There are a number of things about designing and building your own website which cause confusion and uncertainty to those who are new to this activity. FTP, which stands for File Transfer Protocol, is one of those things that always seems to confuse and intimidate people who are new to website design. Part of this confusion is probably because the full name ‘File Transfer Protocol’ seems to shed no light on understanding what it is, what it does, or what it is used for. In this article I shall attempt to shine a light on this mysterious creature and take the reader through the process of downloading and installing a free and popular program to make FTP available to them.
First, to shed some light on the name ‘FTP’, or File Transfer Protocol’: the word ‘Protocol’ is used in it’s usual everyday sense that it is a set of rules or guidelines by which something is done. So, simply put, a File Transfer Protocol is a set of rules or guidelines by which files can be transferred from one computer to another over the internet or a network. This sometimes doesn’t make any sense to people who don’t understand computers because they don’t realize that many different computers use many different codes. If you have a file on one kind of computer and you want to use it on another kind of computer then without a set of guidelines, or a ‘protocol’, to ‘translate’ the file from one computer to another it would not be possible. FTP is a form of code which helps you when you move a file from one computer to another. Think of FTP as a ‘translator’ or ‘interpreter’ working in the United Nations so that all the different countries can talk to each other and settle their differences.
And that’s it: simple isn’t it? Often people don’t believe it is quite as simple as that but it is. There is nothing else to understand about FTP unless you are about to start programming, which you’re not.
The other thing that helps to make FTP appear confusing and complex is the fact that you often use a program to do it: These are called ‘FTP Clients’. FTP Clients manage the ‘translation’ from one computer to another and will allow you to upload files, which is to send files to the server; or download files, which is to get files from the server. They will also allow you to make changes to files on the server. FTP and the FTP Client are essential ingredients of a web designer, or website owner’s toolkit. There are very many different designs of FTP Clients, many are free and many will cost money to buy. Many operating systems have an FTP client integrated within them and browsers such as Firefox have an FTP client which can be installed and used as part of the browser. You will need to have an account with a web host before using an FTP Client, but so long as you do have a web hosting account then you can use an FTP Client to transfer your site and all your files to the web host, and back again.
One of the most popular free FTP Clients is ‘FileZilla’; it is easy to download and use and, if you are using Windows XP, then I can take you through the steps – although I doubt they are very different if you are using another operating system. I am using Firefox 2, and so if you are using any other browser there may be some slight differences, but nothing major:
The simplest way to download Filezilla is to go to the Google search page and type ‘download.com filezilla’ into the search field and the very top result will be for Filezilla at the download.com website. Click on the link and you will see the name of Filezilla with a big blue link below it saying ‘download now’. Click that and a small window will appear with a button saying ‘save file’ – click to save the file and you will download the software automatically. It will take a few seconds to download.
Now look for the new icon on your desktop; it will be called ‘Filezilla set up’ or something similar. Double click the icon. The first thing you will see is a small window asking you to select your language, make sure it says English (or whatever your preferred language is) then click the ‘ok’ button. A license agreement window will appear; click ‘next’. The next page will ask you to ‘choose components’ – ion most cases the defaults are perfectly ok for most installations so I suggest you agree with the selection and click ‘next’. You will now be asked where you want to install the software, in most cases the default location is your program folder, which is fine; if you want to install it elsewhere then type the location in here, otherwise just click ‘next’. You will now be asked to choose a start menu folder, again, the default will be fine, click ‘next’. You will now be asked to decide on some general settings, if you are using a shared computer then select ‘use secure mode’ otherwise leave all settings as they are and click ‘Install’. The software will now be installed onto your computer; this will only take a few seconds and then you will be asked to close the window – click ‘close’.
You will now have a new icon on your desktop, coloured maroon and blue with a big ‘FZ’ on it and called ‘Filezilla’. You can put the original download file into your recycle bin and delete. Double click the new icon to start your FTP Client.
