Build a Website for Free

( 14 )

Overview

Build yourself a state-of-the-art website.

It’s incredibly easy...and it won’t cost you a dime!

You need a website. But you don’t need the hassles that usually go with building one or the expense of hiring someone else to do it. Here’s your solution: Build a Website for Free! You’ll learn how you can use new Web 2.0 technologies to create a site that’s impressive and effective. And here’s the best part: You’ll...

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Overview

Build yourself a state-of-the-art website.

It’s incredibly easy...and it won’t cost you a dime!

You need a website. But you don’t need the hassles that usually go with building one or the expense of hiring someone else to do it. Here’s your solution: Build a Website for Free! You’ll learn how you can use new Web 2.0 technologies to create a site that’s impressive and effective. And here’s the best part: You’ll do it all with software and tools that won’t cost you a dime!

  • Plan, organize, and design a site that really works, using tools you can find for free
  • Discover the simple secrets of writing pages people want to read
  • Adapt your site for easy viewing on mobile devices
  • Use video on your site--and get someone else to pay for hosting it
  • Add an easy-to-update blog and start building your own web community
  • Quickly and easily handle “nuts and bolts” tasks, from getting your site name to uploading your content
  • Get your site picked up by Google, Yahoo!, and other search engines
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789747181
  • Publisher: Que
  • Publication date: 12/1/2010
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Bell is a Ph.D. student at Indiana University. He studies media and its effect on social relations. Before returning to school, Mark worked for 15 years in the software industry as a technical writer, trainer, and developer. He started his first web design company in 1993 and has been making pages and managing websites ever since. He is the father of Jackson, 8, and the husband of Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbins. Mark blogs at blog.markwbell.com. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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Read an Excerpt

IntroductionIntroduction

In this Introduction

  • Why This Book?
  • For Free, Really?
  • I Can’t Really Do This...Can I?
  • How to Use This Book
  • Web 101
  • What Is a Website?
  • What Is a Web Browser?

So you want to build a website for free?

If you are reading this book, you probably want to build a website (even though you might not know exactly what that is), and you want to do it for free. If you have no idea what a website really is and need some basic information, I cover this later in this introduction. If you know what a website is, you probably are more interested in the “free” part. All the software and tools in this book are free of charge. If at all possible, I choose the best free alternative and make sure you know whether there is any cost.

In the last decade, the Internet, and in particular the World Wide Web, has grown considerably. There are now millions of websites on the Internet covering all sorts of subjects, from family and business to education and entertainment. Some websites have been long-lasting and useful (yahoo.com and google.com) and others disappear as quickly as they come. You might have plans to create a website that you hope millions of people will go to, or your site’s purpose might be just to stay connected to your family members.

Why This Book?

You probably picked up this book because you have an idea in your head—an idea you want to share on the World Wide Web in the form of a website. You might have a fully formed idea in your head or just a kernel of that idea, but you have a starting point. Maybe you have been given the job of creating a website and have no idea where to start. Regardless of your reason for creating a site, this book will help you understand the process of how those ideas become a website and then walk you through creating five different sites for very specific purposes. These sites include a basic website, a blog, a content management system, a wiki, and a multimedia website. You might not know or care about all these, but this book will show you how to build them for free. This book covers how to plan, design, build, and maintain a website, and it does it using the cheapest, or even free, tools. With simple step-by-step instructions, you will be up and running on the World Wide Web before you know it.

For Free, Really?

You’re probably wondering how much this is going to cost.

Different people and websites will promise you the lowest prices possible on website tools, hosting, and creation. It used to be that the more you invested the more options you had. In the last five years, though, open source and free software have been flooding the World Wide Web and allowing people to create fun, interesting, dynamic web pages for very little money. This book tries to use free software as much as possible. If people are giving away quality software, you should use it.

Open Source Software

In the last section I threw out the term “open source software,” and you’re probably wondering what the heck that is.

Most software, including your operating system, word processor, and web browser, is more than likely developed according to a traditional software model. Software is traditionally created by a bunch of guys who run a software company, which runs on money. The people who run the company pay programmers to write and test software, and they employ marketing and sales people to sell their products to you, the consumer. Most software has been developed this way since the mid-1980s.

