Building your website

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Getting Started

How to do it, and how to get people to come once you have.

Setting up Dreamweaver for FTP with DreamHost

There are a few specific things you should know when setting up Dreamweaver for FTP access.

1. The FTP host is just your domain name. ( ie. domain.com, NO ftp:// ) 2. The Host Directory should NOT be left blank. It is usually [yourdomain.com]. To find out exactly what the Host Directory should be, go to the panel, click on Domains->Manage->Edit. The host directory is in the last field on the line labeled Web Directory.

That's pretty much it!

Why do I get an empty directory listing where my website should be?

My domain is active, as I get an empty directory listing when I visit it. However, I don't want to host a directory listing - I want to host my web site. How do I upload my web site so that it shows up at my domain name?

When you first get set up and your domain becomes active, your URL will most likely bring you to an empty directory listing page. This is because you haven't uploaded your site yet. To put something up there, you'll need to use an FTP program to send your page(s) to our server. [how do I do that?]

If you have uploaded your site, you need to create an index page [what's that, and how do I get one?]. An index page can have whatever you want on it, but it must be called "index.html" (or "index.cgi" if it's a CGI program, or "index.htm", "index.php" and a few other default names). Calling the file "index.html" tells your visitors' browsers to open that page; otherwise, the browser will just show your file list.


Getting people to visit your site

Once your site is up and running, you will still need to publicize it. Nobody will visit if they can't find you through a search engine or from another related site. Here are some ways to make this happen:

  1. Visit each of the major search engines that you know about, and submit your URL. Most of these sites have a link called "submit your site," (or something like that) --- just click on the link and follow the directions. For the most part, the links are not placed prominently or noticeably --- you will probably have to look for them. Some popular search engines include:
  2. There are many paid and free services which will submit your site to search engines for you. To find these, go to one of the search engines above, type in the words "search engine," and browse through the retrievals until you find one you like. By and large, we do not recommend these types of services.
  3. To make your site easier for the search engines to crawl and classify, consider adding some META tags to your index page. You can add general keywords that you think would interest people, and a short description. META tags go between the &#60/title&#62 and &#60/head&#62 tags in your HTML code. META tags for a site about your Indonesian restaurant might look something like this: &#60META NAME = "keywords" CONTENT= "restaurant, food, cuisine, Indonesian, rijstafel, vegetarian, cooking, vegetables, tofu"&#62 &#60META NAME = "description" CONTENT= "Java Internationale of Amsterdam provides the best of traditional Indonesian dining in a relaxed atmosphere. Conveniently located along Singel, near Leidestraat."&#62 The "keywords" tag gives the search engine a way to classify your page. The "description" gives the search engine something coherent to put in the blurb that visitors will see on the search page, rather than the first few words that appear on the page, which would appear there by default.
  4. Keyword your pages and add them to the NDN Keywords index! Read more about it in the Related Links column to the left.
  5. Enter the DreamHost Site of the Month Contest! See the articles in the Related Links column of this page for more details.
  6. Submit your site to the unofficial DreamHost site index at http://directory.dreamhost.com!
On the other hand, just because you have a site doesn't mean you have to tell everyone about it - it's always good to have a place where you can experiment with learning HTML or creating web graphics.

Good luck!


What do I need to put up a website?

To put up a website, you need the following:
  1. An address where people can find your site (domain name, subdomain, URL): Through DreamHost, you can register a domain or request a DreamHost subdomain (ie. "yoursite.dreamhost.com"), choosing the name that best fits your needs.
  2. Somewhere to put your pages ( FTP Space, webspace, hosting):</a> Web Hosting through DreamHost will provide a home for your website on our ultra-reliable servers . Some Internet Service Providers give their customers a small amount of FTP space as part of their account, but generally that space will automatically be called something like: http://something.isp.com/yourname/yourpage/index.html ...rather than a name that you choose.
  3. Your web page files: These are pages that you write yourself, generally in HTML code, along with images, programs, etc. that you want people to be able to access when they come to your site.
These are the three basic things you need to put your site on the web. For more detailed information, please see the articles in the Related Links column to the left of this window. Have fun!


