March 1998


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Creating a Web Site – Yes, You Can

Creating a web site isn’t as daunting as it might seem. You just need the right tools.

By Brad Ross

Creating a web site, or just a simple web page, may be something you’ve considered but quickly forgotten about. After all, it’s complicated. And, hey, there are already an abundance of web sites out there … what’s one more?

Well, one more potentially excellent resource, for starters.

Other than a computer and a relatively fast connection to the Internet, there isn’t much you need to get started. Of course, you will need to establish a relationship with an Internet Service Provider – either in your community or perhaps your school board. You’ll also want to consider if an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) editor is the way to go, or if you’d prefer to code your web pages using what I’ll call "raw HTML."

HTML is a programming language – a very simple one, really – that makes the web possible. There are other programming considerations, such as CGI scripts, Java and VRML, and while they enhance a site, you can worry about them later. They aren’t necessary in the early stages.

The one simple difference between a web "site" and a web "page" are the number of pages, or files, a site contains. A web page is, well, one page or file. A web site is simply more than one page or file. In short, some excellent web pages can be created if the information you’re conveying fits just the one page.

But multiple pages on your site are worth a look. Here’s why. Consider your audience and the type of hardware they might be running. A 14.4 bps modem, 8 meg of RAM, maybe only 16 colours of video … one large web page can take minutes to load. And minutes can seem an eternity to the average surfer, forcing them to click away from your site. That’s a no-no in web site design.

There are some superb resources on-line, as you might expect. One trick – while scouring the web you may happen upon a particular site you like. In your web browser – either Netscape or Explorer – click View, then Document Source or Source, depending on the browser. There you will see HTML in all its glory. While respecting copyright, take a look at how the site is coded. There’s a pattern, and it’s not complicated.

Have fun.


HTML Tutorials by John C. Gilson
John Gilson, a teacher at Pauline Johnson Collegiate in Brantford, has developed this remarkable HTML primer. If you know nothing about HTML, I suggest a tour of Gilson’s site. If, later, you decide an HTML editor is what you prefer, you’ll have lost nothing, as having the rudiments of HTML will always be helpful. This site paves the way for the web site beginner.

HTML Editors
This URL is now updated. Shortly after the print version of Professionally Speaking went to press, the folks at Microsoft decided to change the file name for this particular site. Thanks to Brian Teron for bringing this to my attention.
Okay, so what’s an HTML editor? It’s simply a piece of software that helps you create web pages without all the coding – it codes for you, letting you concentrate on content and design. Like all software, each editor has its own unique qualities that you may or may not like, or may or may not ever use. Here at the College, I use Microsoft’s FrontPage because it integrates well with the Office suite we use. But there are many editors out there that work just as well. If an Internet Service Provider is hosting your site, talk to them first to ensure your choice of editor is compatible with their systems.

Clip Art Searcher
Should your web site have graphics? Yes. Do they need to be original, artist-rendered-just-for-my-site? No. While a scanner is always a nice piece of hardware to have, it isn’t absolutely necessary. The Clip Art Searcher is a search engine of graphic files, free for your use on your web site. While you may need to have a logo scanned, most desktop publishing and graphic software has the ability to output graphic files. These files can easily be mounted as images on your site, just as the ones you come across on this search engine can.

Submit It!
If you’re going to spend time, effort and money on creating a web site, you want people to know it exists. SubmitIt is a free service that allows you, in a few simple steps, to make your web site known to some of the most popular search engines on the web. When surfers go looking for keywords, you want your site’s existence to be known. This site also offers a host of other services, including some useful marketing tips.

Brad Ross is associate editor of Professionally Speaking and the College’s web editor. He can be reached by e-mail at