Building A Website

How to tips on designing websites.
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FTW
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Posts: 681
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Building A Website

Post by FTW »

Starting your own website.
This post is for anyone that wants to build their own website OR build a new one, to assist OBRC or American Legacies.

Step One:

Getting your own Domain Name

I would strongly advise against using any “free” domain names that a hosting company offers to you, because if you ever switch hosting companies, they can keep the domain name. So, bottom line is you are better off buying your own name, so that you have complete control over the “Name Servers” ( I will explain that term later.)

To buy your own domain name, go to https://www.godaddy.com/ and register as a user. I do not get any money for suggesting that people use Go Daddy. I suggest them because I have been using that service for over 20 years and believe them to be the best and most reliable place to buy domain names.

Once you find a domain name that you like, I would recommend trying to get a dot com or dot org name if at all possible.

The next step in finding a domain name is to find one that fits your goal. However, keep in mind that if you pick a long name, such as over 10 or 15 characters, some people, especially the elderly or handicapped users may not want to type in that many letters, so I would suggest that you buy a “second domain name” that just contains the first letter of each word or even some numbers that are easy for the general public to remembers such as using 4 instead of four, or 2 instead of two.

After you pick a domain name, you will have several choices. The first choice is involves how long you want to own the domain name. I have some sites that I have owned for over 20 years and others that I have owned for less then a week. I have also deleted a number of domain names that I have upgraded to other names or gotten rid of all together.

For example, if you are getting a site name for a local fight that might be over in a year or two, you might want to only get the name for one or two years, however if it is something you want to live on for decades, then get the name for as long as they will allow.

The pricing of a domain name will very depending on the type such as a dot com vs a dot org, etc but most of them can be purchased for the first year for premium names for $10 to $20 per year or less if you get a discount. Some of the more obscure extensions like dot xyz or dot club may be on sale for as low as 99 cents the first year but then goes up to $14.99 per year. Either way, in this day and age, the cost of the name is one of the lowest expenses you will run into.

The next thing you need to look at is the “security” for your domain name. Basically anyone can go to a website like, https://www.whois.com/whois/ and find out the name and email address of the owner of a website. So, in order to prevent you from getting a bunch of spam and even fake bills from companies that do not control the registration of your domain name, I personally always spend an extra $10 per year to get some basic protection to keep my name hidden.

The following info comes from the Go Daddy site and will explain the protection.
“Why is protecting my domain important?
When a domain is registered, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, requires us to gather contact information for the person or business registering the domain name, known as the registrant or domain holder. This information includes name, phone number, address and other details, which is reported on the WHOIS directory. Keeping your domain contact information private helps prevent unwanted spam calls and emails, and makes sure you're in control of what information is publicly available. But it's not just about keeping your personal information private, either. We want to help you protect your domain and your entire online presence.


“What kind of protection is offered?
We have three different protection plans to choose from so you can determine which option is best for you and your online presence.
• Basic Privacy Protection (or Basic Protection): Regulations vary around the globe, but GoDaddy automatically hides your name, street address, phone number and email address in the GoDaddy WHOIS directory for every registered domain name. Based on current ICANN regulations, your state/province, country and organization name (if you have one) will still be displayed.
• Full Domain Privacy & Protection (or Full Protection): Instead of masking your contact information on the WHOIS directory, Full Protection substitutes your contact information with proxy details. You'll get a private email address that can be used to filter, block or forward emails to your main address. You'll also get Ownership Protection to protect your domain from hijacking and accidental loss due to an expired credit card. Full Protection prevents certain domain actions from being completed without additional verification, such as transferring away, cancelling or changing contact information.
• Ultimate Domain Protection & Security (or Ultimate Security): This option includes all the features of Full Protection, along with our Website Security Basic. This product protects your domain and website with automatic malware scans and continuous security monitoring. It also monitors search engine blocklists to ensure your domain reputation is protected. If Website Security finds an issue on your site, we'll notify you as soon as it's found, along with the next steps you need to take.
So I highly recommend getting some type of protection in order to keep you safe from individuals in the solar and wind industry from trying to cause problems as well as scammers and internet trolls.

