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Price is not a good indicator of quality for hosting. You can get decent hosting for $4/mo. and terrible hosting for $15 -- or vice-versa. Unfortunately discussions of specific hosts aren't allowed on WebmasterWorld. The biggest thing to look for is Support. Realize that many budget plans don't include phone support, just email support. That may or may not be important to you, depending on your situation. Don't worry about how much space each plan has. You won't use all the space on even the smallest plan you can find. And if you do you can deal with it then (not now).
As for what to use to design your pages, I know that Dreamweaver is very popular, but personally I use some ancient software that's not even available any more, so I can't advise much on that front. But like I said, go ahead and get started, and it will become apparent soon enough what pieces to the puzzle you're missing -- and then you can come back here for more help. Go ahead and discover some missing pieces.
Unix is the operating system or platform that your web server software would run on. Unix servers running an Apache web server are probably your best bet. You can google Unix and Apache and find lots of information on them. An alternative would be a Windows IIS server.
Joomla is open source content management software. Check out Joomla.org for more information about that. I'm not familiar with the software that you mentioned so I can't really answer your questions there.
...and you could use Word to write your content and paste it in but it's a little messy. I'd suggest writing it in a very simple text editor like Notepad then formatting it in whatever software you intend to use.
Hope that helps.
Firstly, let me start by saying this:
The only reason it seems hard is because you don't know enough about it.
Ok, so you have this burning desire to play with computers and you think the net
is pretty cool. Let's make a website! There's just one small problem; you're not
entirely sure how to turn on a computer.
Firstly you need to have a basic understanding of how all the components you're
going to need fit together.
You're going to need a server.
You're going to (most likely) need a scripting language.
You're going to (most likely) need a database language.
For the purpose of this article, we're going to set up the computer you're sitting
at now as a server. This isn't how real websites work but it'll help you get an
understanding of structure and it'll also give you a nice testing/development area
to play with. In this article I'm assuming you are using windows XP.
Installing Internet Information Services (IIS):
Click start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Add/Remove Windows Components
Select the checkbox for Internet Information Services and install, leaving all the
That's it. Your computer is now a server.
What does that mean?
Well, open up a browser and type: [localhost...] into the address bar. It
doesn't matter if you're connected to the internet or now. You'll see the page resolve
in your browser. This is the default page that windows creates when it installs IIS.
So where does it exist on your computer?
Explore your computer to: C:\Inetpub\wwwroot
Inetpub and wwwroot are directories that get added when you install IIS. It's where
the server goes to look for webpages when you type 'localhost' into your browser.
If you make a directory in wwwroot called test and in that directory, make a page
called index.html and just write: Hello, in it. You can switch to your browser,
type in [localhost...] and see the page you just created.
You don't need to type in the Inetpub or the wwwroot parts because that's where IIS
looks by default.
Too easy, huh?
What's a scripting language?
Very simply a scripting language allows your webpages to do more than just sit there
when people go and visit them. An html page is very good at showing you information
but it's very limited in being able to respond to users choices.
The most common scripting languages are: PERL, PHP and ASP.
Because you've installed IIS on your computer you can use ASP as standard.
Go to the index.html page you just created and add this line to it:
<% response.write("Welcome to my webpage.") %>
Now save that file as index.asp
Open it by browsing to it in your web browser(through localhost) and see what it says.
Why did we change the file extension?
Servers need to know how to treat the files you're asking for.it's a little confusing
with the setup we have but try to imagine that your computer is actually doing two
jobs at the moment.
First, think of yourself as a user. You open a browser, type in an address and try to
find a page.
Second think of yourself as a server. You get a request, you find the page being asked
for and you send it to the user.
It's confusing becuase, right now, your computer is doing both jobs. In a real set up
it's likely that the server with be a totally different computer.
Anywa, when the server gets the request for a webpage it grabs the webpage, looks at it
and decides how to deal with that request.
An .html file is sent straight to the browser so that the user can view it.
An .asp or .php file means the browser goes: 'Oh, I have to do things with this page before
I can send it.' It's simply the way you let the server know that you're asking it to
In our example we're asking the server to write "Welcome to my webpage." and output
it to the browser. It doesn't seem that exciting but that's because I'm not covering
everything you can do with a scripting language here. You get to go find that out on your
One last personal note on scripting languages.
When I first started, I used asp as a language. It's a perfectly decent place to start
but after a certain amount of time I suggest moving into php. If you find yourself
wanting to write scripts that do things such as:
Then I recommend switching to php. All the above things are possible in asp but I found
that the way they're implemented in php made more 'sense' to me. I wont confuse you now
with why, but try to remember to keep it in mind as you develop as, well, a developer.
To install php you need to find the php download (a quick google search will suffice) and
run it like any other program. This will create a php directory in C:
Grab the .dll file from that directory and copy it to C:/windows
Grab the php.ini file and put it in C:/windows
That should be it, but there are some excellent tutorials on installing php that make
everything very clear which you should probably google for and have open before you
In very, very simple terms, you're not just installing the php language onto your
computer, you're setting it up so that the IIS knows to look for .php files in
exactly the same way it looks for .asp files by default.
Finally, the database language.
Databases are basically big buckets for holding stuff. The nice thing about these
buckets is that you can ask for a specific thing and when you reach into it, that's
exactly what it'll try and give you. Installing a database language is much the
same as installing php, and there are a great many tutorials around that help
explain it clearly.
I'm not going to go into detail about databases here unless I get further requests. I
think just understanding that there are three seperate entities related to bringing you
information is important enough.
When people talk about servers they mean the place where the files related to your
website are located. They can talk about APACHE or IIS, but essentially
they're all just places where files are stored.
When people talk about scripting they mean the language your files are written in.
