First off, What is a website?
For the purposes of this site a website can be anything from your Facebook page, to a blog, to the mini-site that sells your e-book, to an online menu for your restaurant, to Amazon.com, and anything in between.
Basically, it’s any web real-estate that you have control over. I wouldn’t class a long forum post as a website, but certainly your Facebook page counts as one.
Why on earth would anyone want their own website?
Well, just off the top of my head…
- You have something to say about something (e.g.: politics, fishing, cats, surfing) and you want to get your thoughts & opinions “out there.”
- You want to provide information about something, such as your favorite video game.
- You want to have a common place where a bunch of friends can communicate, no matter how many miles apart they are.
- You have a business and need a web presence.
- You want your web presence to be your business and make a little, or a lot of, money.
- Any combination of the above and, most likely, many others.
- Your own reasons, unrelated to the above.
So Let’s Put a Website Together
First, ask yourself if you want complete control over the site, along with your own domain name, or are you okay with being part of a third party’s system? I will also assume that you want a full site, not just a single page “site” like a Squidoo lens or even your Facebook page.
For example, let’s look at WordPress. To have complete control you will need to buy web hosting and a domain name. One option is to go to WordPress.org, download all of the files for your own WordPress installation, upload them to your server, set up a database, and hook the two together (this is easier than it sounds.) However, the other option is that you can install WordPress with just a few clicks using a hosting control panel, such as cpanel.
If you go to WordPress.com you can set up a free blog in a few minutes with no cash costs and no fussing with databases. Here’s how to build your own WordPress.com site.
With your domain your site will be YourReallyCoolName.com, while with WordPress’s domain it will be YourReallyCoolName.WordPress.com.
With your own domain you can do all kinds of customizations to your site, such as add in lots of “plugins.” With the WordPress.com free site you can pay money for certain options, and plugins are, for the most part, not allowed for security and other reasons.
(By the way, Wealthy Affiliate offers free site and blog hosting, with easy setup, along with their membership, although you still have to buy a domain. Just click the WordPress Express tab at the top of this page for more info. )
Static Site or a Blog?
For the purposes of this discussion a static site is a collection of pages created by you and posted exactly as they are. A dynamic site is one that’s driven by a database or other software, where the content is created from information contained within the data base. A blog is a database driven site, as is a forum, or a big online store, such as Amazon.com.
An example of a static site is the main page of this site: UnixTools.com, while this blog is a dynamic site. Depending on how the site is set up it might be impossible for a visitor to tell the difference.
As computers become more powerful, more and more sites are moving to some form of dynamic model, though if you want your site basically to be an online brochure, then a static site would be just fine.
Let’s Set Up a Blog Site With Your Own Domain
- I will assume you have already decided what topic you want your site to be based around. As an example, and just as an example, I’ll use “Carp Fishing” for the topic. I’ll also make the site a blog, just because it’s easier.
- You will need to buy a domain name which you will point to your web host later.
- You will need a web hosting service, such as HostGator.com. What you are doing here is renting space on their computers. You will then be able to upload your stuff into that space. There are a lot of hosting services out there. I have an account with HostGator, but if yours is elsewhere then that’s cool. You can even use the Wealthy Affiliate hosting.
- Once you have your hosting set up you will need to grab the nameservers of your host. Here’s how to connect a domain name to your host. Once connected it will take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of days for the interweb to sort things out such that you can see your site when you type your domain name into your browser.
- If your host’s control panel has Fantastico (a service to easily set up blogs, forums, etc.) then you can use it to set up your blog without downloading/uploading files on your own or fussing with databases. At another time I’ll write a post on how to do it without Fantastico and link to that post from here. Or you can just Google something like “how to install WordPress.”
- Make sure to write down your username and password for your new blog.
- You know what? You’re actually done. You have a carp fishing site, with the default WordPress template, and you can log in and start writing posts. You will be able to change the appearance of the site easily, add links, ads, graphics, content, and all kinds of stuff.
- Once you’ve added a few posts/pages on carp fishing, bait to use, tackle choices, etc. you will have a full blown site.
Or Set Up a Static Site With Your Own Domain
The initial steps are exactly the same as 1-4 above.
Now you will need some form of website editor, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, XsitePro, Expression Studio, NVU, etc. What these programs do is allow you to create a template around which your site will be built. Depending on how creative you are you can make anything from simple brochure pages to complex sites with CSS code, lots of pages, beautiful templates, etc.
Once you have created your site on your own computer you will FTP that site to your host. You can either do that using the above programs or many other similar programs, or you can use a program such as Filezilla.
Note that your host’s server has a default directory where all of your files will be placed. The default directory is frequently called /public_html and the files have to be placed in that folder. Once uploaded you should be able to see your site simply by typing the domain name into your browser.
Now, Let’s Look at a Site With Their Domain Name
The advantage of going this route is that you can skip all the domain name stuff, hosting, FTP. etc. All the tools, plug-ins, layouts, etc. are already included. One the minus side you lose a certain amount of flexibility in that you cannot install your own scripts and such. You are limited to their choice of templates and, at the least, you will be providing links back to their system.Your domain name will be either a sub-domain or a folder on their site. For example: YourName.TheirName.com or www.TheirName.com/YourName
With WordPress it will look like YourSiteName.Wordpress.com and with sites like Squidoo it will be Squidoo.com/YourName
A big plus is that it’s all easy to set up and the templates look pretty good. Another plus is that no matter how much traffic you send to your site their system will be able to handle it.
So really, the biggest question is, what kind of site do you want?No tags for this post.