This article was first published on 2007-09-17. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
If you’re looking to build a simple website, for yourself or your small business, your new Mac makes it very easy with “iWeb.” It’s even easier if you have a .Mac account, because with one, you can publish your website to the Internet with the click of a button. Of course, if you don’t want to pay for .Mac or you already have a site you’d like to update, it’s not quite so obvious how to publish. In this article, you’ll see how to build your website using iWeb, and various ways to publish it.
The basic idea with iWeb is that you start with Apple designed templates (which are first rate) and modify them to your taste and needs. iWeb is perfect if you want to stay within the handful of most popular web page types that the templates give you. If you want a custom look and structure, you can do it, but you are not playing to iWeb’s strengths and may meet some frustration with the limits of the program.
One benefit is that you can do it all by not knowing any HTML, but you should know because of the way Apple hides the complexity of websites in iWeb, the sites you create won’t easily translate to other HTML editing software down the line if you graduate from iWeb. So with that in mind, let’s begin…
Building Your Site
iWeb comes with iLife ’06 and iLife ’08. If you bought your Mac anytime after January 2006, it’s almost a guarantee you have iWeb on your computer. Once you open iWeb, you’ll be greeted with a sheet asking you what “template” you would like to use. Pick the template that is most like how you want your site to look. Don’t worry if there’s something about it you don’t like. iWeb pages are almost completely customizable.
Once you have picked your template, you will see the web page, with some default pictures and text on it. This is the way most Apple programs start. They have some placeholders in the design and you are to replace the text and images with your own stuff. Just click inside the text to start editing it.
To change the pictures, click on the “Media” button on the bottom toolbar. You’ll find that this media browser really comes in handy. You can drag any iPhoto picture onto the default picture to replace it. In this fashion, iWeb is pretty self-explanatory for those of you who want a nice looking website and don’t mind it being the exact template. But for those that want their website to be unique, there are plenty more options.
One of the most valuable options in iWeb is the Insert menu. You can insert almost anything. If it isn’t on the menu, just click “Choose…” at the bottom and choose any file. Once chosen, it will drop onto your webpage for resizing and effects.
Even more customization comes from the “Inspector” window. Down on the bottom bar with the media browser, this is where all the advanced photo and webpage options are. The different tabs at the top of the Inspector window allow you to edit your text styles, image embellishments such as drop shadows and reflections, and to edit the browser information for your webpage. The “Adjust” button allows you to edit your photo just as if it were in iPhoto, including saturation, brightness, and contrast. Explore around the bottom row of buttons for a little bit, and you’ll have iWeb’s power at your fingertips.
Getting Your Site Online
Building the site is the easy part. Getting it online can be tricky. If you have .Mac, then it is really easy. Just go to the “File” menu and select “Publish to .Mac.” If you don’t have .Mac, it’s a little harder.
In this case, the first thing you must do is to choose where you will host your site online. There are many free hosting options, such as freewebs.com, and geocities.com. The downside to free hosting sites is that there is a limited amount of space you have to upload files to, and it’s usually low. Also, the website address is usually longer, usually in the format of “webhost.com/youraccount” or “youraccount.webhost.com.” There are ways to get around this, though, which I will talk about later on. For a free host, I recommend Freewebs. Though its built in web page builder is not good, they offer extremely high file limits for a free hosting site. Plus, they are ad-free.
The next steps apply no matter where you plan to upload your files, be it to a free hosting site or your own yourname.com domain.
In the File menu, click “Publish to folder.” Follow the on screen directions, making sure to both publish to a new or empty folder and to type in the exact address of your website. For instance, when I made my website, I typed in www.freewebs.com/adamfishercox because that is the page that people will visit to get to my homepage.
Once iWeb is done processing, go to the folder it published to. You will notice that there is an index.html file and a “Site” folder. Inside the site folder will be more html files and other corresponding file folders. The way the iWeb pages are set up, you must upload the folders and files in the same order that they appear in the folder on your computer.
In this example, I will publish to a folder called “My Website.” The “My Website” folder corresponds to the main folder of my actual online website. I will go online (I will use Freewebs) and upload the “index.html” file from the “My Website” folder on my computer to the main folder of my website. Then I will create a new folder on my web space, called “Site,” which will correspond to the “Site” folder in my “My Website” folder on my computer. Then I will go into the “Site” folder and upload all the files from my computer’s “Site” folder, and create new folders all named the exact same things as the ones in the “Site” folder on my computer. I will continue to upload all the files to the exact same folder and location on my web space as on my computer. Once all of the files are uploaded, the site should work perfectly by going to the address of the website I set up.
Now that the website is up, there are a couple of options for making my website name easier to remember and shorter to type. The easiest is called “domain redirection.” Google that term if you want to find more websites that offer the service, but I will talk about the one I find best. Freedomain.co.nr is a website that allows you to claim any website name such as www.you.co.nr and it will redirect to your free-hosted website. The only thing they ask in return is that you put some sort of ad on your site for them. The entire set up process is very easy and well described on their website.
Overall, iWeb is a great tool and extremely easy to use. If you have .Mac, getting your website from iWeb to the Internet is a breeze. If you don’t, it is still simple, but time consuming. For uploading iWeb files and HTML site-building, Freewebs is the best I have found. Have fun with your new site!
Adam Fisher-Cox is a long-time Mac user. Visit him online at adamfishercox.com.
Are you feeling ready to take on a website in iWeb? Have you any tips for beginners you would like to pass on? Let us know in the Comments section below!