Creating a Web site is not as difficult as you might think. A Web page is no more than an ordinary text file that contains special HTML codes or tags. Web browsers use the HTML tags to format the Web page and provide facilities such as hyperlinks to other pages.
Assuming you've already got a computer and a modem, the only other things you really need to write your first Web page are: a Web browser, a text editor such as Windows Notepad, an Internet connection, and a good guide to HTML. There are plenty of excellent books and Web sites that will teach you HTML, but you can also learn many techniques by studying the source code of a Web page. In Internet Explorer you can do this by selecting View-Source; in Navigator, choose View-Page Source.
If the thought of learning HTML is too daunting, you may consider using a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor, such as Adobe PageMill, Claris HomePage, Microsoft FrontPage, or Sausage Software's HotDog. WYSIWYG editors will automatically generate the HTML code for you, letting you concentrate on the more important aspects of your page, such as design and content.
It probably won't be long before you want to create your own graphics for your site. Any program that will let you edit and save images as .gif or .jpg files (the default graphics formats for Web pages) is perfect. The shareware program, PaintShop Pro (you will find an evaluation version on PC World's cover CD), is a popular choice for creating and editing graphics, but there are numerous others to choose from.
Once you've created your pages, you'll need to transfer them to a Web server - a powerful computer that has a high-speed connection to the Internet and runs software designed to send out HTML pages and other files. Your ISP may provide storage space for Web pages, but there are also Web sites such as GeoCities (http://www.geocities.com) which will store your page for free, as long as you agree to a certain amount of advertising on your page. The most common method of uploading files to a Web server is via FTP (File Transfer Protocol). Shareware programs such as WS-FTP and CuteFTP (see our cover CD) will do the job nicely. Your ISP should be able to give you instructions on how to configure the FTP program to transfer your files to the Web server.
Since a Web page is an excellent advertisement for your business, the next thing you'll need to do is to promote your site. The most common way to do this is to submit your site to as many search engines as you can. Most search engines have a 'Submit URL' or 'Submit Page' section that will lead you through the process. Another strategy for publicising your site is to provide reciprocal links with other sites that share the same focus as yours. Many people will happily link to your site if you agree to provide a link to theirs somewhere on your site.
Once you've done all that, your Web site should be humming along nicely. So take a break, give yourself a pat on the back, and grab a cup of coffee - you've earned it.