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Creating and Publishing a Web Site


Note: This page is now out of date and remains purely for historical reasons.

  • Overview
  • What is a Domain Name?
  • Where do I register a Domain Name?
  • What is web hosting?
  • Where do I go for hosting?
  • How do I build a Web Site?
  • How do I Create my own Graphics?
  • How do I activate my ISP's free web space?
  • How do I access CGI scripts (Hit counters & stuff)?
  • How do I Upload my site?
  • Flash


  • Overview

    Once you've been surfing the World Wide Web for a while, you might, as I did, develop the desire to become a part of it and establish your own little corner. Perhaps you have a business to promote, or a soapbox to get on. Maybe put family photos up to show all your friends rather than emailing Gigabytes of data all over the place. No matter, I've assembled probably more information than you need to do exactly that without having to spend a cent or toiling over humungous books learning HTML.
    So read ahead and lets get started!


    What is a domain name?

    A domain is simply an Internet term for the name of your site. Much the same as a Pty Ltd company name, Domain names are all unique to identify you on the World Wide Web.
    For example www.domain.com.au

    Domain Names needs to be registered with a name server to be valid, and then hosted on a PC permanently connected to the net to be seen by anyone.
    There are some people who will let you use part of their Domain names (called sub-domains.) for either a fee or the agreement for them to place advertising on your site in the form of Popups or Banner Ads. Most ISPs supply a free sub-domain* as part of the subscription. e.g. www.users.bigpond.net.au/cableguy

    * Update: BigPond no longer offer free hosting as a standard feature with their Internet packages.

    mydomain.com has some excellent FAQs about domain names and registration.


    Where do I register a Domain Name?

    There are no free Domain names, only free sub-domains.
    .coms can be registered from about $10.00 USD in hundreds of places.
    .com.au has fairly strict conditions (must have ACN etc) and can only be registered with .auDA Accredited Registrars.
    See also whatsinaname.com.au

    Of course, you don't really have to know or understand any of this as most web Hosts like Webcentral (and the hundreds of others) will take care of all that for you as part of their fees.

    Some cheap sites that can help with Domain Name registering -

    Dotster
    mydomain.com
    Cheap Domain Registration
    Or search Google


    What is webhosting?

    Every website needs to be "hosted" on a hard drive on a computer permanently connected to the World Wide Web with an IP address and a Domain Name Server (DNS) which converts the IP address to the domain name and vice-versa.

    Now, it is possible to do your own hosting but it can be expensive and inconvenient as you will be paying for all the Internet traffic going in and out and you'll need a PC that won't crash and take down your site. Most people generally get a dedicated web hosting company to do their web and email hosting for them for a setup cost and monthly fee.

    NOTE: Some ISPs, like Optus Cable, strictly forbid running a server (which is what doing your own web hosting is) as part of their Acceptable User Agreement. I know of lots of people that have had their accounts cancelled for doing it.

    To do your own web hosting it's generally easier with a static IP address. However, it is possible with a Dynamic IP by using services such as Alan Yates' DDNS. DDNS stands for Dynamic Domain Name Server, and basically they relay Internet requests for your domain name to whatever your IP address may be at whatever time. There is also software available that automatically notifies the DDNS Server every time your IP changes. More on DDNS on the Remote Access page.

    And then, on the home front, you'll need an operating system that can act as a web server. A lot of people use NT4 SBS or Windows 2000 Server, but there's the excellent little freeware Simple Web Server from AnalogX which will work on any Windows operating system.


    Where do I go for free hosting?

    There are dozens of free hosts available that are easy to find through any search engine like google. There's the common ones like The Lycos Network who own Tripod and Angelfire and some rare ones without ads like F2S.com.

    Then there's the free web spaces provided by the ISPs. I'll use BigPond* as an example throughout this page. Telstra have webhosting FAQs but they are fairly lengthy and somewhat confusing. This page is a summary of the key points you'll need to know to set up and access the free BigPond webspace. Other users will be able to find particulars from their ISP's FAQs or Helpdesk.

