Creating your own personal web site
What will you need?
You will need to have a computer with either an internal or external modem that can be connected to your normal telephone line. A separate telephone line is optional and usually unnecessary - people phoning you will just get the busy signal when you're surfing the net. Alternatively, you could opt for an additional faster ISDN or cable line and adapter should you wish to go all out.
To access the web and your site, you will need to have an Internet Service Provider. Different options are on offer. Some will state that they provide free access, but that does not include telephone time. You will still have to pay for your calls, but local rate only, irrespective of which sites you access on the web.
Dial-up access, on a monthly basis is usually dialed into a local telephone number so you don't have to pay long distance charges as well as the subscription rate. AOL offers a plan which costs $23.90/month. Other companies like NetZero may offer internet access for $9.95/month or their premium service at $14.95/month. DSL, Cable, and Fiber-Optic access are becoming much more common. Rates can run you anywhere from $14.95 for lower lever DSL to as much as $50 for Fiber. Speeds with these methods far outshine dial-up. Please examine all options and find an isp that matches your needs.
Technical support is an important factor to consider, and not just to beginners. It's very useful to be able ask questions, and sort out problems efficiently when they arise. Some ISPs are notoriously poor at providing reasonable answers or even replying to questions to all. The more expensive services generally offer free technical support. Free ISPs, if you can find any, need to make their money in other ways and generally charge a premium for telephone calls to technical support. Ask around about ISPs that people use to get some idea of the service that you can expect before committing yourself.
Many people have 2 or more ISPs at any one time (especially if they're free), so that if one is unavailable then they have alternative access to the web.
Your web site will be kept on a computer that is permanently connected to the web so that your site and others can be accessed by anyone, anywhere, 24 hours a day. Many companies provide space for hosting your web pages on their servers. Some offer a free service, the downside is that you may have to display their advertising on your site. This may be in the form of a banner or pop up window and can be extremely annoying. This can be avoided by paying for hosting or shopping around. The cost of hosting very much depends on the requirements of your site: basic pages of text and graphics are cheap, database connectivity and ecommerce are much more expensive.
Sometimes you may be offered pages on someone else's site. This is a cheap alternative that does not require a domain name and is probably acceptable to most people with personal web sites.
Businesses and increasing amounts of individuals prefer their own domain name (www.yourname.com).
Many ISPs also offer their customers a hosting service - it's worth asking your ISP.