Hobbyist’s, businesses and potential clients… this post is for you!
This post covers 3 simple ways for you to build a website for free, or almost free. This article is ideal for start-ups, hobbyist’s and individuals looking to start small and work their way up with their online presence. All you need is a computer and access to the internet.
This post will cover the pros and cons of each system based on tried and tested experience.
It should be noted I am not affiliated with these companies
How to get your free website up and running | Start building your website!
1 ) Use Blogger
Not heard of Blogger? Blogger (blogspot) has been around for years and is part of Google. With Blogger, you can create your website or blog completely free – today, right now! And yes, it’s pretty easy to use.
Blogger is fine if you are looking to create a simple blog as a hobbyist or put something together quickly for a friend or relative. I have used Blogger as part of my ‘hobby and general stuff’ website which I treated as a creative / personal dumping ground. You can see my personal blog here.
Blogger isn’t solely for amateurs. I have seen great examples of Blogger being used by professional and semi-professionals, despite it being a free platform. Generally speaking, Blogger is used more by hobbyists than professionals.
Due to Blogger’s low point of entry, it is a magnet for homemade, freebie and hobbyist blog creators. Few websites buck this trend with this platform by offering tremendous value and great content.
This website is great example of what can be achieved with some dedication and will power. The website – Print & Pattern – comes with a jobsboard, products and other pieces of information centred around graphic and surface pattern design.
I doff my cap… If I had one!
It might also be worth mentioning that you can also monetise your Blogger very easy using Adsense if you are considering earning some money on the side. You will need a lot of traffic to come to your website before you see anything from Adsense.
Blogger Pros :
– FREE – Blogger is free. You can set up an account today and start writing about your hobby pretty much right away.
– It’s reasonably easy to use – Blogger is relatively straight forward to use. Buttons in the left hand navigation show what is what. All you need to do is Create a “new post” and type away – as easy as that although it is not without flaws.
– Can be polished – with a bit of thought and a lot of application you can make your Blogger look quite professional.
– No fuss – You can set up a Blogger website quickly, you don’t need a coding guru to help.
Blogger Cons :
– Typically regarded as unprofessional – if you are using a Blogger for a business website it can be regarded as being amateurish. Blogger websites tend to have a dated appearance and people can more often than not tell something looks a bit ‘Home made’. In business, making a good impression is important and you want avoid ‘Homemade’. Not all ‘Bloggers’ are created by amateurs but many do use this platform as it is free. If you must use Blogger, dress it well – very well – I would go as far as trying to disguise it otherwise your blog may say : “business run from a shed”. If you don’t expect to make money or use it for business carry on.
Awkward code – know how I said to try and ‘dress it’? Now imagine trying to dress an excited squirrel! Well It certainly won’t put it’s arms into the sleeves and neither will Blogger when it comes to making a pretty post! The code and interface can be very awkward to use if you are trying tweak the alignment, paragraph, bold lettering etc it can reduce you to tears, and crash. It also adds a lot of junk HTML to your article making it needlessly difficult to tailor in code view. Many hours have been wasted trying to make it play fair.
You don’t really own it – Although it is free to use and as a free tool it is pretty good, it’s not your intellectual property. Should your Blogger be closed for some reason you will loose all of your content with it. For ‘free’ you will relinquish control and imagine loosing 5 years worth of posts. Back up your content if you decide use Blogger.
SEO – although it’s not bad, I’m not convinced about it’s friendliness towards being seen by the search engines.
Blogger Verdict :
It’s good for hobbyists, it’s free but there are other options which I would consider over Blogger. Generally, if you want a professional presence I would use better platform.
Rating out of 5 : 1 = Poor 5 = Excellent
Cost = 5
Ease of use = 2
Creation Efficiency = 1
Set Up = 4
Quality Of Websites = 3
Value = 2
Total = 17
Wix gets some unjust stick. Developers scoff at it because it is a website builder which can be used my non-coders – listen other Developers, WIX isn’t too bad! And if you are strapped for money and just starting out then maybe consider this as possible option in the beginning. WIX allows you to visually drag and drop your website together to create a design that you may not vomit over! You can even add the odd bit of code here and there to extend to track analytics.
That’s well and good but why use it?
WIX can allow you layout items on a webpage how you want them! Imagine using something like Microsoft publisher, Photoshop or a graphics program to create a website. If your online presence or website is in it’s early stages, you may just need something very simple to chuck online or perhaps you want to get a website live for a friend or a relative. WIX can suit both! And you don’t need to be Developer.
For cheap, (not free) WIX is possible option. Here are my shared experiences of the WIX website builder.
Wix Pros :
Neat – It all comes in one tight little package with many design options.
Design with it – It’s great for non-techies or developers. *You can use the drag and drop interface to create a website the way you want it – a big although
Cheap – WIX comes with a range of pricing plans to suit many budgets, it also comes with it’s own hosting packages.
Cool features – It comes with some nice little integrated features such a mail-list manager and an easy to use image library, you can also create a basic shop with it.
Visual Designer – It’s great if you like to create websites visually, but please note – not for creating graphic design and banners. These elements will should to be created by a Designer or somebody with access to design tools.
*Although – Websites are not ‘as is’ static items anymore, you can’t treat them as you would a drawing or a piece print. It’s best to regard website as a piece or informational water when it comes to the layout. This information fluid or titles, boxes and elements which should move to fill the screen size. The launch of the smartphone essentially has pushed your static website design to near extinction.
