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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Build Your Own Website, Just Like the Pros

     So, I've been wandering around the web these last couple of nights, due to insomnia, and decided to take a look at what things are like in the realm of build-your-own-site websites.  You know the places I'm talking about.  Websites that let you build a website of your own for free.  Back in the late 90's, these sites were all the rage, and they popped up everywhere.  I personally think they are the reason the web did so well in its infancy.
     And the ones that were the most popular by far, were the ones that had site-builders to help you get started.  In fact, it was a Yahoo Geocities account that started me down my path of web development years ago.  But enough reminiscing.
     As web development has gone extremely advanced, rivaling compiled coding in its complexity, I've noticed that very few people build there own little sites anymore, relying on blogs or facebook pages to post their interest.  And that got me thinking, are there any more places to build a free little website with which to call your own?  Is there anywhere that you can customize your site and display your hard work?
     I set out to find out.
     Most of what I ran across was garbage.  It seems that the nuclear bomb that is internet streaming video and flash games destroyed any of the services that couldn't keep up.  Even Yahoo's Geocities was closed down two years ago.  But my hope of finding something was restored when I tripped over two websites with very similar names.
     The first,  Now, after doing the thirty second sign up, (yea, I said thirty seconds), I realized I had tried this service once before when trying to get Digital Fruit up and off the ground.  Intended for the person that has absolutely no design skills, this web host will get you up and running with a well designed site based off of a large collection of templates they display.  The set up is quick, and the templates design you a site that can have anywhere from just a home page to a small store, where customers can come and buy merchandise you sell.  All of this site is strictly structured, not really allowing you to stray from your template.  This one is best for those who really know nothing about the business or computing worlds, and still want to look presentable or professional.
     The second service, is much more to my taste.  This site has a log in that is almost as easy as Webs, but offers you a lot more options at start up.  In fact, Weebly offers you more options in general, and seems to me to function a lot nicer.  Still based off of the idea of website templates to keep things nice, Weebly offers a lot more control right at your fingertips.  While you're working on your site in the site-builder, when you go to the design tab, there is a little button in the top-right corner of your screen that allows you to go in and modify your html and css, and allows you to upload files from your computer.  With a really nice drag and drop interface, Weebly wins my review.  I suggest if you have a website to build, try it out.
     Another contender in the ring, if you're into the whole Google thing like I seem to be, is Google Sites.  This one really buttons down on how you can design your site, not really giving you any control over how it looks or what you can display where, but it is very connected to services like picasa, Gmail, and Adsense, so it makes for an easy starter.  This one lost my attention long ago, and proved to only work as filler space.
     If you want to follow the sites I will be continuing to work on with these three sites, and how well things can go, check them out here: