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Plan of a Website
What a website looks like on your computer. How to build your website yourself.

There are various things you need to know when building your own website, and the basic elements are explained in the material on how to get a website. One of the things that's usually overlooked in such explanations of website design is: What does a website consist of, in terms of files and directories, etc? What does a website look like as files on your computer? Well I'll tell you! A website with a basic plan consists of a directory (folder) which contains all the files. The files are HTML files (.htm), each of which is a page of website material, and then there's all the images, which are .jpg , .gif , .png , etc. Sound files can also be included, but the basic plan is still about the same: One directory/folder containing all the files, and the files are .htm for pages with all the other associated files included in the same directory.

The front page of the website has the filename index.htm , and then all the other pages can be called whatever you like. I think it's best if all the filenames are in lower case and with no spaces.

This method of website design, where you have all the files in one directory on your computer, works very well, and has various advantages. For one thing, the definitive version is offline, and then you upload it to the server at your hosting company to put it online. With the definitive version offline, your gold standard, it remains immune from any hazards it might encounter online. Even if someone hacked into your website and mucked it up, they'd only have damaged the online copy, and you could easily upload another copy. Also, having the definitive version offline is better for archiving, as you can keep copies of your website as it develops. This form of record-keeping also settles any arguments about what was on your website on such-and-such a date etc. Another thing is that any work you do on your website, any alterations, etc, are going on offline, a bit like the way electricians prefer to work on electrical installations that aren't live at the time. Ultimately, by having your definitive website offline, you have control of it.

In case you're interested, Zyra's website has always been created as an offline definitive version which was then published as an online copy. This is also why it has issue numbers. At the time of writing this page, for example, it was on Issue118. As the website got bigger, it became a momentous event publishing the new issue, and each new issue was announced with a Circular Newsletter. If you create your own website, you don't have to write newsletters! It's a matter of personal taste. Stamp Demon does not have newsletters, but Xyroth Enterprises does. However, these sites still have the basic plan of a definitive version offline which is then published as an online copy.

When you create your own website, you can choose to work on the nitty-gritty HTML itself, or you can use website building tools such as Microsoft FrontPage Express (note that I condone the use of FrontPage Express* because it produces half-decent source-code, in contrast to the full or proper version of Microsoft FrontPage, which along with various other fancy website building tools, tends to produce code which is bloaty). You can even use Microsoft Word to output .htm as an option, but my advice is: Don't! The code is dreadful. Also, whatever website building tools you use, it's best to never lose sight of the real HTML. There's more to HTML than what you see on the page, as there are proper meta-tags such as the description and keywords, and there's the page title as well. Getting these things right is good practice in web design, and it can also save your website from obscurity.

If all this is too technical, and you want to get someone else to build a website for you, it's worth considering that you need to have some stuff on your website, some actual material that is about what you want. Here's an idea: How to have stuff on your website - without having to be able to make webpages yourself. (This is mentioned because some people have commissioned a website-creator who has then created a website almost devoid of meaningful content).

Also see How to get Your Own Website , How to choose a website name , How to make money on a website , and Having Your Own Website

* Microsoft FrontPage Express? Other website editing software tools are available!