But change has been taking hold. Some people call this a revolution and others just a fad, but in reality, open source is here to stay. Open source software is created by teams of people working for free, and it is given away to anyone for free. More than that, open source projects also give away the parts that make up software, or “source code,” which a traditional company keeps secret. The theory behind all this is that the more people programming, editing, and using the open source software, the better it becomes. Also, when the work is distributed among thousands of people, most of whom will never meet, the workload per person is drastically reduced. Don’t tell the traditional software industry, but their programmers are working for them and then going home at night and doing the same thing for free!

In this book, as much as possible we will be using open-source software because it is usually free and, surprisingly, is some of the highest quality stuff available. There are open-source operating systems, web browsers, graphics applications, and even website management tools. These are all covered throughout this book.

With each piece of software I recommend, I will list where to find the latest version, what the major features are, and its cost, if any.

Is This Legal?

Your next question might be, “If I am getting this stuff for free, isn’t that stealing?” I am not advocating or recommending that anyone steal or pirate software. All the software I recommend is given away for free. The software industry is full of hard-working people who deserve to be paid for their work. If there is a price for software, I will let you know. In instances where there is a cost, I will provide a free alternative and let you know the differences.

I Can’t Really Do This...Can I?

In my years of teaching software in the corporate and academic world, I have heard people say they can’t do some computer task that they need or want to do because of this or that reason. Some people say they are afraid of computers or “just don’t get them,” some blame the hardware, and some just say they can’t understand these crazy things. This book is designed to get even the most apprehensive would-be website developer, who has no special qualifications or knowledge, up and running in no time. Each task is explained to you in easy-to-understand instructions.

How to Use This Book

Throughout this book, you will find special little notes to help you along the way.

Tips and Cautions

Tip - Tips contain little bits of information that will give you extra knowledge or save you time or money. They are not mandatory things but you should pay attention to them.

Caution - Cautions, on the other hand, are very important to pay attention to. A caution is must-read information that you need to know before proceeding with the task at hand. Please pay close attention to them.

Geek Speak

The world of computers and the culture that surrounds them are full of jargon. It is almost as though acronyms and arcane terms are the fuel that the software industry uses. When the terminology gets techy in the book, the Geek Speak sections decipher the lingo for you and use common, simple words to explain what is going on.

Geek Speak - These notes act as a mini-translator into the world of computer geeks.

Web 101

This book is trying to make it as simple and cheap as possible for you to create a website. To make sure this can happen we need to cover some basics, including how the Internet and web work. You may use the Internet every day but not know what it really is. For me, a basic understanding of the basic building blocks of the web helps me build better websites.

If you already know how the Internet works and what a web page and website are, skip ahead to Chapter 1, “The Order of Things.” But if you want a quick refresher on some basic Internet facts, read over this section before moving on to the rest of the book.

What Is the Internet?

Can you even remember a time before the Internet existed? Depending on your age, the answer may vary, but how did we ever get along without it? Think about trying to find a new restaurant to go to before the Internet was around. You would have to look in the Restaurant section of the yellow pages, use a map to find the street where the restaurant was, and then devise your own directions to get there. With the Internet, you can not only do most of that with the click of a button, but you can read the menu, see pictures of the interior, and you might even be able to make reservations—all without leaving the house. But what is this incredibly useful thing we call the Internet?

The Internet is simply the largest network of computers in existence. These computers all speak a similar language and share information easily. That’s it. You don’t need to know the history or the technology beyond that. When your modem connects you to the Internet, your computer becomes part of the computer network known as the Internet. You might have a local network at work or home, but that local network can be connected to the Internet.

What Is the World Wide Web?

People talk about the web and the Internet as if they were the same thing. They aren’t. As mentioned previously, the Internet is a network of computers. The World Wide Web is a method of viewing the information on those networked computers. The World Wide Web is a collection of certain files on certain computers in the network of computers. These files contain information that, when referred to collectively, is called the World Wide Web (see Figure 1).

FIGURE 1
The Internet is made of web servers to which you connect with your computer.

What Is a Web Page?

