The millions who use the Web do so because the volume of online data guarantees finding something of interest. Those publishing on the Web have realised how easy and cheap it is to put their message across, compared with the traditional media. As use of the Web grows, so does the number of people planning to publish their own pages of information. Hundreds of thousands of organisations are waking up to how simple it is to put their material on the Web, to allow it to be viewed by a global audience.
In its March issue, PC Magazine reviews the tools required to get your organisation a presence on the Web and thus access to that information- hungry online population.
You'll need two main ingredients before a Web user can type www.bloggs.bikes.co.uk into their browser to view your home page. The first is some disk space on a server connected to the Internet. By far the most straightforward approach is to rent space from an Internet service provider.
Next you'll need your material - and this is where the fun starts. You can't just upload word processor or DTP documents on to the Web, because nobody will be able to read them. The software required to create pages that can be read over the Web is called an HTML authoring package. HTML is the common language of the Web, but with the latest authoring programs its confusing notation of formatting tags stays behind the scenes. The top packages allow you to know nothing about programming, letting you concentrate on how your pages look.
Anyone spending just a few minutes browsing the Web will see the huge range of elements that can be found in Web pages. You'll find text, graphics, 3D effects, links to other sites and full interactive multimedia sound and animation. But not everybody wants to create the Internet equivalent of Alton Towers.
PC Magazine tested and reviewed the seven leading HTML authoring products and discovered that different packages were suitable for different levels of user expertise. No one product served all purposes, but two programs stood out from the rest.
If you want to create professional-quality Web pages quickly, and don't mind a limited set of features, then WebPublisher from Asymetrix is the product for you. A competent computer user familiar with Windows can take WebPublisher and quickly create great-looking pages. A bargain at pounds 59. For those wanting more sophistication in their Web creations and intending to manage a large Web site, then NetObjects's Fusion, at $500, is the package. It allows great flexibility and provides comprehensive Web site management tools.
Asymetrix (0800 716 957)
NetObjects (001 888 449 0298)