One more important item. If you buy your domain name through Go Daddy, I would strongly suggest that you do NOT let them host your website. You will have much better speed and options available through other options that I will mention in later posts.

This will get you started safely.
In the next article I will talk about hosting companies and name servers.
FTW
Site Admin
Posts: 681
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:04 pm

Re: Building A Website

Post by FTW »

Finding a Server For Your Website.

The next step in building your own website is to find a server. The first thing I would suggest if you are wanting a professional looking site is to avoid ALL of the FREE hosting offers.

There are a number of reasons I suggest this, but most of the important reasons involve having someone else post advertising on your website that might conflict with the message you are trying to send to your readers.

Another reason to avoid “some of them” is because if you decide to move your site to a new server at some time in the future, you may find out that you can NOT download the content of your website, in order to move it somewhere else.

Even when paying for a web hosting service, you have to be careful who you go with. Basically anyone can “rent” a server and then offer hosting packages to unsuspecting individuals that don’t know who they are actually paying.

I have owned websites in the past that were on a “shared” server, meaning multiple people had websites on the same machine and the “box” or server was actually owned by someone in a foreign country that hacked my site.

There have been other cases where someone rented a server from an American server farm, then sub-rented space on the server to individual website owners. This happens frequently and it is not always a bad situation, but in one particular case the person I was renting space from worked out of his home PART TIME. He did not have an office or staff to answer “support” questions or deal with problems when the server was down, as in not working and no one could access my website for DAYS.

So, when choosing a reliable company to “host” your website, I recommend finding a company that has a “good reputation” for timely support responses, because you WILL need an expert to help you. I would also find a company that has multiple hosting “servers” across the globe, so that you will know they are big enough to have full time support. The other features to look for are “daily backups” of your website, the number of email accounts IF you are planning on a server to host a “group” or club, and either the cPanel or Plesk program software. I will explain more about these services in a future post.

Other things to look at is the speed of the server, number of “files” you can host, bandwidth allocated and how much hard drive space. Don’t get fooled by the term unlimited. Nothing is unlimited in real life, not even life it’s self.

My personal recommendation is https://www.fastcomet.com I have used them for years. Their tech support uses English and they have servers in America as well as other countries. They do have 24/7 tech support and they are super fast when ever you need their help.

They have “shared servers” for reasonable pricing, although they did raise their pricing a couple of years ago, so it is quite a bit higher then it used to be, however I still have multiple accounts with them and am quite happy.

If you go for their service, be it a shared server, a cloud server or a dedicated server, they ALWAYS have an introductory offer, so take advantage of the discount price. I always sign up for three years at a time, in order to save money.

You MUST have a domain name before you get your hosting. While Fast Comet as well as almost all the hosting companies will offer you a FREE domain name, read my post on “Getting your own Domain Name” before you ever accept a FREE domain name from any company.

Once you have your domain name and server, move on to my next post on how to set your “Name Servers”.
FTW
Site Admin
Posts: 681
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Re: Building A Website

Post by FTW »

Step 3: Creating a TEMP Index file for your website


If you have purchased your domain name from a reliable service you will be able to “control” where people go to find your website, once they put your website name into a browser window.


If this is a blank slate type website with no data, the first thing you need to do before you set up a “name server” is create a “temporary page”

The easiest way to create a temporary page is to open a “Text” writer application.

Now, I have to admit up front that I know nothing about current Windows operating systems. I personally use Linux, because it is FREE and much more secure. With that being said, in the past, Windows had a program called “Notepad”. I don’t know if they still do or not, however any type of “text” editor should work.

Another good and much better program is called "Bluefish." This is an open source program that is FREE.
Bluefish is an open source development project, released under the GNU GPL licence. Bluefish is a multi-platform application that runs on most desktop operating systems including Linux, FreeBSD, MacOS-X, Windows, OpenBSD and Solaris. Nov 5 - Bluefish 2.2.12 release Bluefish 2.2.12 is a minor maintenance release with some minor new features.


