Introduction to Web Design
This tutorial is suitable for beginners in the field of web design. It includes:
- Introduction - You are here.
- HTML - An introduction to the computer language which forms the heart of web pages. Although it's not absolutely necessary to know this stuff, you should still read this page to get an idea of how it works.
- Editors - Tools you can use to help create websites.
- Hosting - How to find a home (host server) for your website.
- Publish! - How to upload your site to the internet so that other people can visit it.
Important Note: Before taking this tutorial or attempting to build a website, you must have a basic understanding of the infrastructure which makes up the internet. You need to know what a server is, how websites exist and how people access them. If you don't understand these things you should not begin constructing your site! Instead you should take our short WWW Primer which explains it nice and simply. Then return here and carry on...
The Cost of Creating a Website
At this point, many people will be wondering one thing: What will this cost? The good news is that, apart from your normal internet connection fees, it is possible to build and operate a web site at absolutely no cost. The bad news is that it's difficult to work like this and there are severe limitations to what you can do without spending money. This tutorial will offer options for various budget levels as well as those without any budget at all.
Before we get down to business we should point out that there are two very different ways to make a website.
- The quickest and easiest way to make a site is to use an
on-line "wizard" supplied by your internet service provider (ISP) or some other organization.
To use this method, visit the internet address given to you by the organization providing the service. There you will be guided through a series of simple steps which will result in a site being constructed for you. The advantage of this method is that you don't need any skills other than using your browser. The drawback is that you are very limited in what you can do with this kind of website.
- The other approach is to construct a website on your own computer, then "upload" it to the internet so that other people can access it. This is the way most serious sites are made, and it's the method that this tutorial will cover.
Note: As the internet is such a complicated environment, these introductory tutorials tend to over-simplify explanations of how things work. You shouldn't take all our examples and illustrations too literally, but the information is conceptually sound. In time, you can choose to make the effort and build up a more technically accurate understanding.
It can all look very intimidating for the beginner, but if you know how to surf the internet and use a word processor then you should have no trouble making a website.
However, the single biggest mistake we see from beginners is trying to do too much too soon. Whatever your level of experience with computers and the internet, it's absolutely critical that you take things slowly and don't get ahead of yourself. Website construction is a minefield. If you have a map you'll be fine, but if you think it looks easy and go charging in you'll end up coming apart!
Many software applications will tell you that web design is easy. It's common to see claims such as "Make your own website in minutes -- no experience necessary!". In our opinion these claims are misleading -- you simply can't learn enough in a few minutes to have any chance of success. You can learn the basics in an hour or so, but you'll need a lot longer if you want to be any good.
People often ask us to recommend a computer program which will allow them to create fantastic websites. They sometimes show us a website they like and say "I want a program that will make sites like this." This scenario is somewhat like taking a photo of a house into a hardware shop and saying "I want a hammer which will make a house like this".
So here's the first reality check: There is no such thing as a program which makes good sites. Although some programs are more helpful than others, in the end it's up to you. Good websites aren't impressive because they were made with a good program, they are impressive because they were made by an experienced person. To make a great site you need to do a great deal of learning. There are no shortcuts.
If you're still keen, carry on to Step 2: HTML