To use the FTP Client to transfer files between your computer and your web host you will first have to set it up. After double clicking to start up the FTP Client, click on the ‘File’ menu and select ‘Site Manager’. A new window will appear, find the button which says ‘new site’ and click it. A folder will appear in the main area of the window, type the name of your site into the new folder which appears.
Get your login details for your web host, because you’ll need them now. Under ‘Host’ type in the FTP address of your website; this will be a website address beginning with ‘ftp’ in a format such as: ftp.siteforge.net or else it will be a number series in a format such as: 88.88.888.88 – either will do. If the boxes below are greyed out then your site manager is set to anonymous login. To input your login details deselect ‘anonymous’ and select ‘normal’ for Logon and input your username and password for accessing your web host. You can now click ‘connect’ and your FTP Client will connect to your web host and you can upload or download files for your site.
There are many methods you can choose when you decide to build a website. The method you select will depend on your knowledge of coding and/or programming. If you are a total novice to the web designer industry then there are programs that allow you to drag and drop items, place text via text boxes and change the colors with a click of a button. These are known as WYSIWYG editors (what you see is what you get), they are very helpful in order to get a nice looking website up and running in a short amount of time if you have no html (hyper text markup language, the coding used to build websites) knowledge. The main downside to using a WYSIWYG editor is that the coding will be full of rubbish and useless variables which will give you the disadvantage in the search engines as messy code will confuse the bots and penalize you for it. You could go through each page after it has been made and take out unnecessary bits of code making the page clean and user friendly, but by doing this you will have to have a good knowledge of html so you would be better starting from scratch in the first place.
If you are fairly comfortable with the way html works, you can make a website by just using notepad and saving the file with the .html extension at the end. This method is not used as often in today’s world as you can get programs such as Microsoft Front Page and Macromedia Dreamweaver. These both allow you to see a WYSIWYG view, a core code view and a split view in which you can make something and then tidy the code up straight after saving you a lot of hassle in the end. My favorite out of these two (and probably the most popular) is Macromedia Dreamweaver as it has inbuilt FTP access so you can manage a whole website from the one interface. By using the remote view, you’re able to see what’s on the server. This allows you to make adjustments and update your revisions directly to your server. Once complete, you can view the changes immediately in through the domain name the site is linked to.
The main benefit of this is being able to see what your website looks like in different browsers as they interpret the code in different ways which can make your site look absolutely fine in Windows Internet Explorer but completely messed up in Mozilla Firefox. While the majority of users use Internet Explorer you still have to make it compatible with Firefox as a small percentage use it and you would be loosing vital traffic if your site is not compatible with it. You are best downloading the main browsers (explorer, firefox, opera and any other you are willing to) and checking your site on a regular basis in each making it look the same in each one. Another way around it is to complete your site and then pick the next browser and adjust the code until it matches and then move onto the next one.
If you are not using a WYSIWYG editor then I always find it best to design each page in a program such as Adobe Photoshop so you can get the feel of the layout and color scheme before you actually start making the site in a code editor. The benefit of this is you may start coding your website and decide you want to change bits around, this is a lot harder once you have integrated the code into your website so by making the final layout in Photoshop and moving bits around with ease, it will make your life easier in the long run. Also it’s always easier to follow a template then thinking from scratch making it up as you go along.
Another common method of making websites in today’s world is using a CMS (content management system) which will make it easier to update and maintain your website once you have made a basic template adding ‘PHP includes’ where you want the data to appear. There are many free CMS templates available in which you can download for free and use to give a professional look to your website.
If you’re not a coding genius, but want to put a clever contact form on your website, you have few options. Contact forms are almost always a good idea as they allow visitors to communicate with you and send you files and information as you please. A contact form doesn’t require the user to send a separate email or to pick up the phone and call – practically unheard of in this day of online usage.
If you don’t know how to code a website to add a contact page or the template you’re using doesn’t have one, you can always pay someone to do a site redesign or to create a simple form to use on an existing page. Anytime you require a full-fledged custom service, however, you can expect to pay a pretty penny – especially if you want it done correctly the first time.