They can talk about ASP, PHP or HTML. There are a great many extensions associated
with web development and they all relate to different languages. The extensions are
important because they tell the server exactly how to treat the page that's being
When people talk about databases they mean where information is stored. They might
mention MYSQL, SQL, ACCESS or Oracle but they're fundamentally all the same thing:
Great big, storage centers for information. A huge chunk of development is writing
processes that allow people to sort through that information in a meaningful way, which
is why scripting languages and databases are usually mentioned in the same breath.
1. Code the HTML manually by hand.
2. Use generic design software (WYSWYG - what you see is what you get)
3. Use CMS software. A CMS lets you focus on the content (i.e., your articles), and has a number of built-in designs.
Yes, get some pages up first and worry about learning programming later.
p.s. Steerpike - veerrry good!
look Emacs, Kedit (these comes with linux)
You can use crimson editor very simple for windows.
The only thing I have changed in the last year is moving to a real operating system that gave better control, you will find all the tools that you need.
All editors,Mysql,Apache, and many more comes simply free. Choose the distribution that you like and start running from there.
[edited by: mack at 9:06 pm (utc) on Mar. 14, 2006]
[edit reason] link removed. [/edit]
You want to make some basic HTML web pages and send them up to a hosting company. You can use any HTML editing program or Notepad to add some text and pictures to make your pages.
A good HTML book or some basic tutorials can teach you how to do this. Then later, you can advance along if you are interested in learning the other things.
I found the right Web editor, the right hosting service and other basic stuff. I thought I had everything sorted out!
Nevertheless, I made I few mistakes along the way because I didn't have the right step by step description on how to start and finish my first Web site.
It took almost 2 years for someone to write the steps:
I thought I had the basics, I was going to use Web Studio to create 10 or so pages of good content, figure out a domain name, contact a hosting company, get online, the refine the site along with learning some basic programming.
That will be the best way to get started. You've gotten a lot of great advice here so far, but in the end, just jumping in is the best way to learn. Go ahead and get your domain name, buy your hosting, and create your pages with Web Studio or whatever tool you like. Fiddle around with it and have a good time. You'll make a lot of mistakes you'll be embarrassed about later, but we all do that at first. At first? I still do it now, and I've been at this stuff for years! ;)
Of course, once you get a taste of SSI, you'll probably want to get into some serverside programming like PHP, which will also involve some database work. And, somewhere along the line, you'll probably get bitten by the validation bug, which can cause long-lasting diseases largely characterized by an obsessive desire to write correct code and a propensity to post dozens of questions trying to figure out all the errors you'll come across! ;)
Throughout all of this, you'll want to read up on usability, SEO, and whatever other web-related topics you come across. You'll probably change hosts once or twice, which is a pain but good experience, and you'll probably redesign your site many times. Gradually you'll get used to what you're working with, you'll learn more about it, and become more familiar with the terms, until you're be able to at least come up with the right questions even if you don't know the answers. (Which is an important thing to be able to do, believe me.)
Notice the pattern...you start small, and learn as you go. It works for me. I think it will work for you too.
And.. may be this is a bit controversial.. but like it or not, the Internet is still and will still be run by text codes, simple HTML. So don't depend on WYSIWIG only, try and try to master manual HTML coding with Notepad. You'll know the power and control you have, once you master manual HTML coding. Any WYSiWIG will become irrelevant, because you look straight at the codes.
OK But for now, just do it. Three words. Just do it. And you'll learn all with us here in webmasterworld.
You don't need to be able to write a CMS by hand from scratch. Heavens knows I can't. But I can modify an existing script, skin a CMS, or whatever.
But if something breaks you need to know how to fix it. A Wysiwig editor will only get you so far ... if you want to expand the site beyond static pages, or if you start getting a funky error, you need to know how to program, at least a little.
I have some advice to give as well. I also just started designing a few months ago and posted on here before I got started.
Like everyone here is saying you just need to jump in. All of this information can be VERY overwhelming. I would look for a HTML tutorial online, study it for a few hours (thats all it takes to learn it, its a VERY easy language to learn) and start by writing a few pages by hand. Also, learn CSS. It really helps for large and small sites. Google it after you learn HTML.
Look for a cheap hosting company when you finish your site. I spent almost $200 on my hosting for my first site which was really my largest mistake so far.
I started by making a very small website and forum. I have a few regular members so far but the real thing was that I learned how to do it!
Steerpike its just incredible, you explained everything so easily, this post is one of the best I found on any forum. .... classic, must read for everyone - First Step to Webhosting.
Seriously. Steer where were you when I wanted to learn all of this? Very well written advice!
I have an additional question regarding content...I know good quality/quantity content is key. Any advice for getting good content quickly? Should I pay for others to write articles/posts or start with my own content (burn the midnight oil method) then branch out?
Any ideas would be helpful
While there *are* any number of hosts out there offering incredibly cheap hosting, often with "unlimited" (or extremely high) bandwidth, storage etc, these hosts will generally cause you far more headaches in the long run. Excess downtime, missing backups, lack of support, sluggish speed, overloaded servers... all common problems of the el cheapo hosts.
IMHO you'd be far better off spending even $10 or $20 / month extra, and getting a reliable host with REALISTIC and HONEST limitations.
There is no such thing as unlimited bandwidth.
There are two ways of looking at things such as you stated above..either good positive or negative..the choice is personal.
Now a lot of popularity means there is a demand..and if you are a fighter ,kicker,puncher and are confident in your site and abilities to promote..you will get in the top percentage of that half a billion sites for 'widgets'..and when that happens the flood gates will open for money i guess.
On the otherhand you could go for a niche no one has such as smelly socks.zom..and have no one search for it..even though you are the only one dominating the market.
So depends how you look at such things is my way of looking at the bigger picture..some people like compettition other like to do quitely.