The default Web host for NMD students is NMDProjects.net, hosted by DreamHost. The disadvantage of NMDProjects is that it requires an FTP client such as Cyberduck to upload files and folders, and that you'll need to ask your instructor to take administrator-level actions like installing new server software. The advantage is that NMDProjects is a full-fledged hosting service with many features, and you can map your own domain name onto the account your instructor creates for you.
If you already have your own Web host and/or domain, you're good to go. Just make sure it supports everything you'll need for your project, such as blogging or server-side scripting.
First Class has the advantage of being a system you're already familiar with for email. That said, it's difficult to maintain, won't support a unique domain name, and won't support blogs, databases, or server-side scripts such as PHP. Here is how to use it for static HTML files.
Ask your instructor to create an account for you. Typically these will have the form maryjones.nmdprojects.net. You should receive via email the exact form of this server URL, plus your username and password.
Make sure you have taken all the steps listed in this link:
How to prepare your computer for Web projects
That screencast will tell you how to get a code editor, FTP client, and other steps necessary to making Web projects.
When entering the "server" in your FTP software, try using your own domain (like "marygonzales.NMDprojects.net" rather than the DreamHost name (like "berbils.DreamHost.com" or "berbils.DreamHost.com").
Your FTP client will start you off at a level above the public Web files by default. This is for security's sake, so you can keep sensitive files like mail and logs in a place that you don't want your Web site visitors to see.
So make sure you upload all files you want the public to see into the folder named for your own domain.
If you get a 403 Forbidden message when you try to view your uploaded files in a Web browser, check your file permissions in your FTP client.
To do this in Cyberduck, Ctrl-click on the file name and choose Get Info. Under Permissions, make sure that Others (ie, ordinary visitors to your Web site) can Read but not Write.
If you get an "Unknown host key" error when trying to connect to your Web host with an FTP client like Cyberduck, just click "Allow" or whatever to make it go away. You can still get into the site if your username and password are correct.
Think up several possible domains (many will already be taken) and visit a domain registrar to pay for a domain. Popular registrars include DreamHost and GoDaddy.
Tips: A standard domain shouldn't cost you much more than $10 per year. Dot-com is the most common and memorable, followed by dot-org and dot-net. If your domain is taken, try adding prefixes like "the" or suffixes like "project" or "magazine." If possible, don't abbreviate or make obscure references or spelling; your domain should be something people can remember just from having it spoken to them.
To map your custom domain onto your NMDProjects account, change the nameservers at your domain registry to "ns1.dreamhost.com" and "ns2.dreamhost.com." Then ask your instructor to use DreamHost to map the new domain name onto your NMDProjects account.
Ask your instructor to make a MySQL database for you and give you a login and password. Afterward you can access the database via a Web interface called phpMyAdmin (which should really be called MySQLAdmin, because you use it to make and manage databases written in MySQL). You don't need to download or install phpMyAdmin; just type something like mysql.maryjones.nmdprojects.net into your browser.
DreamHost makes it easy for your instructor to install any of the following open-source software on your server. Ask for what you need, then once the package/s are installed you should receive email explaining how to complete the installation.
For more information, please contact your instructor or Jon Ippolito via First Class.