The Nitty Gritty of Creating Your New Website - Part 1

web browsersby Gail Breese

 

Once you embark on creating your new website, you begin to realise that it's not quite as straightforward as you thought it might be. There are a few things you need to know before you start that will save you a lot of time later on.

 

Most new website creators have different amounts of knowledge when they first begin to build their websites. It could be that they did a bit of research as to how to begin, or maybe they used an HTML Editing program and the information on there might have pointed them in the right direction. But for many of us, it was trial and error. So I will try to explain how to better begin your journey to save time later on. We'll look at:

  1. The structure of your website files.
  2. How to validate your site's coding. (This will give you feedback as to  how well your coding will or will not display.)
  3. Why you should check your site on different browsers. (There is no consistency between browsers as to how they render pages on the web. A small change to your coding can usually correct this.) 

Website Structure

Before you begin designing your pages and creating the images you need, it is advisable to have a folder to hold all your website's files.  Name this folder - for example, mysite.com. Inside this folder create two more folders: Pages and Images. As you create your new files, you can immediately save the page and image files to the correct folders, saving a lot of time later on.

At this time I also create another folder outside of msysite.com. I usually name it mysite-docs, but any name will do as long as you remember it. Into this folder I put files that I've created but not used. i.e. I might create 3-4 versions of an image and save in a format that allows me to go back and edit it if I need to create another version later on. I also put into this folder most of the files that I might need to use later.

Validate the coding

Now you have finished creating your new website, but it's not quite ready to be published to the internet. Before you even think of how you will do this, I would recommend that you thoroughly check or validate the HTML coding. When you complete a manuscript, you edit and spell-check the document to make sure it has no errors. Similarly, with websites, you validate the site to make sure there are no errors in the HTML markup. Some HTML markup can be fairly forgiving but other variations can cause strange things to happen. So, the first thing you need to do is to a make sure that your coding is correct - that is, that there are no duplicated or missing HTML tags.

Different browsers can render the coding in slightly different ways, so make sure that there'll be no nasty surprises when your site is uploaded. Some HTML website programs, like Dreamweaver, include a site validator, so that is one way to find out if your coding is going to display well.

But if your HTML editor doesn't include one of these, there are many free HTML validators on the web. I use the one offered by the *World Wide Web Consortium (W3 Consortium). You access it here: http://validator.w3.org/

All you are required to do is to type in the URL of the page you wish to check, (e.g. . http://www.mysite.com), click CHECK, and you will see the results of any errors on the page.

*The World Wide Web Consortium recommends standards for the internet. They offer documents to help website designers to create sites that view correctly on all browsers - for example, the correct usage of the markup language such as HTML.

Check your site on different browsers

As you now realise from reading the preceding text, what appears correct in one browser could be distorted in some way on another. There are code fixes for this but it is good to see how your visitors could be viewing your site, and it might surprise you.

You can download a selection of browsers onto your computer, but there are quite a lot of them. Four popular browsers are Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari. There are others as well. You can't have all of them and all their different versions on your computer, but these four would be a good start.

A website with correct HTML coding loads quicker than those with errors and will display more uniformly on a variety of browsers. If you would like your website to be listed higher on search engines, good HTML is important. Some search engines can't index a site if it has errors in the code.

Now you are ready to upload your website files to the internet.  See my next article The Nitty Gritty of Creating Your New Website. Part 2.

Copyright (C) Gail C Breese

 

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