A domain name is simply your address on the internet such as www.michael-wayne.com. It’s simply your websites “physical” address on the internet, and much like your real address a place where your visitors will always find you. Domain names are sometimes called URL’s (Uniform Resource Locator) which is just a fancy term for the same thing. You can purchase your own domain name from domain registration services such as GoDaddy or Network Solutions.
GoDaddy has the cheapest domains currently, with a domains being $9.99 or $1.99 with the purchase of an additional GoDaddy service. I recommend getting a descriptive name that is as short as possible – no more than three words (i.e. mysupportman.com) and no more than one dash (i.e. michael-wayne.com). Without a domain name, you have no “home address” to point your visitors – it’s like having a party but no one knows the address!
Once you have a domain name you’ll need a web host to store your web pages, files and media (music, video’s, etc). Web Hosting companies own powerful computers called “servers” (because they “serve” your web pages to your visitors). Without a server your domain name would lead to nowhere. When a user types in your domain name or URL, they are redirected to your web page files on your server.
Web hosting companies’ handle all the technical work for you – they “point” all your visitors to your pages, they maintain and support the servers and “guarantee” your website will be always available to your visitors. Most web hosting companies have a 99.9% uptime guarantee (uptime means the server is “up” or available”) but this is disputed amongst experts. Hosting plans, depending on what you need can start as low as $3.99 to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most people running a minor website will be just fine with a hosting plan under $10.00 a month.
I personally use GoDaddy as my web hosting provider, because they are affordable, reliable and offer the best tech support I have ever had in over 9 years of being online. Their plans start for as low as $3.99! Once you have a domain and a web host, you’ll need a web design program to design your pages. If you plan on having customized images and logos you will also need an image editing program. Luckily, there are many free and paid options available to build your site.
Dreamweaver remains one of the most popular website development tools for beginners to moderate website developers. It offers you the option to hand-code your own HTML or to use a “WYSIWYG” editor (what you see is what you get). HTML is the programming language web publishers use to design web pages in. WYSIWYG programs let you create or edit your web page by writing text directly into the screen like a word processor and by dragging and dropping images wherever you want them placed.
It creates the code behind the scenes for you! Most beginners start out using WYSIWYG and then once they get comfortable start dabbling in hand coding HTML. I recommend learning the basics of HTML before using WYSIWYG so you can learn the fundamentals. Another free new and very powerful option to Dreamweaver is Aptana.
Aptana offers most of Dreamweaver’s features and best of all its free!
The one major drawback to beginners is that Aptana lacks a “WYSIWYG” editor so you will have to know your way around html code in order to create and modify your pages. So although it’s free, Aptana is more geared towards professional coders. There is a third, free option that now very popular on the web for beginners and pro’s alike and they are called Content Management Systems or CMS for short.
To create or edit images there are a ton of options such as Photoshop, paint shop pro, or even the free Windows Paint. Photoshop is the undisputed king of image software, but it comes with a HEFTY price tag at $700! Paint Shop Pro has many of the same features as Photoshop, is easier, and has a smaller price tag at only $99. Windows Paint is free but cannot create the stylish graphics that Paint Shop or Photoshop can produce. If you can afford it, I recommend starting out with Paint Shop Pro for $99. You can even use it to edit family photos from your digital camera!
Content Management Systems or CMS for short are mini-programs, or applications that let users add, modify or delete webpage’s on your site with a simple click of a mouse! You can add pages and add content using a web editor as simple as using a word processor, such as Microsoft Word. Some popular examples of CMS software is WordPress for Blogs or Joomla for larger websites. I have an article on CMS here, so read that to find out more about them.
So once you have your domain name, have it hosted, and (hopefully) have your pages created, you will need a program to get the files on the server (the computer that hosts your site). This type of program is called an FTP Program. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, which is just a method of transferring files to a server. There are many free and pay options, but for the sake of time I will discuss two.
WS_FTP Pro is one of the oldest most, popular options available but for a beginner on a budget it’s a bit expensive! The cheapest version (no tech support!) cost $55! While I personally love and use this program, it is probably not the best option for a beginner. Another option, FileZilla is totally free and has almost as many features as WS_FTP Pro! The beginner to moderate web publisher would not even notice the difference in features however, because they are mainly advanced functions. With frequent updates, bug fixes and new features being added regularly, FileZilla is the best choice for the beginner web publisher.
There are more intricate details and specifics to creating a website, but this article was written to give you a basic overview and understanding of how web publishing works. In future articles I will break down each category further so I can explain it to you in a little more depth. Hopefully you found it both educational and informative. Good Luck with your site!
Mike Wayne (me!) is a Serial Entrepreneur residing in New York City. I created this blog to provide tools, advice and tips to help Entrepreneurs understand the world of Online Business. I’m also the Founder & Lead Developer at MediaCraft Marketing, a New York Based Internet Marketing Firm that reeks of Awesomeness =)
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