Some basic questions about having your own site
Okay guys, so I'm interested in starting my own website. I don't like writing so it won't be a blog, but it will be an informational site of some kind. I'd like to make money off of this, so traffic will be important. I'm from the generation that was raised with computers, and I spend a fair amount of time on mine so I know I will learn fast with reguards to creating a top-notch site.
I have some basic Java skills and I'm wondering, is Java good for websites, or should I stick to HTML. Secondly, what exactly is a server, and do I have to pay to use one, or can I create my own?
No Java isn't good for websites. The only only time you'd use java on a website would be if you have a servlet or embedded content. Plus google and other search engines are blind to applets like that. Java is a nono :)
Stick with XHTML + CSS for creating and designing your site. :)
Also, how are you planning on making an informational site if you don't like to write? :)
Good luck in your venture. Research and then just do it :D
Hey thanks for the help. I'm happy that Java is not the standard because Java is hard :) . What I meant is that I'm not a big fan of creative writing, but I'm pretty good at technical writing.
Another fun basic question: How exactly does the internet work. Like, when I go to stevepavlina.com, does it go to Steve's computer and look for a document called stevepavlina.com and open it or something???
Thanks a lot
Super quick overview: When you type Stevepavlina.com you are first going to query a DNS. That will tell you what IP address steve's site is hosted on. Once you get on there the server will give you the files that you requested.
He probably has leased a server somewhere. Probably not his home computer.
check out wikipedia.com for more details :D
If you havenít done a website before, read up on HTML and CSS (cascading style sheets).
A server is what your site is hosted on, I use Bluehost. Most do charge, around $6-10 dollars a month for hosting. There are fee server providers you can use but would recommend a paid service
Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!
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)
I have a few websites myself, so if you'd like some more help, feel free to contact me :).
The first step, is indeed to learn html. You certainly need that. After that, you can learn how to build dynamical websites, through PHP for example. That's what I've done :) .But if you think JAVA is hard, I recommend choosing the other option :).That is, using a a CMS (Content Management System):
Basically a CMS allows you to set up a site just by activating and deactivating functions in an easy-to-use admin panel. The advantage is that for the popular CMS's , there are hunderds of functions around and it's much easier than making everything yourself. The disadvantage is that in the beginning they usually are a bit overwhelming, and especially, if you don't know PHP (most are written in PHP AFAIK), there may be some things you'd like to change, but don't know how to do that. But usually, the last one isn't really a disadvantage 'cause there are so many options you can change from the admin panel usually. In my opionion, Joomla is a great CMS.
Okay, I hope you're still with me :). So, as the others already explained, you'll also need a server , a remote computer that hosts your website. I'd recommend Dreamhost , but there are many options. (if you'd decide to use them, PM me, I'll give you a 50$ discount if you sign up through my referral link ;) ). After that, you'll also need a domain name, you can usually register that through your host (f.e. Dreamhost).
Now that you have a CMS (or you know a coding language), a host and a domain name, you can begin setting everything up! It will take some time to get used to everything, but if you'd really like to have your own website, it's certainly worth it!
Now, for the money-making part. There are loads of options, but the easiest one to start with is Google Adsense , you've probably seen those ads loads of times already, on the left side of this forum for example. Basically, they add ads to your website that are related to the content of your website, and you make money every time someone clicks on it. There are also other options, like CPM (you get paid for every 1000 people that see an ad), or CPA (you get paid if people buy something through a link you put on your website),but I think that that'd make this post a little too long.
For now, if you haven't done so already, you should start by choosing the topic of your website, and what will make your website better than the competition :). Know that creating and owning a successfull website requires a lot of work (look at Steve :) ), but in the long run, I find it very satisfying. But that's why it's so important that you create a website because you really like the topic the site is about. You're going to be spending a lot of hours on making the website, writing informative articles , getting visitors and learning new things.
I hope this helps a bit. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask ;)
-You type in "www.blah.com/blahblah" in the address bar..
-"blah.com" is sent to a name server, which tells your computer where blah.com is.
-"www." is a subdomain which affects what the name server tells you, I think, so you get 111.222.333.444, which is an IP address. Every internet connection has a unique IP address.
-You contact it with its IP address, which would be the same as typing in "111.222.333.444/blahblah".
