Various Webmaster Stuff

I thought I'd start off this page with a photo of me (by way of introduction)...


...and then continue by adding in various bits of information for website construction here.

How to set up and maintain a website

So here I'll briefly talk about how to create and maintain a website yourself.

Choose a domain name

Generally this is the one step that you will have to pay for. If you have the internet at home, your ISP will usually supply you with a domain name along the lines of, but to get a more catchy name and one that is more appropriate to your website's content (for example,, you will have to pay specifically for the one you want. The most expensive top level domains tend to be .com, .net and .org. In order to get the cheapest price, you do NOT need to buy the domain from your own country, but can actually buy it from anywhere in the world and it will be yours to use once registered. It is also worth noting that it is a good idea to buy the name for a long period of time because it is usually cheaper per annum (so it may cost £20pa for 1 year, £15pa for 2 years and only £10pa for 3 years or more). However, it's also the case that in order to try and squeeze more money out of you, after buying the domain name for, say, 1 year, the registrar company will then artificially increase the price for your renewal year so it ends up cheaper simply buying a longer time period at the beginning if you want to keep the name (so if you paid £20 for 1 year, after that year was up they will unscrupulously put the price up to £50pa in order to try and get more money out of you when you need to renew so you'll end up spending £70 for 2 years total, whereas if you simply bought 2 years initially, it may have only cost £30 total as part of the deal). Once bought, you'll have to change the nameservers to those of your website server host.

Choose a hosting company

Once you've got a name, you now need a server somewhere to host your website. There are paid for options here, but if you don't need an online presence (e.g. it's a personal site rather than a business), then there are many free options out there too. However, many of these free options either require you to have advert banners on your front page or alternatively have very poor uptimes and server response. My webhost happens to be free as well as NOT requiring any adverts to be placed on my pages. Once registered and in the Control Panel, it will tell you the nameservers to use with the domain registrar and allow you to configure things such as hotlinking access and FTP configurations for your site upload. Many companies also provide free (but limited) website design and SEO tools even on free packages. However, my old host was based in the US rather than the UK so it happened to be very slow at peak times and often was so slow in serving up requested pages that it gave time out errors. Their up-times were also disgraceful (my current host is also US based but with better servers). To combat this, I also used a CDN to speed everything up (see below).

Speed it up with a CDN

Instead of someone in the UK requesting my website and directly gathering ALL data from the (for example) US server it's hosted on, a Content Delivery Network will cache the big static files (like big images) in a server local to the requester so that the larger bits of data will come directly from the UK instead and result in faster page load times. These types of services usually cost a monthly fee but the CDN service I use happens to be free and took about 5min to set up. This involved getting new nameservers to point my domain name to and et voila, over the next 24hours everything had started loading super fast just as if it were being hosted locally. Additionally a good CDN can provide very simple end-user SSL encryption meaning your site remains secure without having to go through the hassle of obtaining and maintaining certificates manually. To further speed things up, remember to 'minify' any JavaScript, CSS and HTML you have.

Create & Optimise your site

Now create your website, either "raw" using an HTML/CSS editor or with help via a program to do it, and upload it via FTP to your hosting company's servers. Once done, remember to optimise your site further by using some of the many online website analysis tools and also optimising images (a major drain on load speed), layout and scripts.
The following extra links will help if you want to make your own site:

Universally recognised Fonts are (I've included both mac and win equivalents...specify both in your css): Andale Mono, Arial/Arial Black, Comic Sans MS, Courier/Courier New, Geneva/Tahoma, Georgia, Impact, Lucida Grande/Lucida Sans Unicode, Monaco/Lucida Console, Palatino/Palatino Linotype, Times/Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, Webdings.

^^^ These are the can literally be up and running within a day and then build further from there.

11th Nov 1997