Target Audience: This Article is intended for computer literate persons who are not familiar with web page creation, but would like to get started. The article focuses on Apple i-Mac users. For PC users, much of this information is helpful and Q&A #7 at the bottom is for you!
Introduction: When I shifted from PC to Mac, I was delighted; but, soon found that my suite of web software was not available for Mac. In the next few weeks, I replaced all my favourites with new favourites in the Apple flavour. The Mac products are very good; and often far ahead of PC competition. My selections were not the newest thing, but they were all good & were reasonably priced.
This article provides:
Along the way, I will also include discussions to help you decide the approach among the many alternatives.
How Difficult is Web Page Creation? Difficult comes in two flavours. First is the technical complexity of the task. Second is the broadness of knowledge required for the task. Learning Japanese is not terribly difficult; but, there sure is a lot of it! Thus, Japanese is quite broad, but not terribly complex. Creating Web pages is broad but not deep. It is at the extreme "easy" end of the programming spectrum. It is really more of a "tagging language" than a programming language; but, there are some similarities to programming.
What skills are required?
Getting Started: Learning html is not very difficult but it is a "hands on learning experience". You MUST try the examples on your computer as you are learning; or the commands will not 'sink into your head'. Getting started is easy & not very expensive if you already have a computer. You can create & display web pages without any special software at all; but, I will show you inexpensive software that will make the job easier. Also, it will be easy for you to view your web pages on your own computer even before you have web space (i.e. you can view web pages right off your own hard drive, using your Safari, or FireFox). Once you get an understanding of basic HTML page creation language, do an Internet search of "Search Engine Optimization (or SEO)" so you know how to create a web page that someone can actually find on the Internet. This consideration forces additional requirements on you, for example you MUST have decent and complete meta data up in the header of your web page. You should use the H1 Big Header tag exactly once on a web page ... These thngs are important if you want search engines to actually find and display your web page where other people can find it.
Learning HTML the programming language of Web Pages: I recommend you buy a used copy of highly rated book on Learning HTML; but make sure it was printed within the last five years. Alternatively, the good people at W3 Schools have wonderful educational material for HTML and other computer languages. You can access it free using the internet.
Recommended Software: I recommend you download/buy the following software for your Mac. All of it is available at reasonable cost either directly from Apple, or from other reputable software vendors. Most suppliers allow you a free trial period before purchase. The items listed below are what I used to create my website and they were downloaded from internet links. In many cases, you can buy the same products directly from the Apple "App Store" which will provide added security against malware & virus attacks.
Should I download all of the software at once? No! Don't do that!
Start with CodeRunner. This is the one to build web pages. When you start adding photos, you will need photo processing software because images off your phone will be either too big or too small. You may want to sharpen the images or turn them to B&W. If your web page features lots of drawings, you will need a tool for that. Below, I provide a description of the main software products I recommend, in the order of importance:
There are many software tools available that can do any of the jobs listed above. If you have something you like, try it! The list above is just the combination of tools that I have found powerful, affordable and easy to use.
What Web Server Service Should I Use?: There are many good web services available. The one that is good for you will depend on what you want to do & how much various services will charge you. If you are reading this, you are connected to the Internet in some manner. Your existing web service (what you are using now) may have free (and limited) web hosting available to you (so go find out). Below, I discuss some of the needs that you may have.
If you need something more than 'free' will give you, two popular services are "InMotion Hosting" and a second well known one is "Go Daddy". You would likely be happy with either. Before choosing a service, you need to think about the following questions:
What are Script Languages & How do they work? HTML, is the language of web pages. It is able to create web pages with text, photos and links to other web pages. It has little ability to accept user input, save user information to a data base, make "moving images" on the screen etc. If you want to do those kinds of things, a script language (such as Java Script or PHP) is used. With Java Script, the entire script is downloaded and executed on the "viewing person's" computer. As a result, it can do things pretty fast. Because it runs on the "viewer's computer" it is called a "host side script language".