Make One Yourself
You might be able to get by with a standard template and a few modifications. If your original site had some sort of contact form or contact information, modifications might be simple to make. You’ll need to dig into your files and pull out a “Coding for Dummies” book or online tutorial to see what changes you need to make, but you might be surprised at how quickly you can piece something together.
Download a Contact Form
A third option is to let someone else do the work for you for far less than you’d have to pay for a custom design. A flash contact form is a simple image that pops up on a particular page of your website after you download it and get it set up correctly. You pay the asking price, get the files and get the form set up. Then it’s ready to go.
If you use this option, you can expand upon the basics, but trying out different kinds of contact forms. If you’re not sure what the best options are for your site, you can start with a basic form and then offer users a place to upload multiple attachments if it seems more practical down the road. You can also upgrade your contact form to the latest style time and time again without much of an additional expense.
Video games are still a popular hobby by many people across the world of all ages. It’s just as common for the older generation to play video games as well as the younger generation, many people tend to exclude the older age group from playing which can make you loose a huge percentage of buyers if the producer targets a specific age group.
There are many ways in which people can get into the video game scene, some of the common reasons are due to friends and family playing them on a regular basis. If a close friend or family member recommends a good game they think you will like, more times then not you will try it out to see what the fuss is about. They can be very addictive and after one test run, you could be hooked onto that specific series of games and will buy all future releases. Many children nowadays are not very outdoor and sociable, another alternative to watching TV is video games, they provide hours of entertainment which will make the parents happy as they know where they are, what their getting up to and most of all that they are staying safe.
In today’s market there are plenty of different genres of games in which people can play. Not every genre will be suitable for every gamer, the common genres are:
- 1st person shooters
- 3rd person shooters
- Role playing game
That’s just a few top level categories, many of these expand out into sub genres giving even more choice for the gamer. As you can see from the list above, you can guarantee that you will find a suitable genre that you enjoy and become a big fan.
With the increase of technology the gaming industry will only get better as technology improves, the main downside is the price, the later consoles can cost around $500 and above which each game varying from $60+ depending on the age of the game. You can easily spend thousands of dollars on video games in a few months, especially if you play various genres to give you a change depending on your mood.
You can guarantee that if you’re into video games then you will have a hobby for life, new and improved consoles are always due to be released as it make millions of dollars profit for the manufacturers to keep the clientele satisfied with new games and sequels to preceding world famous games.
Another common way of people getting into video games is by playing online, if you spend a fair amount online you will of more then likely played little online flash games which can be terribly addictive as you waste many hours per week trying to beat them. The benefit of these online games is the fact they are available to play free of charge and require no downloads so it’s quick and easy.
There is another variation of online games which entice many people into playing, these are games that have the single player option to play on your own against the artificial intelligence and also include a multi player mode in which you can sign onto the internet and play against human players.
This is very popular amongst the 1st person shooters and role playing games (RPG) such as counter strike, unreal tournament, battlefield, Diablo and many more. These types of games are free to play online once you have bought the game for the desired console. There are certain online games that require you to buy the game itself and install it, and then if you want to play online you have to pay a fee per month. An example of this type of game is World of Warcraft which is one of the biggest online multi player games available to date with well over 8 million users playing on a daily basis. These can be quite common as gamers around the world don’t mind paying a fee to play per month if the game play will be unique and keep them entertained for hours.
If you can write a letter or an email, then you can probably write an ebook. The most important thing to remember about the ebook market is that it is based upon information. An ebook which informs its reader is a successful ebook – you don’t have to be a literary genius, you merely need to either have knowledge or experience you can communicate, or else you need to be able to find some knowledge or information on a subject and communicate that. The best tip is: don’t think of yourself as writing a ‘book’, since that idea seems to intimidate people, think of yourself as writing an informative email; or a series of informative emails.
