STEP 1

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Checklist

Checklist

Now that you have learned the basics, you are ready to proceed in making your checklist, i.e. the list of all necessary elements you need, to begin making your website.

An idea

The single, most important, element you will need, is the idea behind the website you want to create. It is the foundation and the most critical element for the success of your website. There are countless subjects which you can pick from, to become your website theme. For instance, you might have a hobby, like for example cooking, which can become the theme for your website, through which you can offer your recipes and secrets to your visitors. You can really go wild and think of anything that comes to your mind which can become the main idea behind a website. Some examples are:

  • astrology websites
  • astronomy websites
  • audio websites
  • career search websites
  • cheap travel websites
  • employment websites
  • funny websites
  • games websites
  • gardening websites
  • genealogy websites
  • jewelry websites
  • job search websites
  • music websites
  • news websites
  • nutrition websites
  • paintball websites
  • people search websites
  • photography websites
  • radio websites
  • scholarship websites
  • school websites
  • science websites
  • science websites for kids
  • security websites
  • skateboard websites
  • surfing websites
  • tattoo websites
  • travel websites
  • video game websites
  • video websites
  • weather websites
  • websites for kids
  • wine websites

A computer

Besides the idea, a necessary tool to make your site is a computer running an operating system. This can be any kind of computer: PC , Apple or even a workstation and it can run any kind of operating system like Microsoft Windows, Apple, Linux, Unix, etc. This depends on your own personal preference and you can choose whatever you feel more comfortable using.

A browser

The software tool that needs to be installed on your computer in order to view your website (and also navigate the internet in general) is the web browser. This is the third element you will need. You can use any web browser you want, like the Internet Explorer, Google's Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc. Nowadays, any computer you buy, will have a browser pre-installed, so you do not have to worry about finding one, but in case your preferred browser is a different one (my personal favorite is Chrome due to the fact that it is the fastest in web browsing), you can download it from the following links:

The most popular browser is Microsoft's Internet Explorer, followed by Mozilla Firefox which in turn is followed by Apple's Safari. Due to the fact that Google's Chrome is very new, I cannot say yet how well it is doing, but judging by its performance, I bet it will do very well. There might be websites that will not be displayed properly on certain browsers. That is why you will see that it is very important to design, implement and test your site having always in mind browser compatibility. It is recommended to have your site compatible to as many browsers (at least the 3 most popular) as possible. That way, you will not be excluding potential visitors that use different browsers from enjoying the full experience of your website.

A website design and build tool

Once you are ready to start creating pages, you will need some tool in order to do that. The beauty of HTML though, is that you do not need fancy software tools in order to create pages. All you need is some basic HTML knowledge and a simple text editor (like Microsoft notepad, Wordpad, or any other editor) and you are ready to go!

Don't get me wrong. Obviously, there is a great variety of visual tools (i.e. tools where you simply drag and drop text, images and other form of content on a page), where you "visually" create a page and the tools themselves create the HTML code for you. These tools/editors are also called WYSIWYG ("What you see is what you get") editors. Two of the most commonly used WYSIWYG editors are the Macromedia Dreamweaver and the Microsoft Frontpage. Someone might argue that you do not need to know about coding in order for you to use those tools. This might seem perfect to you (especially if you are not interested in learning how to write HTML code). Am I right? BUT, believe me when I tell you that it is essential for you to start by learning at least some basic HTML in order for you to understand the fundamentals better. Therefore, at this point you simply need a text editor application, to write plain text files and you also need to learn some basic HTML, which will be covered later on in Step 3.

A connection to the internet

You are building a website, i.e. a site in the internet. Therefore, you definitely need to be able to connect to the internet. You probably know how by now, since you are reading this web page, but in case you are not so sure about it, read on.

In order for you to connect to the internet from home, first of all you need to subscribe to an ISP (Internet Service Provider). ISPs are telecommunication providers (companies like AT&T, AOL, Verizon, Comcast, etc.) who offer the service via which you can connect to the internet. There are two types of connections you can choose from:

  • Narrowband service
  • Broadband service

What distinguishes the two types of service is essentially the desired connection speed (term discussed in the Basics section).

If you are ok with up to 56Kbits/sec (via a PSTN line or 64Kbits/sec via an ISDN line) or even 128Kbits/sec (via an ISDN line), then you should choose a narrowband connection. Bear in mind though that the speed at which information is going to be transferred to and from your computer is going to be veeeery slow which means... zzzzzz, i.e. that you might fall asleep while waiting for a video for instance, or even a large photo, to download. The other disadvantage of a narrowband connection is that you are not always online and you are charged per second of usage. Moreover, since the connection is established with a telephone call, your phone line will be busy and unusable for voice while you are online. The charge will usually be the monthly charge to the ISP plus the phone call charge (although many providers now offer an 800 number for the connection). Depending on how much time you spend online (particularly if you do not spend much time online), it might come cheaper for you than the broadband connection.

Besides the ISP subscription, you will also require your computer to be equipped with a modem as well, in order for your computer to call the ISP's computer and establish a connection.

The other type is a broadband connection. What is indeed referred to by the term broadband?

The term "broadband" first appeared at telecommunications laboratories to characterize high speed telecommunication lines (lines having a "broad band" - in proportion, you can think of a broad/wide street allowing either more cars to travel on it, or the same cars to develop higher speeds, thus travelling quicker).

We say that a telecommunications connection is broadband if it is characterized by the following:

  • It offers ceaseless access to the Internet
  • It offer fast connection speeds so that the user can have access to rich content (voice, video and data)

With increased competition between telecommunication providers, nowadays you can get a broadband connection (either by itself or bundled with other services, i.e. voice, TV, etc) fairly cheap. Different technologies through which a broadband connection can be offered include DSL, Cable, Fiber or wireless technologies such as WiFi or GSM 3G. I am not going to tire you more with tech buzzwords, but you will feel better when in a conversation you might hear someone mentioning them and you can roughly have an idea of what they are talking about.

Once you get a broadband service from a provider, you will receive a set-top box along with it, which you will connect to your computer. Therefore, apart from the service you are going to get from the provider, you need your computer to be equipped either with an Ethernet card or an unused USB slot, in order to connect to the set-top box.

I would definitely recommend you getting a broadband connection. It simply has too many advantages over narrowband, especially since now that prices are pretty cheap (you can get a decent package for $20-$25/month with many companies offering special, reduced, rates for the first few months).

A domain name

I highly recommend getting a domain name. You might wonder what a domain name is and why it is important for you when making a website. Am I right?

We have devoted a separate domain name section in Step 1, where you will find all necessary information about domain names.

A web hosting provider

Last, but not least, your website will need a "home" to "live" in. In other words, you will need a web host.

We have devoted a separate web hosting section in Step 1, where you will find all necessary information about web hosting services.

Your final checklist

That's about it! Your checklist, in summary, is comprised of the following elements:

  • An idea
  • A computer equipped with the ability to connect to the internet
  • A browser
  • A simple text editor
  • A connection to the internet
  • A domain name
  • A web hosting provider

You are now ready to start!

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