The World Wide Web is then made up of web pages. A web page is a file of information that can be accessed and displayed on your computer. When you go to amazon.com, you are accessing a file on an Amazon computer, and the information in that file is being displayed on your computer. When you go surfing on the web, you are connecting to a bunch of different computers, all transferring files to your computer.

Geek Speak - Ever wonder why so many pages start with “www”? It is just technical shorthand to tell your web browser you are looking for something on the World Wide Web. It isn’t even needed. Most web browsers will find the site whether you type www or not.

What Is a Website?

Basically, a website is a collection of web pages stored on a particular computer (called a web server) and accessed by outside computers. The site creator puts the files on the web server. A web server is just a computer with special software that allows others to view your web page when they go to the address of the web server. When you go to cnn.com there is a collection of pages that make up the website for the CNN television network.

FIGURE 2
A website is made of web pages.

What Is a Web Browser?

A web browser is a piece of software on your computer that you use to access web pages on websites. All computers include at least one web browser as part of the preinstalled software. A web browser is the tool you use to view websites, and more and more often it is also a tool to help you create websites.

Several different browsers are available to you. A good website developer (that’s you) will be familiar with all the major types, and more than likely will have them installed on a computer used for testing. If you are serious about web development, you need to get and keep the latest versions of browser software on your computer. You also need to be aware of each browser’s unique features and limitations. The most common browsers are

  • Internet Explorer (Microsoft)—http://www.microsoft.com/ie/
  • Firefox (Mozilla)—http://www.firefox.com
  • Safari (Apple)—http://www.apple.com/safari/
  • Opera (Opera)—http://www.opera.com/
  • Flock (Flock)—http://flock.com/
  • Chrome (Google)—http://chrome.google.com