So, at this point, you simple type out any message you would like the public to see, UNTIL you actually have a website ready for viewing. One example of a quick and easy message is to simply type out the words:

This site is currently under construction.
Please check back later.

As a beginner, I would not suggest that you try to get to fancy with images and large text YET.

Now, you need to save your document with the name, “index.shtml” The reason I suggest you use the extension shtml is because EVERY website needs a file titled INDEX and the normal extensions are usually index.php or index.html or even index.htm, so in order to avoid confusion with other “index” files in case you upload a pre-written web design program, you will be safe with the shtml extension.

Next comes the uploading of your new index file.

There are multiple ways you can upload a file to your new server. The technique that you use will depend on how many different programs you want to cram into your brain. Personally I would recommend that you start with the easiest and then you can learn some of the other more advanced programs later.

Therefore, if you have followed my advice and purchased space on a server containing “cPanel” or “Plesk” control panels, you should have received an email from your hosting provider containing a control panel address along with a user name and password to access it.

This control panel address, user name and password SHOULD be different from the address, user name and password you used to log into your hosting company.

Once you log into your “Control Panel”, you should see an icon and the words File Manager like the one in the image below.

screen_cPanel_file_manager1.jpg
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At that point if you click on your “File Manager” and scroll down the list of files until you see the words, “public_html” and click on that ICON.

You can click on the image below for a larger view.

screen_public_html1a.jpg
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An important note here is to be sure you ALWAYS click on an ICON instead of the words, because you don’t want to RENAME a file by accident and while public_html is not a file, this is an important habit for you to acquire when working with raw files on a website and server.

upload_screen1a.jpg
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The next step is to “upload” the index.shtml file you just created, So while you are in the ROOT part of your “main” website, click on the ICON for UPLOAD.

upload2a.jpg
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ON the next screen, you will see a simple window that allows you to upload a file from your computer. Simply select or drag the index.shtml file that you created earlier over to this window and your new index file will be uploaded.

Now, the public will NOT be able to see this file YET, because your Name Servers are not pointing them to this hosting service YET. So that will be in the next article, and it will be much shorter then this one, I promise.
FTW
Site Admin
Posts: 681
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:04 pm

Re: Building A Website

Post by FTW »

Step 4: Setting Your Own Name Servers


Now it is time to point your domain name to your webserver.

In order to do this, you should log into the service where you purchased your domain name, such as your Go Daddy account if that is where you purchased your name.
manage_domains2.jpg
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Once you are inside your domain name service, look for a link where you can “manage” your domain names and then another link that will point you to your “Name Servers.”

The hardest part of moving your names servers is trying to find out WHERE the link is, within the website of the company you purchased your domain name from, because they don’t want you to move your name from their servers.


Depending on your setup and your hosting company, there may be 3 or 4 name servers, but there can never be less then two of them and the reason for this is so that if one server goes down, there has to be a second one that will carry the load.

Once you find the correct area where you can change your name servers, you will need to find the email you received from your hosting company and it will contain “several” name servers. They typically will look like the following.
nameservers.jpg
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ns1.xxxxxx.hostingcompanyname.com
ns2.xxxxxx.hostingcompanyname.com

The xxxxxx will vary as to content and the number of characters, but it will usually be a series of letters and numbers, depending on the “address” of the server you are assigned to. But you should be able to copy and past the “name server” address from your email and into the form on the domain registry website.


Be sure to confirm you have the accurate information or the general public will NOT be able to access your server.

One you have correctly entered your name server address into your domain registry, the claims are that it may take from one to three days for ALL of the servers around the globe to correctly point to your server.

