Today, I got a call from a prospective client who wants a Web site. She actively hates computers and has no idea where to begin with the whole "Web thing." She's not alone. If putting a Web site online has seemed somehow mysterious or intimidating, the next few articles should help you understand what's involved.
Before you do a Web site, it helps to understand what exactly a Web site is. Whether you create the site yourself or hire a Web developer, it helps to understand the process. Once you are familiar with the elements of a Web site, it's a lot easier to understand all the activities that are involved in getting a Web site onto the Internet.
Essentially, a Web site is basically just a series of documents that are all linked together and placed in a folder that is located on a server that is attached to the Internet. Web pages differ from other types of documents not necessarily because of the software used to create them, but because of the formatting language behind the scenes.
For example, you can create a text (.txt) file in Notepad, Wordpad or even Microsoft Word. The format of the file is "plain text." Along the same lines, you can create a Web page in Macromedia Dreamweaver, Adobe GoLive or even Notepad, as long as the format is hypertext markup language or HTML (.htm or .html). By putting special HTML codes into the page, a browser can read the file.
A Web site can be made up of one or many HTML files stored in a folder on a Web server. You add links into a Web page that connect it to other pages within your site or to any other page on the Internet. Adding photos and other graphics is actually just linking a picture into the HTML page. When you see Web pages with red x's or empty boxes where the pictures should be, it means that either the photo isn't on the server or the link is pointing to the wrong place.
Many problems with Web pages stem from poor file management. When you create a site, you need to pay attention to where files are, so you don't end up with broken links and missing pictures. I'll talk more about this subject and other design issues in the next article.