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Is the Internet a mystery to you? Like your radio or television, your computer is probably just another “black box” (albeit a more temperamental one) that works when you turn it on, and connects to the Internet when you perform that magical sequence you've finally mastered.
Unlike radio or television programming, however, everyone has the opportunity to build their own Web site and broadcast a personal message into “cyberspace.” Just as you are not a producer of programming over the regular broadcast channels, you probably find yourself completely unsure where to begin in building your own Web site. Fortunately, Locksmith Ledger is here to give you an overview.
So how does it all work anyway?
A Web site essentially consists of special text documents – yes, text documents – with special instructions for Internet browsers, such as Internet Explorer, concerning how to read and display them. These instructions for browsers are called HTML – or Hypertext Markup Language.
First, let's tackle the word “hypertext.” If you have a young child or grandchild, or maybe have seen one, you definitely know the meaning of “hyper.” Imagine this as meaning “jumping around” or “not linear.” This means that you can jump from page to page on a Web site without pursuing any one set path. You can search for the information most interesting to you. HTML gives you the ability to put “hyperlinks” in your Web pages that help people to jump from page to page to find what they are looking for.
HTML is a language. Before you allow this to scare you away, consider that it is much easier to learn HTML than a foreign language, or even some of the very in-depth computer languages you may have heard of. The very basics of HTML can be learned in as little as one hour, and the scope of it can be covered in a few days.
“Markup” just refers to what HTML does to the text it surrounds – mark it up with instructions. You can decide to italicize or bold certain words, or to make new paragraphs, if you know the right commands (these are called HTML tags).
If you are interested in learning HTML yourself, there are many ways to do this. You can read a book on the topic or take a local community college class. There are also many excellent learning resources on the Web, and many are available for free or a small fee. W3Schools (http://www.w3schools.com/) and Web Monkey (http://www.Webmonkey.com/) both offer comprehensive and free tutorials. My favorite is the International Webmaster 's Association, or IWA (http://www.iwanet.org/), which offers HTML and other Internet classes for as little as $80. You can take classes that cater to beginners and even build up to learning more advanced techniques.
Of course, if you don't want to learn to write HTML markup for your Web pages yourself, there are other options. Programs called HTML editors act like desktop publishing software. They will write HTML for you. Even those that don't require knowledge of HTML will still allow you to play around with the code the program writes or even to write your own. This makes using an HTML editor useful, even crucial, for everyone from beginners to seasoned Web developers.
HTML editors can either be free or come for a fee. There are many free software programs you can download, such as through a Web site like http://www.download.com, which don't require you to have any knowledge of HTML. More expensive programs such as Microsoft Front Page and Adobe Dreamweaver offer added features that the free programs do not.
Download the program of your choice and read the tutorial. Most free software should be easy to get started with. The more expensive choices may require spending extra time with a tutorial, or even buying a book or taking a class. If you are using a program that doesn't require knowledge of HTML, it should have an easy-to-use interface that is similar to a word processor.
When business is quiet, take some time to create a flier, search the Internet for organizations looking for a guest speaker, or visit potential customers and drop off your brochure.
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Search engines have become the new way to source information.