Archive for Friday, October 8, 1999

INTERNET - WEB-SPINNING FOR BEGINNERS ONBUDGET

October 8, 1999

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Getting your message out on the Web takes a little know-how but there are guides along the way.

Journal-World Web Producer

The World Wide Web is the fastest-growing part of the Internet; no, not the only part, as some people seem to think, just the fastest-growing. But there are still may be a few people out there without their own Web sites.

If you have a text editor or word processor, a degree of familiarity with your computer and Internet access, a couple of Web sites will show you all you need to know to get your message on the World Wide Web.

The most popular method of putting online content together is by using a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) Web authoring software application. Because of this trend toward auto-coding, many people think that a cash outlay of at least a hundred dollars or so is required to get on the Web.

Not so!

Providing you have access to the Internet, the sites reviewed below contain everything you need to know to get your own site up and running.

One of the first things you'll need to do is learn HTML, hypertext markup language -- the code that most of the Web is built with.

Now, admittedly, there are a number of free and shareware applications out there to help with HTML, but even if you use one of those time-saving tools, there is no substitute for knowing the code. HTML, with a little patience, is easy to learn.

Once you learn how to write HTML, though, please wait a minute before you succumb to the adrenaline rush and start posting pictures of your aunt Bertha's gall-bladder operation. We need to discuss a couple of other things first -- such as, why do you want your own Web site?

Many people have their own sites these days. On the Web, it is possible to find information regarding everything from mental illness to dog food, from the physical properties of Twinkies to the glory of the beloved spork.

What will your site be about? Do you have your own business? A hobby or interest you wish to expound? Want to show off your artwork or poetry? Is there an issue you feel passionately about? Maybe this will be a vanity site -- you know, "All About Me."

Once you have a topic, take time to look at your favorite Web sites and note how they are laid out.

Pay attention to loading time, ease of navigation and whatever else it is that you like about this particular collection of digital stuff. Don't be afraid to use the "save as source" option in the File menu of your browser (I recommend Netscape) so you can play with code and view it from your hard drive to see what each snippet of information does.

And remember, there are only two kinds of Webmasters -- those who steal code, and those who lie about stealing it.

Most people don't mind if you cut and paste interesting little bits of code from their site and use them on your own. Just don't use other people's content (text and graphics) without getting permission. That's called plagiarism, and it's a no-no that can result in legal action.

All that said, check out the list of Do's and Don'ts, check out the links on this page and have fun coding!

After coding your pages, you will need to download an FTP utility from someplace such as www.shareware.com and follow the instructions to upload, or check out one of the many free Web space providers.

Those include www.lawrence.com, which will build free Web sites for nonprofit organizations or design and sell sites for local businesses, www.Webjump.com, or www.geocities.com. Many other free space providers exist, as your favorite search engine can show you.

-- D. Robert Hamm is Web producer for Journal-World Web Works. His e-mail address is rhamm@ljworld.com.

Sites worth seeing

The Mechanical Monkey

http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/leuhusen/index.shtml

Peter Leuhusen of London has given us not only a handy guide to Web resources, but a shining example of a clean, low-bandwidth, graphically exciting Web site. The content is bare bones and no-nonsense, focusing on links to HTML guides, sources for graphics and Java, and all sorts of useful stuff. Leuhusen offers a bit of his own advice on Web-spinning, as well -- enough to let you create a very simple black on gray page within minutes. Of course, once you have done that, you can always follow his links to dress up the product of your labors. Leuhusen's original graphics, which he urges all comers to download, are nothing short of spectacular.

On a scale of one to 10, I give this site a 9.

The Pixel Pen

http://home.earthlink.net/~thomasareed/pixelpen/

This is it, boys and girls. While the site is not the most graphically exciting in the world, it is neatly laid out, easy to navigate and one of the best and most comprehensive guides to learning HTML that I have ever found. Whether you are a veteran Webslinger or a curious beginner, you will find the information you need to create an award-winning site. And it's all in an easy-to-follow tutorial format. The only thing standing between these pages and a 10 rating is the lack of visual wow-factor, which is a forgivable thing in light of the usefulness of the site.



WEB CONSTRUCTION DO'S AND DON'TS

Do

  • Start simple.
  • Look at other people's code.
  • Check each page of your site before you upload.
  • Check all your links.
  • Use thumbnails for larger graphics (see the Mechanical Monkey and Pixel Pen Web sites).
  • Read and follow your Web space provider's rules.

Don't

  • Use too many big graphics on the same page.
  • List personal information such as home phone number or address.
  • Clutter your page with unnecessary garbage (see http://www.cjnetworks.com/~syber/annoying/annoying.html, The World's Most Annoying Web Page for more examples of what NOT to do).

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