Your guide to setting up a website without hiring a web designer
Setting up a regular website
If your goal is to share information about your company or service, or to communicate among members of an organization, you can get a website for very little money. For example, Yahoo Web Hosting, a company which specializes in providing website building tools for beginners, offers programs starting at about $4 a month. Those programs include hosting for your website, free online tools to help you design your website, a choice of customizable designs and 24-hr phone & email support. www.GoDaddy.com even offers a free one page website if you register your domain (website name) with them. If you need more than one page, GoDaddy! offers reasonably priced web hosting with site building tools. Their phone support is excellent, so you can build with confidence. If you find you really need help designing your website, GoDaddy has custom website design services available.
Although almost all website hosting companies offer free tools to help you build a website, companies like Yahoo, GoDaddy and Homestead (owned by Quicken) specialize in do-it-yourselfers. All three have been in the business of helping newbies set up websites for several years now, and their tools and their support are all well tested. Wix is a relative newcomer, but they are squarely targeted at the do-it-yourselfer, and even offer a free option.
Setting Up an online store
For a few dollars a month and some sweat equity, you can build an online store that will enable you to offer your products to customers around the world. No HTML or technical expertise required. Yahoo! Merchant Solutions offers site building and product upload tools, and credit card processing built in to their various packages. BigCommerce is a new company, dedicated to ECommerce. Their interface is straightforward and they offer lots of support. 15 day free trial.
Be prepared to spend a fair amount of time setting up your online store. The signup and initial setup are the easy parts. You will be able to choose a design that fits the products you're selling, and customize it easily. The time consuming part is entering your products, product descriptions and prices. You'll also have to be prepared to enter shipping policies and pricing. An online store is a commitment!
Sharing thoughts: a Blog
Blogs (short for web logs) have become very popular. Like an online diary, they let you post your thoughts, ideas and emotions to the web whenever you wish, without having to know anything about HTML or other web technologies. Some let your readers post responses to your entries.
WordPress has become very popular as a vehicle for online news as well as blogs. Many non-blog-like sites are built on Wordpress. Much of the value of WordPress is the community of developers who have created plugins to stretch the capabilities of the
WordPress platform. To set up a WordPress blog, you will need to sign up with a regular web hosting service that provides WordPress
hosting, such as Bluehost or
for a few dollars a month.
For a step-by-step guide to setting up a blog on Bluehost, see Steps to setting up a blog
There are a number of (not free) add ons, available from WordPress and third parties like Artisteer, a Wordpress Theme Generator that lets you create your own design for your Wordpress site.
An interesting alternative to a blog is Squidoo. It's sort of like a blog. You can write pages of information about yourself. But it also offers you building blocks of your own to add videos, polls, news headlines, links to other websites and more.
Participating in, or setting up, a social network
Social networks, forums and chat rooms are ways for people to talk to each other. Forums are online bulletin boards, where people leave messages that others can read and reply to. Chats are real-time text conversations.