How to Publish (Upload) Your Website with Expression Web

Chapter 8: Transferring Web Pages to the Internet

How to Publish (Upload) Your Website to the Internet with Expression Web

by Christopher Heng,

With the completion of most of your website in chapter 7, we can now transfer the finished work to the Internet. This process of copying files from your computer to your web host's computer is known as "uploading". It is also sometimes referred to in layman's language as "publishing".

As usual, I will assume that you are already familiar with the things covered in the earlier chapters of this Expression Web tutorial. If you are a complete newcomer, and are looking for information on designing your own website, please start with How to Create a Website.

Goal of This Chapter

By the end of this chapter, you will have uploaded your web pages to the Internet.


  1. A Web Host

    I mentioned in chapter 1 that you will need a web host. If you have delayed getting one so far, you can defer this task no further, since you will definitely need it here. For those who don't know where to start looking, there is a list of commercial web hosts on, and I also have a review of the web host that I am currently using for

    Once again, by way of reminder, if you are a student following this tutorial as part of a course requirement, you may not actually need to sign up with a web host. Your university (or school) may have allocated space on their own web server (ie, a computer on the Internet) for your website. Get the details from your lecturer (or teacher).

  2. FTP or SFTP Details

    In order to upload your files, you need your website's FTP server address, the directory to place your website files and the FTP login name and password.

    When you signed up with your web host, they will probably have sent you a confirmation email with the above details. If you have lost that email, contact your web host. Note that there is no point emailing me for help here. Only your web host has the information you need.

    Don't be intimidated by the jargon above. "FTP" merely means "File Transfer Protocol". It is just the method that Expression Web uses to transfer a file from one computer to another, somewhat like the HTTP protocol of chapter 5 that browsers use to retrieve web pages. Some web hosts offer "SFTP", which is a secure version of FTP that encrypts everything so that (hopefully) no one can intercept your password. In any case, for Expression Web to transfer files, it needs to know the address of the FTP server on the other end that is waiting to receive those files.

Wait, What About My Contact Form?

I realise that, although you have finished most of your website, you have yet to create a contact form. As I said before, this will only be done in chapter 9. There is a reason for this.

In my experience with newcomers, if they are to find any part of web design difficult at all, it is usually at two points. One of them is the initial uploading of their site, and the other is getting the contact form to work properly. As such, I prefer to separate the learning of these 2 stages so that they don't take place at the same time. This lets the new webmaster solve the problems (if any) of each stage without the complications of the other confusing the issues.

Since getting the contact form to work properly depends, in part, on your being able to publish the pages correctly to the right location, it seems sensible to first deal with the former. Once you can publish your pages correctly, and view them in a web browser, you can sort out any additional issues a contact form poses.

Now some of you, at this point, may be concerned that visitors will arrive at your site immediately after you publish it, and make a beeline for your contact form, only to find that it doesn't exist. Don't worry. The reality is, since your website is new, and you have not yet advertised it to anyone, no one will know it exists, let alone visit it. Not even the search engines. It is not that easy to get visitors.

How to Set Up Expression Web's Publishing Settings

  1. If you have files open in Expression Web, save and close those files. Otherwise, you may accidentally publish an older version of your work.

  2. Click "Site | Site Settings" from the menu.

  3. Click the "Publishing" tab in the "Site Settings" dialog box that appears.

  4. Click the "Add..." button under the "Publishing Destinations" box. The "Connections" dialog box will appear.

  5. Type your web host's name into the "Name" field. Actually, it doesn't matter what you type here. The contents of this field is only used in the "Publishing Destinations" box. However, if you type some random thing here, you will only confuse yourself years down the road, when you have forgotten your own pranks.

  6. In the "Connection Type" field, select "SFTP" if your web host gives you SFTP access, or "FTP" if they only provide you FTP access. If your web host allows you to use both, choose SFTP, since it's more secure.

  7. For the "Location" field, you need the name of your FTP server (sometimes referred to as "FTP address" or "FTP hostname"). The actual name differs from web host to web host. For example, on some hosts, the server is a name like "" (where "" is your site). On others, it's your domain. There are also some hosts which supply a completely different name altogether. Use the name they give, without modification. Remember that you cannot use guesswork to figure out what to enter here. It has to be the name of the server that your web host has specifically set up for you.

