Home Help! Domain Hosting and Web Site Design How Do I Make A Web Site? (for beginners)
How Do I Make A Web Site? (for beginners) PDF Print E-mail

So, you want to create your own web page but don't have the slightest idea on how to get started. The good news is that if you are a current FrogNet customer, you don't have to pay extra to create a personal web site.

If you have never done any sort of programming before then be prepared for a bit of a learning curve ahead of you. Don't get discouraged, designing a web page really isn't that hard. With the right help, you can get your first page up in a day or two. After your first page you'll find that making other pages becomes easier every time you do it. HTML is honestly one of the quickest Internet related technologies to learn. It might even turn out to be easier for you to learn than it was for you to figure out how to send E-mail the first time.

The Basic Order of Things

Anyone who wants to learn how to create a web page has to do the following things.

  1. Learn HTML.
  2. Write a HTML document and save it to your home computer.
  3. FTP a copy of the HTML file you saved on your computer to FrogNet.

Eventually you may wish to get a HTML editor to make quick work of coding HTML.

What is HTML?

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It is the basic building block of every web page on the net. Every web page you have ever seen is written with HTML. I highly suggest buying a book to learn HTML. The language itself is not that difficult to learn and your computer already has the tools necessary to get started writing HTML code.

Tools for Writing HTML?

You can write HTML code using any plain text editor like Notepad on Windows or SimpleText on the Mac. There are text editors available on the net that are specifically designed for creating HTML code. Notepad is a little too bare bones for myself. So I recommend that Windows users download the shareware program Edit Plus to write their HTML code with. It is simple and doesn't use a lot of memory. You don't need a fancy program to write HTML.

Why Learn HTML?

The best way to learn how to write a web page is to learn HTML first. Unfortunately, people who are too impatient to read a book usually buy an HTML program that does all the thinking for them. While this might sound like the solution you are looking for, I highly discourage it. If you go the lazy route, you'll never know how to tweak the HTML code to your web pages in order to make them look the way you want. Your imagination will always be restricted by the confines of your HTML editor.

I am not saying that you shouldn't ever use an HTML editor. I personally use (and recommend) Macromedia Dreamweaver for the creation of HTML. I am saying that your first few pages should be written by hand, just so you can get the gist of things. After that, use a program to take the busy work out of HTML coding.

How To Learn HTML?

There are plenty of free web sites on the web written by HTML enthusiasts designed to help newbies get started.

Free Tutorials on the Web:

Websites are free and all, but I like to dog-ear pages in a book, highlight, and write in my own notes. There are plenty of great books about HTML designed for beginners and experts alike.

HTML Books:

  • HTML 4.01 Programmers Reference - Don't let the official title scare you. This might be the only HTML book you'll ever buy. It starts off for beginners and continues on to the advanced stuff. Plus it helps you design web pages that look good on Macs, Windows PC's, you name it.
  • HTML For Dummies - Good for beginners and comes with a CD. It will get you started, but you'll eventually want a more advanced book to continue learning about HTML.
  • Creating Cool HTML 4 Web Pages - A complete book that will you will probably keep forever. Starts off with the basics and then takes you all the way to the advanced stuff if you desire.

How To Upload Your HTML Document

After you write and save your first HTML document on your home computer you will need to upload it to your account on FrogNet. FrogNet has several tutorials on how to do this. If you are a windows user, we recommend using CoreFTP. Mac users can use FUGU.

Choosing a HTML Editor

Hopefully you've purchased a book on HTML or read one of the great free tutorials that were listed at the start of this story. After a writing a few dozen HTML pages from scratch, you might wish that you had some sort of editor that could do some of the busy work for you. There are several great "what you see is what you get" HTML editors on the market that give you complete control of the HTML code while giving you the option of dragging and dropping HTML elements into a visual representation of your web site.

Great HTML Programs

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver - Most serious web developers use Macromedia Dreamweaver to design their sites. A more advanced version of Dreamweaver, called Ultra Dev, even allows you to design database driven web sites. Most top level design firms use Dreamweaver. It runs on the Mac and Windows, but runs better on windows.

The Evils of Microsoft Front Page

Unfortunately, most beginners start designing web sites with one most popular and also one of the worst web site design programs in existence, Microsoft Front Page.

I highly discourage the use of Front Page for designing web sites mainly because it doesn't let you have complete access over your HTML code. If you ever use Front Page to edit any of your hand coded HTML pages you will be startled to realize that Front Page rewrites all of your HTML code and inserts countless Microsoft-specific tags into the code. As a result, most Microsoft websites look like they came from a cookie cutter.

Front Page also relies heavily on something called Front Page Server Extensions which are not supported by over 80% of the web servers on the net. A whole series of artificial stumbling blocks have been written into Front Page to make it less compatible with non-Microsoft products. In a sense, Microsoft is attempting to hijack inexperienced web designers into using Microsoft Products. It is the same sort of heavy-handed business practice that got Microsoft into trouble with the Federal Government years ago. You should note that a VAST MAJORITY of domains ARE NOT hosted on Microsoft Systems and you should also note that a VAST MAJORITY of headline-making hacker attacks accomplished by exploiting Microsoft products.

Say NO to Front Page.