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|Can you really
get a website even without knowing anything about code, and
without paying a fortune? Find out.
The days when websites were primarily distinguished by their code are long
gone. Nowadays, the web is a true publishing medium that favors
well thought-out ideas. You can get a professional-looking
website online in minutes with many website building services
and software. But what should you look for? What are the
features you really need and which are just clutter?
Some website authoring software packages only allow you to entire plain,
unformatted text. Some of them allow you to entire HTML tags.
Others provide a WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get")
interface with options for font, links, and image insertion much
like a word processor's. Some will allow you to use more than
one, or even all of these options so you have a choice on how
you want to format your text.
Every website builder ever invented came with at least one or two templates
for creating the graphical look of a website, so you don't have
to design the look of the site yourself. But some packages have
very large libraries of templates, some have only a few. Some
will let you mix and match elements of the design templates,
while others will lock you in to one setup.
Many ready-to-go websites created by website builder software feature
built-in shopping carts. Some even come with credit card
processing. This is of course necessary if you're going to be
selling stuff direct online. But if you're not going to be
selling anything, ecommerce functionalities may just complicate
the administration of the site and pad the price for the
software or service.
Blogs are "web logs," but blogging software involves more than just a simple
online journal. Blogging technology allows you to send your new
posts directly to subscribers via RSS, without them having to
visit your site or receive an email from you. Still, unless you
plan on updating your site regularly (at least once a month),
your website's blog will just gather cobwebs.
Some hosted web authoring systems provide email accounts at no additional
charge, while others do charge separately. Some web builder
systems even come with modules for creating email newsletters.
It is very likely that you will encounter a technical difficulty at some
point while owning your website. Make sure you know in advance
of paying whether the company provides only paid support, and if
any included support is over email, a web ticketing system, or
Photo and Image Management
For many, if not most, people who want personal websites, displaying
pictures online is a primary motivation, if not the only
motivation. If you want to display pictures on your website,
make sure to choose a website builder system that makes it easy
to upload and publish images.
Renting vs. Owning
You can buy website authoring software upfront for a flat fee, or you can
"rent;" i.e., pay a company every month to use a hosted service.
The choice is up to you, but remember that the hosted service
will likely charge you much more in the end: averaging around
$20/month, hosted the typical hosted website builder will cost
you $240/year--far more than most desktop software.
In short, you don't need to know how a website is coded to make one, any
more than a book author needs to know about printing ink. Don't
burden yourself with learning how to do web design. Having fun
with your website starts with choosing a website builder
software that will make it fun.
About the author:
Joel Walsh recommends you check out
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