Shortly after your first successful sessions exploring the Internet you will probably get an irresistible urge to create your own Web site. Don’t fight it, the volume and diversity of information is what makes the Internet such a valuable and important resource. You almost certainly have something to contribute, or sell, but where do you start?

Right here of course. This week we’re taking a close look at the nuts and bolts of a web site and what makes it tick. Next week we get down to the business of design and layout. Week three deals with how to get your site published, and make sure the millions of Internet users around the world can find it.

You won’t need any specialist knowledge or skills to construct a web site. If you have Windows 95 and a web browser on your PC you already possess all the software needed, though it’s a lot easier if you have a word processor like Microsoft Word 7, or one of the many Web authoring packages now available.

It’s not expensive either; there are some excellent freeware and shareware programs included on magazine cover-mount CD-ROMs, or available for the cost of a download, from numerous sites around the web, (see Contacts box). Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) now throw in several megabytes of web space as an inducement to subscribers; otherwise there is a number of Internet companies that will give you free space on their server in exchange for carrying advertisements. However, if you need a more permanent and controlled presence on the web you should consider paying for space and using an specialist agency to create and maintain your site.

Although not essential it’s worth knowing just a little about how an Internet web site is put together. As you will have discovered it is possible to move around a document or site, or jump to another Web site by simply clicking your PC mouse pointer on coloured and underlined text or ‘buttons’. They’re called links and behind the scenes, embedded in the pages, are hidden instructions, written in a code called HTML or HyperText Mark-up Language. They tell the browser software what to do and where to go.

HTML is based on simple text commands. It’s not complicated, but it can be a bit long-winded to write and check the codes manually. You can easily see them for yourself when you’re viewing a web page if you’re using Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. In Explorer right click on some text and Windows 95 Notepad will appear, showing all the codes and copy. If you’re using Netscape highlight the text then go to the View menu and click on Document Source.  The good news is you don’t need to learn HTML right now but it might come in handy later on, if you want to incorporate some of the special features, that you may have seen on other web sites.  

The key to a successful web site is planning. Before you go any further decide what information you want your site to contain, how you want it to look in terms of layout and illustrations, and how it is going to work, in other words how the various pages connect to one another. Try roughing out a few ideas on paper first. There are very few hard and fast rules; the best place to pick up the do’s and don’ts is by looking at how others do it, and learn from their mistakes.

The most important element of any web site is the first page or Home page, the one that your visitors will see when they arrive. From there it should be possible to get to any other part of the site, and back to your home page, so plan your links carefully. Keep your introduction copy short, relevant and above all interesting. Everyone likes a freebie, so if you’ve something to give away – be it an essential nugget of information, software, product or service -- make sure it’s prominently mentioned on your Home page. Feedback is essential – you want to know what people think about your site -- so don’t forget to include your Email address somewhere on the home page. Avoid complicated graphics or illustrations that may take a long time to download, it’s a real turn-off. You may want to direct visitors to other related sites so compile a list of Internet addresses and make sure they work on your browser. 

Now you are ready to use your word processor to write the main text. When you have finished double check spelling and grammar, then check it again, or get someone else to read it through. Spelling mistakes, especially big ones -- on headlines and banners -- look incredibly amateurish and reflect very badly on you. Finally gather together the illustrations you’ll be using. You can edit them using programs such as PaintShop Pro, and save them in JPEG (for photographs) and GIF (for graphics) file formats, ready for inclusion in your Web pages.

Next week, turning your finely tuned words and pictures into a finished web site.




A program, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator that creates a window onto the Internet, allowing you to access pages by entering in an address or ‘URL’. Once the site has been found, the browser allows you to move around, between pages, and jump to other sites


Highlighted text that provides the browser with a hidden pathway or shortcut to another part of the document, or the address of another site 


Uniform Resource Locator – a standard Internet address





HotDog Express,

PaintShop Pro,



Before Windows 95, when you deleted something on a PC it stayed deleted but now there’s Recycle Bin, and it lets you change your mind. If you want to reinstate a deleted file double click on the bin icon on the desktop, or one of the two you will find in Windows Explorer, either will do. Notice that the icon changes according to whether the bin is empty or not. Highlight the files with the mouse pointer, single-click the left mouse button then from the File drop-down menu click on Restore. Whenever you delete a file or program it’s a good idea to wait a day or two, to make sure your PC is behaving normally, before you empty the bin. If you’ve deleted files to free up hard disc space, it won’t become available until the bin is emptied.  You can bypass the recycle bin altogether by right-clicking on a file, hold down the shift key and click on Delete, or press the delete button on the keyboard.

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