Using HTML to Build a Commercial Small Business Web Site

Hugh Phillips Default

Okay. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, the fun part. Making your commercial web site. By now you should have a business domain name, and are renting web space from a server host. Now you are ready to create and upload your web site to the server. Technically, most web masters have already created a web site to upload by this stage. It’s up to you really. Let’s just say you’re at the stage when you’re ready to build your web site.
Please note that this is not a how-to on creating HTML web pages. This is more about what you’ll need to create a commercial web site, how HTML allows you to add or modify features you want, and getting your site ready for uploading to your server. However way you proceed depends on how much you want to spend, and how much you want to be involved in this whole process. You probably already have an idea of what you want for your web site, so let’s get started.

For starters, you can use the free software provided by your server host to create your web site with. So for the most part, you really don’t have to buy HTML software. Their online software is probably easy to use and you won’t have any compatibility issues. In our case I had already created a web site with our own software before moving to my current host. It’s up to you. But if you really want to cut down on costs, consider at least learning the basics of HTML language and do it all yourself.

The alternative is to pay someone to create and maintain (update) your web site, and you’ll always be making updates. Few people visit static sites. Either way it’s your call. Hiring a web master is not too expensive. You can find one locally in message boards or look online. They often charge a set price for creating the site and monthly fees for maintaining it. Costs vary depending on what you want. If you have a thriving business that can cover the costs and you don’t want to bother with all this, then you should hire a professional web master.

Just remember that if you want a complicated site with many pages and e-commerce functions, you will pay more. Most of the ‘deals’ you see are for a few pages of web space. And in reality that usually does the trick for most local small business owners. Many are happy with a single business info page, and don’t need e-commerce. In fact there are companies that will do this simple ‘web presence’ option for pennies, even pages with ($) optional e-commerce ability. I’ve seen a couple of TV commercials, but they’ve been around for years now. You can even customize your simple site with their easy-to-choose templates. If you only need a page or two this might be an option for you.

We wanted a complicated site with more pages, almost a hundred, and wanted to create it ourselves. So from the very beginning we opted for HTML web site/page-creating software. And unless something drastically changes, most HTML software can do the job at an affordable price. You can even find inexpensive older software that will do just fine. The software I use is over ten years old. In short, basic HTML language is the groundwork for web site creating, and HTML hasn’t really changed very much over the years.

What has changed are the features (codes amp; scripts) you add to HTML to make your page do all the cool things you want. You’ll hear terms like javascript, ajax, Flash, CSS or others. These different scripts tell the HTML where the resources (data) are, what to load and how to react on the page. How much you spend on HTML software depends on extra features like these and others. Most will have e-commerce ability as well. Just remember to purchase up-to-date software if you want e-commerce features included.

Technically you can create web pages for free. Basic HTML code is like any other computer language. Once learned, it doesn’t cost you a thing. But it is a complicated language to learn, and is the oldest of the current computer Internet languages. So we purchased an older software program for a really good price. Like I said before. If we wanted e-commerce ability, our server host will charge us whether we create the page or not. So we don’t need that ability in our software. Even if we used the latest HTML software, there would be compatibility issues. Will your server accept the codes your software creates? Will the e-commerce features be ones your server uses? It can all get very complicated. I found most of it was over my head. Besides, your server host offers free, easy-to-insert goodies like email, blog pages and more. Why go through all the headaches of trying to decipher all this?

It’s up to you but if you’re going to create a web site on your own, you really only need basic HTML software. It will save you money in the long run, and you won’t have to run to a web master any time you want changes made. Trust me, you will always be making changes. Using HTML software is like using a word processor, and you already know how to do that right? Most software programs will allow you to create web pages in this view mode. This view is known as What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG). You can create whole sites in this mode and not even have to refer to the other views, which are Tab and HTML views.

In Tabs view you’ll see tab icons identifying the codes on each side of any text or images that displays on the web page. This mode is a good learning ground to view basic codes and how they’re written. Common HTML language like, paragraph, break, and text display information (color, bold, size, etc.), among others. You can still see images you insert in this view, so I usually edit in this mode. It takes a little getting used to, but the benefit is that it helps you understand how web pages are built.

In HTML view all you’ll see is text. This is the actual HTML language. If you’re working in this mode, pay attention to functions bracketed in arrows lt; gt;. In addition to basic codes, these arrow brackets will have to do with functions like links, tables and scripted codes like JAVASCRIPT. Codes like javascript are whole script codes written to add functionality and special features to web sites. The same script codes you pay for in most HTML software. Since HTML language is free to use, people have generously written these special scripts for others to use on their web sites, for free. Just copy and paste. You can use the goodies your software provides use these sources, or both. They all will function with HTML.

I mostly use javascript but there are other scripts types like ajax and others. There is also CSS, the most common code for adding features. I’m not going to get into details, but all you really need to know is how to recognize these scripts in the HTML view of your software. This is valuable if you want to modify any aspect of the code, because most are customizable if you know basic HTML. The main thing to understand when you’re looking at a web page, is that these codes (even basic ones) start with a function in bracketed arrows lt; function gt; (no spaces) and end with a forward slash and the function name bracketed in arrows lt; / function gt;. If you know where it starts and ends, however long it is, you’ll eventually be able to see where you can make changes like size, color, text, links and other things.

In our next segment, we’ll see how basic HTML opens whole new avenues to help you market your commercial web site and hopefully lead to more profits.