Due to the volume of responses I receive, I am unable to...um, not really. I'm sure I'll have more than enough time to mull over your question. (I might even get carried away.)

Today's Column: How to get started making web pages.

 

Dear Chloe,

I want to make a website, but for some reason, no one knows and I'm not sure how to make one either. Would it be too much to ask you how to make one?

(Never expected to get this sort of question did you? Hope you think its squirty).

Sincerely,

Altruist7

 

Dear Altruist7,

I never expect to get any sort of question, actually. They're all squirty to me.

I don't consider myself to be a "web designer" but I can tell you what I did. I learned mostly by trial and error, in fact.

The first thing was to buy a book on HTML. There are plenty of books available, so spend some time looking them over. Books published by Wrox and O'Reilly are usually pretty good. I also asked someone whose style I liked how to get started. He said basically the same thing, buy a book on HTML and just get on it. He also suggested taking a class, and visiting all the links of the websites you like. Figure out why you like them.

You can also peek at the code by looking at "Document Source" or "Source" in the view menu of any browser. Save the page to your hard drive so you can play around with the code yourself and view the results in your browser (open in the file menu and browse to your file). You don't need any fancy applications; I hand code in Wordpad and then upload my files with SmartFTP, a free ftp program. Don't worry about ftp right now. I prefer hand-coding because it gives you the most control, as well as a better learning experience. A lot of places that offer free hosting (like Fortune City) have programs or templates to help you if you don't want to hand code everything. I've never used them, so I can't tell you how they work. There are plenty of resources on the net to check out, too; Webmonkey is a good place to start.

I tried to keep the site simple, with tables, since most people advised me to stay away from frames. I don't have access to things like Shockwave or Flash, so I can't tell you about that stuff. But that can come later, after you learn the basics. I'm not an artist, so my favorite thing to do is to use a dingbat font (a font composed of pictures rather than letters) from places like Fontalicious Fonts or Blue Vinyl Fonts. Then I color them in with Macromedia Fireworks, using shapes that I layer behind the font. I find the dingbats are more versatile than clip art; clip art sometimes adds a cheesy element I'm not crazy about. There are a lot of sites that offer free graphics, but searching for clip art on the internet is time consuming and frustrating, and often fruitless. You can buy cheap clip art anyway; CompUsa often has rebates on top of their occasional sales. But then I've got boxes of clip art I don't use. Now if only someone would make me a Squirtonline banner.

When you do start coding, keep the size down so the site visitor doesn't have to scroll horizontally at 640 x 480 resolution. Don't use too many different fonts for each page. I usually use one font for the title and links, and then a common font like verdana for the text. Additionally, there are some differences in the way Netscape and IE handle colors and spacing. It's frustrating since I haven't figured out a fix. That doesn't mean there isn't one. But your HTML book can give you more information on that.

Good luck and feel free to ask more questions. Let me know when your website is up.

Hugs and kisses,

 


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Disclaimer: This column is for entertainment purposes only. I am not a professional therapist or licensed anything for that matter. But that doesn't mean that I don't care.

I reserve the right to edit for grammar, brevity, content, etc. If you'd like to discuss something you've seen here, I invite you to share your experiences. Don't keep it a secret! I welcome your comments.

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