Prototyping your own Web site



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Here is the basic procedure you need to follow!

As this was indicated on the previous page (Home Page) the basic steps that you need to complete in order to prepare your own Web site include:
1. Define (or design) what and how you wish to show on your Web site.
2. Find a Web space (and your Web page address), which is to accomodate your Web page.
3. Develop or copy your fist prototype of the Web site.
4. Upload your first prototype of the Web site at your server.
5. Repetetively keep improving and uploading your Web site, until you are satisfied that it meets your needs and quality standards.
6. Enhance your Web site (e.g. make it user friendly and search engines friendly).
7. Direct Internet traffic to your Web site (i.e. submit it to various search engines, advertise it through discussion lists, emails, your visit cards and brochures, etc.) to it.
8. Maintain your Web site (i.e. systematically improve, extend, an update it, as circumstances change or develops).
This procedure of constructing a Web site is called a "prototype model" and it is the easiest one to follow (there is another one, called a "waterfall model", but that other one is more difficult and requires more practical experience.

Fig. 1: Myself in 1995 during an encounter with colourful Chinese culture.

1. Define (or design) your future web site
Before you undertake any activity connected with constructing your own Web site, you firstly need to do some design work. The point is that from the very beginning you need to know exactly what and how you are going to present on your web site, what purpose this web site supposed to serve, etc. For example, depending on this purpose and content, you will choose the appropriate name for your site (e.g. if you wish to make a site about "breeding dogs", you cannot anme it "going fishing"), etc. At this initial stage you need to decide at least:
-What name you wish to assign to your web site (e.g. "websitemaker"),
-What title you site is going to have (e.g. "Web site: do it yourself"),
-What volume of disk space you need for your Web site. This volume is the sum of following volumes:
--Volume of all photographs/pictures that you are going to show on your web site (you need to plan around 0.5 MB space per each photograph of a good quality),
--Volume of the text that you wish to present on your Web site (you need to plan around 3 kB per each 1000 characters of the text presented on your Web site),
--Volume of all files, sounds, vides, animations, etc., that you intend to include into your web site.

2. Find and secure appropriate Web space
Before you find and secure disk space on the server for your Web site, you need to make an initial decision, namely whether this is going to be a free space, or paid space. Paid space probably is going to be supplied easily by your permanent internet provider. In turn free space provider you need to find yourself in the Internet.
Note that in case you decide to find free disk space, you may find handy some hinds that I outlined on another page from this Web site, namely on the page named Free Resources (accessible e.g. via the menu). When you start securing a free disk space for your web site, make sure that you have a lot of time at hand, and also that you have handy your design notes, as the free web space provider is going to ask you tricky questions about your future site, e.g. type what "username" you wish to assign to it (this "username" should correspond to the name that you designed for your site).

3. Prototype your fist Web page
The easiest way of making your own web site, is to just alter an existing site, which is very similar to that one which you intend to make. Therefore, the first step in prototyping your own web site, is to find a template for your web site. This template should be as close as possible to the one that you intend to make. Having such a template, you just need to alter it to produce the content and visual impressions that you wish to accomplish. In picking a template to become your first prototype, you have two choices. The first of these depends on choosing, and using, a standard template, which many free web space providers offer to their clients, together with the free space. The other choice is to find an existing web page to become your template. For example you may have a look at the page that you can access from the menu item Templates of this Web site.
After you find a suitable template, change on it everything that you wish to appear on your Web site. Upon the completion of these changes, you receive your first prototype, that you can upload to your server.

4. Upload your prototype to the server
Each time after you make your subsequent prototype, you need to upload it to the server, from which it is going to be displayed to the users. There is several ways to upload your web site to the server. The most simple one depends on the using of "File Management/Uploading Facilities" that usually are supplied by the server. More advanced manner of uploading depends on using a software that is capable to operate in FTP mode. (There is a lot of the software with this capability, e.g. there is a free Microsoft WS_FTP - available from, also a popular package named "Dreamweaver" has almost the same capability.)

5. Repetetively keep improving and uploading your Web site, util it meets your quality standards
The work on your Web site should be spread in to a longer period of time. It should mainly depend on interactive making a next version of your web site (prototype), uploading this next version (prototype) to the server which hosts your Web site, analysing the impact that this next version (prototype) is making and designing further improvements that are to channel this impact better. Then the entire process is to be repeated again and again, until everything is right.

6. Enhance your Web site (e.g. make it user friendly and search engines friendly)
After yopu are satisfied with quality of your Web site, you may start enhancing it. There are numerous enhancements that you can make. The most important of these include:
(a) Making it search engines friendly. For this you need include at least two tags into the first page on your Web site. These META tags should be as follows:
<META NAME="Keywords" CONTENT="Here you list keywords of your Web site">
<META NAME="Description" CONTENT="Here you describe your Web site">
Notice that (a) whatever you put into quotes after the word CONTENT=, it should not exceed 150 characters in length; (b) that there is a lot more of META tags, which you may include in your Web site to enhance it, although the two listed above are the most important ones.
(b) Making it user friendly. For this you can make a lot of visual improvements, improve the graphical side of your Web site, etc. However, please notice to overdo with pfotographs and illustrations, because they slow down the loading of your site, while if your Web site loads slow, users get impatient and turn their attention to some other sites.

7. Direct Internet traffic to your Web site (i.e. submit it to various search engines, advertise it through discussion lists, emails, your visit cards and brochures, etc.)
Web site by itself is not going to attract attention of the potential users. To get this attention it must be submitted to so called "Search Engines". Only then potential users are going to use these engines and come accross your Web site. In order to submit your Web site to search engines, useful should be my hints provided in a separate page SubmitYourSite (accessible through clicking on the menu).
Apart from search engines, you can advartise your Web site in many other ways. The most popular ones include: (1) sinding emails to your clients or acquintances, in which (emails) you invite them to visit your Web site, (2) talking about your Web site on discussion lists from your area of interests, (3) advertising your site on your visit cards, brochures, and every printed material that you give out to others, and many more.

8. Maintain your Web site (i.e. systematically improve, extend, an update it, as circumstances change or develop)
With the elapse of time every knowledge looses its validity. This also happens with your Web site. Therefore you need to keep it up to date systematically, by ajusting it to the ever changing current situation.

Should you wish to do some further learning in this area
I am providing on this Web site some examples of Web pages which you may wish to utilise. Also I am providing an access to my lecture notes that address the design and construction of Web sites.

The last update of this page was on 30 July 2005.