The creation of the first website was a feat of technical wizardry. More than 15 years later, starting a site is simple enough for mere mortals. Jonathan Schnapp, a Web designer and instructor at New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies, explains how to make it all click:
- Find a home and address. Unlike most real estate markets, space on the Web is cheap and easy to come by. Web-hosting companies rent out room on their servers, often for a pittance. Most of these companies will also sell you a domain name, or address, and have directories on their sites so you can see what's available. Many ISPs (Internet service providers), like Yahoo and AOL, offer members a few free megabytes (translation: a whole lot) of space on the Web, but if you choose this route you won't have your own domain.
- Design it. Create a flowchart, starting with the homepage. Determine what text and images will be on each page and how the pages will link together. Try to keep fonts and colors consistent, and include headers on each page that explain where you are and link back home.
- Build it. Most hosting companies have templates that you can use when it's time to get technical. The upside is that they're virtually foolproof. The downside: You have limited control over the results. Instead, consider using Dreamweaver, a program that edits HTML code for you. Photoshop is also worth the investment if your site will include a lot of images. You can take both programs for 30-day free test runs before you commit. If you feel overwhelmed at any point, there are various outlets to turn to for guidance. Most Web hosting companies have tech support teams that will help with troubleshooting; macromedia.com and adobe.com have active message boards where seasoned developers are happy to answer questions. For face-to-face help, sign up for a basic Web design class at a local college or university.
- Share it. You'll need to use FTP (file transfer protocol) software to upload the pages you've built to your host's server for the world to see. If you have a PC, you can download it from cuteftp.com. If you have a Mac, use fetchsoftworks.com.