Basic information about hosting and building your personal, business or Christian web site.

Welcome to SonServers Christian Web HostingWeb Hosting 101

If you do not understand what this web hosting and site authoring is all about, this page should help clear up a few things.

For your site to be seen by everyone, it needs to be put on a "web server". That server needs to be connected to the Internet 24/7 and have the capabilities to have many users in it at once. Maintaining a server yourself and paying for the broadband Internet connection is not practical for most situations. You need a host server!

Host vs. ISP

As a web host, we do not provide local access to the Internet. In technical terms, we are not an "Internet Service Provider" (ISP). Even with your site on a host you still need a local provider to get your computer hooked up to the Internet. Some local ISP's also provide hosting. Most can not offer the same low pricing and options for your site as a dedicated host.

There are many free hosts available. Lots of people use these hosts are very satisfied with them. Others quickly find that the free hosts push advertising to your visitors by way of banners on your pages or windows constantly popping up on your visitors screen. Many of the free hosts also limit you to the number of times you can upload in a given time frame, and the amount of "transfer" that can come from your site.

We will not put anything on your site that you don't put there yourself. The only access limits on your site are set by the total transfer limits which are set much higher than most sites will ever use. The main purpose of the transfer limits are in place to protect us from server abuse.

"But I've never built a site before!"

That's ok. We all had to start somewhere. With the software available today, building a site is easier than ever before!  With a good page editor, you will quickly see that the design and look of the site is much more difficult than the actual building of the pages.

"So what do I need?"

The best place to start is with a page editor. You will find editors that range in price from only a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. The best "cheap" editor we have found is free! If you download the Mozilla browser , you will get a page editor called "Composer". Composer does not have many "bells and whistles", but it will allow you to build some nice pages with text and graphics.

The editor we use here is called "Namo". It has some nice features that we really like. One of the neatest things about Namo is how it is great for beginners with many templates and graphics, as well as more advanced users who wish to do some "tweaking" and coding by hand.

A very popular editor is Microsoft's "FrontPage". FrontPage is different from other editors that in order for it to work right on a server, the server needs to have FrontPage "extensions" installed. This is an option that we have on our servers at no additional cost. To prepare a site for FrontPage-built sites on our servers, there is an option in the control panel to turn that feature on.

Uploading Your Website

To get started, you need to build you site and then "upload", or "publish" it to your host server. We are happy to help our customers upload their sites for the first time. It is not very difficult once your software is set up.

If you have an editor that does not include uploading functions (also called "FTP" or "Publishing") then you will need a "FTP" program. A few popular ones are WS-FTP, Cute FTP, and FTPExplorer. You should be able to find these, or other programs to fit your needs at a shareware download site. Most editors now include uploading functions within them so a FTP program may not be necessary right now.

Graphics and Drawings

Another good thing to have is a graphics editor. Probably most important is an "image editor". This program will let you crop, resize, add effects, and touch up the pictures that you want to use in your site. The one we use is made by Serif and is called "Photo Plus".

Optionally, if you like to draw your own graphics and clip art, a drawing program is probably in order. We use a drawing program called XaraX. XaraX is a very powerful program and may be more than you would typically need for your site. Image editors are typically not good at drawing, and drawing programs are typically not good at image editing. Serif also makes a fairly nice drawing program called "DrawPlus".


If you really want to get started "in the cheap", then download Communicator and use Composer to build your pages. It also includes a publish function to upload your site to the server. If you want more features and abilities, then check out the commercial editors that are available. As you talk to different web authors, you will find many different opinions about which is best. Ask around and compare the reports you get with what you can afford and get started!

We will do all we can to help you along in your exciting, new world as a "site author". We can not possibly know the in's and out's of every piece of software out there but we'll sure do everything possible to help you along. In most cases, your best support is under the help button on the software menu.

Website Content is king!

Time to go off into a bit of personal feeling here and say that if you are new to this and want a bit of advice, we feel that content is the most important part of your web site. You can have a site with no graphics at all, and it will stand on it's own and do it's job. It won't be very pretty, but you can get the information to your visitors. You can fill your site with graphics and it will look nice, but if it does not have any information in it, then what's the point? Decide what you want your site to do and then design it to do that. If your site is to provide information, then provide it. If your site is to show the world what a great artist you are, then do that. Somewhere between the two is a happy balance. That point varies widely between different site builders.

I have found an excellent e-book that will help any new or experienced web author. It is called "Make Your Site Sell". It downloads to your computer and you read it with the free Acrobat Reader. Even if you have a church or ministry page that is not actually "selling" anything, this book has great advice on building your site to be user friendly and ways to write the content that lead your visitors through the site. There is one entire section on promotion of your site. There is great advice on search engines and how to build your pages to make the engines "happy", and thus, get a higher ranking and more visitors.

Search Engine Basics

The best way to get your site listed in the search engines is to get a few links from other sites that are already listed. This can take a few months but it works very well. Search engines read the content on your pages and store that in their databases. When someone does a search, the engine searches it's database and looks for the words that were searched on. For this reason, you best rankings will come from building your site around "keywords" that you think people will search for. Those words need to be computer readable text. This means that keywords that have been placed in a graphic are not going to be read by the engine when it reads your site for content.

Let's go from there

I'm sure that doesn't answer all of your questions about building a site, but don't worry, we are here for you. No, we can't teach you how to program Java Scripts, write Perl programs, etc., but we can help you with basic building skills that will get your new site up and on display for the world to see!

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