My Site: http://www.hostmysite.com/
EasySpace: http://easyspace.com/

Free:
Geocities: http://geocities.yahoo.com/home
Angelfire: http://angelfire.lycos.com/
Netfirm: http://www.netfirms.com/
Search for free web hosts: http://www.freewebspace.net/

Site Creation and Uploading

About.com's HTML Class: http://html.about.com/library/beginning/bl_htmlclass.htm
WebMonkey: http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/index.html
Usable Web (design tips): http://www.usableweb.com
Colin's Web Design Tips: http://www.colin.mackenzie.org/webdesign/
To find a web editor software program, go to this site (http://download.cnet.com/) and search for "web editor".


Copyright 2001. May be used for all educational purposes.