Building A Better Web Site

If you've just registered a new domain name, you'll probably want to build a Web site to go with it (if you haven't already). The good news is, you don't need to be an experienced programmer to create a Web site. There are also plenty of free resources online to help you put together a top-notch set of Web pages. This article will get you on your way by introducing you to HTML (the code used to create Web pages), Web graphics, browser and platform considerations, and advanced Web features.

Once your Web site is up, you'll want to check out Promoting Your Site to get it noticed.

Know Your Code

Web pages don't just appear out of thin air. They're built using a special programming language called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) that Web browsers such as Netscape® Navigator, Microsoft® Internet Explorer, or WebTV know how to interpret. The result is the pages that appear on your monitor.

When you're viewing a page in a Web browser, you can usually look at the page's HTML by selecting "View" and then "Source." (You can try it now, if you want.) When you view HTML, you'll notice that there are lots of angle brackets ("<" and ">"). HTML commands, also known as tags, are all about brackets. For example, "<p>" tells the browser to start a new paragraph; "<b>" tells the browser to turn text bold. Type bracketed HTML commands around a bunch of text in a text editor (such as Notepad in Windows or SimpleText on a Mac) and you've got yourself a Web page.

Back in the ancient days of the Web, there were no more than a handful of these bracketed HTML commands. Pages were pretty simple, and you could use a simple text editor to create a Web site. Nowadays there are lot more HTML commands, and pages are often more complex. Luckily, there are programs called Web editors that can write the HTML commands for you.

Web editors are the equivalent of word processors for Web pages. In a Web editor, you select a word and click a "Bold" button, and the editor writes out the HTML command for you. This keeps you from having to remember the dozens of different commands. Some Web-hosting services will include a Web editor for building your pages.

Most word processors (such as Microsoft® Word) these days will also convert your documents to HTML. This isn't a bad place to start if you have nothing else, but the conversions aren't as good as writing pages in real Web editors.

Web-Editing Resources
The HTML Standard at the World Wide Web Consortium
Adobe Dreamweaver
Microsoft FrontPage

CONTINUED: Grab 'Em With Graphics