Website Hosting & Building
- Whether showcasing a business, organization or just personal interests, at its most basic, a website serves to share information. Websites can serve to boost awareness, sell products, impart knowledge, promote people, companies and products and even facilitate networking. Website building has increasingly become a mainstay in the field of communications. As an essential part of the website building process, a web host serves to connect the individual set of local files comprising a website to the internet. Through a series of server applications and designations, website host computers enable internet users worldwide to view files housed in their hardware.
- The basic requirements for website hosting and building include registering a website domain name or URL, procuring a hosting service and programming computer files in languages that can be read by the internet. A domain name is the web address by which internet users can access website files, and registration usually requires a small fee purchased per year. Secondly, a web page requires a connection to an internet "server." This server "hosts" copies of the website files so they can be viewed by anyone with an internet connection. Finally, web page files must be programmed in languages that can be viewed consistently across a variety of computer systems. The primary programming type for internet use is HTML. This standard language can be enhanced by using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and various database oriented programming languages, such as ASP and PHP.
- The time needed to determine and write content, prepare photos and graphics for online use and program files appropriately will be different for each website developed, and will vary based on the computer experience of those preparing the files. For the most part, registering a domain name and establishing a website host service can be completed within a matter of days, since most transactions are done online. After choosing a website host, the domain name registrant will need to configure his domain record to reflect the specific internet servers that will host the website files. The time frame for a domain record to be updated throughout the internet is usually 48 to 72 hours, and most domain registration companies offer easy account overview pages to facilitate the process.
- Website hosting and building can be accomplished with a few software tools. A web-authoring program that can correctly "code" your website layout and content in HTML (or other internet-friendly languages) is required. A complete knowledge of HTML is not necessary, however, because there are many WYSIWYG software packages available, like Microsoft FrontPage, Adobe Go Live, Macromedia Dreamweaver and others. In addition to programming software, a program for saving images or pictures as jpeg or gif files is also helpful; a wide range of desktop publishing programs can accomplish this task. Finally, a file transfer program or on-line interface is required to move completed website files to the host server.
- Appropriate content will depend on the goals of the website as well as the needs of the online visitors. A well-conceived content outline can greatly minimize the time required to develop the website, as well as attract more visitors to the site. In addition to initial content, another consideration in building a website is the on-going site maintenance required. Developing a good plan for how the website will be updated is an important step. Another crucial decision is whether to contract a professional development company, or to attempt to execute the website with lay programmers. There are many online resources and tutorials available for learning HTML programming, as well as other web-authoring software packages.