Think of someone you know who you write easily to then just think of yourself as writing to them. Maybe even write to them – you could always ask a friend if it’s ok to write and tell them about your subject, then do so and use those emails as the body of your ebook. The main point here is: if you can write atall, and you can communicate information, then you can write an informative ebook. It is that simple.
The length of an ebook depends upon the information you are putting in it. There’s no strict length – although if it’s only a few pages then it may be better to call it a ‘report’. The important point I shall stress again is that it is informative to the reader. The reader is the one who pays for this information, if they finish the ebook and feel as if it has informed them, then they are a happy reader, if not, then not. An ebook could be as short as one page if the information on that page were worth the price of the ebook. So decide hat the information is that needs to go into the ebook, and write it for as long as that information is adequately communicated. Sure you can fill i8t out a bit with ‘chat’ but not too much. When ‘chat’ becomes ‘fluff’ readers become impatient – even if the ebook is informing them. If the ebook isn’t informing a reader and they think it’s full of fluff you will have a refund request on your hands and a complaint.
The main principle I am going to stress is ‘delivery’: that is, the delivery of information. This means everything from sitting down to write, to producing your ebook in a finished readable and downloadable format. What is the best, simplest, clearest, most accessible way of delivering this information to the reader?
First, decide what information you are going to deliver to the reader, then write that ebook. Don’t worry, initially, about how many pages it takes up – do your research and decide what to tell your reader and how to tell it. If you think the clearest explanation will include graphs or pictures, then include them, if you think the clearest description requires a step by step tutorial then write it. Deliver the information that the reader wants and expects and they will be happy.
When I wrote earlier about ‘fluff’ I was talking about additional ‘chatty’ or superfluous text which didn’t add to the reader’s enjoyment or experience in any way. I will now say it also includes unnecessary decoration or ‘over-design’. This is a rule for information ebooks as much as it is for any other book – don’t add unnecessary decoration in the form of decorative type faces, multiple colours, coloured backgrounds, borders, unrelated or vaguely related images or anything else which isn’t directly contributing to the communication – the delivery – of the information. If the information is well researched and informative then that is the product and any thing extra just gets in the way of the delivery of that product, and that includes distracting backgrounds and borders and coloured decorative typefaces. All an ebook needs is readable text and informative headings.
Remember also, that just because an ebook can be increased or decreased in size, it doesn’t mean that the size of your text doesn’t matter; it does. Do not be tempted to use big text with wide spaces between the lines to make your ebook appear to have more pages. This gets in the way of the delivery of information. Do not, either, make the text small to give the impression of good value by filling pages upon pages with fine text, this also gets in the way of the delivery of information. When deciding upon the text size and spacing there are two simple things to consider: one is that the reader may print out the ebook and will, therefore, require each page to be formatted to print, without any additional formatting, on an average A4 letter sized page. And the second thing to be aware of is that the ‘optimal’ reading text is about twelve words per line.
‘Optimal’, in terms of reading, means that the reader’s eye is most comfortable when there are about twelve words on each line. If lines are too short then the eye is constantly jumping down to the next line and concentration is lost. If the lines are too long then the eye will often ‘lose’ it’s place in the middle of all the text, and find it difficult identifying the next line down due to the distance between the end of one line and the beginning of the next. If you have taken your time writing an ebook and filling it with good and relevant information, if you have delivered the information in the text then you need to back that up by putting it in the optimal format. For an ebook that tends to mean about 14pt text with about a 1.2 to 1.3 line spacing. One and a half line spacing is far too wide and makes reading uncomfortable. Single line spacing is acceptable but if you want to hit the optimum then go for a little extra.
Finally, don’t put in any blank pages or massive white spaces – this looks bad on the screen, and uses up paper when an ebook is printed out. It won’t, by itself, lose you a sale, but it doesn’t deliver a good experience. With these simple points in mind all you need to do is convert your document to a PDF and you have your finished ebook ready to satisfy your customers.