Where to Begin?
To begin to build your Lodge website might seem like a daunting prospect but if you follow some of the steps below then it should make your life easier.
Registering your Domain Name.
If you ever wondered what the heck registering a domain was all about ... you probably figured it out by now! But just in case - registering a domain name gets you an official address for your web site on the World Wide Web. With this 'official' address, the rest of the web can find you.
Like your home address is unique in the real world, there also can't be any duplicate addresses on the Internet, otherwise no one would know where to go! In other words, domain names are unique addresses on the web. If you want to have your own unique address on the web, your own domain name, it will cost a few pounds for each year you want to 'own' the name. The cost of registering a domain name is around £10 for 2 years if you choose a .co.uk extension.
Hosting is where you put your website and all the Web pages. While it's possible to build a website on your personal computer and never move it online, it's somewhat pointless. No one but you will ever be able to see it. So the first thing you'll want to do is find a Web hosting provider. Most people gravitate to free Web hosting without too much thought, but there can be drawbacks to free hosting. You don't always get as much space, you might be required to run their ads on your site, or there may be bandwidth limits. Be sure to read all the fine print before you put your website on a free Web host,
Building your site
Most websites are built using HTML, hypertext text markup language to you and me, which is a special code that formats and creates the pages so you can see them via your browser.
In fact all you need to write HTML is a simple program like Microsoft's Notepad.
Notepad's fine if you are willing to learn HTML but if you aren't you can easily get some clever software to help you do it.
WYSIWYG html editors require very little knowledge of HTML and are relatively easy to pick up. If you know how to use a word processor you'll find them pretty familiar.
FrontPage, Dreamweaver and Adobe GoLive are three of the better known WYSIWYG editors. They let you build a web page, by dragging and dropping text boxes, images and tables into a blank Word-style page, whilst behind the scenes it is creating all the HTML code for you. For first-time web editors, the WYSIWYG editing method is great because you don't have to worry about complex code, and the software guides you through each step of the way, from background colour, text size and inserting a picture to even publishing your finished pages.
They let you build a web page, by dragging and dropping text boxes, images and tables into a blank Word-style page, whilst behind the scenes it is creating all the HTML code for you.
For first-time web editors, the WYSIWYG editing method is great because you don't have to worry about complex code, and the software guides you through each step of the way, from background colour, text size and inserting a picture to even publishing your finished pages.
Even if you choose to start with a WYSIWYG editor, you might want to get hold of a basic teach-yourself HTML book, and find out a little bit about the language you're working with. You might find it's not all that scary!
Programs like FrontPage offer different wizards to take you through each step of inserting images, text and tables, but you can learn the simple HTML tags and codes to do it yourself.
That will allow you to tweak the code if you aren't happy with the results from your WYSIWYG editor.
Once you're happy it all works - it's time to publish it to the internet!
To transfer all the files that make up your website to your web space you'll need to get some FTP software. The one i personally use is Filezilla which can be downloaded free of charge.
Alternatively, editors like FrontPage often have a special web publishing wizard, which takes you through all the basic stages without the need for added software.
The FTP process simply takes your website files and moves them to your web space, so when someone next types in your domain name into their web browser, they'll be able to see your site.
Each time you change a file or page on your site, upload the new page via FTP so that the change appears on the site.
Spreading the word
If no one knows about your site, then no one will come and visit it, but you can do lots to make sure everyone out there knows exactly where you are.
Search engines are the best way to find out what you want on the web, so you want to try and get your site to appear within their listings.
Search engines work in two ways: one sort lists websites in directory format, like the Yellow Pages. The most famous of these is Yahoo.
The other form of search engine, like Google trawls through every website on the internet, checking for key words in the text and links from other websites to check which ones are most popular.
Visit the different search engines and directories and look for their submission sections where you can submit the details of your site to be listed.
Once your site is up and running, you might want to contact other masonic websites and see if they will link to you. Offer a link to them in return and often people will agree.
Once you get started building your site, you'll probably be tempted to try out all kinds of design tricks that you've learnt, but like most things in life - the simple ideas are the best.
Keep your design simple and basic. Too many colours and fonts will look cluttered and messy, and may put people off visiting again.
The best websites only use one or two colours for their fonts and backgrounds, and they avoid large blocks of scary-looking text.
Also, bear in mind the time the web page takes to load. Images that are too large or heavy will take ages to appear in a browser, and users won't stick around.
Use small images and short paragraphs to make your web pages appear quickly and remember that although you might think putting some masonic related music in the background to play when the page loads, there is nothing more off putting for a user.
DISCLAIMER: No responsibility will be accepted for any consequences arising from downloading and installing programs listed in these pages. We have no control over these programs which are supplied by third parties and brought to your attention in good faith. It is your responsibility to ensure you follow the instructions they provide carefully and properly. If you are not fully confident in what you are doing we suggest you seek qualified assistance and do not proceed.