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  • Three Paths to Your Own Web Site
    By Dinos Lambropoulos

    Let's start with the possibilities. Why build your own Web site? Simply because it's a great way to share information with your family, friends, or the world at large. People just like you create Web sites all the time for reasons like these:

    • To post galleries of photos or artwork.
    • To promote birthday parties, weddings, or other celebrations.
    • To document their travels.
    • To publish their own writings.
    • To share information about their hobbies or other special interests.
    • To create tributes or memorials to loved ones.
    • To write tutorials about skills they have (cooking, building a computer, planting a garden, etc.)

    Picking a topic for your Web site is only the first step, of course. Once you have that part down, where do you start? As an EarthLink member, you have a few options. This tech tip will describe them so you can pick the path that's best for you.

    Build it in Minutes: Use Trellix® Site Builder

    EarthLink's Trellix Site Builder tool is the way to go if you want to put up a Web site in no time. It's browser-based, so you don't have to install extra software on your computer. In fact, you can use it from any computer connected to the Internet. What's more, the interface is all point-and-click—no need to learn HTML.

    That said, Site Builder's ease-of-use means you have more limited control over the look of your site than you'd get using other tools. You create Web pages using pre-made page templates and designs, then customize the content (text, images, etc.). But the basic layout and design are fixed.

    There are lots of templates to choose from, though, and if getting your content online is your main concern, the limitations probably won't be an issue for you.

    To use Site Builder:

    1. Go to the login page and enter your EarthLink email address and password.
    2. Follow the instructions to choose the type of template and page design you want to use.
    3. Once your page appears, you can start adding your content. Click the small Edit buttons next to those blocks of text and images you want to customize, and follow the instructions to create your content.
    4. Click the icons in the Control Panel across the bottom of your browser window to add photos, links, tables, and other features to your pages.
    5. The Add Page button is handy when you have more content than you can fit on a single page.
    6. When you're ready to see how your site will look when it's published on the Web, click Preview Site.
    7. If everything looks good, you're ready to click Publish to Web to share it with the world.

    Another useful feature of Site Builder is that it lets you create and publish more than one Web site. Just click All My Sites in the Control Panel, then choose a new template from the Create a new site menu.

    More Control: Go WYSIWYG

    That stands for 'What You See Is What You Get' - a type of software that lets you create Web pages from scratch using what looks like a desktop publishing program. That means if you've ever done any desktop publishing or even word processing, you can build Web pages without having to know HTML.

    One program in this category is Nvu. It's free and available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Although development has stopped on Nvu in favor of a yet-to-be released successor, it's still a worthwhile program, and you can't beat the price.

    The more well-known software in this category is commercial. Prices vary widely. Consumer-focused programs like CoffeeCup HTML Editor (Windows) or Freeway Express and Apple iWeb (Mac OS X) are on the less expensive side, while Adobe's Dreamweaver and GoLive and Microsoft's Expression Web are priced more for professionals.

    WYSIWYG programs typically have settings for publishing your pages directly to your Web site. But you'll need to configure the program to do that. Check your program's help documentation to learn where its publishing settings are. Once you know, you'll need to enter the settings for your personal webspace. This page can tell you those settings - just enter your EarthLink email address and click Submit.

    Ultimate Flexibility: Learn HTML

    Maybe you're the type who likes to know the inner workings of things, and you don't mind spending the time to learn. Maybe you want the highest degree of control possible over the design and content of your pages.

    If so, there's still no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and learning HTML. Coding in HTML can take a little longer than the other methods, but if you're particular about how you want your pages to look, the extra time is worth it.

    Some think HTML is for people with computer science degrees. Nonsense! Anyone with basic computer skills and a little patience can learn. You can buy books at your local bookstore or online, but many of the best resources for learning HTML are available free on the Web. Here are a few popular sites:

    One benefit of learning HTML is that you can use any text editing program to write it. The basic text editor that comes with every version of Windows, Notepad, is one such program (in fact, many advanced HTML authors proudly proclaim their allegiance to Notepad as a Web page creation tool). Other text editors, like HTML-Kit for Windows and Taco HTML Edit for Mac OS X, have lots of extra features aimed at HTML authors. And many of the WYSIWYG editors we covered in the previous section also let you hand-code your pages. See this listing for more text/HTML editors.

    Once you've created your pages, you need a way to get them from your computer to your Web site. Some text editors aimed at HTML authors include publishing features. If yours doesn't, you'll need a separate file transfer protocol (FTP) program. There are many FTP programs available, and many are free. FileZilla for Windows and Transmit for Mac OS X are good choices. See this list for more FTP programs. For a rundown of the settings you'll need to configure an FTP program, go to this page, enter your EarthLink email address, and click Submit.

    Final Tips

    Once you start creating Web pages, you'll want to make them look their best. Here are some pointers on improving your Web pages:

    • Web page templates: If you're design-challenged, sites like Open Source Web Design feature lots of Web page templates that can make your site look great (search for more template sites). Just open the templates using your WYSIWYG or other HTML editing software and customize them the way you want.
    • Graphics: If you're not an Illustrator or Photoshop wiz, your Web pages don't have to suffer. Graphics are available on the Web for you to use on your pages. The sites range from clip art galleries like Free Clip Art to create-your-own-logo generators like Cool Text.
    • RSS: If you'd like to create an RSS feed to notify people when you update your site, the free program ListGarden can generate the necessary files quickly and easily. It's available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux (though the Mac OS and Linux versions require that you use the command line rather than a graphical user interface). The commercial FeedForAll for Windows and Mac OS X is another option. Finally, though it's more complicated, you can also create an RSS feed using any text editor; the rather whimsical tutorial How to Create an RSS Feed With Notepad, a Web Server, and a Beer is a good guide.

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