By contrast, PHP executes the script on the computer that hosts your web pages (i.e. it runs on your "server service computer"). It is called a "server side script language." When PHP runs, it creates the html that is sent out to the viewer's computer (i.e. none of the script code is downloaded). PHP can do things like save user information to a secure data base. In general, the complexity involved in writing these script languages is about five times as complex as a HTML web page. (note: commands in Java Script are different than like commands in PHP. They are distinct languages)If you are creating web pages and want to avoid writing your own script code, many products are available (either from your service or from other reputable vendors) that can get results without the work. Examples:
Conclusion: The article above identifies educational resources that will teach you to build a web page. It also identifies a suite of software that works well on an i-Mac and will make your job easier. None of the technical tasks are difficult, but a wide range of knowledge is needed to complete a working web page.
Q1: I am using InMotion Hosting service & my photos don't show up. They work fine when I demo the page locally, but not with the service. What's happening?
A1: try typing the photo name in ALL CAPS. Use CAT.PNG (don't use cat.png). Also make sure you got the image in the directory identified by the image link.
Q2: I uploaded my webpage, but it does not show up. Why?
A2: Did you upload it where you intended? Use Yummy & make sure. All your web pages should be loaded into the "public html" folder on your web server (or a subfolder if you structure things that way). Your main web page should be named "index.html" (or index.htm depending on the server service you use.). If you have uploaded before, your browser program (Safari, or Netscape) keeps a local copy. When you reload using the same file name, you will need to click "View/Refresh" in your browser to force a new download from the server.
Q3: How do I make a password protected page, so only my Writing Agent can see my draft manuscript?
A3: If you are using Inmotion hosting, you can do this from the control panel. Contact Inmotion technical support & they will direct you to an document explaining how to do it. Other services may have this same capability; but check.
Q4: Can I upload my web page directly from PageSpinner or another HTML Editing Program?
A4: PageSpinner is a good product but it is too old. Get something newer to create and upload your web pages. Many web creation tools will upload from the same program that you use to create the html code. Personally, I like to use a separate upload tool. Upload tools come in lots of different styles but I like Yummy because you can see exactly what is on your computer and exactly what is in your server space. It is very intuitive. I am not sure Yummy is available for PC or for Lenix. Do a search.
Q5: What is your worst enemy when creating web pages?
A5: Confusion is your worst enemy. After a few months break, I wanted to add some stuff to my site. I accidentally used old names when creating the links, and then uploaded "new name" images to the wrong directory. Not surprisingly, nothing worked. It took me a couple of hours to figure out what I had done. Confusion is your greatest enemy. In an orderly way, write down "old photo name", edit the thing before saving under a new name. Then write down "new photo name" to the right. This will eliminate errors like mine.
Q6:How did you create the "moving flames" Dionysus header at the top of this web page?
A6: I used a commercial program from Alchemy Mindworks. It was really easy but I used my PC to create it because I have not yet bought an equivalent for my Mac.
Q7: Can't I just buy a "drag & drop" program that will create my web site for me?
A7: Yes, you can BUT you probably will never learn enough html to edit the thing when needed. Worse still, the html it produces will be unnecessarily complex and large. I think you are better off building your own html using a text editing tool such as CodeRunner or a similar product from coffeecup.com. I have used coffeecup products in the past and they were good. They now make products for both PC and Mac. I am not sure about Linux.
Q8: I use a PC. Can you give me some advice?
A8: The information above is good; but, you will use different software. I suggest you look at the http://www.coffeecup.com website. The "HTML Editor" looks like the right software for web page creation on PC Computers. When I used Coffee Cup products in the past, they were good and simple to use. They are very clear in their menus and help screens. Their products worked very well and without bugs.
Q9: As part of my church activities, I am trying to reach English speakers in the 3rd world. What should I do special to get my message across?
A9: Much of the 3rd world may not be on high speed Internet links. So you must reduce the size of your images to about 350 pixels wide (about 60K byte images). Use a photo image tool that will let you save in lots of different formats. A .png file is always good; but, the file size is often large. A .jpg image format works well for photos and the file size is usually pretty small. For poster type graphics, a .gif file is often the smallest and best quality image. Also, try to reduce the number of photos per web page to about 4. If you do these things, your web pages will download at acceptable speeds. Also, keep in mind the reality that many international persons can read English, but its not easy for them. Use simple, direct sentences. Avoid using large or unusual English words.