How do I set up/access/view my web site?

To set up your website, you must do the following:
  1. Secure webspace by either:
    • Registering a domain, then signing up for a domain hosting plan
    • Purchasing a domain hosting plan that comes with a free subdomain (ie; yourname.dreamhost.com), or
    • Signing up for domain hosting, then transferring your existing domain to DreamHost.
  2. Build your html web pages [how do I do this?]
  3. Send your html web pages to our servers via FTP [how do I do this?] (your main page should be called "index.html". [why?] )
Domain Registration means that you have paid for and are registered as owning a specific domain name, such as mycooldomain.com.

Domain Hosting means that you have paid a company, such as DreamHost, to store your html files on their server.

Transferring a domain means changing the DNS server information so that your site points to our servers.</i>

After signing up and being approved, you'll receive an email with your username and password and the name of the server you should connect to to upload your web site to via FTP.

  • Make sure your domain name is registered and working. If you told us to register it, you shouldn't have to do anything, it will begin to work within a day, or two at the most.
  • If you have a domain registered through someone else, you should make sure you have transferred its dns servers to us. You have to do this on your own; we cannot help with this (because you are the owner of the domain, not us!).
Once your domain is registered or transferred to us, and you've FTPed your content to our servers, your site will be live on the Internet to anyone in the world who visits it!


How do I make my web pages?

The Process

A web page is a text file, usually written in HTML [what's html?], then sent from your computer to your web address, generally via FTP (file transfer protocol). There are basically two choices when it comes to creating your web page:

  • [#1 Using a WYSIWYG web page developing environment]
  • [#2 Hand Coding]
Hand coding and using page publication programs each have pros and cons. Only the designer (that's you!) can decide which way is best for her or his website.
  • <a name = "1">WYSIWYG environments</a> will help you create nice-looking pages quickly, without learning HTML (the system of tags for creating web pages) or FTP (how you send your site to our servers), or CGI (programs that allow the user to interact with your site). Some popular WYSIWYG environments are: Macromedia Dreamweaver, Microsoft Publisher, Adobe Pagemill, and Adobe Go Live!. You can even use plain old Microsoft Word (98 or above) --- just save your file with the extension .html, instead of .doc.

    On the down side, not knowing how these things work will make it more difficult to troubleshoot your site when things go wrong (for instance if certain elements of your page are not compatible with all users' browsers).

  • <a name = "2">Learning to hand code HTML</a> is fun and easy, and there are a lot of tools on the Net, at the library, and in the bookstore, to help you along your way. Chances are, you can pick up enough to make a basic site in less time than it would take to figure out how to do the same thing in an authoring tool. Another advantage of hand-coding is that you, the author, will be empowered to troubleshoot and customize your site at will. You will know exactly how it is put together, and how to change and update things as needed. It's not for everyone, however --- some people don't have the time or drive to teach themselves HTML. It will take practice to get your page exactly as you want it. But by that time, chances are, you'll be having so much fun you won't want to stop! If you want to see a somewhat ugly - but functional - page of HTML, use the 'View Source' function in your browser (usually underneath a 'View' menu) to see the HTML for this page. Don't worry, not all web pages need to be this complex.
Once you've created your page(s), you need to send them via FTP (see our related articles) to our server, where people can view them. Remember that the first page people are to see when they visit your site must be called index.html --- if it's called something else, then instead of your default site, visitors will see a list of files.

Some Notes on Design Remember that you're designing a page for people to read. Goodd desine and speling doez mattur (See what we mean?). Read up on good web style; your site's visitors will thank you for it. We recommend the book "Creating Killer Web Sites", by Dave Siegel. It will show you what works and what doesn't when targeting the web community. You can visit the companion web site here:

     http://www.killersites.com/

The rule to follow is that experimentation leads to knowledge.

Outside Resources

Here are some good resources for you to use in learning the basics of web design.