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Sep 22, 2009 | Comments

Recently I wrote about a project that I built on NYC’s menu labeling law. The next few posts explain how to make a website just like it. Why am I doing this? For marketers, the knowledge required to create a well-designed site is buried in hard-to-understand tutorials, books, and forums for computer programmers. Knowing nothing about web programming one year ago, this series explains everything that I’ve learned.

First I will address one of the biggest knowledge gaps for marketers: how does stuff get on the Internet? When I type into my web browser “www.google.com,” how does the Internet know what goes where?

Web Hosting

Before you can create anything on the Internet, you need a web host. Put simply, it’s is a service that gives you access to an Internet-connected hard-drive.

To create something on the Internet, you pay a web hosting service, such as GoDaddy, Bluehost, Webair, Host Gator, $5-$10/month for several gigabytes worth of Internet-connected storage space (more info on web hosting here and here).

When you sign-up and pay with your credit card, they’ll ask you to choose a domain name (or a URL, e.g., www.mdaniels.com).  All your Internet files are stored and accessed via this domain name.

mdaniels_folder

This folder contains everything on mdaniels.com. Suppose you have a picture, called image.jpg. Place it inside the www.mdaniels.com folder and it will appear on the Internet at the address http://www.mdaniels.com/image.jpg.

mdaniels_move

Note: when you purchase a web hosting service, your domain name should be included in your service. If you have to buy it separately, you’ll need to manually connect the domain name to your web service,  a rather complicated step beyond the scope of this tutorial.

Getting  Started

After your purchase, you’ll get a few emails from your web hosting service (I use the webhost webair.com). The first email:

New Webair hosting account information!

YOUR WEBSITE:

DOMAIN NAME: mdaniels.com
IP ADDRESS: 111.111.11.111

FTP ACCESS:

HOST ADDRESS: ftp.mdaniels.com
USER ID: username
PASSWORD: password
SITES: http://www.mdaniels.com

All of this info is very important, so take note when you receive it. You’ll also get a link to “control panel,” or in my case cp.webair.com. This is where you manage your account, domain name, and bunch of other things that we’ll get into later.

Next, you’ll get a second email confirming your domain registration. When I requested www.mdaniels.com, it didn’t go live on the Internet immediately. It takes a good 48 hours to make its way through the system.

Transferring Files

At this point, you’ve purchased server space and have a domain name that is live (i.e., doesn’t show “page not found” when typed into a web browser). How do you upload your first document to the Internet?

We need to access the folder I illustrated above (i.e., www.mdaniels.com), your domain name server space. But it’s not simple as clicking “My Computer” on your PC. You need a special program that transfers files from your computer to your web host’s servers.  Note: Some web hosts provide a built-in tool on their control panel. Either way, try installing a file transfer program.

Step 1: Installation

If you’re running a PC, install Filezilla. If a Mac, install Fetch.

Step 2: Enter your File Transfer Info

Once you start the program, you should see a field that says host or hostname. Enter the information from the web hosting service email that you received earlier. In my case, it was ftp.mdaniels.com (it usually begins with the letters FTP).

Enter the same username and password from your email that was next to the host name or in the section titled “FTP.”

login

Step 3: Connect

Click connect and you should see a window appear with your domain name and a few random files.

files

Open your domain name folder. Try dragging and dropping a file into the folder. You’ve just uploaded something onto the Internet!

Step 4: Uploading a File

Try adding a picture to your domain name directory. Make sure you remember the file name and its extension (e.g., .gif, .jpg, .bmp).

For example, upload a photo called picture.jpg to your domain name folder. It will appear on the internet as www.yourdomainname.com/picture.gif

picture

And that’s how the Internet works.

Summary of steps:

  • Go to a web hosting service (like Godaddy or Webair)
  • Buy a comfortable option (I recommend that cheapest, usually $5-$10/month)
  • Choose a domain name for your website (e.g., www.mdaniels.com)
  • Wait at least 48 hours to confirm that your domain name is working.
  • Download a file transfer program, such as Filezilla for PC or Fetch for Mac.
  • Connect your website and try uploading a file.
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  • Very nice post, really good for the newbies who wants to start a website but don't know how to begin, i really appreciate the professional people who make such guides and post them to help newcomers.

  • Fetch technically requires a license, but you can stay on trial mode indefinitely (you just have to wait a few seconds to click "try" when you launch the program). You might get a free file transfer program for Mac through school though.

    Fugu is another free FTP program for mac that I used in the past as well:
    http://www.columbia.edu/acis/s...

  • Jillian Wood

    Great post!!! This couldn't have come at a better time, I am going to be launching my online portfolio soon but have never owned a domain before! Thank you!

    Just wondering how you got your licence for fetch, as it wasn't mentioned in the article...(hoping I can get a free one because I'm still in school but not sure how the process works).

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