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Monday, October 22, 2001

Build your own Website
Mahesh Paramjit Kumar and Vinay Garg

THE Internet is buzzword of the town. Today the Net is flooded with millions of Web pages. As one surfs through the ‘net’, one often thinks: "Can I have my own Website?" The answer is "yes", as not only firms and companies but even individuals can have their own sites. An individual can express his views and opinions in his Web page, whereas for businesses, Website is like an electronic brochure used to generate goodwill and carry online sales. The Web has enormous implications for almost any business as the customers around the world can have access to its product or service 24 hours a day. To gain competitive edge, you must set up an effective site well before your competitors. In fact the idea of having one’s own site is certainly fascinating and the job of designing and uploading it is quite exciting.

If you wish to design your own ‘home page’ and upload it yourself, then, you must have a computer, a Web browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator), a text editor (say notepad), an Internet connection from an ISP (Internet Service Provider), a FTP (File Transfer Protocol) software to upload pages and a modem having telephonic connection.

For designing a Website and going online, the off-screen planning is a must. Well before working with the software, the message and structure of the page must be planned and necessary paper work be done. In fact if one has to publish many Web pages, an index page is required. The index page that is also known as the home page provides hypertext links to access detailed information on other pages. An index page of a personal site may have 10 to 20 links. One can use simple text, buttons, icons or specific parts of a large picture as links connecting other pages. Planning and designing the index page is a crucial issue. The home page should not be overloaded with the information that can safely be given in linked pages. Ideally, the home page should be completely downloadable in, say, 60 seconds. Otherwise the visitor would get impatient and shift to some other site.


The language used to develop the Web pages is called HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language). HTML is used for formatting the Web pages. Moreover, it has the ability to use other words, paragraphs or even documents as links. HTML coding is done on a text editor. Any HTML editor like Notepad can be used to write, edit and publish pages on any server in the world. Apart from text, HTML can insert pictures, embed audio or even video files on your web pages.

Now-a-days, software like Microsoft’s Front Page and Macromedia’s Dreamweaver are available in the market, which relieves the Web developer from the trouble of coding by generating HTML code automatically. Macromedia’s Flash can be used to create animation that can be embedded in a Web page to enhance its attractiveness. Moreover scripting languages like JavaScript and VB Script can add interactivity to the Web page. Software like Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator are used to design stunning Web graphics and edit pictures for Web purposes. Graphics, however, take more time to download than text. To reduce download time, one must use ‘Web safe colours’ and files must be saved with ‘save for Web’ or ‘save optimised’ option available in such software.

To upload the files one requires space on the Web server. If one has paid to get medium or long term Internet connection, then one has already got space on the Web server as most of ISP’s offer 2 MB or more free space to the clients. One has to use FTP program to upload pages on the Web server. Cute FTP (www.cuteftp.com) is one of the popular FTP vendors, which take away much of the pain of uploading files on the Net from the hard disk. This, however, is not the only option. Space on the Web is not that costly these days. Many sites like GeoCities (www.geocities.com), Crosswinds (www.crosswinds.com) etc. offer free space on the web. These sites maintain Web-based file manager that lets you browse files from the hard disk and upload them with a few clicks. But before doing so one has to sign up for free Web space by filling an online form. In addition to Web space these sites provide free programs that add interactivity to the site like using counters, CGI scripts, visitor information, quest book etc.

The next issue is to have your own URL (Uniform Resource Locator). Simply stated, URL is the Web address. When one is hosting the Web site on free servers as mentioned earlier, one gets Home page URL there and then (say www.geocities.com/maheshonline india). This Web address is quite lengthy and causes inconvenience to those who are to open the Web page by writing this URL on web browser. If one is hosting the site with ISP then it supplies you a Web address. Such URL has name of your ISP well within your URL (say www.glide.net.in/~modicl). Companies, however, need domain names matching with company name or product name say www.companyname.com. As one may note that the Web address is mainly divided into three parts. The first part ‘WWW’ is common to all sites. The second part is what the firms can opt for. It is normally same as brand or firm name. The third part (i.e. ‘.com’, ‘.org’, ‘.edu’, ‘.net’) is the extension and one of them is picked to specify whether Web site belongs to a commercial enterprise, a non-profit hunting organisation, an educational institute or a network-related company. In certain cases the domain name may have fourth extension specifying name of the country. For instance www.glide.net.in, where ‘.in’ stands for India. Similarly the extension ‘.us’ is for United States, ‘.ca’ is for Canada(not California), ‘.uk’ or ‘.gb’ for United Kingdom or Great Britain and ‘.ru’ for Russia. Having a URL of your choice requires registering the domain name with interNIC — an organisation that maintains records of registered URLs. Previously all domain names were registered with interNIC via ‘NetworkSolutions’ (www.Network solutions.com). But now there are many suppliers that offer URL registration services. Prominent among them are www.net4domains.com ,www.123domain registry.com ,and www.register.com. Domain registry can be done online or offline paper application process and payments can be made through cheque, demand draft or credit cards. The cost may be Rs 1000 or so. Many domain suppliers provide 5 to 25 MB free space to host client’s site.

Once the Website is designed and hosted by a Web server, the next task is to promote the site. Here one has to do all the things to let the people know your Website. This may require online or offline advertisment of the site. This, however, is a costly affair. One simple method of promoting the site is to submit the URL to various Search Engines like Altavista (www.altavista.com) ,Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) etc.

Follow up is important for any project and your WebSite is not an exception to this. It is, therefore, necessary to nurture it like a plant in a garden. The Web page must be updated on regular basis. A visitor when, he browses your page must find something new which was not there when he had visited last. All this will go a long way in let you build your own Web page and feel the joy of going online.