    * Update: BigPond no longer offer free hosting as a standard feature with their Internet packages.


    How do I build a Web Site?

    To create your site you'll need an HTML editor. HTML is the "language" used for webpages.
    There are many editors to choose from with varying degrees of "user-friendliness" and will give varying results. I'll give mention to the more common ones, but there are heaps to choose from.

    Notepad: Those experienced in HTML often use notepad and write straight code. One friend mentioned that he could type faster than he could use the mouse to open "palettes" and "layers" and "drag and drop", which is nice for him, but way over my head...

    Word: My first attempt was done with Microsoft Word. This is really easy to use.
    Open Word, select "file" and "open new" and select HTML document. Then type away and add links, pictures and anything you want, by right-clicking the relevant spot.

    Frontpage: My next progression was to Microsoft Frontpage. Again, not much more difficult than Word to use, but with some more interesting effects to take advantage of. It is often criticized for being outdated and producing crappy code. Interestingly, many professional web designers that specialize in Macromedia Flash, have returned to Frontpage as their HTML editor of choice. It's ease of use and well planned layout are hard to go past. Mind you, they do all their graphics with Flash which gets around Frontpage's HTML shortcomings.

    Note: Frontpage extensions aren't supported on the BigPond free users sites. For other Webhosts, you may have still have issues with Telstra's transparent proxy server. To get around this, configure your browser to use BigPond Direct's proxy-server. See the General FAQs for how to do this.

    Frontpage Express: A freeware version of Frontpage without the bloat. There are numerous sites to download it from. See google.

    Arachnoid: One of several other freeware HTML editors available for download. Used and loved by many.

    Dreamweaver: The current Industry standard. This site is done with Dreamweaver (and a little bit of Frontpage 2000).

    The results that can be achieved with Dreamweaver are usually more professional looking than what can be done with the "lessor" HTML editors.

    The downside is that it is a fairly steep learning curve and not easy to master. The upside is, once you do get your head around it, it is a much more time effective solution (with the use of templates and linking to style sheets), with "clean" code and the right "look" about it. Dreamweaver comes with very handy tutorials and is available for a 30 day trial.

    Flash: Not for the feint hearted. With Flash, you pretty much need to forget everything you know about HTML and start over. Flash is all based around a "timeline" and planned as a movie with the "motionless" graphics in a permanent stop on the timeline. It is commonly used on banners and Logos, as you can see on all the moving graphics on Telstra.com but some sites are almost exclusively Flash with spectacular results. See my Flash Links.

    One of the beauties of Flash is it works on all browsers and will automatically update your version as you open the page. Flash is also available for a 30 day trial from Macromedia. It is sometimes criticized for being just "eye candy" with little purpose, but I love it and believe it's the beginning of the future for website design.

    Swish: Gives "flash-like" animation without Flash. A lot easier to work with and a good stepping stone to big brother Flash.


    How do I Create my own Graphics?

    One thing the HTML editors don't do much of, is create graphics. For this you'll need some graphics software.

    Microsoft Paint: Paint comes standard with windows and is simple to use, but it has it's place. It's results can be blurry and a bit "amateurish" but it comes in handy for clipping and resizing images.

    Tip: You can use paint (or any of the other graphics applications below) to create Windows screenshots. Just press the "print screen" key on your keyboard then open Paint and click edit and paste. If you just want a screenshot of one window, hold the "alt" key while you press the "print screen" key. Save images as gif or jpg for use on websites, news postings and email as they are much, much smaller than bitmaps (bmp) and don't take as long to load.

    Adobe Photoshop: A bit nasty to learn but gives truly excellent results. Free trial available.

    Macromedia Fireworks: Difficult to use, but comes with tutorials and is available for 30 day trial.

    CorelDraw: Haven't tried this one but it's popularity gets it a mention.

