Essentially there are three things you'll need.

  1. A web site name - Commonly called a DOMAIN NAME.
  2. A place to HOST the site - rented space on a server somewhere.
  3. Content - something to show everyone.

A website can indeed be run on a home computer, using nothing more than a text file and some settings to allow the file to be seen by the rest of the world. You don't need to buy any flashy site development software or rent a server somewhere. However, this is often not a practical solution as the computer would need to be left running 24/7 and the shared address of most home computers is not fixed. Also it opens up your home computer to potential dangers of hacking and corruption with malware.

There are a lot of FREE webspace offerings out on the web, services that will allow you to set up and run a website on a server for free so long as you don't mind a bit of advertising appearing around your site. Wix.com offer such a service with a template facility to choolse the look and layout you want. For free it's one of the better services I've come across and you can of course pay for some more features the free version does not offer.

So, in order to choose how best you want to set up your website, you need to do some research into what it is you want to share. If it's just personal commentary on life the universe and everything, with some family photos thrown in, the facebook.com is probably the place to go. They offer a wide range of sharing facilities that would take the novice webmaster a long time to replicate. You can even get a dedicated domain name too.

But if you want to specialise in a subject or offer a service then you'll probably need to cosider buying your own unique domain name, paying for a hosting package on a shared server. WHUK.co.uk is a good place to start for both of these. And then the content is down to your choice of look and layout.

This site is built using the free Content Management System (CMS) called Joomla. It's eeasy to set up and can be configured using templates and modules to do pretty much anything you like. Hop over to joomla.org to see what it's about.

If you want to splash out on your own design software like Dreamweaver or Webplus then they will allow you to create the site on your home computer and then upload it to your chosen hosting company.

Web design is so easy these days, you don't really need to know much about HTML, PHP, MySql or any of the other myriad of protocols that the World Wide Web runs on, just to get a site up and running. But if you plan to run your own "Facebook" style social network, your own file sharing network or anything else remotely complex, then you'll need to do some swotting up and learning some programming skills.