7/23/2013 7:45 PM ET|
New options for building a free website
Use these simple, low- or no-cost tools to build a personal page or site for your small business.
Still don’t have a website - what are you waiting for?
If you’re job hunting, work for yourself or run a small business, you’re at a distinct disadvantage without some kind of online presence -- and in some circles, you might as well not exist.
As of the end of June, close to 699 million websites were registered worldwide, according to Netcraft Ltd., a U.K. Internet research and services company. That month alone saw individuals or companies create 25.8 million new websites, according to the researcher.
In the Internet’s early days, building a site was a painstaking process that involved taking a class or reading a book to teach yourself HTML, the software code that web browsers recognize and display as pages of text and pictures. The other option was paying a web designer hundreds or thousands of dollars to do it for you, and then paying them more every time you needed updates.
Today you don’t need to know how to code, hire someone - or do much of anything, really - to create a website. Instead, you can call on a variety of online website building tools to do most of the heavy lifting. Best of all, many of them cost little or nothing, though some do require registering a domain name for your site, which could require an additional annual fee.
Some of these website builders help you create a professional-looking landing page that you can use in lieu of a resume or plain vanilla LinkedIn profile. Others help you build a more fully fleshed out website that you could use for marketing or for general business purposes.
Free website builders
Here’s a brief rundown of some popular options:
About.me: If all you need is an online business card, About.me might be just what you’re looking for. Sign up with the former AOL-owned service and you’ll get a single page that you can use to post a photo, bio, interests, what you do for work or other bits of personal data you’d like to share. You can also include social media buttons so people can find you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like. About.me puts two relatively small ads promoting its service on each website, otherwise the pages are ad free. The company also has an app for Apple iOS devices that lets you use an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to create or edit your About.me page.
Vizify: This relatively new service is a good option if you’re active on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Vizify pulls data from all your social media accounts and compiles them a single, eight-page interactive resume. Set up an account, follow the directions and you’ll end up with an infographic-heavy website that shows your location, education, work history, and more. My favorite part: it turns items from your Twitter feed into a 30-second multimedia slideshow. To see what the slideshow looks like, take a peek at mine: Michelle Rafter.
Website Builder: If you want your own domain name -- so your website’s URL looks like www.MaryMiller.com or www.YourBusinessNameHere.com, for example, you might consider using a service like GoDaddy’s Website Builder. The Internet service provider offers a personal website package for $12 a year that includes a domain name, one email address, a website of up to five pages, use of 8,700 stock photos to make your site look pretty, a gigabyte of disk space and 150 GB of bandwidth, which controls how quickly pages on your site load onto a reader’s web browser. The service’s small business and Business Plus packages offer more pages, email address, storage and bandwidth.
Cost: $1 a month or $12 a year for personal site; $4.49 a month for small business site; and $7.49 a month for Business Plus site.
Wix: Started in 2006, Wix says it’s helped more than 35 million people in 190 countries build websites, with 45,000 new signups a day. The company’s free package includes several hundred design templates that one reviewer calls gorgeous. It also has a drag-and-drop editor for adding and moving elements around the pages. If the basic package isn’t enough, you can pay $4 a month or more for extra features such as a shopping cart app or for extra data storage and bandwidth, good if you’re using the site as an online store or are loading pages with videos or graphics. Free Wix websites carry the company’s ads, or you can upgrade to one of the premium services and the ads go away.
Cost: Varies, from a free bare-bones package to $19.90 a month or $194.04 a year for an ecommerce site suitable for a small business.
If you’re the DIY type who doesn’t mind doing some coding, you can build your own website. Check out how on this post from the tech website Lifehacker: How to Make a Web Site: The Complete Beginner’s Guide.
More from Michelle V. Rafter:
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Personally, I use Serif WebPlus 5 & 6 to build my all websites. I out grew Homestead and needed a better website builder and a cheaper host. For the most part I continue to expand my never-ending story online where galacticenterprise[dot]com is the main entry portal to the story made up of at least 8 websites all linked together.
I find online website builders rather limiting making it harder to create an online world designed to be explored as much as it is to be read. Pre-made templates can work, but sometimes they are never quite what you're looking for in a website design. I have found that most online website builders force you to select one of their templates and their hundreds of templated often turn out to be 10 different versions of 20 or 30 templates. It is hard to find an online website builder that will let you start with a blank page.
There are a number of website builders for under $100 that can give you good results. If you are going to add social media then you need to be prepared to spend time keeping your social media fresh, relevant, and of some interest to your followers (readers, customers, etc.) PayPal has free tools that can let you sell stuff online in your own store, and a numbers of builders allow for this at the very least adding bits of code to your pages to create a simple store.
While you don't need an online resume if you are looking for a job; a business without some kind of web presence is like not listing your phone number in the phone book. The Internet is the digital age phone book. It can help people find and learn about your business or be a creative outlet that enables you to share your artistic endeavors with the rest of the world. Either way you need a website, and building it yourself has never been easier.
It is one of the latest discovery I have that has pre-built website. All you need to do is design the website and post the contents you want. It has also built-in user-friendly features that would help you in ranking your newly-created website fast!
Squarespace just won our Critics Choice Award for Best Website Builder which definitely means something: http://www.cmscritic.com/2013-critic-s-choice-winner-for-best-website-builder/
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