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CREATING A HOMEPAGE

 

FINDING THE HTML TOOL

Find a tool to create your html code. HTML? What's that you ask? If you're not aware of this (yet), every homepage has an associated programming code called html (Hyper Text Markup Language). You can
actually see this code when you go into a homepage. For example, this paragraph is coded as:

TD WIDTH="100%">Find a tool to create your html code. HTML? What's that you ask? If you're not aware of this (yet), every homepage has an associated programming code called html (Hyper Text Markup Language). You can<BR> actually see this code when you go into a homepage. For example, this paragraph is coded as: <BR><BR>

To look at the html code for any page and you're using Netscape Navigator: choose View...Page Source. This is stored as a text file with the extention HTM or HTML (there are other extentions as well, but as far as we're
concerned for now, we only care about html). You can edit this file with Window's 95 Notepad or any other text editor. If you're using Microsoft Internet Explorer you can edit the html code right there and then as you're
viewing the source code. If you're going to edit it with a word processor be sure to save it in TXT (text) format. If you're using MS-Word you could also save the document as html.

You could code the html by hand in a text editor (as I first used to), but this will take you a great deal of time of trial and error. I don't recommend this! The other option is to find a homepage creation tool.
If you're using Netscape Navigator there's one built-in called Composer. In Microsoft's Explorer there's also one called FrontPage Express. Also, if you decide to upload your page to a site that offers free space
they may already have an online tool that lets you create a homepage from within a web browser.

For other homepage creation tools check out:

- Microsoft's FrontPage

- Hot Metal Pro at www.softquad.com

- Dreamweaver from www.macromedia.com is a sophisticated tool for creating advanced home pages which deal with dynamic html, Cascading Style Sheets, Javascript, Shockwave, etc. This may be overkill if you're just starting out.

- Claris Homepage from www.claris.com

- Fusion NetObjects at: www.netobjects.com

- Adobe Pagemill at: www.adobe.com

- Quicksite at www.sitech.com

- Homesite from www.allaire.com

- Wededit at www.luckman.com
 

BE AWARE: If you're going to use Microsoft's FrontPage make sure your web service provider supports FrontPage "extentions" (if you're going to use them). These are special features you can add to your web site. Also, I believe you need to use FrontPage itself to upload your site to your providers server.

- Microsoft Word (www.microsoft.com) also has an html "assistant" built-in

You can usually download a trial version of these packages to try out first.


REMEMBER THIS: When you start your main homepage it is important to note what the filename of it should be. Why? Because depending what server you upload it to, if a surfer types: http://www.yourlink.com then the server may automatically look for a file called home.html or index.html. This depends on your web space provider. Ask them what the default file should be called. Then you will create your main opening page as that filename.

For example, mine here is called home.html. Therefore using home.html as an example, if someone enters:
http://www.yourdomain.com/home.html it is the same as:
http://www.yourdomain.com

LEARN HTML ONLINE:

  • Ok, this isn't free, but the price is VERY reasonable. Head over to www.zdu.com. This is brought to you by the good folks at ZDNET, the publishers of computer magazines such as PC Magazine, PC Computing and others. By the way, bookmark www.zdnet.com and check them out often. There's a lot of goodies there! Be sure to also subscribe to their e-mail newsletter.

  • Check out www.webreference.com/html/collections.html for some tips on html

  • Check out www.wdvl.com

TIP: You can also save the graphics from any homepage by pointing your mouse to that picture and right-click your mouse and choose "Save Image As...". If you want to save the background graphic, point anywhere where there are no graphic images and then right-click the mouse and choose "Save Background As..."

 

GRAPHICS FOR YOUR HOMEPAGE

What would a homepage be without graphics? Pretty dull that's what! There are many other places you can go to get graphics. The intention of this document is not to list them all, but only a few here and there. If
you want a big list then go to the search engines like www.yahoo.com.

-Backgrounds.

There are some nice backgrounds you can pick up at www.windyweb.com. Go to her site and and pick out which background(s) you would like to use. She has many excellent ones that make your homepage stand out nicely. She also explains how you can code your html around these backgrounds.


-Clipart.
Some places to check out:

  • Corel Gallery at www.corel.com - 200,000 images. You also get a color manual with it. A very good deal indeed!.
  • Xoom: www.xoom.com - 150,000 images. This appears to be shareware clipart.
  • www.clippart.com - links to clipart on the net
  • www.Broderbund.com - 200,000 images and more with a printed manual. Excellent!

Some other sites:
| www.arttoday.com | www.stars.com | www.iconbazaar.com | www.iconbank.com | www.agag.com | www.nzwwa.com/mirror/clipart | www.barrysclipart.com | www.webreference.com/graphics/collections.html |


-Graphic tools to manipulate graphics

-Graphic fonts

I use a program called PhotoImpact from www.ulead.com. This lets you create text saved as graphic pictures. Other graphic programs such as the ones mentioned above will allow you to manipulate text as well.

GETTING FANCY

  1. Ulead's Cool 3D (www.ulead.com) or another tool from a company called Crystal Graphics (www.crystalgraphics.com) lets you create 3-Dimentional text, which can also move, rotate, spin etc. Another company, www.sausage.com also has similar tools. Also check out Simply 3D from www.Micrografx.com.

  2. Animation: These are cute little pictures (many of them) displayed one after the other in one spot. They are actually many pictures stored in ONE file (with the GIF extention). You can use Ulead's (www.ulead.com) Animator or Macromedia's (www.macromedia.com) Flash 3 which lets you create text ones as well I believe, or Corel's (www.corel.com) Xara.

  3. Fireworks from www.macromedia.com lets you create impressive front-end displays for your homepage. It slices and dices images and creates an amazing homepage interface.

  4. Streaming sound or streaming video. The video or the sound plays while it's downloading, which is much more efficient than you having to wait for the entire file to download. Take a look at Real Audio or Real Video from www.real.com

  5. Astound Webmotion from www.astound.com


OK, THIS HAS TO BE MENTIONED...For lousy homepages, take a look at:
www.webpagesthatsuck.com (what a name, huh?)

 

THIRD PARTY FEATURES FOR YOUR HOMEPAGE

-Guestbook

Do you also want a guestbook? Then go to www.guestpage.com or www.lpage.com or www.freeguestbooks.com, www.InsideTheWeb.com. The guestbook is actually stored on their server.


-Listbot

You can also let people subscribe to your mailing list right from your homepage. Then once in a while you can send out newsletters to all of them at once. This is a free service provided by www.listbot.com. Take a look for more info.


-Hits counter

Do you also want a free hits counter? These counters also provides you statistics as how many hits you've had for a particular day and even who visited your site.
Go to www.fastcounter.com, or www.pagecount.com


- There are also other tools you can put up...see also "PROMOTING YOUR SITE"

FOR YOUR INFORMATION: If you have your own domain name your service provider can give you the raw logs of who surfed to your site and which pages were accessed. You can then use a PC program to go through the raw logs. One such program is called Webtrends. Take a look at www.webtrends.com

 

JAVASCRIPT, JAVA, VBSCRIPT

If you're designing your very first homepage most likely you won't use this right now. I mention it so that you'll have an idea what it's all about.

JAVASCRIPT - This is a programming language such as "BASIC" or "C" which is embedded into your html document. So if you look at the html source code you will also see the Javascript there as well. You can do neat little tricks to spice up your page. To get started in this I suggest you buy some books on Javascript. Two sites to visit to get hints are www.webreference.com and www.infohiway.com. Keep in mind that Netscape
Navigator manages Javascript quite well, but Microsoft's Explorer may not support all of the language. This is an interpreted language, ie. the browser interprets each line as it reads it, and if you have errors in your code the web user will get a window pop up telling him so. Generally, interpreted languages are not so robust as "compiled" ones like Java.

VBSCRIPT - I don't know much about this as I haven't used it, except to say that I believe it is like Microsoft's Visual Basic. This isn't surprising as it's coming from Microsoft and only works (as far as I
know) with their Internet Explorer. It is similar to Java, ie. it's a programming language. Go to Microsoft's (www.microsoft.com) homepage for more details!

JAVA - Another programming language that is compiled, as opposed to an interpreted one like Javascript. This language is similar to C++. This is obviously much more sophisticated than Javascript. You upload your
Java "Applets" to your homepage server, and then they get downloaded as required when someone accesses your homepage. For Java resources go to www.JavaBoutique.com

TOOLS FOR CREATING JAVA PROGRAMS. These are full-blown development environments. Before you get into this you should be familiar with programming constructs. Take a course or read some books!


There are other tools that lets you create simple Java applets, like scrolling banners for example, where you don't need to learn Java. If you don't want to get your hands dirty learning a programming language like Java then these programs are for you:

 

CGI, PERL

Again, you won't get into this if you're designing your first homepage. These are programming languages as well, except that they interact with the server and reside there. This can get quite tricky and involved and
your web service provider may place restrictions on what you can and cannot do.

One area where you'll probably do a little CGI coding in your html source is to do with processing forms. You know those forms you fill out on the screen and then click the "submit" button? Well, when you click that
button, there's another program usually written in CGI or Perl that handle your input from the form. Usually all you need to do is supply the name for the "POST" or "GET" command in your html source and you're all set.
Your web service provider should tell you the exact syntax.

There's another way to do forms, that I've recently discovered but haven't gotten into yet. It is with something called htmlScript. This has to be supported by your web service provider. The extention of your source code
will be .HTS instead of .HTML. One web service provider that supports this is www.simplenet.com...take a look for more info.
 

HOMEPAGE DESIGN TIPS

  • Be aware also of your monitor's resolution when developing your homepage. If you're running at 800x600 and your homepage looks just fine, how will it look for those people that have 640x480, or those that have 1024x768 or even those that have 1152x864 ? Go to those resolutions, if your monitor and video card allows it, and see how your work appears.
  • Have a consistant user interface in your homepage. Take the time to develop it. And don't take shortcuts. Consider also a site map, where you list all your menus so that the user can easily jump to any of them. Again, take the time to do a good job. If you don't take the time to do a decent job, you wouldn't want your homepage to appear in www.webpagesthatsuck.com, would you?
  • Make sure your main homepage is not too large with graphics. Try to keep it under 100K. You wouldn't want to put a 200K picture of yourself since this would slow the page down so much that people would just leave. You can resize the picture to be smaller, like a thumbnail, and link it to a large one when someone clicks on it. Note: although you can re-size it for display purposes only in html, this does not actually shrink the file size. It is better if you shrink it with a graphics program.

    For example in my 4x6 inch photographs I have, I've shrunk them to 80 pixels across and 50 pixels high and I call the filename SMxxxx.JPG, and when they click on that picture, it points to xxxx.JPG. I've saved them as JPG with the quality at something like 50% which gives you a better compression rate (ie. small file size). Since they're so small, people won't notice the quality too much. So each picture is around 1,800 bytes or so.

  • What layout should your homepage have? If you want some ideas, then surf the web for a few hours. You may also buy a book from Maran Graphics (www.maran.com) called "Amazing Web Sites" which will give you some ideas.


Introduction

Where to get a site & upload it to the Internet

   

 




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