Designing & Publishing a Site with KompoZer

Tutorial on how to create your first web site with this free WYSIWYG web editor

How to Design and Publish Your Website with KompoZer

by Christopher Heng,

KompoZer is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web editor based on Nvu, another free WYSIWYG web editor. It is essentially Nvu with some bugs fixed and a name change. KompoZer runs on Windows, Macintosh and Linux.

This article guides you through the steps of creating your first web site using KompoZer.

If you are interested in a more recent web editor, you may wish to read the BlueGriffon Tutorial. BlueGriffon is an open source web editor developed by the author of Nvu. Alternatively, you can also try the Expression Web Tutorial which deals with Microsoft's web editor, a sophisticated and feature-packed editor that was once sold in shops but is now free.

What You Will Need

You will need the following for this tutorial.

  1. You will need to have KompoZer. You can obtain it free of charge from There are versions of KompoZer for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Select the appropriate one for your system. Note that this tutorial deals with KompoZer version 0.7.10, which was the latest stable version available at the time I wrote this. Do not use the development version 0.8b3 (which seems to have been abandoned with no new versions since February 2010), since it will probably behave differently from my description here.

    And yes, 0.7.10 is very outdated, with no support for a lot of the modern features in use on websites today. As mentioned above, the original developer who created Nvu, on which KompoZer 0.7.10 is based, has moved on to BlueGriffon. In general, if you want to design a modern website, especially one that is mobile-friendly, I suggest you use either my BlueGriffon or Expression Web tutorials.

  2. You will need a web host to publish your pages to. For the complete beginner, a web host is (loosely speaking) a company which has computers that are permanently connected to the Internet. After you design your web page(s), you will need to transfer your pages to your web host's computer (called a web server), so that the rest of the world can see it.

There are other things involved in getting your first web site up and running, such as getting your own domain name, creating a search engine friendly website and promoting your web site. This tutorial however does not deal with those issues — it is strictly about designing (creating) and publishing your website using KompoZer. For those who are total beginners, it may be useful to read How to Create / Make a Website: The Beginner's A-Z Guide for an overview of the entire process of website creation and maintenance.

Overall Goals of this Tutorial

By the end of this tutorial series, you will have created a fully functional website with multiple pages, including a main page, a working feedback form, a Reciprocal Links page, an About Us page, and a Site Map. Your website will contain images, multiple columns, a form, links to other pages within your site, links to other sites, text in different font sizes, and so on.

More importantly, you will know how to use KompoZer to create, design and publish your site so that you can design new sites any time you want.

Goal of this Chapter

In this chapter, you will learn to create a rudimentary web page and publish it so that it can be accessed on the Internet. By the end of this chapter, you will be viewing your web page on the Internet with your favourite web browser.

Note that this is a hands-on tutorial. To benefit from it, in fact, to even understand it, you need to follow the steps as I describe them. The practical nature of this guide makes it difficult to follow or understand if you're not doing the things mentioned.

Installing KompoZer

To install KompoZer, first download the correct file for your system.

If you use Windows, and don't know what to do with the zip file after you have downloaded it, do the following.

Create a new folder on your desktop. Call it "kompozer" (without the quotes). Double-click the zip file you downloaded. A window will open. Drag the files in that window to the folder that you have created earlier. Then go to that new folder, and click the right mouse button on the file kompozer.exe. Click the "Send To" menu item in the menu that pops up. Next, click the "Desktop (create shortcut)" menu item. A shortcut to KompoZer will be placed on your desktop. To run KompoZer, all you have to do is to double-click this shortcut.

If You Can't Find "Kompozer.exe"

If you cannot find any file called "kompozer.exe", it means that Windows is hiding part of the filename from you. Please read (and do the things mentioned in) How to Force Windows Explorer to Always Show You the File Extensions so that you can locate the correct file.

If You Use Windows 95, 98, 98 SE, 2000 or ME

In the unlikely situation that you use a version of Windows earlier than Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, you may need to install one of the free archivers from the Free File Archivers and File Compression Utilities page before you can double-click the zip file to open it. That is, after you install the archiver, just open the "kompozer" folder on your desktop the normal way by double-clicking it. You should now be able to open the folder. Early versions of Windows lacked the ability to open zip files unless you install an archiver that supports it.

Creating A Simple First Web Page

To give you an idea how simple it is to create a web page, first start up KompoZer.

You will be greeted with a window that contains a menu (the top line of the window that says "File Edit View Insert..." etc), a few lines of toolbars (containing buttons like "New", "Open", etc), a left panel with a heading "Site Manager", and a large pane on the right-hand side that has a tab called "Untitled". This large pane is where you will design your web page.

Type the following into the KompoZer. You don't have to do anything special — just start typing. Note that you can type whatever you wish — I'm just furnishing you a block of text as an example. For ease of explanation, though, I will assume that you have typed the text here in the rest of the tutorial. Don't let that stop you from being creative, though.

Shakespeare's Website

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

When you type, you are typing into KompoZer's "Normal" mode. You can see which mode you are using by glancing at the series of tabs at the bottom of the KompoZer window.

To see how your page appears in an actual web browser, click the "Preview" tab to enter KompoZer's "Preview" mode. Return to the "Normal" mode before continuing. I shall assume that you are using the "Normal" mode in this tutorial unless otherwise specified. The "Normal" mode is KompoZer's WYSIWYG editor mode. When you type text in this mode, KompoZer converts it into a HTML web document behind the scenes so that web browsers can recognize it as a web page. If you want to look at the HTML code that is generated from what you just typed, click the "HTML Source" tab at the bottom of KompoZer. Remember to return to the "Normal" mode when you've finished admiring the code.

