Domain Names

If you use the web at all, you will have noticed that each web site has its own domain name. This one is called Domain names are registered and their use is paid for on annual or bi-annual basis. It is a unique name that identifies you or your company. Users can access your site directly by typing it into a browser. Without a domain name, users have to rely on search engines, using suitable keywords to locate your site. This can be a little more hit and miss.

HTML Editors/Web Authoring Packages

Basic web pages are based on HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language). A suitable HTML editing software package will allow you to create simple pages of text and graphics as easily as desk top publishing a document. Both MS Word and Publisher can be used to create web pages. There's a variety of similar software on the market covering the whole range from free, through to shareware, to sophisticated packages. It all depends on how much you can afford and how serious you're going to get.

Some ISPs will provide you with free web editing software.

Getting your web pages onto the web

How you get your pages to your host's computer to appear on the world wide web partly depends on the software that you are using and your host. If you are using Microsoft FrontPage then you can use the Publish facility (under File) that uploads all new pages and sets up all the necessary folders for you. To use this facility, you must obtain hosting that includes FrontPage extensions. I have never seen this available with free hosting.

Many other packages use FTP (File Transfer Protocol). This is software that creates a temporary connection between your computer and your folder or web space on your hosts computer. You can then send all required files to your host's computer in much the same way as copying files between folders on your computer.

FTP software is frequently provided by ISPs. My favorite is the one provided by SmartFTP, for ease of use. Shareware versions like CuteFTP are also popular.

Various rules apply, depending on whether the host's computer is a Unix or NT server. For example, Unix servers require that your home page (first page of your site) must be called index.html (all lower case). Your ISP will be able to advise.

How to acquire the skills

Teach yourself: There's a million and one books available on all aspects of the Internet, web authoring software and design. Buy a book and start reading, it's a cheap method that relies on enthusiasm. self-discipline and problem solving skills.

Join a class: Find a class that covers the specific skills that you need. Many colleges and schools offer day and evening classes in web design and programming, but do check out what's being offered - it would be extremely frustrating to cover aspects that you already know. A bonus of evening classes is that you get to meet a group of people with a similar interest and make new friends.

Use the Internet: You will find a vast array of guides and pages on all aspects of the web. It can be time consuming and frustrating finding exactly what you want but there is a lot of good stuff out there, including code that you can download for free and use.

Most people would benefit from a combination of all the above methods.