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WEB DEVELOPMENT

Creating Your Own Website For Free
By: Developer Shed
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    2003-08-09

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    Creating Your Own Website For Free
     by: Philip Naudus

    The Internet gives us a two-way portal to the world. Unfortunately, most of us only use the Internet in one direction (i.e. receiving information). Many people never take advantage of the full potential the Internet gives - some don't even know what they are missing. Yet, we can never maximize the usefulness of the Internet until we take advantage of both sides of the spectrum and join the vast network of people who supply information as well.

    Creating a website is an easy and inexpensive way to tell the world what is important to you. You might be surprised how many people will be interested in your opinions, job, family, or maybe even your recent backyard barbeque.

    When I first began creating web pages, I created a website for our family (www.naudusfamily.com). It started out as a simple site to just tell what our family has been doing recently. None of us expected anything from it. I was so surprised when hundreds of visitors flocked to our site and our friends sent us emails telling us how much they enjoyed and appreciated it. Even such a simple site has been so rewarding.

    In this course, we will discover how you can easily create your own site at little or no expense. Some very useful programs exist that make web development a simple task. No skill is needed. Experience is not required. Learning HTML is unnecessary. Simply point, click, drag and drop, let the program write all the HTML for you, and you're on the road to creating a great site!

    Let's Start From the Very Beginning...

    A very important first step is to decide what your site is going to be about. Who is your audience going to be? Is your website for everybody, or for specific people? What are they interested in? Be specific. Write it down. Once you are able to formulate your thoughts clearly on paper, you are ready to proceed onto the next step.

    Next, think about specific pages you want on your site. Write down everything you think of. Finally, take everything you have written and organize it into a site map. Making a site map will help you visually plan the navigation of your site. Avoid putting too many links on the home page. If the number of links exceeds 10, group them under several broad links. For example, if your site is about music, instead of having links for Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, etc. on the home page, you would have one link named "composers."

    Remember, taking some time to plan before you begin can save you a lot of trouble in the future. Planning will also give your site a feeling of continuity, visitors can easily find what they are looking for, and as a result they will want to come back.

    Web Page Editors

    A web page editor (sometimes referred to as a "web editor" or simply "editor") is an invaluable tool that will assist you in making web pages. Requiring no knowledge of HTML, some editors have a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface in which all you need to do is drag and drop items, and it writes all the HTML for you. However, some people think that to be really good at web development you need to be able to code in straight HTML. Furthermore, they declare that using a web page editor is "cheating." But the very opposite is true. By using an editor you can design impressive web pages without even knowing HTML.

    I have looked on the Internet for a web page editor that is free, easy to use, requires no knowledge of HTML, and is full-featured. While free editors have been made, many are of poor quality. One editor I found had nothing more than "stone aged" features - except for the ad it places at the bottom of each page telling your visitors that they can make their pages look just as bad for free.

    By far, the best editor I found is "Selida." You can download it at http://www.amaryllis.8m.com and click "download."

    Note: Selida is a rather large file. If you have a dial-up connection, it can take over an hour to download. With an effective program I found called "Download Accelerator," I was able to download it in 15 minutes. Check it out at www.speedbit.com.

    Selida

    Selida has a WYSIGYG, so you don't need to know HTML to use it. The WYSIWYG is called "Design Mode." For your convenience, most of Selida's features are accessible from the "Insert" menu. For example, if you want an image on your page, you would simply click in your document where you want the image to go, and select "Image" from the menu. Reducing the complex process of web development to a simple point-and-click, Selida can help cut out a lot of the time needed to make your web pages.

    Selida also comes with some very useful templates. If you find a template you like, simply edit it, save it, and you've finished a web page. It's that easy! (No, it's not cheating.)

    I strongly encourage you to start developing your own website. Even if you don't think you have the skill, you might be surprised how easy, fun, and rewarding it can be. When I started working on our family website (www.naudusfamily.com), I simply wanted to learn and enjoy web development. But once I launched it, I found that it was a lot more than just fun. It has been very useful and rewarding. One of the best things about web development is that it's free - if you decide you don't like it, (which I hope won't occur) you're not obligated to keep going because you bought an expensive editor and paid for a year's hosting service. You can even get web hosting for free!

    About The Author

    Philip Naudus is currently webmaster of three sites. His newest site is www.xenolth.biz, which is made to help webmasters find the best web design software. He has written a sequel to this article, in which he discusses free web hosting services and what to expect from them. It can be found at www.xenolth.biz/starterkit.
    pnaudus@hotmail.com


    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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