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I: The Basics

1 The Order of Things 11

The Website Creation Process 12

1. Planning 12

2. Design 13

3. Building 14

4. Testing 14

5. Promotion and Maintenance 14

2 Choosing a Location for Your Site 17

Web Hosting 17

What Is a Web Server? 18

Determining Your Web Hosting Need 19

Cost 19

Technical Knowledge Required 19

Maintenance Needs 19

Storage Space 19

Accessibility 20

Bandwidth Needs 20

Domain Name Service 20

Hosting Options 21

Home Hosting 21

Free Online Hosting 21

Online Hosting Service 21

Professional Hosting 22

Commercial Hosting 22

So What Works Best for You? 22

Working with Different Types of Hosting Services 23

Free Services 23

Low-Cost Commercial Sites 25

Other Resources 26

Part II: Plan and Prep

3 Planning Your Site 29

What Type of Site Do You Want to Build? 30

Types of Sites 30

Learning from Sites You Go To 33

Website Goals 34

Organizing Websites 35

Organizing the Site 36

Organizing the Page 37

Best Practices of Website Organization 38

Keep Your Website Simple 38

Keep Your Website Consistent 39

Keep Your Website Easy to Maintain 39

4 Designing Your Site 41

I Can’t Make a Website That Looks That Good! 42

Content Before Design 42

Overall Design 43

Design Ideas 43

Central Image Design 43

Colors 43

The Magic Four 44

Hex Color 44

Color Schemes 45

Color Blindness 47

Fonts 48

System Fonts 48

Fonts as Images 49

Fonts and Color 50

Images 50

Cascading Style Sheets 51

Design Best Practices 51

Content Is King 51

Put What Is New Front and Center 51

Keep It Simple 51

Don’t Use Attention Grabbers 51

Be Consistent 52

5 Gathering Your Tools 53

Finding the Right Tools for the Job 54

Tool Sites and Reviews 54

Downloading New Software 54

Essential Tools 55

Operating Systems 55

Web Browsers 56

Office Suites 56

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Programs 57

Text Editor 58

Graphics Editors 59

HTML Editors 59

Sound Recorders 61

Video Editing 61

Advanced Tools 61

The Future of Free Web Tools 62

6 Moving Files to and from the Internet 63

Storing Your Files 64

Naming Files 64

Keep All Your Web Files in One Place 65

Have an Organizational Structure 65

Use a Version Control System 66

Uploading Files to the Internet 66

Logging In 67

Adding New Files 67

Changing Existing Files 67

Downloading Files from an FTP Server 68

One File or Many 69

Downloading from a Browser 69

Types of Download Files 69

Best Practices for Downloading Files 71

Part III: Website Building Basics

7 Elements of a Website 75

Content 76

Content Best Practices 76

Content Standards 77

Parts of a Web Page 78

Title 78

Header 79

Body 79

Footer 80

Sidebars 80

Navigational Elements 82

Parts of a Website 83

Home Page 83

Content Pages 84

Web Advertising 85

Banner Ads 85

Animated Ads 85

Google AdSense 86

8 Using Existing Websites 89

Social Networking Sites 90

MySpace 90

Facebook 96

Other Web 2.0 Sites 101

Flickr 101

Twitter 102

Delicious.com 103

9 Web Page Services 105

Google Sites 106

Signing Up for Google Sites 106

Creating a Google Site 108

Editing a Page 111

Creating a Page 113

Move a Page 114

Delete a Page 114

Edit Page Settings 114

Edit Site Settings 115

Google Sites Features and Limitations 116

Wetpaint 116

Signing Up for Wetpaint 116

Creating a Site on Wetpaint 118

Editing a Page 119

Wetpaint Features and Limitations 120

Netvibes 120

Signing Up for Netvibes 120

Personalizing Your Netvibes Page 122

10 HTML 101 123

The Structure of HTML 124

The Structure of Tags 125

Common HTML Tags 126

HTML Structure Tags 126

Text Tags 127

Lists 129

Tables 130

Hyperlinks 132

Images 132

Free HTML Editors 132

Text Editors 133

WYSIWYG Editors 134

Resources 135

The Latest Version of HTML 136

11 Working with Images 137

Web Graphics 138

Lossy and Lossless Compression 138

The Image Tag 140

Background Images 141

Image Maps 141

Animated GIFs 141

Optimizing Images 142

Resizing Images 142

When to Use Different File Types 142

Slicing Images 143

Finding Images 143

Free Images 143

Other People’s Images 143

Using Your Own Images 144

12 Working with Multimedia 145

Digital Audio Files 147

Audio Formats 147

Audio Players 148

Digitizing Audio 149

Audio Editing 149

Audio Resources 150

Digital Video Files 150

Video Formats 151

Video Players 151

Digitizing Video 152

Video Editing 153

Video Hosting Sites 154

Video Resources 155

13 Building a Site Using HTML 157

How Web Pages Work 158

Page File 158

Extensions 158

Tools for Creating Web Pages 158

Parts of a Page 159

Cascading Style Sheets 167

Format of a Style Sheet 167

Creating and Linking a Style Sheet 168

Scripting 170

Using Templates 170

14 How’d They Do That? 171

Viewing Code from Other Websites 172

Web Development Firefox Add-Ons 172

Recommended Firefox Web Development Add-Ons 173

Recommended Chrome Web Development Add-Ons 176

Recommended Safari Web Development Add-Ons 177

