Over the past decade, the Web has become completely integrated into the fabric of society. Most businesses have websites, and it's rare to see a commercial on television that doesn't display a URL. The simple fact that most people now know what a URL is speaks volumes. People who didn't know what the Internet was several years ago are now sending me invitations to parties using web-based invitation services.
Perhaps the greatest thing about the Web is that you don't have to be a big company to publish things on it. The only things you need to create your own website are a computer with access to the Internet and the willingness to learn. Obviously, the reason you're reading this is that you have an interest in web publishing. Perhaps you need to learn about it for work, or you're looking for a new means of self-expression, or you want to post baby pictures on the Web so that your relatives all over the country can stay up to date. The question is, how do you get started?
There's more than enough information on the Web about how to publish websites like a seasoned professional. There are tutorials, reference sites, tons of examples, and free tools to make it easier to publish on the Web. However, the advantage of reading this book instead is that all the information you need to build websites is organized in one place and presented in an orderly fashion. It has everything you need to master HTML, publish sites to a server on the Web, create graphics for use on the Web, and keep your sites running smoothly.
But wait, there's more. Other books on how to create web pages just teach you the basic technical details, such as how to produce a boldface word. In this book, you'll also learn why you should be producing a particular effect and when you should use it. In addition, this book provides hints, suggestions, and examples of how to structure your overall website, not just the words on each page. This book won't just teach you how to create a websiteit'll teach you how to create a good website.
Also, unlike other books on this subject, this book doesn't focus on any one platform. Regardless of whether you're using a PC running Windows, a Macintosh, some flavor of UNIX, or any other computer system, many of the concepts in this book will be valuable to you. And you'll be able to apply them to your web pages regardless of your platform of choice.
Who Should Read This Book
Is this book for you? That depends:
If you've never seen the Web before but you've heard that it's really nifty, this book isn't for you. You'll need a more general book about the Web before you can produce websites yourself.
What This Book Contains
This book is intended to be read and absorbed over the course of several one-hour lessons (although it depends on how much you can absorb in a day). On each day you'll read one lesson on one area of website design. The lessons are arranged in a logical order, taking you from the simplest tasks to more advanced techniques.
Part I: Getting Started
In Part I, you'll get a general overview of the World Wide Web and what you can do with it, and then you'll come up with a plan for your web presentation. You'll also write your first (very basic) web page.
Part II: Creating Simple Web Pages
In Part II, you'll learn how to write simple documents in the HTML language and link them together using hypertext links. You'll also learn how to format your web pages and how to use images on your pages.
Part III: Doing More with HTML and XHTML
In Part III, you'll learn how to create tables and forms and place them on your pages. You'll also learn how to use cascading style sheets to describe how your pages are formatted instead of tags that are focused strictly on formatting.
Part V: Designing Effective Web Pages
Part V will give you some hints for creating a well-constructed website, and you'll explore some sample websites to get an idea of what sort of work you can do. You'll learn how to design pages that will reach the types of real-world users you want to reach, and you'll learn how to create an accessible site that is usable by people with disabilities.
Part VI: Going Live on the Web
In Part VI, you'll learn how to put your site up on the Web, including how to advertise the work you've done. You'll also learn how to use some of the features of your web server to make your life easier.
Part VII: Appendixes
In the appendixes you'll find reference information about HTML, Cascading Style Sheets, the HTML color palette, and common file types on the Web. You'll also find a list of useful websites that complement the information in the book.
What You Need Before You Start
There are lots of books about how to use the World Wide Web. This book isn't one of them. I'm assuming that if you're reading this book, you already have a working connection to the Internet, you have a web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox, and you've used it at least a couple of times. You should also have at least a passing acquaintance with some other elements of the Internet, such as email and FTP, because I refer to them in general terms in this book.
In other words, you need to have used the Web in order to provide content for the Web. If you meet this one simple qualification, read on!
To really take advantage of all the concepts and examples in this book, you should consider using the most recent version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 6.0 or later) or Mozilla Firefox (version 1.0 or later).
Conventions Used in This Book
This book uses special typefaces and other graphical elements to highlight different types of information.
Three types of "boxed" elements present pertinent information that relates to the topic being discussed: Note, Tip, and Caution. Each item has a special icon associated with it, as described here.
Notes highlight special details about the current topic.
It's a good idea to read the tips because they present shortcuts or trouble-saving ideas for performing specific tasks.
Don't skip the cautions. They help you avoid making bad decisions or performing actions that can cause you trouble.
Several items are presented in a monospace font, which can be plain or italic. Here's what each one means:
In the workshop section, you can reinforce your knowledge of the concepts in the lesson by answering quiz questions or working on exercises. The Q&A provides additional information that didn't fit in neatly elsewhere in the lesson.