now might not seem like thebest time to get into the Web-site- building business, what with dot-coms dropping dead at an apocalyptic rate and pink slips being handed out like cards in Vegas.And it's doubtful that the Internet, already clogged with millions of useless sites and growing at a rate of 10,000 per day, needs your two cents online.
Even so, it's easier than ever to learn how to build your own home page and Web site. Sure, you could take a fancy six-week course on html programming, but why bother when you can learn from the comfort of your own home?
There are dozens of DIY Web sites out there. Most include step-by-step instructions on everything from programming simple html to using Flash. It's shockingly easy, though you quickly learn the difference between a basic page and a site you'd actually want to look at for more than a few minutes.
If you're stuck with a free phone line and nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon, here are a few starting points for adding your own bit of space junk to the Web. Mine, including a recipe for a disturbingly good roasted red pepper dip, is at www.webspawner.com/ users/undergroundvegetable/
This site promises "free Web pages in minutes." It's hard to imagine anything easier than this, other than perhaps not doing it at all. You fill out a few info boxes, click a button and there it is. There's a banner at the top, but if you're desperate for your few minutes of fame, it's a very accessible route to a global presence.
Slightly more complex is Geocities, but its price for Web freedom is annoying pop-up boxes. Bare basics, but it works.
If you want more than a single page of coloured text and a few photos, you're going to have to do the work yourself. This site is run by the Web Design Group and covers all the Web authoring basics as well as offering a handy Frequently Encountered Problems page -- you'll need it -- and a BBS where you can ask others for specific advice.
Another site for novices, this how-to site needs no prior experience and begins with a simple explanation of what html stands for.
The most comprehensive DIY site out there. Webmonkey covers every possible topic, from html programming, graphic design and how to choose the right font to using Shockwave, animation and Java and how to market your site so that people might see it and want to stay. Cheat sheets and plain-spoken, geek-free language make it seem even easier, and the site looks good, too -- always a bonus.
site of the week
A colossal time-waster, Netbaby offers free online Shockwave games like bowling (try to make the dude with the handlebar moustache throw strikes), boat racing, tennis and
"post office worker." It's also worth noting, especially for the latter, that none of the games include lethal violence.
Watch the hours fly by.