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From blank screen to web page: Part I

July 16, 2013

A good many folk may be longing for a personal web page but not know what sort of practical steps can be taken. Whatever the cause, whatever the purpose, it’s not impossible and it doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive.

A realistic cost would be $100 per year, althoughless expensive alternatives exist, such as sites that will also yield free web page space.

Your own domain

But a lot of readers would want their own domain. And why not? If you want FeatheredChicken.com to talk about how chicken farming works — and possibly sell members of your flock — then it’s not impossible. But maybe that name has been taken? In any such case, multitudes of .com alternatives exist, called extensions, such as .us, .net, .org, .tv, … and many more. You can also try FeatheredChicks.com or FeathersAndChicks.com and other such variations.

Domains can be purchased and maintained generally inexpensively, although the best bargain comes from paying for a web host who will usually throw in at least one domain name for free.

Web hosts certainly are not all created equal. In many cases, you can also host your own website off a dedicated computer used as a web server. Setup will be beyond the scope of this specific article, but it’s not impossible.

Associating host name with web page

The simplest form of domain name association will forward any URL to featheredChicken.com on to your free Web page, say, at FreeSite.com/yourname/etc/home.html. The more complex domain name association will also be accepted via your Web page host and will always look something like:

featheredChicken.com/etc.

The home page

The most common expression of a home page would look very similar to:

http://www.featheredChicken.com/home.html

… presuming, of course, that this was your choice of domain name.

The actual file can be as small or as big as you like. Some HTML coders will call the home page address:

http://www.featheredChicken.com/index.html

A home page provides the entryway to your Web site. It can take various forms. For example, it can be nothing but a single page that explains the fact that the domain name has been reserved. Or it can be something of a control panel set up to access various pages from links.

There’s nothing wrong with starting simple to experiment and find out how easy drawing others to your site can be.  However, with nothing to show, everyone will be disappointed. That’s why if you feel experimental, it’s best to put something useful on your site in any case, just to show that there was an opportunity. Without an opportunity, you may as well be herding butterflies to your site, but because that’s all it’s good for.

So what does an opportunity look like?

That’s rather a matter of opinion. Liking something enough to go to the trouble of featuring it can suffice. And that may work well if you have any reason to perpetuate any sort of hobby or special interest.

In time, when you feel like expanding, the main feature can then take a back seat and earn a link of its own as a side show if you wish. Or you can make your next project into the sideshow. It’s all up to you.

One possibility can be to make a page that concerns your neighborhood, town or city with special focus on accessibility and practicality for hosting a fair or festival of many booths or exhibits. You could go on to argue what sorts of events should be hosted that haven’t been. You could make any sort of case with your carefully collected data as the main exhibit. You could even take photos to show how everything adheres to what you have collected and what you have said.

Web page coding

Coding a Web page can be as simple as using Notepad.exe or a suitable text editor that can save .txt files. Any operating system can be used, and any browser can be used to examine the file via the “Open” command. When coding, it’s generally a good idea to use the latest version of HTML.

A word about HTML

Good HTML coding takes effort, education, and a bit of forethought. While much easier to design your Web page on paper before using a book or eBook on HTML for reference, reading the book to brush up on the whole may be the best bet. You will learn HTML 5, CSS 3, and JavaScript. If you wish to process forms then you will also learn Perl, although a few other languages can obviate this specific need.

It’s not possible to teach other than a few rudimentary tips in this brief series.

Another way to pick up HTML can be by examining the code of other, simpler websites.  It’s also possible to invest in older HTML books inexpensively and learn the basics before investigating how you want to learn the latest version.

CSS

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) works a lot like setting up your own typesetting options. HTML works something like an intermediary language to make specifications. HTML can also perform many basic markup operations that CSS does better. HTML’s strongest point probably lies in control of the flow of text and graphics handling on the printed page, although easier to view as a means of incorporating CSS and JavaScript on a Web page, in addition to Flash and JAVA that serve the needs of certain coders.

JavaScript

With JavaScript it becomes possible to perform a great number of “input sensitivity” tricks that also enable control of input … and to some extent output as well. Some of the less favored tricks include the capacity to lock the page so that nothing can be copied or pasted; or even to blank out the screen with a special message or opportunity to sign up for membership with the site. However, if your site has something truly worth the draw then these methods can be yours to pursue as you please.

I hope this introduction as the first part of this series answers your early questions about a website. Other parts to this series can delve into how to get graphics, art, and fonts for your site, how to get textures to use in backdrops or functional graphics, how to code in basic HTML, and an overview of CSS.

 

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One Comment
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