by April 4, 2000 0 comments

Surfing
the Web, you must have come across many interesting sites. And at some point
of time, you might have asked yourself, “Can I create a Website like
this?” Well, this is no longer wishful thinking. Today, you could have
a site devoted to your favorite hobby or use it to display your family
photographs or set up a site for your business…the list is endless.
Whatever it may be, here’s a step-by-step guide to have your site up and
running, absolutely for free.

Step 1: Sign up for free
Web space

To set up your site, you’ll need space on a Web server to store all your
HTML documents. There are a lot of sites on the Net that give you free Web
space. (See table, Free Web hosting services). Select one that meets your
requirements. We’ve used Geocities in this example.

Website

Free
space per account (MB)

www.geocities.com

15

www.tripod.com

11

www.topcities.com

11

www.50megs.com

50

www.virtualav.net

20

www.freeservers.com

20

www.netcolony.com

35

www.1freespace.com

50

www.webjump.com

25

Step 2: Site contents
Now that you have your site ready, you’ll need to create the 
contents for your site. For this, you’ll need an HTML editor. An HTML
editor is basically a helper program that lets you manipulate code. If you’re
very familiar with HTML, you could use a text editor like Notepad but then
you would know enough not to need this article. Otherwise, you could make
use of WYSIWYG editors. These editors generally hide the code from you and
make creating HTML documents as easy as creating word processing documents.
However, they don’t allow you to do everything under the sun. Most of the
free Web services like Geocities offer such site-building tools. You could
make use of these or you could use packages like Dreamweaver or FrontPage.

Where do you get an HTML
editor? If you have installed Netscape, then you have got Netscape Page
Composer, which you can access from the Communicator menu. If you have
Internet Explorer, then you get FrontPage Express along with it. The PCQ CD
has regularly carried shareware or demo versions of HTML editors like
Dreamweaver.

You don’t need to be a
crack designer to have a good Website up. The trick is to keep it simple–don’t
use too many or garish colors. Similarly, don’t use too many different
fonts and font sizes, and effects like blinking text or bold text should be
kept minimal, if used at all.

While designing your site,
take care of the following:

a) Give your site an
informative title

b) Don’t overload your
site with a lot of graphics, as Websites with a lot of graphics take a
long time to load

c) Don’t put everything
you have on one page. Make multiple pages and provide links so that
visitors can easily move from page to page.

d) Provide your e-mail
address in a hypertext or graphical link. This will enable people to get
back to you with comments and suggestions.

Step 3: Upload your site
After creating the contents, you’ll need an FTP program to upload your
site. FTP stands for file transfer protocol and is a way of transferring
files to and from computers on the Internet. An FTP client program (FTP
client) sends a request to an FTP server program (FTP server) asking to
exchange information and transfer files. The server then verifies that the
user is authorized to send or receive files and responds to the request
accordingly.

Numerous graphical FTP client
software packages are available as freeware or shareware. One of the best
clients available on the Internet is WS_FTP. You can download it from
www.tucows.com
or www.ftppro.com. It’s also available on many PCQ CDs.

Here’s how you can use FTP
to upload HTML files from your hard disk to your site. After your files are
successfully transferred, you’ll come across the following screen

Your site is up! Type in the
URL in your browser and check that every page is showing as you expected it
to be. To be doubly sure, check in both Internet Explorer and Netscape
navigator. The page could show differently on the two browsers, or even on
different versions of the same one.

Some
popular redirection services

Step 4: URL redirection
services

When you set up your site on a free Web hosting service, the URL you get
wouldn’t be very easy to remember. If you’ve got those long URL blues
and want a shorter or more personal Web address, then you could make use of
the free URL redirection services available on the Web. These sites for
instance, replace http://something/members/~trouble/yourname with
www.yourname.cjb.net.
e
popular

Step 5: Launch your site
at search engines

What is the point of having a site if the world doesn’t know about it? So,
after you’ve designed and uploaded your site, it’s very necessary to let
people know of your site’s existence. One of the most important things you
could do to increase traffic to your site is getting listed in the major
search engines. There are two ways to do it:

Automated submission
There are a few sites on the Net that quickly submit your Website to many
search engines at once. This is easy, but usually produces only mediocre
results.

Sites that do the
submitting for you:

Manual submission
Or you could submit your site to each of the major search engines, one by
one. The sites on the search engines are arranged in various categories
like, Education, Entertainment, etc. To sub
mit your site, first
select an appropriate category and then click on the "Submit your
site" or "Add a URL" button from the end of the category
page. Some of the search engines where you could submit your site’s URL
are:

Search engines have their own
rules for indexing sites. So, you need to do quite a bit of homework on
this. There is also software like web positiongold (www.webpositiongold.com) that can do the job for you.

E-com for free
That brings us to an interesting question. Is it okay to host an e-commerce
site at one of these free services? The answer is Yes and No. It’s not
advisable to set up an e-com site at a general free service like Geocities.
This is more from the viewpoint of security and of tying up the e-com
backend like payment gateways, etc. Service providers like banks who provide
such services may not service a site hosted at a free space provider.

But then there are free sites
that are meant specifically for e-commerce sites. A good example is
www.netstore front.com. Services like bcentral.com from Microsoft hosts your
e-com site for a small fee. These sites are made to order for e-com, and
provide you with templates and databases that you can start using right
away.

That’s it. Now sit back and
look at your Website. Doesn’t it give you a tickle to feel "Yes, I’ve
done it!"

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