I know this is an odd post from someone offering website design as a service, but there are things that you need to hire a designer for and things you do not so I want to help you make the decision before you spend money you don’t need to. Here are some easy to use options for you…if these don’t offer you what you are looking for then give me a call!
So what service should you use to build and host your website? Well I am going to give you a few options. The first option I have for you is also my most highly recommended. It is WordPress. There are two options when looking at WordPress, WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org is an open-source software that is free to download and use as a design and content management resource on your own host using your own domain. Once you have loaded the software onto your host’s server you can use the WordPress dashboard to make updates, posts, manage the content, and even check out your analytical information of the site. It is a one stop shop that does not take much time to get set up and running if you already have the content created. With this first option you still have to pay for a web host and the host will need to set you up with a mySQL database for the software to work which can cost you a little more each month depending on your host. WordPress.org will give you several plugin options for you to add functionality to your site. You can add RSS feeds, Twitter, Flickr and other interactive options to help make your site more interesting. You will have a few free templates to choose from that will help you make your site unique. There are a lot of resources online that will give you more flexibility for the look and feel of your website.
WordPress.com will offer you both free and paid options, and there is no downloading of software, you will have the same dashboard option when you visit your page and log in to your WordPress account. You will do all your editing through this dashboard making things very simple. Options like plugins and widgets give you a lot of functionality and they are easy to set up and load to your site. There are a lot of template options giving you many choices for the design of your site. Many offer customizable header options to allow you the flexibility to make the site unique. The free option from WordPress.com forces your URL to include “.wordpress.com” in the domain. If you want to use your own domain name then it will cost you. If you want WordPress to host your site and register your unique domain name then it will cost you $15 per year. Not much money for the amount of flexibility and functionality you get with WordPress.
If WordPress is not for you, then I recommend trying Weebly.com. Weebly is a great way to create free and easy websites with a nice interface. The hosting is included so that is a nice plus and you can use blogging features, and other content elements to make your site more interesting. If you own your own domain then Weebly will host your content for free. There are over 70 free templates to use for the look and feel of the website. Weebly will offer you a very nice way to build your website and host it at little to no cost to you and it will make updating the site easy for you and those that will follow you.
TypePad.com is my third recommendation for you to check out. TypePad focuses more on blogging which could be an adequate way for you to build your site. Have you thought about developing a blog and using that as your site? You can easily build pages for your information and also post blog articles to drive traffic and keep the site updated. TypePad will work perfectly for this type of site and it even offers you built-in search engine optimization. There are hundreds of designs to choose from giving your site the look you want.
The last recommendation I have is SquareSpace.com. SquareSpace offers you several options from $8 per month and includes hosting, content management, design and some search engine optimization. They have some truly beautiful templates to choose from and its customization options are second to none. You will have control over every aspect of your site and they also offer you elements that you can insert into the site to improve functionality and make the site more interactive. If you are truly looking to take control of your site while still enjoying the easy to use interface then SquareSpace is for you.
I am sure that there are other options out there and please take some time to make sure that you find the appropriate host and content manager for your site. Just keep in mind that there are pluses and minuses of all services and you will have to pick the one that works the best for you. There are ways for you to save money and increase your impact, you just need to know which services to use. I hope these tips and these recommendations will help you make the best decision you can.