Easy, Inexpensive Websites 1.0

by Walter Carlyle

Everyone, it seems, is doing it, whether the goal is a platform for photo sharing, blogging, or a virtual store through which to offer any type of paid services. Building a website, once the uncontested province of specialized programmers, has finally become a feasible and inexpensive option for the less technically advanced. It is possible, with a minimum of fuss and bother, to take passion into an impressive web result.

First and foremost is the domain name, or how the prospective site address (URL) will read. Although there are many opinions in cyberspace, the general consensus is that the name of the site and the address should be identical for easy reference. Picking more than one name is also a must, as the first or second choices might already be in use. After choosing the name, you will use a registrar in order to secure the desired domain. This will involve a nominal fee (often around $10 per year, to be paid by credit card or PayPal); for one of the best deals, use GoDaddy Coupons at GoDaddy.com, where the decision-making process will run smoothly. Be prepared for compromise and creativity, and be aware that there are options beyond .com if your first choice is unavailable, such as .net, .org, and .info. 

Once a domain name is paid for and registered, the question of web hosting comes next. With whom, in other words, will you best be able to find support, as you build your domain into a functioning site? The choices can be overwhelming on the surface, involving cost, packages offered, and server technologies (such as FreeBSD, Windows, or Linux). In the case of pricing, free web hosts exist, but they are not especially noted for reliable service, and they will often include advertising that can be disruptive to your final site. Better to select a host charging a moderate fee, generally in the range of $3.95 to $10 a month, through which you’ll receive a consistent and reliable package of services. Paying more is unnecessary, in any case.

The package itself will include the amount of available web space for your site, and the underlying server technologies. These are irrelevant to your computer’s systems, to comment briefly on a FAQ; they are, rather, an indicator of what the host can offer in terms of capacity and ease of use, as matched to your purposes. Questions of space are best answered by considering what you’ll be doing with your site, whether you’ll be sharing blog content or featuring an actual customer-based business with varying degrees of visitor interaction. And what about server technologies? Each one has strengths which are relevant to general computer fluency and website needs, but beginners will find Linux/PHP to be a useful, intuitively accessible platform. To explore these vectors more fully, in a format that will address most relevant questions in simple English, try webhostingtalk.com.

From here, once you have selected the right web host for your goals, you can begin building the site. Knowing HTML (Hyper Text Marker Language) is no longer a must for the Webmaster; it is simply the code that forms the glue for web-specific text, photos, graphics, audio, video, and visitor interactivity. HTML code works its magic by means of a CMS, or Content Management System, and these are plentiful. Examples include Joomla, Cushy CMS, Drupal, SilverStripe, Expression Engine, and WordPress, and each one offers an array of free services worth investigation. You will find WordPress to be the best among them, due to its significant set of dynamic templates or Themes. Service from this CMS is beyond what the others can bring to bear, and the parallel set of instructions for using the Themes is concise and clear for the beginner.

WordPress Themes give the user a broad degree of control and customization options, and there are over 1000 free ones available. Post formats abound, as do sidebar widgets, custom headers/menus, and featured images. CSS, or Cascading Style Sheets, complete the package, bringing a even wider set of unique parameters to your pages. Theme names, among them Twenty Ten, Coraline, Beach, Clean Home, and Toolbox, offer only a glimpse into the permutations available, and yet there are ample descriptions of each for the user to make a truly informed choice. Most are free, but paid Themes can also be well worth the price; try Thesis, for instance, if you are ready for a more advanced experience.

Issues of e-commerce are also well represented at WordPress, and whether you are small or large in your mission, PayPal and PHP shopping cart routines can easily be included. All the FAQs and procedures are dealt with in easy-to-understand English, making this important aspect of business easy to implement.

Using these simple steps, almost anyone can move from zero to Webmaster with relative ease.

Walter Carlyle is a gadget freak and technology lover. At Fatwallet.com, he is an advocate and evangelist for forward thinking, logic, and early adoption of usefull web technology trends. He also enjoys pie.