Guide to starting a website.

Introduction

Andy HamiltonYou may have been using the web for some time now and thought, I can make a better website than that. So why don't you? This site is the result of two brothers deciding to do just that. What I could have done with at the very start was a few basics to get me started, luckily I have a friend who designs website for a living so he was a huge help. To see some of his work look at gurn.net. I have tried to make this article as simple as possible so that anyone can follow it and hopefully publish their own site by the time you have read it. You may also want to check out my guide to promoting a website.

Domain name

The first thing you need is a domain name, this is the name of your site for example our domain name is selfsufficientish.com. Think long and hard about this as you will be stuck with it. Think of something that tells the person who visits your site about your site and something that is easy to remember. For example is you want a site all about pea pod wine then you might want to call it peapodwine.com. (no one else owns that domain so why not you?) To ensure that no-one else owns your chosen domain name check the whois directory.

You then have to register your domain name. Have a search by typing register a domain name into google, don't go for the first one you as it is very easy to get ripped off. When looking I could have paid anything up to $600 a year for ours I ended up paying very much less for 5 years. As a ball park figure I would say don't pay over $100. Bear in mind that the price can vary according to what you are dot, what I mean is a .com is far more expensive than a .de or a .org and a .tv can be more expensive than a .com.

Hosting

Once you have your domain name registered you will need to look for someone to host it. The host is the server that your data is stored for 24 hour access. It is basically where your site lives. Again shop around when looking for a host, there are people out there charging an absolute fortune for doing nothing. Try not to get ripped off, search for a week until you decide if you have to, there are bargains out there if you look for them.

Publishing your site

Unless you are a HTML or CSS whiz you will need a program that helps you to publish your site. I am guessing that as you are reading this you probably don't know what HTML or CSS mean. They are simply terms for the code, or computer language, that browsers can read when you surf the net. All website's are written in these or similar code. There are a few applications out there to help you I personally like to use Dreamweaver, I have also tried to use Abobe Go Live, its ok but I just get on better with Dreamweaver.

Whatever application you choose to help you write your site I would recommend going down your library and getting a book on it, just so you can understand the basics. However I will tell you how to write a basic page like this in easy bullet points.

That's about it for a simple page.

And for a page that will look like this.

I highlighed all the text on the page and then cut it.(from the simple page) Then I clicked on insert, scrolled down to Layout objects and chose Layer. This inserts a layer onto your page. I then sesized it to fit my text and pasted my text on. This gives me a chance to put the google adverts that I have on the right and our logo with some links. To do this I have to insert a new layer and drag it over to the right hand side of my first layer. I never bother to resize it as you don't really have to, just for a few links and a pic.

To put on our logo I clicked insert - image and found the file I needed, this can be any .gif or .jpg file. Be carefull not to choose a big file though as this wil take a long time to load and people will not want to return to your site. After choosing your picture you will be invited to type in the alt tag, this is the alternative text for your picture. This is invaluable information for partically sited people who use text only browsers. Also some search engines like to see alt tags. It is basically a description on your image. For example if it is a picture of a man you should write "a man". It is as simple as that.

For Links I wrote what each leads to, then highlighted them then in the top right hand corner of your selection properties box is thing that says links here is where you type the page or website reference that you are linking to. If it is a page on your own site then you have to type its name, this is called website.htm and that is where this link will take you.Did you notice that it also opened in a new page? This is because on the box that says target, I chose _blank, that means open in a new browser page. (I normally don't put anything in that box, I thought I would tell you in case you needed to know). If you are linking to another website then you have to put in the full Url (in the link box) for example I would type http://www.gurn.net to link to my mate Rowans site.

To stick the google ads and earn some revenue, (not much) then visit google adverts get their code and just copy it and paste as HTML.

FTP

This is the File Transfer Protocol, it basically is a program that works almost like a phone allowing your computer to 'talk' to the server. When you set up with your host they will give you a username and password this you need to log onto your FTP client. I use a program called fetch for my FTP client, this is only available on the mac as far as I know. There is a also an FTP client in dreamweaver but I have not got round to setting it up on my computer. PC users will find an abundance of FTP applications out there that are free to download, put your trust in google to find you one.

Once you have found you FTP application you should find it very easy to use. After typing in your username and password, click on put files to publish your pages. To set up a home page, i.e. the page that will come up when people look at your domain name, just call it index.html or index.htm.

