What IS a website?

The web was invented for posting text messages. HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up Language) was then used to incase text in simple tags such as <b> for bold text or <p> for paragraph breaks.

Programming languages used have evolved since then. As well as HTML there is the more dynamic DHTML, XHTML & XML, with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) for basic layout & design. In order to get your browser to take action & DO things (like send emails, collect info from other sites or perform calculations) active scripting languages like ASP, java, PHP & CGI scripts are used.

To see what a website looks like, choose View > Source from your browser’s menu. You’ll see the code written in Notepad.

Creating sites from text in Notepad or Word is simply a matter of understanding the above programming languages. w3schools.com is a great place to start learning!

Search engine optimisation

Of course, there’s a quick-fix solution. Software, such as Microsoft Frontpage, Macromedia Dreamweaver or Adobe GoLive!, is designed to allow you to create & edit pages with a friendly graphic interface. These are known as WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) editors. You can use them to create from scratch or just to polish up pages you have coded.

It’s very ambitious for them to create perfect code based on your layout, so these can be a little clumsy, but they’ll save enormous amounts of time. They’ll also allow you the option to edit the code if you feel able & find there’s a problem or some mess to tidy up.

Free blogging sites such as WordPress are another alternative that effectively give you access to fantastic content management software for free. And free hosting. The only cost involved is extras and add ons to customise your site.

Getting Started

Once you’re able to create a basic HTML file you’ll have a site & the next step is to get it ‘hosted‘.

While the web is basically just a tangle of connected computers, it’s not a simple matter of hosting your site on your own machine. You generally need to host on a dedicated ‘server’ machine, which is purpose built, will rarely be ‘off’ or ‘down’, & will have plenty of bandwidth.
There are countless hosting packages available & most offer more space then you’ll probably ever need. Of course, there are cheap & even FREE hosting services available too.

Domain Registration

Most hosting packages will allow you to use a web address which is a subdomain of the host site. However, if you want your own distinctive address, you’ll have to register & pay for it.

Registrar sites like www.melbourneit.com.au are the place to go. Search for ‘domain registrar’ in an engine & you’ll find tonnes of options. Note that there are regulations regarding which domains can be bought. For example, a “.com.au” domain can only be registered by a commercial business that’s relevant to the name being purchased.

Once you’ve set up a site, the next step is getting people to see it. When you’re ready, come back & read our search engine optimisation tips.