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The Four Major Steps of Website Creation:
Don't Hesitate, Create Today

Speech Given May 24, 2004 at Toastmasters

by Howard Ditkoff

“Do you have a website?” In the 21st century, that question has become nearly as common as “What's your phone number or mailing address?” The web is everywhere and just about anybody can benefit from the power of the web. As an individual, it's a great way to store and organize information so that you can access it anywhere and others can view it, as well. As an organization, it's a great way to keep members up to date on news and announcements and to attract new members. I found this group through Toastmasters' website and I know others that have come here have too.

Yet while so many of us want and could benefit from a website, fewer understand the steps involved in creating one. That's exactly the position I found myself in several years ago. In that position, we either have to go without a website, or often get ripped off paying someone else to do things that, with a little know-how, we could do ourselves.

Domain names, web hosts, HTML, file transfers. With so many unfamiliar terms, it's easy to understand the confusion of newcomers to website creation. There is a lot to learn, and all of the details would take more than 8-10 minutes. But, after creating a few websites myself over the years, I found that it really isn't that hard once you organize the concepts into a few major steps.

So tonight, my general purpose is to inform you of the major steps involved in creating a website. Specifically, when I finish this speech you will be able to list the four main steps necessary to create a website. Once you can do this, if you wish to, it will be much easier to learn more details about each of those major steps.

I made a mnemonic to help you memorize the steps and it is: Don't Hesitate, Create Today. (repeat)

Domain Name – The first step, the D in Don't Hesitate, Create Today

The first step is you must choose a domain name. This is your unique address on the web. It consists of three parts. WWW for world wide web, then a dot, then a phrase you choose, then a dot, and then ends with a domain suffix or extension.

Some of the most common suffixes or extensions for sites in the United States are:
  • .com – commercial website
  • .net – internet administrative site
  • .org – organizational site
  • .edu – educational site
Other suffixes are used to denote websites from countries other than the United States:
  • .fr – France
  • .gh – Ghana
  • .jp - Japan
So some examples of domain names are:
  • www.dteenergy.com - the commercial website of DTE Energy
  • www.toastmasters.org - the organizational website of Toastmasters
  • www.umich.edu - the educational website of University of Michigan
So first you need to decide what domain name you want. Do you want www.bobrussell.com or www.oakparktoastmasters.org?

Then you have to make sure that the domain name you want isn't already taken. You can do this by going to www.register.com and typing in the domain that you want. It will tell you if it is free. If someone else already owns it, it will tell you who and how to contact them. For example, I looked and found that www.bobrussell.com is taken. If Bob really wanted that domain he could contact the person and offer to buy it.

Incidentally, some people have made a lot of money by buying domain names that are in demand and selling them when other people come requesting them. For example a man named Rick Schwartz bought the domain name www.men.com and sold it later to an investment group for $1.3 million.

If Bob didn't want to pay for a domain that is taken, he could instead change the name slightly to one that is available. For instance, www.bobqrussell.com is available, as is www.bobrussell.info and .us.

So the first step in creating a website, the D from Don't Hesitate, Create Today, is choosing a domain name.

Hosting – The second step, the H in Don't, Hesitate, Create Today is choosing a host. A host is a server or computer that stores the files that make up your website. When someone types in the domain name that you chose, it will direct them to this computer to view your files. The first decision that you'll need to make regarding hosting is whether you want to host the files that make up your web site locally or remotely.

Local hosting means that you store the webpages on your own computer and people connect to it to view them. Many people don't realize you can do this, but you can using a webserver program. The most common one is probably a program called Apache.

But most people prefer to use remote hosting. This is when you pay a company to allow you to host your web files on their server or computer. This is usually safer and more convenient because their computers are set up to specifically to allow people to view webpages, while your computer is set up to perform many other functions, as well.

There are thousands of companies that you can pay to host your website and just as many different packages with various features. The main things you'll want are to find a host that offers:
  • Fast loading pages
  • 100% uptime
  • Ability to easily connect to the host to change pages
  • Good customer support
When you set up the hosting service, it will ask you for a domain name and this will connect the address that you chose to the server that hosts your web pages.

So the second step in creating a website, the H in Don't Hesitate, Create Today, is choosing a host for your site, either locally or remotely.

