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Website Design Basics

Did you always want to have your own website? Building a website of your own is not as hard as it may seem. If you are familiar with the Internet and have basic computing skills like creating a document in MS Word, creating folders, moving files around, etc., then you can setup a website for yourself with little difficulty.

The web pages you see in your browser window are just another type of file called HTML files. A website is just a collection of HTML files. The special thing about these files is they are connected to one another through links. Clicking on a link in a document opens another document. It is because of this nature of these files, it is called hypertext. So the process of creating a website is simply creating a number of HTML documents with the information you wish to share with the visitors of your website. And then you connect these documents together so that a visitor may move from one page to another with ease.

Simplest way of creating a HTML page is using your favorite word processor like MS Word and saving the file as "html file" or as "web page". Most word processors also allows you to select some text and create hyperlinks to other documents you have created. However, pages created in such a way have a huge size and don't look very good in the browser window.

There are many custom software for creating web pages like MS FrontpageMacromedia Dreamweaver, etc. They have a WYSIWYG interface and creating pages is a breeze. HTML pages also allows you to insert pictures, tables, etc. A quick way to create professional looking page is using ready made templates available on the Internet for free. These templates are like sample pages, you can open them in a web page editing software and put your information.

Using such softwares serves the purpose well enough in most cases. However, to get total control of the output displayed, one needs to learn the HTML language. The HTML format is a text format, i.e., you can create a page in a text editor like Windows Notepad or Vi in UNIX. It is a markup language, i.e., you can mark-up parts of text as bold, italics etc., you can insert pictures, create links etc. HTML is an acronym for Hyper Text Markup Language. The text to be displayed is simply typed in. The effects are created using tags. Eg., you want to display the phrase "its a small world" and you want to small to be italicized, then you type "its a <i>small</i> world". There are a number of other tags for creating text effects, like font, color, for creating tables, inserting pictures etc. All the web page creating software provide a WYSIWYG interface and create such tags automatically. Creating pages directly using text editors also creates much smaller files because unlike the softwares, no extra information is entered.

Now that you have the pages ready, you need to make them visible to any user on the Internet. So we put the pages we created at a place (a server in the Internet) which is accessible to any user. This process is called publishing (your web pages) or web hosting. There are different ways to go about this. One option is to go for a site like Geocities which offer you a free website; you are given a space to upload your files and the URL of your website will be like www.geocities.com/mywebsite. Instead, you can invest just a few bucks ($20-$30 annually) and have your own website, like www.mywebsite.com. To this end, you will need a web hosting service, to put your file and a domain name, the name which you want for your website. You may buy the web hosting service and domain name from the same or different companies. Read more on domain name and web hosting services.