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Building your site
If you are going the free ISP way, then your host should help you. If you feel you are not getting enough help, switch to another one immediately.
With help or not, make your site reflect your personality (unless that stinks): attractive, clean and easy to navigate. One of the best tutors is the popular and recently revamped site called (pardon me) Web Sites That Suck.
Three outstanding sites with a great deal of technical (and not so technical) information are ZDNet, CNet and iWORLD. I refer to these several times in this essay. They all update five days a week and iWORLD has several international editions written languages other than English. CNet has just bought ZDNet, but both will continue to operate.
Sourcebank is a new site with a search engine devoted to questions by site developers. Troubleshooters has a lot of information on technical matters and a short tutorial on how to troubleshoot anything.
As you are building and maintaining your site you will come across a lot of new words and acronyms used in the industry. A few have been defined for you here, but for looking them up, nothing beats the Webopedia.
Some site design tips:
1. Use dark lettering on a light background, not vice-versa
2. Don't overload your pages (especially your home page) with large graphics that take forever to download.
3. Avoid flashing java apps, animated gifs, etc. They just annoy people. Avoid frames; search engines don't like them.
4. Use a consistent, clean style throughout your site.
5. Make navigation easy.
If you are going to build a site, you have several ways to go. If it is small you can get by with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get -- pronounced whizzy-wig) site builder.
With one, you write as you would a letter and it does the HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language, the basic language of the Web) source code in the background. It will let you import graphics, change colors and fonts and do all sorts of things.
None are perfect, but reviews of many of them are on iWORLD, ZDNet and CNet. In Windows 98 there is a scaled-down version of Front Page (Front Page Express) that even lets you build forms.
If you are using Word 7.0 or higher, there is also a built in WYSIWIG editor. As with many of Mr. Bill's products, it sometimes does funny (read irritating) things. If you're going to do it right, you need to learn some HTML and tweak your code in Word Pad. By default, I am still using Word 97.
One piece of advice, learn some HTML (and java, perl or XML if you want to get fancy). The topic most easily researched on the Web is, not surprisingly, the web itself. You can download The Bare Bones Guide to HTML by Kevin Werback and A Beginner's Guide to HTML at the NSCA site. There are probably others; if you find another good one, let me know.
The other piece of advice is to get yourself a techie (technical person) to help you. At least at the beginning, they are indispensable. I put a small classified ad into our local paper and found two good people, one of whom was with me for a long time.
Now, between what I know and what NorthNet does for me, my back-up techie is a person I quite trust, but have never physically met. He also hosts sites and provides many useful services.
The Internet for Dummies (sixth edition)
HTML 4 for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide by Elizabeth Castro
HTML: The Definitive Guide by Chuck Musciano, Bill Kennedy, Mike Loukides (Editor)
Creating Killer Web Sites, Second Edition by David Siegel
The Non-Designer's Web Book: An Easy Guide to Creating, Designing, and Posting Your Own Web Site by Robin Williams with John Tollett
Web Style Guide: Basic Design Principles for Creating Web Sites by Patrick J. Lynch & Sarah Horton
Web Design in a Nutshell: A Desktop Quick Reference by Jennifer Niederst & Richard Koman (Editors)
Web Pages That Suck: Learn Good Design by Looking at Bad Design by Vincent Flanders & Michael Willis
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating an HTML 4 Web Page (book third edition + CD) by Paul McFedries
Putting up your web pages
This often baffles people. What you need is an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) utility. If you have Microsoft Front Page (including the Express version in Windows 98), one is there. There are free ones on the technical sites. This one is highly recommended, especially for beginners.
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Part One: Initial Considerations
Part Two: Getting Your Site
Part Four: Growing Your Site
Part Five: Adding Value and Securing Your Site
Part Six: Updates
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