“Do I need a website?” To help you answer this question, let’s have a look on why people make websites of their own. But before anything else, let me first share a bit of my journey in web designing.
I made my first ever website when I was a 16 year old freshman in college. That was about 12 years ago. The famous web hosting companies among IT students in our school back then were Bravenet, Angelfire, and the now defunct Yahoo!GeoCities. Social networking services which were prominent then are MySpace, Multiply, and of course Friendster. Little did we know that a much bigger social networking site by the name of Facebook would emerge in the future.
Over and over again, I grin, remembering the days when we had to sneak into our school library just to upload web pages and images from our 3 ½ inch floppy disks to our chosen web hosts since we only have limited time using the computer lab. And if you’re having a very good day, you had to look for an internet café outside the school and get charged with P20 to P30 per hour. That would be a large deduction to my P100 daily allowance since I usually spent P40 for my daily transportation fare. And it’s another better day when your diskette is infected with Brontok virus and all your files are gone. Yeah, I’m talking about the mid 2000s.
Our “mighty” professor taught us very “exciting” html codes. Exciting? I really don’t know if it was but I did enjoy learning the basics of web designing. Prior to learning html codes, imagine me creating my first web page using Microsoft Word. Say what!? MS Word for web designing? Basically, you just have to save your word document file as an html file. That’s it! You already have a web page. When I opened my first MS Word made web page on the Internet Explorer 7 browser, I thought I was a genius. So genius that I thought I don’t need to learn html coding anymore. Then, here comes the MS FrontPage. Our “mighty” professor disallowed us to use this program thinking we are that indolent to drag and drop everything which was ironically sounded like him. So we focused on learning html.
The HTML or Hypertext Markup Language
In a simple sense, HTML is a set of symbols or codes that determines how a web page will be displayed in a browser. It tells the browser how text, images, hyperlinks, tables (I mean web page tables not that one in the dining room), and other elements would look like.
<title> These are the text of the browser’s title bar </title>
<h1> These are the texts you will see on the web page when you open it with your browser</h1>
Interestingly, you can encode these codes using Notepad. Just save it with the file extension name .html (e.g. filename.html) then Save as type “All Files”.
This is how it looks like on a web browser like Firefox.
Some Terminologies You Need to be Familiar With
Web Browser – a program used for viewing web pages of a website. Examples are Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox etc.
Web page – a computer file usually written in a markup language like HTML
Website – a web page or pages from one location that are linked on the Internet.
Web host – a local data center or a company with its own server that allows individuals or organizations to make their website accessible on the Internet.
World Wide Web – a system where web documents and resources are interlinked by hypertext links and can be accessed using the Internet.
Internet – the system of interconnected computer networks around the world.
Hyperlink (or simply link) – a reference to another part of the web page or website you are currently viewing. Usually, by clicking the link, you will be transferred to another portion of the web page, another web page, or another website.
Domain name – the address of the website. For example, http://www.google.com, http://www.youtube.com etc. Subdomain is a part of the main domain. For example, this website’s address is http://www.growteach.wordpress.com. WordPress.com is the main domain, growteach is the subdomain name. And it’s hosted for free by wordpress.com.
What Do I Need to Make a Website?
These are the basic things you need to have in order to publish your website on the World Wide Web. First, you need to have a computer that is connected on the internet to encode and save your works. You also need a program for coding your web pages like Notepad or Adobe Dreamweaver. A browser which you can use to see the appearance of your web pages. A web host where you can upload and save all the files you need for your web site. A domain or subdomain name. In one of my upcoming posts, I’ll make another article focusing on web hosting.
Let’s get back to the first question. What makes us decide to make our own website? There are several reasons. If you have a business, you can use your website to offer products or services to your target market. A blog is another thing. I’ve already discussed blogging in one of my previous posts here. Here you can post whatever topics you are interested in. You can also monetize it and earn decent amount of money.
My first web hosting company back then was Bravenet wherein you upload all the files for your website and they will host it for free in exchange for banner ads which they are going to incorporate into every page of your site. This and GeoCities are very common web hosts for IT students during our time. Sometimes, the banner ads ruin the design of our web page because we already put images on top of our web page as our banners. But we have figured out a trick so that the banner ads will be placed below the page. The <body> tag of every html code of our page should be placed just before the closing tag of <html>. Put all the contents and its coding right after the </head> tag. So the coding goes like this,
<h1>Put everything you would like to see on the web page here before the opening tag of the body section. </h1>
When Facebook Killed MySpace and the Beloved Friendster
By the time Facebook was introduced to IT students like us, we couldn’t stand leaving Friendster immediately. Not until Friendster itself decided to leave social media service and focus in gaming that we had to sign-up for Facebook to stay connected with friends and relatives abroad. By that time, I was already busy with some other important events in my life.
After a while, I decided to continue my journey with web designing. By this time, I came into blogging. It’s more convenient because I don’t need to code every web page of my site. I just need my ideas and imagination to work together, with a little bit of originality to carry on.
4 Basic Skills for Web Designers
Surely, if you’re still a beginner, you need to learn these essential skills in web designing:
- Web page layout – you should understand at least the basics of html and designing a web page
- Content production – “content is king” as they say, but for me, “content is life” for a website.
- Graphic design – believe me, I’m not a Photoshop expert but you should at least learn how to edit a picture to be used in a web page.
- SEO – stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. Well, it doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money but you need to be acquainted with marketing to internet users for them to visit your website.
We don’t know how long or how far the World Wide Web can go. One thing is for sure, we need to accept changes and adapt to it. We are very sure that there will be another type of technology craze in the future. But if you know the basics, you do not need to be a jack of everything. Learning is a continuous process. We just have to be passionate about it.