How does a Web page work? Well, the odds are you're sitting at your computer looking at this Web page through a browser. Most likely you're using a browser called Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox, or Safari. A browser is a computer software program that can take you to different places on the Web by typing in the URL of a Web page and clicking "go" or "enter" on your keyboard. A browser also looks at the HTML tags on a site and translates those tags into what you're looking at now, a Web site. Different browsers interpret HTML tags a little differently, so what you see on one browser is not necessarily what you will see on another browser. Your browser asks the Web server of the URL you're trying to reach to send the information (Web site) that you requested. The Web server sends the information back to you and you see it on your browser.
It doesn't matter which browser you use, as long as you're happy with it. I use Opera, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari. I view my site in all of the browsers to make sure it looks decent in every browser. My favorite browsers are Firefox and Chrome. I like Chrome because, for me, it's the fastest browser. I like Firefox because of the adblock feature, but sometimes when you remove the ads from a site, it looks strange. I don't like the other ones that much, especially Opera because it tends to be slow on my computer.
What is HTML? HTML (hypertext markup language) is the computer language that is used to create documents on the
Web. It can be kind of confusing to understand at first. HTML documents are text files that consist of HTML tags (which can place the text or images wherever you want to place them), and text you can place between the tags so that the text will show up on your page when you publish it on the WWW. Tags are instructions that tell your browser what to show on a Web page. They break up your document into basic sections. All tags start with a < (left bracket) and end with a > (right bracket). You can see my HTML code by right clicking on this site, and choosing view page source (depending on your browser).
What is a URL? URL stands for "uniform resource locator." It's the standard address that can take you to a document, or a specific place on a document, anywhere on the WWW. My URL is "http://www.lissaexplains.com."
What do I need to get started? You need these 4 things:
- Editor: an editor is basically just a place to type in your HTML code so that you can send the file to your Web host. This can be the editor that comes with your Web space. If you're using a Mac, Simpletext or TextEdit are good choices. Most free Web hosts come with an editor. You can also use a plain text editor, I use Notepad for Windows. There is a complete tutorial for using Notepad here. There are other, more complicated editors that you can use that will basically do everything for you, and you don't need to know any HTML at all. You just drag the images onto your page, and the editor writes the code for you. I really don't recommend these. You can build a Web page very quickly with a "drag and drop" editor, but you learn nothing about HTML, and when you want to add something more complicated to your page, you won't even know how to get started. I would recommend sticking with the advanced editors of the free Web hosts, or using Notepad to write your HTML.
If you would like to see how HTML editors work, you can try my free online HTML editor. It's a fun tool that shows you how plain text can be converted into HTML code.
- Web space: you need this so that other people can view your Web page. There are several free Web space providers listed here. Choosing a Web host is very important. Some hosts have large pop-up ads that you have to deal with, and the editors that come with some Web hosts are not very flexible when it comes to building your page. The most important thing you need to look at when trying to find a Web host is the editor that comes with it. You need to be able to write straight HMTL, a lot of Web hosts don't provide editors that do this. I have heard a lot of complaints about various hosts, and the free host that most people find very reliable is Bravenet. They have good support for their Web services, and they respond pretty quickly to problems. They have been around for years providing reliable, free hosting. Bravenet also has many free tools for you to use, such as guestbooks and polls. Choosing the right host first will save you a lot of problems in the long run, because it takes a while to transfer Web sites from one host to another if you're not happy with your first host. Choose carefully!!!
- Graphics: it's nice to add graphics to your page. You can find some links to free graphics for kids here. Please don't take graphics from other people's Web sites unless you have permission. If you use graphics from someone else's page (with their permission) you should always acknowledge where they came from, this makes your page look more professional and it's just the right thing to do. After you learn enough HTML to make a Web site, you might want to invest in a graphics program so you can make your own graphics. Making your own graphics makes your page look original, and makes it stand out from all the other sites on the Web. You can purchase Jasc Paint Shop Pro, it's a great program. If you can't afford something like PSP, try downloading a free program here. Nothing is better than a site that looks like no other. It keeps me interested and makes me want to see what you have on the inside.
- Ideas: you need to come up with something original to make a really great page, something that no one else has done before, something that you present in a completely original way. It's really great to have something original, and when you're finished you can at least be proud of what you've accomplished if you've done it yourself. Coming up with something on your own will help you get lots of visitors. Maybe you can write about what you like to do, music, sports, whatever. Being original is definitely the key!!
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