Now save the page onto your hard disk. Do this by clicking on the "File" menu, then the "Save" item on the menu that appears. A dialog box should appear asking you for the Page Title.

Note: For convenience, in future, I shall refer to this sequence of clicking on the "File" menu, followed by the "Save" item simply as "File | Save".

This means that you are to click on the "File" menu, followed by the "Save" item on the menu that appears. There are shortcuts to saving a file in KompoZer, as there are for the many commands given in this tutorial. I shall, however, leave the discovery of minor things like that to you and concentrate on the main task of creating a web page.

As mentioned earlier, when you use "File | Save", a dialog box will pop up, asking you to give a title to your page. Since this is the main page of your website, you should enter the name of your website here. For example, if you are publishing a personal web page, you might want to name your website "Shakespeare's Website" (without the quotes) if your name happens to be Shakespeare. If you are publishing a company web page, the site name should be your company's name, such as "ABCDEF Company" or the like.

Once you've finished with the title, click the OK button or simply hit the Enter key (or Return key on the Mac).

A new dialog box will appear, prompting you for a filename. Navigate to a directory (ie, folder) on your computer where you want to save your page. Type "index.html" (without the quotes) into the file name part of the dialog box. Do not accept the default name given in the dialog box. Do not use another name. Do not use capital letters in the name (ie, uppercase). Most web hosts expect the main page of your website to be called "index.html". Their computers are configured in such a way so that if you simply type your domain name, like, the index.html file will be displayed. If you change the name to some other name, this will not work as expected.

After you've saved the file, you will be returned to KompoZer's main window. Look at the top of the window at the window's title bar. Notice that instead of the words "untitled", the title that you typed in earlier now appears there.

Uploading or Publishing Your First Web Page

Before we proceed to polish the page so that it looks at least half-way decent, we need to publish the page to your web host. One reason we're going to do this now, even before we've finished the page, is that KompoZer needs the information about your actual website's address (or URL) before it can correctly handle things like links and images on your web page. So even though the page is probably an embarrassment to you at this stage, please complete the following steps, or you will encounter problems later.

Don't worry about the page being so plain. If you've not advertised your website's address (URL) to anyone, no one will even know your site exists, so this preliminary version of your page will be seen by no one but you. People will not visit your site out of the blue just because you happened to sign up for a web hosting account today. It's not that easy to get visitors.

Another reason that you're publishing your page at this time is so that you can get familiar with the major stages in the design of a web page. Once you get this hurdle out of the way, and you know how to get your web page from your computer into your web host's computer, you have mastered what is arguably the biggest technical challenge a newcomer is likely to face. Don't let this scare you though — it's actually quite easy!

To publish the page, go to "File | Publish" (ie, the "Publish" item on the "File" menu). A "Publish Page" dialog box will appear asking you for more details.

When you've finished completing the information, click the "Publish" button. KompoZer will proceed to connect to your FTP account on your web host and upload your pages. There will be a dialog box that pops up to tell you it is uploading your page. The box will automatically disappear when KompoZer has completed its task.

If you get an error message from KompoZer, look through the guide above again and recheck all your settings. Most of the problems at this stage are caused by one of the settings not being correctly entered. If you have eliminated all possible errors in your settings and still get an "Unknown publishing error", check my FAQ on this.

Testing the Web Page

Before you proceed further, you need to test the web page you have uploaded. This way, you will know whether you've made any mistake when entering your details earlier.

Start up your browser. Type the URL (web address) of your website. This is the address that you typed into the "HTTP address" field earlier. For example, type "" if that is your URL.

If you've entered the "publishing server" earlier correctly, you should see the page you created earlier in your web browser.

If you get an error like "No DNS for" or "Domain not found", it probably means that your domain name has not yet propagated to your ISP. Put simply, this means that you probably only just bought your domain name. It takes time for a new domain name to be recognized across the world (usually 2 or more days), so it's possible that your ISP has not yet updated its name servers to recognize your new domain. Some web hosts give you a temporary address which you can use to access your website in meantime. If you have that, use the temporary address to check that your site has been uploaded properly. Otherwise, you'll just have to wait.

If you get an error like "404 File Not Found" or you get your web host's preinstalled default page, you may need to go back and check your "publishing server" field. You may have published your page to a location that is not recognized by the web server as the default page to show when only your domain name is entered.

You can change the settings that you have just entered by accessing the "Edit | Publishing Site Settings" menu. Then click the name of your website in the left pane, under "Publishing sites". One possibility for the page not showing is that you did not specify the correct directory on your web site to publish your index.html page to. A more remote possibility is that your web host requires that your page be named something other than "index.html". This is very rare nowadays, so explore this last possibility only when you've ruled out all others. At worse, ask your web host's support department or check their documentation for help.

If what you see is your domain parking page created by default when you first bought your domain name, it may mean that you forgot to point your domain name to your web hosting account. I strongly recommend that you go back and follow the steps given the How to Start / Make a Website in addition to following this tutorial. As mentioned before, there's more to creating a website than just using a web editor.

If you get no errors at all, but see the page that you've designed earlier, congratulations! You've created and uploaded your first web page. It may be a rudimentary page but you have successfully walked through all the essential stages of designing and uploading a web page.

Next Chapter: Polishing Your Web Page

In the next chapter, you'll learn how you can improve that rudimentary web page by adding pictures, making font changes, etc.

Next: KompoZer Tutorial Chapter 2: Adding Images, Changing Fonts, Changing Colours, Creating a Navigation Bar, Writing Your Content.

Copyright 2003-2018 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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