Badges 178

Templates 180

Developer Networks and Sites 181

15 Making Your Site Mobile 183

Why Should You Care About the Mobile Web? 184

How People Access the Mobile Web 184

Become a Mobile Web User 184

Mobile Web Devices (MWD) 185

Mobile Operating Systems 186

Mobile Browsers 187

Limitations of the Mobile Web 189

Making Your Website Mobile 189

Mobile Browser Detection 190

Domains and Subdomains 190

Use the Right Code 191

Page Sizes 191

Interface 191

Things to Avoid 192

Mobile Web Tools and Sites 192

Testing Your Site on a Mobile Phone 193

Part IV: Site Testing and Maintenance

16 Testing Your Website 197

Why Testing Is Important 198

Building a Test Plan 199

Start at the End 199

Testing Basic Functionality 199

Testing HTML 200

Testing Browsers 201

Testing Resolution 202

Testing Printing 203

Testing Navigation 203

Testing Consistency of Design 204

Testing Security 205

Testing Mobile Web 205

Testing Accessibility 206

After Testing 206

Testing Tools 206

17 Promoting Your Website 209

Self-Promotion 210

Have Excellent and Unique Content 210

Update Content 210

Publicize Your URL 211

Connect with Others 212

Search Engines 214

How Search Engines Work 214

Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines 216

Keywords 216

18 Maintaining Your Website 219

What? I’m Not Done? 219

Regular Maintenance 220

Weekly Tasks 220

Monthly Tasks 220

Annual Tasks 220

The Power of Analytics 221

Common Analytics and What They Mean 221

Using Google Analytics 222

Tweaking Your Site Based on Analytics 228

Part V: Website Workshop

19 Building a Blog Using WordPress 231

What Is a Blog? 232

Why Should I Blog? 232

Blog Publishing 232

Syndication 233

What Is WordPress? 233

Software Versions 233

Five Reasons to Use WordPress.com to Host Your Blog 233

Five Reasons to Create Your Blog Using WordPress Software 234

Building a Blog Using WordPress.com 234

Signing Up for WordPress.com 235

Activating Your Account 239

Logging In to Your Blog 240

Writing Blog Posts 241

Managing Blog Posts 243

Changing the Design of Your Blog 244

Manage the Comments on Your Blog 245

Setting Up Your Own Blog with WordPress Software 246

Information You Need Before You Begin 246

How WordPress Software Works 246

How Much Does All This Cost? 247

Before Installing Your Software 247

Confirm That the Right Software Is Installed on Your Server 247

Get a Text Editor 248

Get an FTP Client 248

Pick a Username and Password 248

Download and Install WordPress 248

Download WordPress Software 248

Customization of WordPress 249

Adding Themes 249

Adding Plug-Ins 250

Personalization of WordPress 251

Modifying Themes 251

Creating Themes 252

Creating Plug-Ins 253

Blogging on Your iPhone 253

Keep an Eye on Things 253

20 Building a Business Site Using a Content Management System 255

Five Reasons to Use SocialGO as Your CMS 256

Five Reasons to Use Joomla as Your CMS 257

What Is SocialGO? 257

Building a Social Network with SocialGO 258

Sign Up for SocialGO 258

Invite Friends 260

Add Photos and Video 261

Start Admin Center 262

Building a Site with Joomla 264

Before Installing Your Joomla Software 265

Download and Install Joomla 265

Adding Articles 267

Managing Users 268

Modules, Plug-Ins, and Templates 269

Keep an Eye on Things 270

21 Building a Multimedia Website 271

Best Practices for Multimedia 272

Using Multimedia 273

Storing Multimedia Files 274

Downloading Audio and Video Files 275

Streaming Audio and Video 276

Advanced Multimedia Options 279

Wix.com (www.wix.com) 279

Webtrends Apps (www.transpond.com/) 279

Advanced Open-Source Multimedia 279

22 Building a Site Using a Wiki 281

Five Reasons to Use PBworks to Host Your Wiki 282

Five Reasons to Use MediaWiki for Your Wiki 283

What Is PBworks? 283

Building a Wiki Using PBworks 284

Signing Up for PBworks 284

Activating Your Account 286

Editing a Page 287

Adding a Page 288

Linking Pages 289

Viewing Page History 290

Setting Up Your Own Wiki Using MediaWiki Software 291

Information You Need Before You Begin 292

MediaWiki Software Architecture 292

Before Installing Your MediaWiki Software 292

Download and Install MediaWiki 293

Keep an Eye on Things 295

Part VI: Appendixes

A List of the Most Common HTML Tags 299

B Free and Open-Source Software Sites 303

History of Open Source 304

Open-Source News 304

General Open-Source Sites 304

Operating Systems 304

Web Browsers 304

Office Suites 305

File Transfer Tools 305

Text Editors 305

Graphics Editors 305

HTML Editors 305

Video Editors 306

Sound Recording 306

Web Servers 306

Database Tools 306

Blog Software 306

CMS Software 307

Wiki Software 307

Script Tools 307

Index 309

Read More Show Less

Preface

IntroductionIntroduction

In this Introduction


  • Why This Book?
  • For Free, Really?
  • I Can’t Really Do This...Can I?
  • How to Use This Book
  • Web 101
  • What Is a Website?
  • What Is a Web Browser?

So you want to build a website for free?