Creating your files – The third step, the C in Don't Hesitate, Create Today, is creating your actual web files. Once you have a host to hold your web pages, and an address to point to it, now you need to create the pages for the host to hold. Every page on a website is a file written in a special code that the web browser (for example, Internet Explorer or Netscape) can read and translate into the pages you see when you surf the web. On most basic sites, these files are written in a code called HTML (hypertext markup language). This consists of the words and images you want on the page along with special commands telling the web browser how to arrange them.

If you know how to use HTML code, you can type the files by hand. Or you can use one of the many programs that lets you create the page as you want it visually and then automatically turns it into code. These files are called "What you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) programs and a common one is Microsoft Front Page. For instance, if you were typing the file by hand and you want to underline a word on your webpage, you would have to type the word and then put a command around it to tell the web browser to underline it. But if you are using Front Page, you would type the word, highlight it, and click underline just as you would in a Microsoft Word document, and it would automatically enter the code for underlining.

Once you have created the file, you save it on your computer with the extension .html. For example, if we made a page about our Toastmasters meetings, we might call it meetings.html.

So the third step in creating a website is using HTML either by hand or by using a helpful program to create your actual web pages.

Transfer files to your host – The fourth step, the T in Don't Hesitate, Create Today, is transferring your files to your host.

Now you have a domain that points to your host and your files on your computer saved as .html files. There's just one last thing to do. Transfer those files from your computer to your host.

How do you do this? The way that I do it is using what's called FTP (file transfer protocol). There are many programs that allow you to use FTP or you can do it using Internet Explorer. What you do is type in an ftp address that you will get from your host and login with a password you are given. Then you will see a set of folders and your host will tell you which folder to put your files in. You will simply move the files from your computer to the proper folder on the web host server. Once you do that, your website is ready to be viewed.

So the fourth step in creating a website, the T in Don't Hesitate, Create Today, is transferring your files to your web host.

Now, I've only given you the basics. There are:
  • Many more features that various hosting companies offer
  • All kinds of fancy programming languages that build upon HTML to enhance web pages
  • And I could give a whole speech on how to choose the proper domain name to make your site more marketable.
But all of these more advanced aspects fall into one of the four main areas that I've discussed. I hope that this speech has helped you organize in your mind at least those four major elements that go into making a basic website. So next time someone asks you for the domain name of your remotely hosted website you don't have to look at them as if they're speaking a foreign language like I used to a few years ago.

The truth is that when it comes to learning how to make websites, there is no substitute for practice. And now you know the four major steps so that you can practice each of them. Choose a domain name, find hosting, create your files, transfer your files to your host. So what are you waiting for? Don't Hesitate, Create Today!



Supplemental Handout to Speech:

The Four Major Steps of Website Creation:
Don't Hesitate, Create Today

Speech Given May 24, 2004 at Toastmasters

by Howard Ditkoff

The Four Major Steps
Don't Hesitate, Create Today
  • Domain Name – Choose your unique address, www.phrase.extension (.com, .net, .org, .edu, etc.), check at www.register.com to see if it's taken, buy it or find one that is available.

    Places you can register domain names = www.godaddy.com, www.register.com, www.networksolutions.com

  • Hosting – Choose to store your web files locally (on your computer) by running a web server program like Apache or remotely (on another server elsewhere)

    Places you can sign up to remotely host a website (just a couple I use out of thousands) = www.p4host.com, www.summersault.com

  • Create your files – Use HTML (hypertext markup language) by hand or using a program, such as Microsoft Frontpage, that translates visual changes into HTML code and save as a .html file on your computer

  • Transfer files to host – Use FTP (file transfer protocol) to move files from your computer to the host. You can download an FTP program or do this in Internet Explorer.

    You can download a few free FTP programs from http://www.thefreesite.com/Free_Software/FTP_freeware/

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Dr. Howard Ditkoff is a personal coach, group/organizational/business consultant and trainer through his company, Emergent Associates, LLC, which shares its unique knowledge, understanding and tools to support health in human systems of all types. Howard helps people discover and develop their deepest talents and potentials, bringing greater satisfaction to all areas of their lives, ranging from health to career to relationships, while helping groups, organizations and businesses of all kinds achieve greater success. For more information, or to contact Howard about setting up a Free Introductory Consultation, visit Emergent Associates, LLC's Website or email him.

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