    Type the name immediately after "ftp://". For example, if the FTP server address is "", the field will now read "".

    Update: Expression Web uses obsolete encryption technology for their SFTP connection. If you use a web host that has upgraded to the latest versions of SSH (ie, the software that handles SFTP connections), the editor may not be able to successfully connect to your site. If you get error messages like "the server connection timed out" (and perhaps others), this may be the reason. If so, you have two alternatives.

    • Use a specialized up-to-date FTP program like FileZilla to upload your website. The link in the previous sentence leads to a tutorial on how to do this. The (minor) disadvantage of this is that you will forgo Expression Web's ability to track and only publish pages that have changed since the previous upload. In other words, you will have to remember this yourself and upload accordingly. Or if you are really that hopelessly absent-minded, just upload everything each time you change something.

    • Another way is to use the less secure "FTP" option for your Connection Type. Unfortunately, this is a riskier alternative, since others will be able to eavesdrop on your connection and find out your FTP password.

  8. The "Directory" field is where your web pages are supposed to be placed (on your web host's computer). Again, this information has to be provided by your web host. Do not enter some random directory here; ask them if you don't already have the information.

    Anything placed in this folder, or in the sub-folders within it, will be accessible to everyone on the Internet. If you put your web pages outside this directory hierarchy, your visitors will not be able to access them (under normal circumstances).

    (Web servers are set up this way to protect your private files from casual access. For example, things like your email are placed outside this directory and its descendants.)

    For those who don't know how to locate the relevant bit of information in your web host's email, look for where they say your web pages (or "HTML files") are to be placed. For example, some web hosts tell you to place the files in the "www" directory. If so, type "www" (without the quotation marks) into the Directory field. Other web hosts say that you need to use the "public_html" directory. If so, enter "public_html" (without the quotes). And so on. Remember to use the exact name they give to you. Do not change the capitalisation of the name. "WWW" is different from "www", as is "public_html" from "PUBLIC_HTML". If your web host says to publish your files in the default directory that you see when you connect by FTP, leave the "Directory" field blank.

  9. Enter your login name into the "User name" field and your password into the "Password" field.

    If you are using a computer which you share with others, you can also omit the "User name" and "Password" field for now. Expression Web will then prompt you for the information later. However, this tutorial assumes that you have entered the information as stated in the paragraph above.

  10. Click the "Add" button.

  11. The Site Settings dialog box will now show a new entry in the Publishing Destinations box. Click "OK" to dismiss the box.

How to Publish (Upload) Your Website

  1. Click "Site | Publishing" from the menu.

  2. The Site View tab will now show a blank page with a single link saying "Connect to the current publishing destination". Click that link.

  3. If Expression Web pops out an error message saying

    Cannot connect to "". Check the server name and proxy settings. If the settings are correct, the server may be temporarily unavailable.

    it means either that you have typed the domain name incorrectly into the Publishing tab of Site Settings (the part after "ftp://" above), or that you have only just bought your domain name, and your local broadband (or dial-up) provider's systems have not been updated with information about it. When a domain name is new, it can take up to 2 days for the rest of the world to learn of its existence.

    To check your settings, click "Site | Site Settings" again and go to the "Publishing" tab. Click the "Edit" button under the "Publishing Destinations" box and check the domain name portion in the "Location" field against the information provided by your web host.

    If it's correct, and you have only bought the domain (say) a few hours before, then you probably have to wait a day or two before continuing. You can't speed up the process, and complaining to your web host or domain registrar won't help, since it's outside their control.

  4. If Expression Web gives you an error message like "the server connection timed out", please see this section above.

  5. When Expression Web successfully connects to the site, you will see two panels side-by-side. The left side lists the files on your computer, while the right shows you the files on your web host's machine.

    Right click the "index.dwt" file in the left panel and select "Exclude from Publishing" in the menu that appears. The "index.dwt" file, as you will remember from chapter 7, is your site's template, and does not need to be on the Internet.

