A Word on Web Design: Resource Guide for Beginners

You may be wondering, “What exactly is a website?” A website is a selection of pages on the internet that connect to each other through the use of hyperlinks. Naturally you may now wonder what a “hyperlink” is. A hyperlink is a way to move from one webpage to another with the click of a mouse.

In this article, you will discover what you need in order to begin the creation of your website as well as the steps in the creation process. You will learn what HTML means, what frames and tables are, and fun things to do to make your website more enticing to viewers.

What You Need to Get Started

Creating your own website requires both a computer (Mac or PC) and an Internet connection. If you want to create a website for your own business you need a more professional type of website. In this instance you need to create and register a domain name. Your domain is basically an address for your website on the World Wide Web where people can locate you. Every domain name is unique, and you must pay a fee in order to register the name for a certain number of months or years. Numerous websites are available via the Internet that will work with you to register your domain name. Once you register your name, you need to rent space on a server. The sites that offer to “host” your website are referred to as “host” or “hosting” companies. These sites make your website available on the World Wide Web. The hosting website provides you with a certain amount of web space (also referred to as disk or storage space) for your site. Web space is the amount of disk space on the web server for everything relating to your website such as text files, images and emails. It is where your Web pages exist and are accessible to everyone using the Internet. You will then need to transfer your website to the server of your host utilizing an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program. The program transfers your data into your host's server.

There is also a free option for creating a website. If your website is simply for fun, you can use a free hosting service. If you select this option, you create a sub-domain (which is part of another domain). In this instance you don't need to worry about a domain name or paying for hosting. It is a wonderful alternative. Keep in mind however that with free hosting come advertisements.

Creating a website can be as simple or as difficult as you want it to be. The creation process is where the real fun begins. There are three possibilities when building a Web page. The first option is to use a pre-made template which you are able to customize. Option number two is using an HTML editor such as Dreamweaver. Programs like Dreamweaver are easy to use but restrict you somewhat in what you are able to do. The final option is hand-coding HTML in a text editor such as Notepad (Windows) or SimpleText (Mac). These two text editors are often pre-installed on your computer. A text editor is a very basic computer program where users can create, alter and edit files.

HTML

You may be wondering “What is HTML?” HTML stands for “Hyper Text Markup Language.” Think of it as the basic foundation of web pages. Every file you see in your browser is formatted in HTML. HTML codes are “hidden” yet they help you to communicate with other World Wide Web users. HTML “tags” need to be added to your text to tell the browser how your text and graphics should appear in your document. You will always surround these “tags” with angle brackets (<  >) which are located above the comma and period on your keyboard. The words or letters inside the brackets are referred to as “elements.” Elements are the coded commands within HTML that let the browser know how to display the web page. For example, < br > lets the browser know that a line needs to be skipped.

When creating HTML code, be consistent. Either use all uppercase or all lowercase letters. HTML isn't case sensitive, but it's confusing to use both types of letters. There are two main parts of an HTML document: the head and the body. Three container tags (which wrap around text or graphics with opening and closing brackets) are necessary for every HTML document: < html >, < head > and < body >. The < html > tag is used in both the beginning and end of your file, and it tells the browser that your document is an HTML document. The < head > tag is used for general information such as the title of the document. The < body > tag is where all of your content information is held such as words and graphics. Graphics are symbols, pictures, diagrams or graphs that are formed by computer data that can be displayed, altered or stored.

Four primary container tags are necessary to create your web page: < html >, < head >, < title > and < body >. To create your first web page, you simply need to open your text editor and enter your primary tags along with text. It's as easy as that! You can also alter attributes (special codes within HTML tags) which will determine how tags will look. For example, you can change the color of your background and/or your text. The letters for background color (bgcolor) and text (text) must always be within the < body > tag. Utilizing a font tag, you can change font size, face and color. Font face is an attribute that will allow you to change the type style of a font. Times New Roman is the default type face or type style on your computer. Default means the computer will automatically use Times New Roman unless otherwise specified.

Each and every web site has a URL which stands for “Uniform Resource Locator.” This is basically an address on the web. Links are a very important part of a web site. Also known as hypertext links or hyperlinks, links take people where they want to go. With one click of the mouse, you can be taken to an entirely new place. You need two things in order to create a link: the URL or name of the file, and the link hotspot (highlighted text or graphic you click on to take you where you need to go). You also need an anchor tag < a > and < /a >. The necessary attribute for a link that must be inside the tag is “HREF” which stands for hypertext reference. There are links below that will give you much more information on creating links.

Frames

Frames allow you to separate your page into numerous rectangular sections. Each rectangle equals one frame. You can display a unique document in each and every rectangle. Frames allow you to have part of your page remain the same while other parts of your page change.

Tables

Tables are another visibly-appealing way to separate data (usually numbers) into columns or tables. People can quickly and easily scan the information inside your tables. The < table >, < / table > tags must wrap around your table of one or more columns. Again there are links listed below that will explain tables in much greater detail.

Fun Stuff

Finally, there are many fun and flashy things you can do to make your website exciting. Drop-down menus, marquees, glowing text and java script can all be used to really make your website stand apart from the rest. You can choose to make a very basic, simple website using just a few of the prior mentioned options, or you can use many of them for a truly dynamic website. The choice is yours. The following links are great resources that go into much greater depth on the individual parts of creating a website. They will all help you to create the website of your dreams.