If you are reading this book, you probably want to build a website (even though you might not know exactly what that is), and you want to do it for free. If you have no idea what a website really is and need some basic information, I cover this later in this introduction. If you know what a website is, you probably are more interested in the “free” part. All the software and tools in this book are free of charge. If at all possible, I choose the best free alternative and make sure you know whether there is any cost.

In the last decade, the Internet, and in particular the World Wide Web, has grown considerably. There are now millions of websites on the Internet covering all sorts of subjects, from family and business to education and entertainment. Some websites have been long-lasting and useful (yahoo.com and google.com) and others disappear as quickly as they come. You might have plans to create a website that you hope millions of people will go to, or your site’s purpose might be just to stay connected to your family members.

Why This Book?

You probably picked up this book because you have an idea in your head—an idea you want to share on the World Wide Web in the form of a website. You might have a fully formed idea in your head or just a kernel of that idea, but you have a starting point. Maybe you have been giventhe job of creating a website and have no idea where to start. Regardless of your reason for creating a site, this book will help you understand the process of how those ideas become a website and then walk you through creating five different sites for very specific purposes. These sites include a basic website, a blog, a content management system, a wiki, and a multimedia website. You might not know or care about all these, but this book will show you how to build them for free. This book covers how to plan, design, build, and maintain a website, and it does it using the cheapest, or even free, tools. With simple step-by-step instructions, you will be up and running on the World Wide Web before you know it.

For Free, Really?

You’re probably wondering how much this is going to cost.

Different people and websites will promise you the lowest prices possible on website tools, hosting, and creation. It used to be that the more you invested the more options you had. In the last five years, though, open source and free software have been flooding the World Wide Web and allowing people to create fun, interesting, dynamic web pages for very little money. This book tries to use free software as much as possible. If people are giving away quality software, you should use it.

Open Source Software

In the last section I threw out the term “open source software,” and you’re probably wondering what the heck that is.

Most software, including your operating system, word processor, and web browser, is more than likely developed according to a traditional software model. Software is traditionally created by a bunch of guys who run a software company, which runs on money. The people who run the company pay programmers to write and test software, and they employ marketing and sales people to sell their products to you, the consumer. Most software has been developed this way since the mid-1980s.

But change has been taking hold. Some people call this a revolution and others just a fad, but in reality, open source is here to stay. Open source software is created by teams of people working for free, and it is given away to anyone for free. More than that, open source projects also give away the parts that make up software, or “source code,” which a traditional company keeps secret. The theory behind all this is that the more people programming, editing, and using the open source software, the better it becomes. Also, when the work is distributed among thousands of people, most of whom will never meet, the workload per person is drastically reduced. Don’t tell the traditional software industry, but their programmers are working for them and then going home at night and doing the same thing for free!

In this book, as much as possible we will be using open-source software because it is usually free and, surprisingly, is some of the highest quality stuff available. There are open-source operating systems, web browsers, graphics applications, and even website management tools. These are all covered throughout this book.

With each piece of software I recommend, I will list where to find the latest version, what the major features are, and its cost, if any.

Is This Legal?

Your next question might be, “If I am getting this stuff for free, isn’t that stealing?” I am not advocating or recommending that anyone steal or pirate software. All the software I recommend is given away for free. The software industry is full of hard-working people who deserve to be paid for their work. If there is a price for software, I will let you know. In instances where there is a cost, I will provide a free alternative and let you know the differences.

I Can’t Really Do This...Can I?

In my years of teaching software in the corporate and academic world, I have heard people say they can’t do some computer task that they need or want to do because of this or that reason. Some people say they are afraid of computers or “just don’t get them,” some blame the hardware, and some just say they can’t understand these crazy things. This book is designed to get even the most apprehensive would-be website developer, who has no special qualifications or knowledge, up and running in no time. Each task is explained to you in easy-to-understand instructions.

How to Use This Book

Throughout this book, you will find special little notes to help you along the way.

Tips and Cautions

Tip - Tips contain little bits of information that will give you extra knowledge or save you time or money. They are not mandatory things but you should pay attention to them.

Caution - Cautions, on the other hand, are very important to pay attention to. A caution is must-read information that you need to know before proceeding with the task at hand. Please pay close attention to them.

