Lesson 1 – What Is HTML

Filed under: HTML

Lesson 1 – What Is HTML

HTML means HyperText Markup Language it is the code that Webpages are made out of.

In our series of lessons we will cover how to build a webpage by putting together a number of HTML elements to control layout, formatting and to add items like images and multimedia.

Elements are objects that make up a page.
Many elements have a <starting> tag and an </ending> tag but some like the Image Tag <img> only use a single tag. You can think of elements as containers that you put things in. They store items just like you would in a refrigerator.

Think of your Refrigerator as the WebPage and inside you have many containers or Elements to store items.

Within each element (container) there are ways to modify the attributes of the items inside.

<font color=”red”>This is a red font</font>

As you learn how to use more elements on your pages you will also find ways to use them together to make a nice presentation for your visitor.

Although there are many more aspects to building a good website that are outside of basic HTML this is the foundation for every website. It does not matter how big the site is or what super spectacular features they may have when the page is presented on your home computer it is HTML that renders the pages in your web browser.

Now yes there are a few addons that your browser can use like javascript or flash but even those elements rely on some html to get their work done.

So, since this is the first lesson we won’t get caught up with learning complex things but it is a good time to think about how you should learn.

First you should always remember that no site is ever perfect. You can spend hours designing your layouts but if that takes away from your writing content then whats the use. In other words you should try to keep your sites as simple as you can while still adding all the feature that you want.

Don’t worry about being on the cutting edge of web design as long as your site works for you and your visitors. Things will always change and every new version of some browser will add something or end up breaking your pages. Don’t try to please everyone. Read your website log statistics and you will see that most of your visitors will use 1 or 2 browsers so install them on your home computer and view your pages before you make them live.

And here is a clue for the most part unless your site is very specific your visitors will be using either Internet Explorer or Firefox. And within those two browsers you will find most people will be using the newest version after it has been released for about 3 months. However some people never seem to upgrade. After IE and FF you will find a number of visitors probably less then 25% that are split between the 50 other browsers most you have never heard of before. Don’t get caught up in pleasing them all. If you write simple clean code then your site should work for everyone and if not then those people have problems with many sites not just yours.

Take advantage of View Source in your browser.
This is probably the best way you can learn at first and even later down the line when you want to do something special like implementing a new menu that you like on someone else’s site. Now we are not saying that you should steal sites that is a definite (do not do) but it is ok to get ideas from other sites and implement them in your own designs. So, admire, learn from and implement but never make a direct copy of any live site.

Hopefully this site will be a good resource for learning both basic and advanced skills but you should also think about design.

Free Template Sites
The best places for new design ideas, other then every page you visit, is a free template website. Many developers that build sites professionally will also include free versions of their sites for people to download. They do this for a couple reasons: Advertising of their style so they can build pay sites and also just for fun.

Free Code Sites
Another resource you will need to find is a place to find code samples. Although we will start off with HTML for building your pages you should also learn about a few programming languages like Perl, Java, PHP and other products that work on your server or software like Flash, Java and Javascript that work in your browser.

Free code is always your first and best resource but you may want to invest in specific software packages or in some situations hire someone that will build your website’s code while you handle the layout. The one thing you have to remember about paid software is that you get what you pay for and in this meaning its not about the quality of the code but more the features you can add. If you go with popular open source software you  are likely to find community support and people that write free add-ons that you may need.

So, unless you are doing something really special and specific to your company that no one else in the world needs to do try to stick with open source software or at least paid packages that have a large community following.

Thats basically it … in other lessons we will cover all of the different HTML Elements and try to put them to good use. We will also go over some software packages you should use and in our other lessons we will cover setting up a server, programing languages, website package software and everything else we can think of to help you design the website you always wanted.