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Dermatology Online Journal

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Creating your Own Web Page

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The Internet, World Wide Web, and the Practice of Dermatology:
Creating Your Own Home Page
Ken Weiss MBA.
Dermatology Online Journal Volume 2 Number 1: 11

There are three elements to a successful presence in the World Wide Web: a reliable server, useful content, and a way for the general public to find the server and the content. Like most three-legged constructs, the Web doesn't work well if any one of these elements is missing.
Requirements for Success on the Web
reliable server
useful content
public recognition
  • Server
    A server is a central computer that holds the information you want to make available to the Internet community. The server runs special software that enables it to sense and respond to requests from WWW browsers like Netscape and Internet Explorer. There are a number of ways to get your information onto a Web server. The simplest approach with the lowest start-up cost is to get an account with a major Internet Service Provider (ISP) like America On-Line or Netcom. These services will allow you to place a limited amount of material in a publically accessible location. While this might work for a Web site with very limited and specific appeal, for most purposes it's too difficult to find a specific page of material among the thousands available at of directories). A Web consulting/design firm can address this problem, and a few others. Most consulting operations run their own servers. Because the have a limited number of clients they can provide special services. For example, they can establish a custom domain, or server name, just for your material. That means that instead of a generic Uniform Resource Locator (URL) you'll have one more like, where all anyone needs to know to find you is the name of your business. In addition, the consulting firms can take over the entire process of creating your Web pages, and can provide valuable graphic art and design expertise. The final option for servers is to run your own. This requires a dedicated connection to the Internet, and the expertise to manage some fairly sophisticated hardware and software. This is only a reasonable option for the largest and busiest private Web sites.
  • Content
    The World Wide Web is huge. There are over 30,000,000 pages of material available. As you might expect, most of it is junk. A successful Web site has to provide valuable content that brings people back again and again. Beautiful design and graphics without well-defined and useful content won't work. Another thing to remember is that information becomes stale over time. Starting a Web site implies a commitment to keep it updated with new material on a regular basis. Otherwise people will stop visiting. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. Collections of reference material don't age, and remain useful for long periods of time. The nature of the content depends on your goals for the site. Who is your audience? What special expertise do you have that will be of interest to your audience? How can you best organize and present the material?
  • Recognition
    The final problem in establishing a virtual presence is getting your site noticed. As the Web grows, more people rely on search engines (AltaVista, Lycos, Excite, InfoSeek) to navigate through the sea of information. Word-of-mouth is also an important tool for deciding what to view and what to avoid. There are techniques to help ensure that your material is found by the search engines, and is returned in response to relevant queries. These techniques include the use of keywords, careful attention to the use of titles, headlines and subheads, and URL registration. Word of mouth is harder to manage, but probably more powerful, especially in a small community of interest.

This session can't expect to cover all this material in detail. The goal is to teach you enough to understand the broad concepts of the Web, to help you reach an informed decision about the value of the Web both as a resource and as a publishing/promotional tool, and to equip you to ask the right questions when it's time to retain someone to assist you in exploiting the Web.