Here's how using web pages works, in a nutshell.
First, you type in an address... The address has three parts, the http://,
which tells you what the protocol is. (A protocol is a set of rules that computers follow so that they can understand each other... We have protocols with traffic, such as staying on one side of the road and stopping at red lights... without those rules, we wouldn't be able to travel with cars effectively.) Just ignore the protocol for now until you get some more experience under your belt.
The second part of the address, the www.stevepavlina.com
, is the domain name of his server, sort of like the address a person would put on an envelope, all the way down to the specific door it should be delivered to. One thing to remember, is that every computer on the Internet has a unique number. If someone tries to use a number that is already in use, then information can't get to the right place. Unfortunately, humans are very bad at memorizing numbers, but fortunately, we are very good at remembering words and acronyms, so at the beginning of the Internet, a group of people got together to give each computer number a name. Adding a name and keeping it on this list isn't free, though, but it is relatively cheap. at about $10 per year. You'll need to register a name in order to have a website that people will actually want to visit.
The third part of the web address, /forums/newreply.php, is the actual file that is being served by the server... To keep it simple, think of PHP files as HTML files that can change depending on what the user is doing... Learning PHP scripting is a good skill to develop, but it isn't necessary for right now, and it usually takes a while for people to understand well enough to have it running on a professional site.
Putting it all together, http:// www.stevepavlina.com
/forums/newreply.php [spaces intentionally inserted to prevent the address from becoming an actual link] is saying "Using the HTTP protocol, go to the computer named www.stevepavlina.com
and get me the file 'newreply.php' found in the 'forums' directory.
Now, not just any computer can give out web pages, even though any computer can hold them. You need a program that allows your computer to be a server, and while there are free ones out there, setting such a program up is very
beyond the scope of this topic. Instead, find a web server that you can rent... Go with the cheapest hosting plan available, because the only real limitation that you'll come across is bandwidth, or how much information you can give out per month. If you start seeing that you run out of bandwidth, then you can always upgrade to a more spacious plan later. Shop around, and compare different amounts of bandwidth for different prices... There are also several people around here who will gladly recommend the server that they are using, and warn you to avoid ones that they have used in the past. Personally, I've been out of the loop for a year, so I have no idea what the market is like right now, so I can't give you good advice in that respect.
Once you have the server rented, and you have bought a domain name, it is time to learn how to get files from your computer to the server. Most servers have file managers, and while these are great to begin with, they are very slow and frustrating once you have had some practice. READ THE EMAIL that your new server provider sends you, as it will tell you, at least, how to get to the file manager, as well as how to connect through FTP. Most server providers also have a few books worth of tutorials, and if you picked one that doesn't provide you with helpful hints and instructions, then go googling. If a thorough search through Google doesn't provide the answer, then pop back here and we'll show you a good tutorial or give you a couple of hints so that you can figure out what to do next.
The only step left is to make your web pages and send them to your server, either using FTP or through the file manager on your server. (Don't worry if you didn't understand all of the acronyms, you'll pick them up *very* quickly)