The rapidly expanding vehicle for communication and e-commerce. Most large and many small businesses in the whole world now have their own web page (www.???.com or www.???.co.uk etc) but statistics show the States and Sweden as the most prolific users, with males heavier users than females.
Starting with a static site to display traditional communication information about the company - address, telephone, fax and hopefully e-mail address plus brief company overview and details of product portfolio, many are now expanding to include fledgling or full scale e-commerce offerings to enable order, purchase and distribution via the internet, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In many cases this enables a much reduced cost of operation and therefore the potential for favourable customer price offers. Amazon.com were one of the first and most notable of the e-commerce (sometimes referred to as e-business) companies, operating entirely via the internet. They are worth a look if you are not familiar with them. Other companies may use e-commerce as an additional channel to their more traditional offerings (i.e. stores, catalogue).
There are now many site authoring tools available, such as Pagemill (one of the first), Dreamweaver (Adobe), Net Objects Fusion, Frontpage (Microsoft Office FrontPage), which enable rapid development, allowing incorporation of text, audio, graphics and video. Indeed sites such as the BBC offer real time video, which basically means streaming at an acceptable frame rate across the net, and many radio stations offer real time audio. These tools avoid the developers, if they wish, from using raw HTML (hyper text markup language) although some understanding can help improve performance, layout etc.
There are also many service sites on the web offering templates, buttons, graphics, backgrounds etc, to aid in site production.
Methodologies for site construction, to my knowledge, are not much in evidence. There are mechanisms for rapidly altering the look and feel of your site. The cascading style sheet (CSS) is one of these.
Programming applets can be used in Java and other languages. VRML can be used for 3D modelling and interactive worlds. MP3 music can be incorporated
This site has been developed using raw HTML, "the living standard" and CSS.
There is a need to globally register the address of one's site. In many cases this is free, in others there is a small fee for registration / server space This is achieved via either going directly to the search engine providers (Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Baidu etc) or someone who will register for you i.e Dreamhost.
Clearly many of the blue chip names have already been taken, indeed there has been a case for speculators registering recognised names and then selling those onto blue chip companies.
Initial setup would probably be via a local service provider (Compuserve, AOL, Demon etc) to allow final user testing. Many of these organisations allow up to 15MB server space free. The site after registration is then moved to a recognised organisation which hosts web sites.