    NOTE: For Guidelines on Web design see webpagesthatsuck.


    How do I activate my ISP's free web space?

    Once you've got your website created, you'll want to get it on the WWW for other people to see.

    To do this with BigPond*, first you'll have to go to "Create and Manage" in the "about webhosting" section and create your username and password to access it.

    This username and password is not related to your BigPond login username and password unless you want it to be...

    The Username you choose will be the site name - www.users.bigpond.net.au/username, and the password can be anything 6 digits or more. Both are case sensitive so watch the caps-lock!

    Note: Your main page must be titled (saved as) index.html. Telstra put a default index.html on your site until you "upload" your own. You can either delete this default page or when you upload, your own index.html will overwrite it.

    * Update: BigPond no longer offer free hosting as a standard feature with their Internet packages.


    How do I access CGI scripts (Hit counters & stuff)?

    CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripts, are the things like hit counters and clocks that you can put on your site. Some webhosts have all kinds of CGI scripts supported (like guestbooks) but the free BigPond site only has CGI for clocks, counters and "form to email".

    To add a hit counter like this one , put this code in the relevant spot-

    <img src="http://users.bigpond.net.au/cgi-bin/Count.exe?df=sample.dat&user=XXXX&dd=D" align=middle>

    (where XXXX is your sitename and DD=D is the style of counter you want. Choose from DD=A, B, C, D, E or F). Also, open notepad and save the blank page as sample.dat and upload it to your site or the counter won't work.

    Note: This won't look sensible until you "upload" the site.

    For a clock like this - , copy this code and insert it into the relevant spot-

    <img src="http://users.bigpond.net.au/cgi-bin/Count.exe?display=clock&DD=D" align=middle>

    As for counters, the "&DD=D" part is for the style of clock you want from A to E.

    There are more examples you can copy from the BigPond.com FAQs. Just remember to use bigpond.net.au wherever you find bigpond.com.

    The other CGI script "form to email" (like for accepting orders etc.) is in the Telstra webhosting FAQs. This was written with BigPond dial-up members in mind so I've changed this info to suit Broadband users and added a couple more details here.

    There are other services available that provide counters that don't rely on CGI scripts, like the one from sitemeter (shown below) which emails statistics to me. Visible sitemeters are considered out of style, but lots of people still find them interesting.

    Click on it for more info.

     


    How do I Upload my site?

    Now that you've got your site created and your webspace activated, you'll need a way to get it from your computer to the host. This is done with FTP (File Transfer Protocol).

    Note: Frontpage has a unique http method of managing websites on-line which is not supported by a lot of web hosts, like the free web spaces that ISPs provide to subscribers. If you've been tearing your hair out trying to get some Frontpage features to work, this is probably why.

    There are several FTP clients to choose from and most are available for trial. (Some don't stop working after the trial period ends) The most common is Cuteftp but I use flashfxp. It can even be done with DOS. There is a basic rundown of DOS FTP commands and "how-to's" at tucows.

    Most of the HTML editors have their own FTP clients built in, but they are often difficult to use and don't show the site's files at the other end.

    FTP clients are all fairly similar to use. I'll use flashfxp as an example. They have a list of screen shots so I won't bother adding any more. With flashfxp (as well as most of the others), uploading is merely a case of dragging and dropping the relevant files.

    All you need to do is set up a log in to your BigPond webspace, is to click on "site"(top) > site manager > new site (bottom left), tell it your sitename and add in the missing bits as below.

    No other details are necessary

    Note: In the IP address field you can alternatively put users.bigpond.net.au, and the Site Name field can be anything.

    That's it

    As soon as it's finished uploading, you'll be able to see it on the World Wide Web at www.users.bigpond.net.au/your site name.


    Flash

    Just a few links to very impressive sites specializing in Flash.

    Balthaser
    Carbonize
    David Gary Studios
    Eye4U
    Family
    Matinee
    NRG
    WMTeam
    Xdude