Geek Speak

The world of computers and the culture that surrounds them are full of jargon. It is almost as though acronyms and arcane terms are the fuel that the software industry uses. When the terminology gets techy in the book, the Geek Speak sections decipher the lingo for you and use common, simple words to explain what is going on.

Geek Speak - These notes act as a mini-translator into the world of computer geeks.

Web 101

This book is trying to make it as simple and cheap as possible for you to create a website. To make sure this can happen we need to cover some basics, including how the Internet and web work. You may use the Internet every day but not know what it really is. For me, a basic understanding of the basic building blocks of the web helps me build better websites.

If you already know how the Internet works and what a web page and website are, skip ahead to Chapter 1, “The Order of Things.” But if you want a quick refresher on some basic Internet facts, read over this section before moving on to the rest of the book.

What Is the Internet?

Can you even remember a time before the Internet existed? Depending on your age, the answer may vary, but how did we ever get along without it? Think about trying to find a new restaurant to go to before the Internet was around. You would have to look in the Restaurant section of the yellow pages, use a map to find the street where the restaurant was, and then devise your own directions to get there. With the Internet, you can not only do most of that with the click of a button, but you can read the menu, see pictures of the interior, and you might even be able to make reservations—all without leaving the house. But what is this incredibly useful thing we call the Internet?

The Internet is simply the largest network of computers in existence. These computers all speak a similar language and share information easily. That’s it. You don’t need to know the history or the technology beyond that. When your modem connects you to the Internet, your computer becomes part of the computer network known as the Internet. You might have a local network at work or home, but that local network can be connected to the Internet.

What Is the World Wide Web?

People talk about the web and the Internet as if they were the same thing. They aren’t. As mentioned previously, the Internet is a network of computers. The World Wide Web is a method of viewing the information on those networked computers. The World Wide Web is a collection of certain files on certain computers in the network of computers. These files contain information that, when referred to collectively, is called the World Wide Web (see Figure 1).

FIGURE 1
The Internet is made of web servers to which you connect with your computer.

What Is a Web Page?

The World Wide Web is then made up of web pages. A web page is a file of information that can be accessed and displayed on your computer. When you go to amazon.com, you are accessing a file on an Amazon computer, and the information in that file is being displayed on your computer. When you go surfing on the web, you are connecting to a bunch of different computers, all transferring files to your computer.

Geek Speak - Ever wonder why so many pages start with “www”? It is just technical shorthand to tell your web browser you are looking for something on the World Wide Web. It isn’t even needed. Most web browsers will find the site whether you type www or not.

What Is a Website?

Basically, a website is a collection of web pages stored on a particular computer (called a web server) and accessed by outside computers. The site creator puts the files on the web server. A web server is just a computer with special software that allows others to view your web page when they go to the address of the web server. When you go to cnn.com there is a collection of pages that make up the website for the CNN television network.

FIGURE 2
A website is made of web pages.

What Is a Web Browser?

A web browser is a piece of software on your computer that you use to access web pages on websites. All computers include at least one web browser as part of the preinstalled software. A web browser is the tool you use to view websites, and more and more often it is also a tool to help you create websites.

Several different browsers are available to you. A good website developer (that’s you) will be familiar with all the major types, and more than likely will have them installed on a computer used for testing. If you are serious about web development, you need to get and keep the latest versions of browser software on your computer. You also need to be aware of each browser’s unique features and limitations. The most common browsers are

  • Internet Explorer (Microsoft)—http://www.microsoft.com/ie/
  • Firefox (Mozilla)—http://www.firefox.com
  • Safari (Apple)—http://www.apple.com/safari/
  • Opera (Opera)—http://www.opera.com/
  • Flock (Flock)—http://flock.com/
  • Chrome (Google)—http://chrome.google.com

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Very Useful For The Novice!

    This is a great book to get you started off designing your own website!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2014

    My Favorite Website

    naturegirlscrittercorner. blogspot . com
    <p>
    It's really good. About CRITTERS!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2013

    Seriously?

    THE WEBSITE WOULD NOT BE FREE BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO BUY THE BOOK

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    build website & hostinng

    dengan mengelolo website sendiri anda dapat berkreasi beragam hal secara online

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2010

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    Posted July 17, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2010

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    Posted March 17, 2011

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    Posted August 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2010

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