  6. Now click 'Site | Publish All Files to ""' (where "" is whatever you have entered into the "Name" field of the Publishing tab earlier).

  7. Expression Web will proceed to upload your files to the web server (ie, your web host's computer). Depending on how many files you have, this may take some time, during which you can watch its progress in the bottom half of the Site View window. When it is completed, you should be able to see the files on the server in the right panel. It should include everything you have on the left, except for "index.dwt", which you deliberately excluded. (Note that the server may also have some additonal files placed there by your web host when it set up your account, such as a default "404 File Not Found" error file.)

How to Test Your "Live" Website

Although you have been testing your website in a browser in the last few chapters, there are some things that you can only test when your site is on the Internet.

  1. Check the default page

    Go to your website by directly typing "" (or whatever your domain name is) into your browser's address bar. Do not type it into a Google or Bing search field. Do not use "", where the home page filename is added to the end of the address.

    When you do that, you should nonetheless see your "index.html" page. If you don't, take a look at the error message. If the message says "404 File Not Found", "Document Not Found", "Forbidden", "Directory has no index file", it means one of the following things.

    • You may have named your file wrongly. For example, if you used a filename of "Index.html" (notice the capital "I"), you will get this error. The home page must be named "index.html" if you want this trick of typing your domain name to work.

    • You may have uploaded your files to the wrong directory. Don't think that this possibility does not apply to you. As I said before, web servers will only display files placed in specific folders, for security reasons. Just because you successfully uploaded your files to your server does not mean that they are in the correct location.

    • A more remote possibility is that your web host has not set up their server to show index.html as the default page. This is very rare nowadays, since most web hosts configure their servers to follow the conventions that the majority of webmasters are familiar with (if only to reduce the amount of technical support they have to give).

      To test this possibility, type "" (yes, with the filename this time) into your browser's address bar. If this works, but "" doesn't, then you are in this boat. You can solve the problem either by asking your web host to set the default page to "index.html" for you, or you can find out from them how you can do this for yourself. Although I have a tutorial for changing the name of the default page for one commonly-used web server software (called Apache), your web host is probably using a different program for their system. I say this because Apache recognizes "index.html" by default.

      Another solution is to rename "index.html" to the name used by your web host's server software. However, this means that any links on your site pointing to the home page with "index.html" somewhere in the URL will break, and you will have to fix all those links. In addition, if you ever move your site to a different web host using the standard "index.html" convention, you will face this issue anew.

    On the other hand, if you get a "Domain not found", "No DNS for" or words to that effect, it could be one of 3 reasons.

    • You could be facing the domain name propagation issue I mentioned above, where your domain name is less than 2 days old.

    • Alternatively, your web host may not have set up the "www" subdomain for your site. Not every web host does this automatically. To see if this is the case, type "" (that is, your domain name without the "www" prefix) into your browser's address bar. If this works, but the "" version doesn't, contact your web host to ask them how you can set up the "www" version. (For example, on some web hosts, you may need to log into your website's control panel and click a checkbox somewhere.)

    • You made a typing error when entering your domain name into the browser. Before you scoff at this, check it. Typing mistakes afflict us all, whether you are a newcomer or an experienced webmaster.

  2. Check your links

    Check all the links on your pages, whether they are in the navigation menu or in your main content. Remember also to click your site logo to make sure that the link there is correct too.

    All your links should point to valid destinations except for the link to the Contact Form. The latter will, as expected, lead to a "404 File Not Found" (or words to that effect) error, since you haven't created it yet.

  3. Check your images

    Make sure that the pictures you placed on your page show up on your "live" site. They should, if you have followed my procedure in chapter 2 of always copying them into your images folder, and then using Expression Web's "Publish All Files..." to put everything online.

    Note that you should verify this even if you have been faithfully using "Preview in Browser" to check your site. Just because something works fine on your own computer doesn't mean that it will work correctly on the Internet.

Once you've fixed any outstanding issues, and everything works as it should, congratulations! With your site on the Internet, you are now a full-fledged webmaster.

Next Chapter

In the next chapter, you will complete your site with its final set of pages: a contact form and its supporting files.

Copyright © 2016-2019 Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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