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ADDING YOUR NEEDLE TO THE HAYSTACK

With the trillions of bytes of information available on the World Wide Web, creating a web site may seem like burying your needle in a haystack. It is, however, simple to do and may have advantages fo...


July 1, 1999
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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With the trillions of bytes of information available on the World Wide Web, creating a web site may seem like burying your needle in a haystack. It is, however, simple to do and may have advantages for both business and personal use.

Business on the Internet has grown rapidly over the past five years. Non-profit organizations, charities and even individuals have created web sites to reach their clients, suppliers or family members and friends.

Having a web site will put you at the leading edge of information technology and it can save valuable time in the long run. For example, people may be referred to the web site instead of mailing out brochures and documents which can be costly to print and time-consuming to prepare. A well-prepared color web site can look better than a brochure and cost less to produce. There are no mailing costs and you can reach millions of people throughout the world. So, why not do it? If it also generates more business, then it’s a bonus.

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STEP-BY-STEP

Here are some simple steps to follow to set up a web site.

Step 1: Purchase a user-friendly web authoring software: I chose Microsoft FrontPage 98 at a cost of about $200, but there are many others (ex: Pagemill by Acrobat, Homepage by Claris). These software packages are windows-based and will automatically translate your commands into HTML code, thus making it relatively simple for anyone with working knowledge of computers to set up a web site.

Step 2: Get familiar with the web authoring software: Most software packages come with good manuals and tutorials. Follow these to get familiar with the program. Essentially “play around” until you feel comfortable enough to start.

Step 3: Construct the web site: First, create a home page that outlines key information about the site. It should provide information on who you are and what you do, and it should provide “hyperlinks” to other pages of the site or to other relevant web sites. A hyperlink is simply a button to click, which takes you to another page on the Internet.

Home pages can be created easily by following the “Wizard” approach available as part of some web authoring software packages. Wizards provide a step-by-step approach and allow the selection of different “themes” (background colors, fonts, graphics) and “layouts” (borders and graphics). I recommend having a border at the top, bottom and left or right side, which is repeated on every page of the web site. The site name and logo can be at the top and the table of contents for the entire site can be placed in the top left border so that visitors can access it easily. A “navigation bar” or “hover button” at the bottom of each page is useful so that visitors can quickly return to the home page or other key pages of the site.

Besides the home page, corporations will often create pages for their services or products, experience and qualifications, order forms, and technical news or information. The mailing address and a hyperlink to the E-mail address should also be included.

Images can be added to the web site by scanning photographs and/or importing photos from a Photo CD-ROM. The latter are typically of much better quality than a scanned photo.

Publications can be scanned and saved in PDF format using Acrobat. This is a common format used on the Internet to make documents available to visitors. Documents can be read or printed using Acrobat Reader 4.0 which is available for free (see web address below).

Once the creation is finished, make sure you view the site in browser mode (as if you were on the Internet) and check that all the hyperlinks work properly and that the site layout is as you want it. Ask for feedback before publishing the site.

Step 4: Choose a server and publish the web site: When you are ready to publish the web site you will need space on a server. This is similar to the server space created for your E-mail address, but larger. The amount of space will obviously depend on the size of the site, now and in the future. Large corporate web sites with many graphics require a considerable amount of space which can cost about $30 to $80 per month or require an in-house server. For example, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity web site is 2 gigabytes (i.e. 3000 pages). For smaller sites, most server companies offer free web space ranging between one and five MEG if an E-mail/Internet account is set up.

For web publishing, an FTP (file transfer protocol) program is needed. This software is used to download the web site from your computer to the Internet. Some web authoring software packages already include FTP commands, some don’t, and some servers are not compatible with certain types of FTP programs. For example, I used Microsoft FrontPage 98 to construct my web site and chose Sympatico as my server (because of the five MEG of free web space). But Sympatico does not support Microsoft FrontPage 98 (it supports Netscape!), so I purchased WS_FTP Pro Version 6.0 (by Ipswitch Inc.) from the Internet.

Step 5: Registering with search engines: Once the web site is published, you may wish to register it with some commonly used search engines or directories such as Yahoo! and Alta Vista so that others can access your site when browsing the web. There are a few web sites which allow free registration with several commonly used search engines.

Search engines such as Alta Vista read the HTML code in millions of web pages and detect certain key words used in the search. For this reason you may want to add relevant keywords (using HTML code) to the header section of each page in your web site.

As you become better at using your web authoring software, you can improve the site and even include “fancy” features such as video and sound clips. There is also web-tracking software which can be used to analyze the “hits” to your site.P&PC

For this month’s column I asked Phil Riebel to write on an area I know little about, creating a web page. He has recently done so, without having a background in computer science. He demonstrates that with today’s software anyone with a good general knowledge of computers and a clear idea of what he wants, can teach himself how to create a good web site.

Neil McCubbin

A web site is an excellent way to disseminate information By Phil Riebel

http://www3.sympatico.ca/priebel

Type of information/serviceWeb address

Free registration with search engineshttp://www.addme.com/

Acrobat Reader 4.0 (free download version)http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/readstep.html

Downloadable FTP softwarehttp://tucows.cgocable.net/ftp95.html

Web tracking softwarehttp://209.207.135.151

http://www.portset.co.uk/webcounter.htm


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