How to Build Your First Web Page

Write and post a website to promote your business or interests

Web page design

 CC0 Public Domain/Pxhere

Building your first web page isn't the hardest thing you'll do in your life, but it isn't easy either. It requires you to learn new technology, vocabulary, and software that you haven't needed before.

You need to learn some basic HTML code, get a web editor, locate a service to host your web page, assemble the content for your page, upload the webpage to the host, test the page, and then promote it. Whew!

The good news is that once you've done this all one time, you've mastered the learning curve. You can do it over and over to produce web pages on multiple topics or for multiple purposes.

01
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Take Time to Plan

Before you do anything, spend some time deciding basic questions about the web page you are about to build. Identify your audience and know what you have to say to them. If you are promoting your business, check out your competitors' websites and decide what works or doesn't work well for them. If you are planning a website with several connected web pages, and you probably are, draw a diagram illustrating the pages' relationship to one another.

The more time you spend planning before you start building a website, the smoother the actual building process is likely to go.

02
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Get a Web Editor

To build a web page, you need a web editor into which you type HTML, the code that makes your web page work. It doesn't have to be a fancy piece of software that you spend a lot of money on, although there are plenty of those available. You can use a text editor that comes with your operating system, such as Notepad in Windows 10 or TextEdit on a Mac, or you can download a free or inexpensive editor from the internet. NotePad++ and Komodo Edit, among others, are great free HTML editors for Windows. Komodo Edit is also available for the Mac. Other free HTML editors for the Mac include Bluefish, Eclipse, SeaMonkey, and others.

03
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Learn Some Basic HTML

HTML is the building block of web pages. While you can use a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor and never need to know any HTML, learning at least a little HTML helps you build and maintain your pages. As you get a little further into building web pages, you'll want to learn about Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and XML to take your new skills to the next level. For now, start at the basics of HTML.

Learning HTML is not difficult, and you can learn a lot by viewing examples of HTML. In most browsers, you can opt to view the source code of the web page you are on. Pick a simple page for this so you won't be overwhelmed. You may even be able to copy the source code to study it.

To practice, write some simple HTML in your text editor and preview how it would look on the web. If it's a garbled mess, you probably left something out. If it looks exactly like you meant it to look, congratulations.

04
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Write the Web Page and Save It to Your Hard Drive

Assembling the web page and writing the content is the fun part. Open your web editor and start building your web page. If it's a text editor, you need to know some HTML, but if it's WYSIWYG, you can build a web page just like you would a Word document.

Writing for the web is different from other types of writing. People tend to skim what they see, rather than read closely, and they won't hang in there for a thousand-word treatise. Keep the text short and relevant to your web page. Get to the point in the first paragraph and write in active voice. Action verbs keep the flow moving. Keep the sentences short and use lists instead of paragraphs where possible. Plan subheads in a larger or bold type to attract the reader's eye.

Don't forget about adding images and links to your web page. You should have learned how to do both in your HTML basics. You'll have to upload copies of the images to your web host or another place on the web for them to work when the time comes, so stay organized as you work and gather everything related to your web page in one folder saved to your hard drive.

Always preview your web page and proofread your work. A fistful of typos or broken links can damage your credibility on a topic.

05
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Find a Web Host for Your Web Page

Now that you've written your web page and saved it on your hard drive, it is time to put it on the web so that other people can see it. You do this with the assistance of a web host, which is a company where you upload all your files. There are plenty of them out there, and selecting a reliable host is important. You can visit web hosting review sites or go with one of the well-known providers such as HostGator or GoDaddy for a business. Don't overlook Wix (a WYSIWYG platform), WordPress.com, and Weebly, all of which are well-established hosts.

There are many options for web hosting from free (with and without advertising) all the way up to several hundred dollars a month. What you need in a web host depends upon what your website needs to attract and keep readers. Visit a few web hosting websites and see what they cost and what they provide. Some providers supply a generic URL address, but if you want to personalize the URL for your business or want to use your name as part of your URL, you'll need to register for a domain. You can register a domain for $10 or less or $10,000 or more. Because this is your first web page, go low.

Fill out an application, get a domain, and decide on the other features you need and sign up with a web host.

06
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Upload Your Page to Your Host

Once you have a hosting provider, you need to move your files from your local hard drive to the hosting computer. Many hosting companies provide an online file management tool that you can use to upload your files, but if they don't, you can use FTP to upload your web page. The process varies by provider, so follow the instructions you are given as to where to upload your files. Most of the hosting providers publish tutorials for people just like you who are uploading their first files. If you have specific questions about how to get your files to the company's server and where to put them, ask for technical help.

At some point, you receive a URL from the web host. It's the address of your website, which you can give to all your friends and relatives so they can admire your work, but don't hand it out just yet.

07
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Test Your Page

Before you post the URL on social media or hand it out, test your web page. You don't want any unpleasant surprises.

Many novice web developers omit the testing phase of web page creation, but it is important. Testing your pages ensures that they are at the URL you think they are and that they look OK in all the popular web browsers. Open your web page in Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and other browsers you or a friend have installed on a computer. Make sure all the images display and the links work. You don't want any unpleasant surprises.

If you run into a surprise, take the standard steps to solve problems in web design.

When the web page looks just like you planned, it is time to promote it.

08
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Promote Your Web Page

After you have your web page up on the web, let people know about it. The simplest way is to send out an email message to your clients, friends, and family with the URL. Add the URL to your email signature or post it on your social media sites. If it is for your business, add the address to your business cards and other printed materials.

If you want lots of people to view your web page, you need to learn how to promote it in search engines and other locations, but search engine optimization (SEO) is a story for another day.