Brett Mason's
Brett Bugle is the personal homepage of James Brett Mason of Lexington KY USA, 32 years old
Lexington KY USA

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Lessons learned from building this website

For those of you who drool over the Brett Bugle week after week, wishing you had my dominant HTML skills so you could build your own website, I want to help you. I want to teach you some of the things I've learned in the seven years I've been doing this self-promotion in cyberspace.


If you pay for a connection to the Internet, it is almost a certainty that you have some ad-free web space available to you. I pay $14 a month to connect through Prodigy, and that $14 a month entitles me to 15 megabytes of storage space at the address "" Find out what address your Internet Service Provider (ISP) gives you for your website, and use it right away! If you have webspace you're not using, give it to me; I'll post some music files or online photo albums.

If you want free web space outside of your ISP, go set up an account at a place like or A search on Google will find you hundreds of similar servers.


FrontPage and Word can be used to build webpages, but these pages become bloated and horrible. You can do just fine by writing your own code in Notepad. I am not going to teach HTML here; I just want to say that if you have the desire to build a website, you should find a tiny bit more desire to learn basic HTML markup. It's not difficult.

Here's the code for an empty webpage to get you started. Copy and paste this code into Notepad, change a few "type here" things, and save the file as INDEX.HTML.

<HTML lang="en-US">
  <TITLE>Type your title here</TITLE>
  <H1>Type a heading here</H1>

   <P>Type a few paragraphs here</P>
   <P>     separated by P tags     </P>



A good thing to remember is that people will typically enter your site through the front page. Update your front page more than any other page in your site. Keep the most current information on the front page, not buried two or three pages deep. It took me forever to actually follow this advice, but now that I do, it brings a better flow to the site. Wait, did feng shui just show up? Yikes.

Something to avoid on your site: don't write your email address on any page directly or in a MAILTO link. The spambots of the world will find it and start spamming you. It's best to disguise your email address a little if you want to share it with your visitors.


FTP is infinitely more convenient than browser-based publishing. If you use a server like Geocities or Brinkster which does not give FTP privileges to free accounts, I'd recommend you move your account to another server which does, like Angelfire. I'm thrilled that my ISP, Prodigy, gives me FTP access to my homepage folder.


I've noticed that Google will only update my listing once a month, if I'm lucky. Submit your page to Google the moment it is first published, and then wait a month to see some results. You can also do a Basic Submit to Altavista, which is free, but who uses Altavista anymore?

Don't throw away your chances to get a good listing on Google by screwing up your page title or your filenames. The title of your webpage, found in the <TITLE> tag of the <HEAD> section of your HTML code, does not need the words "Welcome" or "Homepage" in it. You'll make the Web a nicer place by leaving out fluff like that.


This is very important. You will learn a lot about your website if you can see who visits it, how they found it, and how often they visit. There are two ways you can accomplish this. (A) Be in charge of your own webserver, and analyze your own logfiles, or (B) attach a little bit of code to each page which will automate the statistics gathering for you. I've never wanted to do step A, so I rely on step B.

My traffic reports fascinate me. The reports show me that I get the most hits on my Lyrics page and my MP3 list. They also show me that people find my Lyrics page from all over the world and use some pretty peculiar searches to find it. Which reminds me, the many idiots who think Alanis Morissette sings "Bitch" need to know that it's sung by Meredith Brooks. Their searches will be much more effective if they learn the artist's name.


I prefer a simple page of mostly text, but some people want a gorgeous page they can send to MoMA. I have no advice about beautifying the Web with fancy graphic design except for this: the search engines cannot read your graphics files, so make sure you throw ALT attributes (alternate text) on the images in your page for the search engines to index. And Shockwave Flash files are even more unfriendly to search engines and, in many ways, to users.


When you start getting thousands of visits per day on your website, you might want to give it a cool domain name like Have fun with that. I have never had a good reason to pay for a domain name, since I am neither getting thousands of visits per day nor making any money on the site. But I have found a couple of places that will give you a shorter address:,, and These are called URL redirects. Sign up for them if you don't want to pay for domain names.

END OF LESSON. Send me an email.