How to Set up a Personal Webpage

Written by Derek Wilson on January 15th, 2012

So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and finally invest in a personal webpage so you can make your mark on the internet. Now, it may seem pretty daunting at first but we’ll break it down into some small steps so you’ll be set-up in no time.

Part 1: The Domain

What is a domain name?

If you’re looking to create a professional looking website and want the credibility you deserve then you need to grab a real domain name. A domain name is a human-friendly way to represent the location of your website. For example right now you’re visiting ‘derekwilson.ca’ which is the domain name I purchased for my website. There are many different extensions available (.com, .ca, .org, .net) for you to choose from. The dot-com extension is the most popular but that also means that it can be hard to find the name you want (since only one person can have a particular domain name at a time).

Where can I get a domain?

You can purchase a domain name from many places and they mostly all do the same thing. A few that I’d reccomend are:

NameCheap.com

Name.com

Namespro.ca

GoDaddy is another popular domain registrar, but not one I’d recommend.

What should I do with my domain?

Once you’ve purchased an available domain you’ll need to configure it to work with your server. The set-up is a bit different depending on which company you buy the domain from but in most cases you’ll just need to enter some information that your web server host sends you (the name servers). Here’s a tutorial from NameCheap on how to set up the nameservers from your host

Alternatively, if you’re interested in buying the domain but not quite ready to make a full fledged site you can use the domain to forward to another site (like LinkedIn or Flavors.me) for the time being.

Part 2: The Server & Site

 What is a webhost and what do they do?

A webhost will allow you to rent space on their server (a fancy computer that serves web pages to people). This is where the files that make up your website live. There are many different options for webhosts ranging from simple, inexpensive plan for small personal sites to powerful and full featured plans for people who run popular sites.

How much does it cost?

It’s possible to find hosting that won’t cost you very much and in some cases you can even get some hosting for free. For example University of Saskatchewan students and faculty have access to some simple webhosting for making a basic homepage which can be configured through PAWS. But in general if you want full control over your site you’re going to have to pay at least a little money.

If you’re just starting out and you’re willing to learning how the backend of a web server works you probably won’t need anything that costs more than a couple of dollars a month.

Some companies like

Varial Hosting (A local Saskatoon business)

Nearly Free Speech (hosting as low as $0.25 per month)

Dreamhost

1&1

Are some examples of popular web hosts on the web.

What should I put on my website?

You can put anything you want on your website. I recommend creating a simple webpage all about you (like brahm.ca) , or an online resume or perhaps a blog where you can write about your interests.

How do I make a website?

In it’s simplest form a webpage is a simply a file written in HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). HTML is very easy to learn and there are plenty of resources on the web to get you started.  You could use a template and edit it for your need but be careful some templates can look tacky and unprofessional. More complex dynamic sites like a blog can be created installing and using content management system (CMS) like WordPress.

I’m need something a bit easier

If you’re not particularly internet or computer savvy fear not because there are still some options available for you. Some companies like Squarespace, WordPress and Typepad exist for users who want to get started with a website but want to focus on the content and not worry about the delivery. These hosts are usually a bit more expensive but offer completely managed environments for creating and looking after your website. Many services like these allow you to use your own domain name so your website can retain some added credibility.

 

 

Those the basics involved in getting your page on the internet. Expect this article to improve over time as more details are added.

If you’ve got any questions or would like more detail on a particular aspect just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it.