I have been wanting to write a short "how to" guide for you to make your own web site, and now the time seems right. This won't replace the experienced web designer who you would still need if your business depends on it. It's aimed at those who would build a fun site, class project, or just have inquiring minds.
Now being a cheep guy myself I'll assume that you want to do it without spending a lot of cash so there will be links to free stuff when ever possible. At times there may be links to some of the books or software that we use just in case you happen to advance to the point that some investment is considered. You will be surprised to learn what you can do for free in the world of web page design.
Now I hear you saying, "why bother we have Internet Explorer?" Firefox 4.0.1 is my default browser for many reasons. It's more secure, has a lot of features that web developers really like, and last but not least it's free. Those web developer features are why you should download it right now. If you want to keep IE as your default thats fine, but you need to be able to check you work in Firefox since it has 5% of the browser market now. There is no problem having more than one browser. We have four different ones here.
Once you get Firefox installed take a look at my setup and get all of the extensions that pertain to web design. If in doubt just grab it. Some of the extension versions listed have been updated so just go for the latest one. Firefox has a little icon in the upper right that lets you check for updates.
How Does It All Work?
All web pages are viewed in an application called a web browser of which the best known is Internet Explorer. The browser takes the commands you give to create the visible page and your commands are in a code called HTML or HyperText Mark-up Language. You can see the result of your code on your PC or you can upload the code to a web server and let the world see it. If you have Firefox open you can click "View" and then "Page Source" to see the HTML that the server has sent to your browser so that this page can be displayed in all it's radiant glory. Now don't let that scare you because if an old burnt out fisherman can do it so can you.