Creating a Basic Web Page

This tutorial is designed for Web design newbies, to instruct in the creation of a simple Web page. The file created in this tutorial will be used in future tutorials.

The first thing to know about Web site creation is that every Web page requires four things. These four things are an opening <html> tag, an opening <body> tag, a closing </body> tag, and a closing </html> tag. Actually, a web page will open just fine in a browser without any of these elements, but these are the four basic tags a Web page should have. The markup for a basic Web page looks like this:

<html>
<body>

</body>
</html>

Earlier, I mentioned the word ‘tag’. A tag is an HTML formatting element used to tell the browser how to format and display the information contained in the Web page. Most tags come in pairs, hence the need for an opening <html> tag AND a closing </html> tag. Exceptions to this rule include the line break tag, <br />, and the image tag, <image src=”someImage.jpg” />. Information that you wish to be formatted with a certain tag is placed between the opening and closing tags.

Let’s begin by creating the basic Web page mentioned earlier. To create the file, you will need an HTML or text editor. Notepad (Windows) works well, or you can also get software designed specifically for Web site creation. I prefer Adobe Dreamweaver, but if you want an inexpensive program the free tool HTML-Kit works well also. Many applications will automatically added things like the tags mentioned earlier, but in the interest of being thorough we’ll add everything manually.

Start with a blank document and save it as “index.html”. When a browser visits a Web address, the file it looks for is the file named index. If it is unable to find this file, the browser will display a file tree of the files in the directory on the Web server related to that Web address. Since you usually will not want users to be able to access your file tree, it is a good idea to place a file named index.html in every folder that will be visible to the Web. There are also other methods to prevent the file tree from showing, but this tutorial isn’t meant to be that exhaustive.

Now that your document is saved, we’re going to start adding things. The first thing we want to add to the blank page is the Document Type Definition (DTD) or doctype. Strictly speaking, the doctype is not required to create a Web page, but it IS required to create a well-formed Web page. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines several doctypes, but the one we will use for this example is XHTML 1.0 Transitional. Using the Transitional doctype allows us to not be as strict in our markup.

So now that we’ve added the doctype, our document should look just like this:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN”
“http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd”>

Next, we add the opening <html> tag and a new tag called the <head> tag. The document head is a place where information is stored that will not be displayed on the actual Web page. There are a lot of different things that can go in the head, but the only thing we want to put for now is the Web page’s title. So we add an opening <title> tag, then the page title. We’ll call this page “My First Web Page.” Then we add a closing </title> tag, a closing </head> tag, and an opening <body> tag. Our markup should now look like this:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN”
“http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd”>
<html>
<head>

<title>My First Web Page</title>

</head>
<body>

Once we have that, we just need to add some content to our page and close the <head> and <body> tags. Let’s add a paragraph that reads “I am learning to build Web sites and this is my first Web page.” To add a paragraph, we use another special tag, the <p> tag. So now we type: <p>I am learning to build Web sites and this is my first Web page.</p>, then type a closing </body> tag and a closing </html> tag. Your page should now look like this:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN”
“http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd”>
<html>
<head>

<title>My First Web Page</title>

</head>
<body>

<p>I am learning to build Web sites and this is my first Web page.</p>

</body>
</head>

Now, just save your document and open it in a Web browser. Congratulations! You now know how to build a basic Web page.