Generally, I can “ping” my server within seconds from the time I change my name servers through Go Daddy, however I don’t usually check to see how long it take for servers in other countries to point to my server, especially if it is a new website. However, if you ever change hosting companies and move your entire website over to a new server, you want to make sure that your site is not down for days, so speed is real important. But I will discuss how to deal with the transfers of an existing site in a later post.

I should also address the usage of the word “ping.” Basically, since I use Linux, I can ping any computer through my “terminal” but I don’t know how Windows, Mac or android users can do it. At one time, Windows users could use the “dos” screen to ping a website, but that was over a decade ago since I tried it.

However if your computer or phone does not have access to ping, there are websites available that will conduct the ping for you and this is the type of information you will get. This is a good tool if your Internet seems slow OR if someone tells you that your website is slow.
ping1.jpg
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FTW
Site Admin
Posts: 681
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:04 pm

Re: Building A Website

Post by FTW »

Step 5: Setting the SSL Security For Your Website


One of the first things you will need to do, BEFORE you start setting up your first website, will be to create a SSL.

Start by logging into your cPanel, Plesk panel or what ever control panel you have purchased.

Security.

This is an important section of your control panel because it allows you to set up SSL certificates. Basically that allows you to have extra security on your website by using the https instead of http as part of your domain name. It also allows you to set up Two-Factor Authentication which is becoming more important for security reasons.

Getting a SSL for your site, is extremely important if you are going to log into your website from a browser window or ask anyone else to log into your website.

Click on the images below to enlarge them.
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Start by clicking on the icon for "Let's Encrypt"
encript1a.jpg
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Now click on the words ISSUE
SSL1a.jpg
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Next you need to choose the name of the website you want to encrypt.

The "main" site is usually set up automatically, however you can also place a check mark on the mail "mail" and the "www"

IMPORTANT: Don't forget to click on the SUBMIT at the bottom of the page. At this point you are finished with this section and can move on to creating your email account.
FTW
Site Admin
Posts: 681
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:04 pm

Re: Building A Website

Post by FTW »

Step 6: Setting Up Your Email Account


Setting up your e-mail account

In order to use databases, contact forms or a variety of web design programs for your website, you will need to set up and use an email address that contains your domain name in it, so this next step will be the last step you perform before installing a “web design program” for your website.
email1.jpg
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Log into your control panel and go to the section containing your email accounts. Click on the ICON for “Email Accounts”
email2.jpg
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Click on the BUTTON for CREATE.

email3.jpg
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You may need to click on this image to enlarge it.

Step1:

If you only have one domain name on this server, your domain name will be displayed automatically. However, if you own multiple domain names, you will have to use the drop down arrow on the right side in order to select the correct domain name.

Step 2:

Under the “Username” you need to enter a user name ONLY. Since you have already selected the address, ie the domain name, do not use the @ symbol at this point.

Step 3:

Entering a password. IF you plan on using a “mail program” on your desktop or phone where you will need to log into your mail account, then you should use a password you can remember. However, if you are only going to be forwarding email from this account to another email address that you have, I would suggest that you simply click on the tab to automatically create a password.

Since you have complete control over your email account, including how much data to use and the password, you can come into your control panel and change it anytime you want to.

Final Step: Be sure to click on the CREATE button at the bottom of the page.

Now, you can move onto the step you have been waiting on. It’s time to select a “Web Design Program"
FTW
Site Admin
Posts: 681
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:04 pm

Re: Building A Website

Post by FTW »

Step 7: Finally, selecting and setting up your web program


Selecting a Web Design Program

There are literally hundreds of Web Design Programs available to use on a website and if you keep your website for any length of time, you are sure to grow and try out different programs.

No one can advise you on the “Best” web design program, because it depends on how you are going to use your website, what your personal preferences are and how good you are at learning and absorbing different types of programs.

So, my first suggestion is for you to try different programs and see which one “fits” your particular need. The one thing I can promise you is that even for someone with my years of experience, every program becomes a new learning experience, simply because each developer and programmer places buttons and files in different locations AND they all seem to use their own unique language or wording in order to describe things.

