Ten Basic Concepts for the Newbie Webmaster
This article is for new Webmasters, who are not techies with long experience. Its
objective is to save you time in understanding things the techies know at their core. If
you are technically sophisticated, stop reading here. If you have just decided that you
want to host your own web site, but you don't have strong technical skills, keep reading.
There are many things you can do online without needing this information. For example,
you can create a blog for free. WordPress.com, Blogger, and many others provide these
services. These may serve your purposes very well. Their disadvantage is that some of them
do not allow you to advertise, and they provide only minimal control of the look and feel
of your site. If you are not interested in making money from your web site, this may be
fine. They certainly represent a good place to start to develop Webmaster skills, but your
site will tend to look like tens of thousands of other sites.
To build a professional looking web presence or to advertise, here is what you need to
know. This article is not an endorsement for any specific product. I mention several
products in this article, but only for context.
1. Skills. You will need to know some basic HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language). But you
can pick this up as you go along. Within every control panel of a site there is a toggle
switch, which allows you to view the item you plan to show to the public in either WYSIWYG
("what you see is what you get") or HTML format. When you don't know an HTML command, you
can always find it quickly with a search engine. An example is keeping your paragraphs
together, rather than having unexpected line spacing.
WordPress takes every carriage return as a new paragraph, so if you want to put
something on the next line without paragraph spacing, you must put the "br" command
right where you want the carriage return in your existing paragraph on the HTML (hidden)
side of your item. Typing skills are a big plus. If you don't have these, find a free
typing program online. You can learn in a week. It helps to understand what FTP (file
transfer protocol) is. Sometimes you do need to do things at the directory level on your
hosted server. I use FileZilla for FTP, but there are others.
2. Your Host is Your Universe. Someone will have to operate the computers on which your
web site appears. It is possible to do this in your home or business, but no one still
reading this does anymore. There are many excellent services, and some of them provide
basic functionality for under $10 per month. If you become a roaring success, you will
have to pay more, but you won't mind. Typically, you can put all the material you want on
their system for no additional charge, but you will pay for the bandwidth you use. You
will have to be pretty popular before you overcome the basic price.
3. Domain. You will need to create a Domain, which is the address your site uses. This
will be you web address, and amounts to your URL (uniform resource locator). Your Host can
do get this for you. You cannot have a findable web site without a domain. Each domain
contains only one type of software, but you can create free sub-domains that operate like
domains. Each one of these creates a separate database to contain the information of your
site. Fortunately, the database is something that is normally provided by your hosting service.