The Basics of Starting Your Own Website
Article source: http://www.hightide-web.com/. Used with author's permission.
You will note from the title that this article is for the beginners. The very first thing to consider is what kind of software you will use. I admit, my personal favorite is Microsoft FrontPage. It is what is known as a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web site editor. It enables webmasters to create websites without knowing any HTML. Those of you who write HTML code like a second language will probably not care for it very much. The latest version, FrontPage 2003, has great improvements from the older versions, like the split screen which allows you to see the HTML code as you edit. Even if you don't write your own code, the more familiar you are with HTML, the better off you will be. FrontPage 2003 also lets you do a find and replace over your entire site. So if you made a mistake or want to change a link that is on all one thousand pages of your site, all you have to do is find the code and do a mass replace. Microsoft offers a 30 day trial CD if you would like to try it for free. Another cool web page editor, Macromedia's Dreamweaver, can be downloaded and used on a trial basis at Macromedia.com.
If you are on a tight budget, which I can definitely understand, then go to Download.com and search for WYSIWYG HTML. There are a lot of free trials for easy to use HTML editors. You have to look really hard, but you may even find a couple that are completely free. Just skimming through the list I found one for around $15. Of course, you definitely want to use the free trial before you buy any of these to make sure you are comfortable using the software and that it does what you want it to do.
HTML-Kit is a must for any aspiring webmaster. You can download a completely free copy at Download.com. HTML-Kit is not WYSIWYG at all, but if you start working with more advanced options like php, cgi, .htaccess, or any of the other many file extensions, you'll need this one eventually.
If you are looking to practice a little with a small website for free then try Bravenet.com. You can get 1.5 GB of bandwidth and 50 MB disk space. This isn't very much compared to a host you pay for, but it can help get you started if this is your first outing in web page development. If nothing else it's great free practice for the real thing.
The next important thing to consider is the web host. There are a number of questions to ask yourself in looking for a web host, like cost, bandwidth, disk space, type of scripts that are allowed, etc. You might want to check out this article http://webmastertips.us/articles/webhosting/good-web-host.htm for a lot of great tips before putting down any money. Webmaster of Webmaster Tips filled with tips, free scripts, web host reviews, and forum.