Tips and Resources for Making Your Own Website

By John R. Levine, Margaret Levine Young

There are multiple ways you can post things on the internet. But, what if you need a little more? What if you need a website with a bunch of pages, with titles you choose, about topics you choose, and maybe even with your own domain name?

A notebook filled with sketches and ideas for a website.

Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Maximkostenko

Page creators abound

You have (as usual) several ways to create a website, beyond using Facebook, photo sharing sites, and blogs. The simplest is to use a page creator site. At these sites, you can design the look of your site, create a home page for the site, and create as many other pages as you want. Different pages can have different layouts. You don’t have to learn to use HTML, the formatting language used by all web pages.

Page creator sites offer a variety of features, so look carefully before choosing one:

  • Cost: The site may be free or may incur a monthly charge. Free sites often display ads over which you have little control.

  • Customization: Some page creator sites allow more customization of the design than others. Some let you see the HTML (web page code) that makes up your pages and tweak it so that your pages look just right. Others don’t allow it.

  • Subdomain: Your site can be a subdomain of the page creator site, where your web address is the main site’s address with www replaced by a name you choose. You might want your website to have its own domain name (that web address ending in .com or whatever) to give it a little extra cachet.

  • Design: Page creator sites offer lots of standard designs. See whether any sites have a design you like.

  • Special features: Some sites let you include message boards, guest books, blogs, calendars, photo galleries, and video on your site. Some help you sell items on your site, with connections to PayPal for checkout.

  • Size: The amount of information you can store on your website varies, along with the maximum number of pages.

Here are some good page creator sites

  • Google Sites is a free page creator site run by (who else?) Google. It isn’t hugely flexible, but it’s easy to use.

  • Homestead is for small businesses and lets you start from more than 2,000 business templates.

  • Jigsy is free for one small, personal website, but charges a modest fee for a larger or commercial site. You can include Twitter messages, Google maps, and other fancy components on your pages.

  • uCoz hosts websites for free and lets you include photos, videos, photo albums, polls, guest books, and forms that email you the information that people fill in. It’s one of the most popular sites in Russia.

  • Weebly has a nice drag-and-drop system for setting up your site — and no ads.

  • Webs has lots of design templates and can host photos, videos, blogs, and message forums.

  • Yola is another well-regarded page creator site.

All these sites make creating your own website incredibly easy — for free. You can add pages, add text and pictures to the pages, and create links in the text. Most page creator sites provide a bunch of other items you can add to your pages, such as a calendar, a weather report, a Google map, a blog, an MP3 music player, and videos. For example, you can include a map to your church’s or club’s meeting location.

What do you say?

Creating a web page is easy. Choosing what to put on your page, however, is harder. What is the page for? What kind of person do you want to see it? Is it for you and your family and friends and potential friends across the world, or are you advertising your business online?

Consider which information you want the entire world to know, because a website is potentially visible to absolutely anyone, including that guy who has hated you ever since fifth grade. If your page is a personal page, don’t include your home address or phone number unless you want random people who see the page potentially calling you up. If it’s a business page, include your address, phone number, and any other information that potential customers might want.