Developing a website is not nearly as difficult as many people make it to be. In fact, its pretty easy. You can create your own website or you can make use of a professional web design service. However, creating your own website, besides being full of fun, has many other advantages.
Obviously, you can save yourself a fair amount of time and money, especially if your site is going to need on-going periodic updates. You will avoid the frustration associated with having to work through someone else, and with perhaps having to tell them that what they have created is actually not quite what you had in mind. Inevitably, this would lead to more design fees and further delays. Designing your own website has the added advantage that you can be able to alter any aspect of your website at any time without having to consult a commercial webmaster.
A website is made of individual pages which consist of text and graphics and perhaps a few other components. Each web page is a separate file that has been created in a suitable program designed for the job. And each graphic (photo or other image) is likewise a separate file.
Each completed web page and each image is saved as a separate file in a folder on your computer, just as you would save any other file. These then become your offline website. Because these files are stored only on your own computer, your web pages are obviously not yet accessible to internet users worldwide. To make them available for others to view, you need to have them stored on a computer that is connected to the internet 24 hours a day, every day of the year and which is accessible to anyone, anywhere, who has internet access. Such a hosting computer is known as a web server, that is, it ‘serves’ a particular web page to any computer that requests to view it in its web browser software, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Opera.
A web server normally has a very large disk in order to store a huge number of web page files for the many individuals, companies and organisations whose websites are hosted on that server. Web server space is typically offered by the Internet Service Provider who provides you internet access (dial up or broadband) and by any other companies that specialize in providing such services. The hosting web servers could be anywhere in the world, not necessarily in your home country. Transferring your web pages from your hard drive onto such a web server is called uploading and is done via an internet connection using a process known as File Transfer Protocol (ftp).
Once your web pages have been uploaded to a web server, you have a functional website that anyone can visit from anywhere in the world. However, for people to be able to find your website, they’ll need the unique address for locating your particular website’s home page. Such an address is known as a Universal Resource Locator (URL).
The URL, therefore, must be easy for one to remember. It does not need to be cumbersome. Thus it would be inadvisable to make use of free hosting sites because you would then be provided with a such a URL, invariably longish and ultimately awkward. Many people prefer to own their own domain name. It may be a family or business name that you may decide to use, for example ‘[http://www.philips.com] ‘. Such a domain name is not expensive to register.
Finally, there’s no point in spending time developing a website if no one knows about it. This brings us to the very important aspect of bringing traffic to your site. Most people find and visit websites via search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, MSN and AOL. Getting more visitors to (or ‘hits’on) your site via search engines is done through a process called ‘Search Engine Optimization’ (SEO). For this to be easier, you need to have a site concept, that is, the overall theme and purpose of the particular site. This should attract a good number of qualified visitors (or traffic) to your site, quite obviously because the search engines will direct these visitors, using your site concept.
Author: Samantha Prinsloo