With all that being said, I would encourage you to look for several features BEFORE you decide on a program.

I would encourage you to write out a list of features you need to decide on. I don’t know what yours will look like, so all I can do is share a list of things I look for.

#1: How is their security?
How long has it been since the creators of the program updated the program files. To me, if it has been over a year since they came out with a security update, I won’t take the risk on that particular program.

#2: Do they offer templates that will allow users with a cell phone, tablet and desktop all be able to see and interact with your website?

#3: Do they offer a “Manual” or any documentation on their website to help beginners learn how to use their program?

#4: Do they offer a Forum where users can post questions and ask for help, WHEN you are having trouble trying to figure out how to use a particular feature?

I could spend days describing all the things I look for and will from time to time make additional posts as to things to be aware of, but for now, I am going to show you where to find these programs that are FREE, through a certain part of your control panel.

You need to log into your control panel and scroll down to the bottom in order to find …… one of the greatest advancements in web design called Softaculous.

Depending on how your hosting company lays out it’s panel, you may have to actually look around for the icon that loads or opens this program.

Be sure to click on the images below in order to see them clearer.
softaculous1.jpg
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Once you find the app, you will see a long list of web programs that you can install for FREE. I would encourage you to play around with them. Test a few of them out and when you find one that doesn’t work, simply delete it and try something else.


Screenshot soft 1
Screenshot_2021-03-17 Softaculous - Powered by Softaculous.png
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Here is a list of just BLOG type programs you can check out.



Below is an example of how you would install a web program.
soft_install1.jpg
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Choose Installation URL
Pick the domain name you want to install the program on. If you followed my earlier instructions on setting up a SSL security certificate, you can change the http to https here, in order to maintain a more secure website.

Pick the “Folder” where you want to install it.
IF you are not sure where you want it, you can leave the word “fusion” where it is, or you can change it to “program1” or any words you choose, but keep in mind the name of the folder WILL be seen in a person’s Internet browser, so it should be something polite and descriptive. You can also leave that block blank and the program you are about to install will be in the root area of your HTML section, which is an acceptable practice IF you want it as your main web program.

To further explain the MAIN part of your website vs sub folders, you can have yourdomain.com point to fusion. Then yourdomain.com/photos point to a photo gallery then yourdomain.com/inventory point to a part of your website where you have merchandise for sale. So basically you can create an unlimited number of “folders” for additional “web programs”.


Site Name

Type in a short name that you want the public to see, when they come to your site. This does NOT have to be the same name as your URL. For example. If your domain name which is referred to as your url is ADB.com and you want people to see All Dogs Bark as your website title, you could use the All Dogs Bark in this box. Also, depending on the program you are installing, most of them will let you change this setting later.

Site Email

This is WHY I had you set up an email before you came to this part of the installation. Some programs require that you use an email address containing your domain URL in this area.

Admin Username
For security reasons, I would suggest that you select an unusual Admin user name. Pick something that a hacker might not guess.

Admin Password:
I would suggest that you pick a unique password containing at least 10 letters and numbers, such as the street address of your first pen pal (if you are that old) or some old vehicle license plate number. Also, you can change this password anytime you want to, by coming back to this page.


Admin Email
Use any VALID email you want to.

User Password
Not many programs will ask for a user password AND an admin password, but this one does, so you will need to come up with one and for security reasons, it should be different then the Admin password.

INSTALL
Don’t forget to hit the install button and then follow the link that is displayed on the next page that lets you sign into your new website. That is where the fun and the work really starts.

One final step.
Since you now have a program on your server you can go back to step 3 and rename the index.shtml file to index.shtmlxx so the index file on your newly installed web program can take over.

If you have any questions or need some help, you can post them in the appropriate reply on this forum


Also, after you get your site up and running, if it involves helping the fight against Industrial Solar and Wind Power takeover of our lands, please send me a link and I will include you in our "chain" of websites, which will help drive search engines and traffic to your site.


Good Luck and may God Bless
FTW[*]
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