Wix Cons :
The responsive design is sub-par – arguably worse than Blogger. As a non-dev you may be wowed initially by how easy it is to use, but what you see, isn’t what you get. Inside WIX there is a button in the navigation menu which allows you to set up a mobile version of the website… (Yes, you have to construct 2 versions of your website) the mobile version isn’t as standard so you have to create 2 static versions of your website. It isn’t very good at handling ‘fluid’ layouts when I last used it.
Build twice, takes twice as long – Further to the point, you have to build twice or suffer a website that will not work properly on a smartphone. Eg can’t read text without zooming with fingers etc. This bad user-experience will be passed onto your customers.
Clumsy fluid layout – As a designer this would be something I would pick up on. The default desktop website can have some somewhat awkward behaviour when it comes to viewing the website in different browsers. Fluid and responsive websites are not easy to build, and WIX certainly hasn’t mastered this yet.
Slow Down – If you have a large webpage with lots of elements and content this can overwhelm the WIX builder. You will find as you are dragging (pushing) elements around they start to lag and stick. This can become very frustrating if you are trying to work toward a tight deadline in a busy or demanding environment.
limited control with deeper development issues – With using a website builder such as WIX you surrender building more accessible a technically proficient website. It’s also trickier to get into the real nuts and bolts to solve somewhat basic issues.
Wix Verdict – Jack of all
Cheap and cheerful and great for non-techies. This user-friendly website builder is good if your are starting out. I have seen WIX used for straight up brochure and small scale websites with great results and if you are on shoe string it could be something to consider. WIX is nice to use, quite slick and an intuitive piece of online software! Not the cheapest, but ok.
* – just to the stress this from the previous point.
Sometimes, people think websites are static and they adopt their thinking to an archaic approach to website design. Websites are no longer static and it is best to avoid a website design in this way. If you would like to know more about this feel free to send an enquiry.
out of 5 : : 1 = Poor 5 = Excellent
Cost = 3
Ease of use = 5
Creation Efficiency = 3
Set Up = 4
Quality Of Websites = 2
Value = 3
Total = 20
WordPress is Free
WordPress has been available for years! It has grown a very large and loyal following that are building better product everyday. WordPress is completely free to use, its open source and has a large community of developers and agencies available to help. If you have your own domain and hosting, using WP is as simple as downloading and implementing it yourself. Certain hosting companies come with one Click installer which can make installing very straight forward but this isn’t the case for all hosting companies.
If you don’t have hosting or a domain you can also set up your WP hosting complete free – WordPress > don’t panic!
You can create very powerful website using WP and comes with a very large library of resources to build different types of websites; stores, blogs, brochure sites, downloads sites, ticket software etc etc – it’s vast and WordPress has gone way beyond being just a blogging tool!
WordPress is integrated with many 3rd party companies which range from over automated email systems to analytics. There is also themes which turn WP into a visual website builder. All this plus the features mentioned before.
Hackers like it – being a victim of it’s own success and a large proportion of websites being made using WordPress, it’s a hackers paradise. If you have a very large scale website perhaps other options are better to consider.
Plugin’s can break – Although there are 1000’s of plugins on the WP market place some of them can fail over time if they are not maintained.
Needs to be maintained – WordPress needs TLC occasionally. Pay attention to your dashboard or email notifications if you need to update you current version of WP or its plugins.
Set up – WordPress can be a challenge from time to time when trying to install it on your own host. This can range from obscure incompatibilities or ‘access’ not being configured properly
Tricky to change – The default version of WP can be tricky to tailor without knowing your way around CSS or downloading a plugin. This is where using a developer could come in use if you decide to use WordPress.
Used a lot – due to a lot of websites using WordPress website can start to feel the same.
Progressive & Powerful – WordPress is always pushing forward with it’s technology and it’s developer community are always improving the platform.
Community – WordPress comes with large pool of knowledgeable developers creating new functions and extending the function of the default software through plugins and themes which can either be purchased or downloaded for free.
Powerful for no or low budget (FREE) – you can create a professional and functional website with default Wordpress software.
Do what you like with it, more or less – create your website today on your own domain and hosting you and can do what you choose with it – isn’t that great!
Simple to use – It comes with a reasonably easy to use ‘dashboard’ – not too dissimilar to Blogger.
– Plugins and Themes – Just too much awesome to list. Also a lot of dross but there is essentially a candy store of added functions to select from.
Rating out of 5 : : 1 = Poor 5 = Excellent
Cost = 5 / (*1 )
Ease of use = 4
Creation Efficiency = 4
Set Up = 3
Quality Of Websites = 5
Value = 5
Total = 26 / (*22)
*Cost variable due to free VS paid. As this article is about free and low budget website solutions the score jumps from free to expensive depending on whether you need a dev to help you.
WordPress Verdict : Great Value, Great quality
WordPress is a good platform and worth considering if you want some flexibility in what functions come with your website and whether you want to change it at a later date. You may require developer to help you in the beginning but after that, your WP site is yours to do with as you choose.
That’s all! 3 Simple ways for getting a website online – in detail.
I hope this will offer some insight! If you are needing a Graphic Website Designer to help out with creating your business send me a message or if you have any queries about the listing above – also get in touch and will try my best to answer!
This article was written to give some guidance as how to go about creating a free website. This is based on my skills and experience. The opinions, based on my experience, are ‘my opinions’ and not that of others. Please bare in mind when making your business decisions on you website that you have considered what has been written and do your research thoroughly.
The scores were created for a bit of fun.
The platforms listed are tools. It’s down to you to offer great experience and value to the person reading it.