A Home (Page) of Your Own
In the 1960s, people asked about your astrological sign. These days, they want to know about your web page. Your personal page is an electronic meeting place for your friends, family and potentially millions of people around the world. Building your digital domain is easier than you may think. Best of all, you may not have to spend any money at all. The Web brims with all kinds of inexpensive services, from tools to help you build your site, to graphics, animation and site hosting. Primarily, it takes time and creativity.Page Design
Think of your home page as the starting point of your website. Like the table of contents of a book or magazine, the home page is the front door. Your site can have one or more pages, depending on how you design it. If there isn't a lot of content just yet, your site will most likely have only a home page. But the site is sure to grow over time.
Web pages vary dramatically in design and content; Some use a traditional magazine layout. At the top of the page is a banner graphic. Next comes a greeting and a short description of the site. Pictures, text, and links to other websites follow.
If the site has more than one page, there's typically a list of items--similar to an index--often with a brief description. The items in the list link to other pages on the website. Sometimes these links are highlighted words in the body of the text. It can also be a combination of both. Additionally, a web page may have images that link to other content. The structure of a site typically looks something like the diagram to the right.
Before you start building your site, do some planning. Think about whom the site is for and what you want to say. Next, gather up the material that you want to put on the site: write the text, collect the photos, design or find the graphics. Draw a rough layout on a sheet of paper.
Two wildly popular destinations on the Web, MySpace and Facebook, let you design your own digital domain for free. While there are some creative limitations, your personal profile page will be part of an enormous online community--at last count Facebook had 400 million members worldwide.Some Tips
While there are no rules you have to follow, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Start simply. If you're too ambitious at the beginning, you may never get the project off the ground. You can always add to more content later.
- Less is better. Most people don't like to read a lot of text online. Be brief. Break long paragraphs into smaller chunks.
- Use restraint. Although you can use wild colors and images for the background of your pages, make sure visitors can read the text easily.
- Smaller is better. Some people still connect to the Internet with a dial-up account. Since it can take a long time to download large image and media files, keep the file sizes small. For tips how to do this, review our graphics article.
- Have the rights. Don't put any material on your site unless you are sure you can do it legally. Read Learn the Net's copyright article for more about this.
Now it's time to roll up your sleeves and start building. Your Internet service provider may include free web hosting services with an account, so check that out. If not, you can find inexpensive web hosting by searching Google.
Many computers come with programs for creating your own graphics. If not, visit Download.com, a good source of graphics software and shareware.
If you feel adventurous and want to learn more, read the Learn the Net series on Building a Website.
Last update: Jan 20, 2010