Saturday, September 20, 2008

Moving on...

It took a while, but I finally decided to desert my free website and look towards paid hosting. This was somewhere around 2003 and web hosting was a bit more expensive than it is today. I found out that you have to buy a "domain name" as well as web hosting. So step one was to think of a name that would actually be worth getting. Most of the good .com and .net sites are already taken since they have been available for many years. I did a search for my name and sure enough was available, so I purchased it. Let me clarify, you never really "own" a domain name, you merely rent it. You pay a registrar a yearly fee, and you control it for as long as you keep your payments current. You can get a domain name at thousands of registrars, and you can switch it to a different registrar if you need to with not too much trouble. Having a domain name does not mean you have a website. You also need to purchase web hosting. Thousands of companies will gladly sell you web hosting and usually a beginner should probably get their domain name and web hosting at the same place. Also, get the cheapest hosting account to start. There is ample space and bandwith for a beginner site, and you can always upgrade at a later date. If you get your domain name from a different location than your hosting, you have have to log into your domain name administration and change your name servers to "point" the domain name to the web host. I would also recommend choosing a location that has 24 / 7 telephone technical support. (check their website and call the number to see how long you would have to wait.)

The next problem I ran into is how to build my site. Most free websites have a browser-based web builder. That means that you build and maintain your website on the internet and there are no files stored on your computer. A lot of paid web hosts now have a site builder that is free to use to build your site, but I have found they are fairly limited and complicated to edit. I was really not sure what I wanted to put on my website anyway so I started looking for a program that I could install on my computer that I could work on my website at my leisure whether I was hooked up to the internet or not. This is very handy if you carry a laptop and can only work on your website a bit at a time. You can wait to publish your website until your site is done.

The two most popular website building programs at that time was Webweaver and Microsoft FrontPage. I tried both and I have found FrontPage is more similar to a lot of the free websites' interface I had learned on. It is a matter of choice, but I found a college student that could get me Microsoft FrontPage for $10, so that was all it took. I still use FrontPage to publish all my websites, but I understand it has been replaced by "web publisher" or something like that in the Microsoft Office Suite. You can still find FrontPage on Ebay though.

Like all my endeavors, I vow not to pay anybody to do something I can do myself. It is the same for website building, so I spent the next couple months learning FrontPage. I could turn out a plain page rather quickly, but I found it fun testing out all the cool things FrontPage could do. I was also unsure of what I wanted my final website to look like, so it was a slow process. The great thing about FrontPage, you do not really need to know any computer coding or HTML skills. You can use what is called a wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) site builder. It is like using Microsoft Word or Outlook. Then you can see what makes things happen by looking behind the scenes by "viewing the code". It is kind of backwards learning that comes in handy as your web pages get more complicated.

Ok, so now I have a domain name and paid hosting, but still no website on the internet. It is nearing the end of 2003. To get your website live on the internet, you have to "publish" it using your site building program. And I found out that if you use FrontPage to publish your website, you have to have "FrontPage Extensions" turned on on the server on your hosting account. I made good use of the 24 / 7 telephone tech support, and now I was finally ready. I was nervous as the first day of school...

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