Webmastering - Introduction to Webpage Creation

December 2016

Websites

A website (also called an Internet site) is a group of HTML files connected by hypertext links and stored on a web server, i.e. a computer that hosts webpages and is permanently connected to the Internet.

Why Have a Website?

There are many motivations for having a website:

  • Need for visibility: a well promoted website can be a good way for a company or organization to increase its visibility
  • Improved reputation: with an institutional website or a mini publicity website, a company can expand its popularity with the public
  • Data collection: the Internet is a fantastic opportunity for companies to collect client data and attract prospective clients
  • Online sales: while initially wary, Internet users have now understood that the Internet is a great medium for buying certain consumer goods. For some companies, a website is a great marketing tool
  • A user support service: more and more companies are using the Internet as a medium for providing before- and after-sales service. A website is an inexpensive way for a company to provide Internet users with the maximum amount of business and technical information.

Generally, we divide websites up into several different categories depending on their objective:

  • Storefronts are websites whose main objective is to promote a company's brand image by showing examples of its products or services
  • Catalog websites are sites whose goal is to present what a company is selling
  • Information websites are sites that supply a particular type of information to a particular type of Internet user
  • Commercial websites are sites that sell products directly to Internet users. Some of these sites allow buyers to pay online
  • An institutional websites is a site that presents an organization and its values. This type of website generally describes the organization's activity and key figures and supplies clients and/or beneficiaries with necessary information
  • Personal websites are sites set up by individuals and usually are dedicated to an individual's favorite leisure activity, topic or sport
  • Community websites are sites that bring together users with a common interest
  • Intranet websites are sites accessible within a business or office and are used to share professional information

What is Webmastering?

A webmaster is a person in charge of a website, i.e. the individual who designs a website and updates it.

The website's life is made up of two different facets, both of which can be broken down into specific phases:

  • Creation, which corresponds to converting an idea into a website that is online, indexed and visited
  • Operation, which corresponds to the daily management, evolution and updating of the site

Project Stages

The creation phase is a project in and of itself that is made up of many steps

  • Designing (the act of formalising the idea)
  • Fulfillment (the act of developing the website)
  • Hosting (the act of placing the website permanently online)

The operation phase includes the following activities (among others):

  • Monitoring the website's technology and positionning as well as those of its competition
  • Promotion and indexing of the website in order to increase traffic
  • Maintenance and updating, which involves inputting updates daily and keeping the website in good working order

Therefore, setting up a website is a multidisciplinary activity that requires the participation of people with various skills. Depending on the organization, a webmaster may be more like a project manager than a one-man-band in charge of all jobs, from designing to indexing.

The term webmastering refers to all the tasks that must be performed for a website to operate properly.

Designing

Most books about website creation only deal with the mainly technical "fulfillment" phase (creating webpages with HTML) and generally neglect all of the the pilot study stages.

Building a website does not only involve creating the webpages. It is a strategic and creative collective endeavor that must involve all stakeholders (employees, management, clients, etc.).

Therefore, website design is of utmost importance. This step involves reflecting first on what the overall goals of the site are and who the target audience might be and then on the structure, ergonomics and navigation.

Fulfillment

The fulfillment step involves the act of creating the webpages and graphic elements. Creating webpages consists of creating HTML files. There are two ways to create this type of file:

  • By writing HTML files "by hand", i.e. by entering HTML code in a text file with a simple text editor. This is the most tedious solution (despite HTML's relative simplicity) but nevertheless remains the best way to learn to make a website, understand how it works and thus be able to create optimized and clean code.
  • By using an HTML WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get). This is a piece of software that allows individuals to create webpages visually by placing objects and controls on the page. The software takes care of generating the HTML code automatically. This is a very practical method for creating webpages because the complexity of the process is largely hidden. However, this method can prove to be very annoying if the editor will not allow the user to create the page as he so desires. Knowledge of HTML is desirable in order to be able to master the software's more advanced editing options that allow users to manually modify style attributes.

In addition, a welcoming website must have images. Design software must be used to liven up a website with images (in GIF, JPG or PNG format).

Hosting

A company that provides web servers that are permanently connected to the Internet is called a host. The service they provide is called hosting. There are two main categories of hosts:

  • Free hosts: They give users server disk space to create their webpages. This service is generally totally free of charge. These hosts earn money either through advertisements on your website (a practice that is becoming more and more rare) or simply from traffic on their own website.
  • Professional hosts: This type of hosting guarantees service quality (bandwidth) and security (data security and less failures). This type of hosting is essential for websites with high levels of traffic (more than 1,000 visitors a day) and allows the owner to buy their own domain name (such as www.commentcamarche.net).

Going Live

You do not need to be connected to the Internet to create a website because you first have to create HTML files and images.

However, when the website is ready to be visited, it must "go live", i.e. the files must be transferred (copied) from your computer to the server.

To do so, you must connect to the Internet and then send the pages to the server by using an FTP client (file transfer protocol).

Promotion

A website will only be visited only after some type of promotional campaign has been conducted. Once a website is well known, the promotion campaign will run itself thanks to hypertext links inserted on other pages by webmasters, provided that the website's content is of interest to enough people.


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