Getting listed

Goggle should list you automatically, ensure that you have a title for each page and that you have no dead links on your page. We also applied to dmoz.org an open source directory edited by people to get our site listed with them as recommend by google. What we did not know was that as soon as we did this we would be listed on a load of other search engines too, not just the big ones like Yahoo but loads of strange ones with the same format as dmoz such as citybay.com a polish one called poznan and even a welsh search engine called midwales.com. This is all good news as each time someone links to you your google ranking goes up, which means more people visit your site. So with that in mind, if you want to link to us please do so and we will consider linking back to you if your site is trying to do a similar thing to ours. Obviously, we are not going to link to any site that promotes anything corporate, or that is against our prinicples so don't ask us to. Please contact me if you would like us to link to you heres my e-mail.

I have also found that putting something called meta tags on your site also helps you get visitors. If you look at the HTML code of your page, (if you are using dream weaver click on code to see this) you will see at the top something that say <head> if you scroll down a bit you will see this </head> in between this coding you need to put your meta tags. This is easier than you think, thanks to this site I found. This is the meta tags for this webpage.

<meta name="description" content="Guide to starting a website">
<meta name="keywords" content="meta tags,website,ftp,keywords,domain name,publishing,">
<meta name="robots"content="index,follow">
<meta name="copyright" content="Copyright 2004, selfsufficientish. All Rights Reserved.">
<meta name="author" content="Andy Hamilton">
<meta name="language" content="English">
<meta name="revisit-after" content="5">

If you look at the site I site I found, you will also see other options, I don't bother as I don't see them as that important. Right I guess you might be wondering what on earth each one means. Well meta name="description" is the description of your page or site, keywords help search engines to find your site, they MUST be relivant on on your webpage or you will go down the rankings. The robots one tells the google programe to index your page and to follow all the links. Copywright gives you some kind of legal control over people stealing your hard work. Author, is self explanitory. Language is the language that google and other search engines will list you as. And the revisit after 5 is after 5 days, if you regually update your site (as I try to do) then this is a good figure. If you plan to make a site and leave it for ages then it is better to make this number larger.

And Finally

I hope that the information I have given to you here is of some use. Feel free to save or print a copy for reference. Please do not rip it off and stick it on your site. I do give some of my stuff away on wiki but duplicate pages can harm your rankings. So not being tight, just another tip for you ultimately successful site.;)

selfsufficientish.com the urban guide to self sufficiency

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Tips for self sufficiency

Frost friend and Foe
Natural face masks
No-tech Solar Oven
Harvesting your lawn
How to Plant a Tree or a Shrub in a Tub
Making a sheet metal bender
Growing and processing cotton
Making a seed raising mix at home
Allotments
Container Gardening
Flat Dwellers
 
Seer Rock Dust
Herbal and Natural Remedies
Compost
Natures Remedies for common aliments
Tips for Rented Accommodation
Tips for 1st Time Growers
Companion Planting
Getting rid of Pests
Grow anywhere using rubbish?
Making a potato clamp
Jam making
Making a pond (written guide)
Making a pond (photo guide)
Starting a Website
Establishing a Wild Flower Garden

Non-Designer's Design Book
Author - Williams.R
A lovely book which introduces the simple principles of design so that you can do it yourself.
14.99
Click here to view full book details on eco-logic books website

Recipes

Mikes Perfect British fish and chips
Weights and measures conversion chart
Oven temperatures conversion chart
 
Friendship cake starter and Fruit and nut cake
Spicy Potato Wedges and Salsa
Gill's pumpkin recipes
Wild mushroom Paté
Jacks Tomato Soup
Budget food
Tomatoes and vinegar
A Couple of recipes from Mike
Acorn flour
Dandelion & Chicken
Nettle haggis
Nettle soup

Paul's VERY famous Vegie Burgers

Elsinore bread
Sally Lunns Buns
Andy's Sage and Seed Bread
Courgette, tomato and basil tart also one of Pauls courgette recipes
Apple and blackberry crumble
Andy's egg potato
Roasted Barbeque Vegetables
Beetroot Soup

Home Brew

Jackie's Simple grape wine
Ciderish
Nettle beer
Simon Smiths Sloe Gin
Jackie's Marrow wine