-You're using the HTTP protocol, which means you're going to say certain stuff to the other computer and then interpret it in a certain way. So: "http://111.222.333.444/blahblah"
-Every computer has ports that it sends and recieves data to/from the internet. Each port sends a certain kind of data. HTTP is usually on port 80(you can have it on two ports by running two programs to provide it to them; you can't have both programs serve it to the same port) So: "http://111.222.333.444:80/blahblah"
-Your computer uses the http protocol to talk to port 80 on 111.222.333.444 and gets the file "blahblah". (that would make 111.222.333.444 a server)
-It's displayed on the browser.
A HTTP server provides data to clients, which are computers running a web browser...
You can have your own server by installing IIS or Apache but you have to keep your computer on all the time and need a very fast internet connection, and you won't be able to use it for anything else since you'd slow the server down, so you might want to host it somewhere. You can either pay for that or have ads on your site but get it for free. If you decide to get it for free, it'll be worse than if you had payed for it.
WOW. Thanks a ton for all of the info. I appreciate all of the responses and I think I have the overview down. I got one more question:
Is there some way I test run my website on my PC before I pay for a host and all that. Like, I think it will probably take a couple months before my site is ready for the real internet, and I don't want to pay for hosting for 3 months if I could just create it on my computer. What would be a good program to do that, like Frontpage or something?
Thanks a ton
It depends, if you want to use HTML (this also includes creating the complete website by clicking around in frontpage), you can just save all the files in one folder on your computer (or 2 folders :p :D )
But if, on the other hand, you'd like to use a CMS (see one of my previous posts in this topic) or write some code like PHP for example, you will need a special server program. I don't know enough about this to fully explain it to you though, it will probably take you some time to figure out how to set up a server on your own computer. Use the force :)
I hope someone else can explain this a bit more.
If you want free, this is the open-source Dreamweaver replacement: Nvu
And XAMPP for Windows will let you run an Apache web server on your machine with goodies like PHP and mySQL. (I assume you're running Win32)
If you're doing a simple HTML-only site, you won't need a web server. If you want to use an open source CMS (geeklog, joomla, drupal, and many others) you're going to need the webserver, PHP, and mySQL.
And mspaint or gimp or something for the graphics.
Use Phpdev if you want to test PHP.
phpdev from firepages - php , mysql , apache preconfigured for windows <--PHPDev
GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program
Bloodshed Software - Dev-C++ <--C++ IDE that I use for HTML since I couldn't find any decent ones made for HTML(that are free and not part of anything not free).
XAMMP for Windows/Linux and MAMP for Mac are perfect one-button servers to do your testing on.
Do it simple...
Do it the easy way. Buy your website and focus on the marketing.
Currently it is my passion to do so for people... ResidualWebsites.com
The most complicated thing you'll have to do is register the domain and set its Name Servers and you could be up and running tommorrow.
I agree mostly with Cecil and not really with
"The first step, is indeed to learn html. You certainly need that."
Just get Frontpage (or a similar product). You DON"T need to learn HTML. I don't know it, but am managing OK. If you want to learn how to design websites for your own interest or to build for other people, fine. If you're more interested in the content/message then don't bother.
Yanik Silver and Dan Kennedy (who've been tremendously successful on the web) often brag how they don't know anything about web stuff.
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When I started in web publishing, I paid someone to help me develop a kick-ass site. It cost me $800, but it was very professional and the code was clean and efficient.
Then I found out what really determines your success on-line is traffic. And you get traffic by spending a lot of time marketing your website.
Yeah, the site was perfect, but no one knew it existed.
If I were starting out today, I would spend less time on the bells and whistles (or even use a CMS) and devote the rest of my efforts toward marketing.
Webdesigners who use Dreamweaver or Frontpage: Do you first draw your webpage to a paper before designing with dreamweaver-frontpage?I couldn't learn to work with tables,for me they are too complicated and confusing
Also i find designing with MAcromedia Flash is easy,is there a reason for me not to make a informative site rather than a site with animations with using Macromedia Flash?I mean i want to make an informative site with Macromedia flash,is there a resistance for it?Is it bad to make an informative site with Flash?I really love using Flash and it's interface is very much easy than using tables with frontpage or dreamweaver,just click and drag!
For Flash, well, I think that when you learn using CSS you'll like it more. If it takes a while to load it will probably scare people away from an informative site.
Good luck with the site!
About CSS. I use CSS in all of my sites, It makes it very convenient to modify styles over the whole site by editing one file. I recommend you browse the CSS Zen Garden just to see how powerful CSS is.
Also, I recommend you bookmark the Web Developer's Handbook, it will come in very very useful while designing your own site.
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