The computer helper: Web sites for all
By Jay Dougherty Jun 2, 2006, 8:42 GMT
Washington - There are now so many ways to start your own web site that the question is not whether you should have a site but which type you should adopt.
Gone are the days, thankfully, when starting a web site meant learning how to code HTML - the language of the web - or figuring out the latest 'front page' web site creation software. Now you can pick and choose from among many good, ready-made web site options.
Q: I'm a therapist, and I want a web site that will allow prospective clients to find me easily. How should I proceed?
A: Starting a web site from scratch is probably not the most efficient way these days. First, you would have to learn a lot about web site design and web site creation. Then you'd have to wrestle with domain names and web hosts. Finally, you'd need to be indexed in Google and Yahoo quickly, and this won't happen right away if you purchase your own domain and create your own site from scratch.
Instead, use Google and Yahoo - and any other web site you think your clients are likely to use to search for your services - and type in a common search phrases, such as 'therapist
There are many directories for professionals these days, and most of them allow you to register with them and even provide a way to create your own site or link to an existing site. What you're getting, first and foremost, with a directory listing is visibility - someone else has gone to the trouble of ensuring that entries from that directory appear atop the search results from Google or Yahoo. You want to get yourself into any such directory.
Q: I want to start a web site for sharing pictures with my family. How should I proceed?
A: Ready-made sites from flickr (http://www.flickr.com), MySpace (http://www.myspace.com), MSN Spaces, (http://www.msnspaces.com) or others are the ticket. These sites guide you through the process of creating a photo-sharing web site. You upload pictures to the site from your hard drive, and in a matter of an hour or so, you're ready to send your friends or family members a link to the pictures.
If you're a professional photographer or you wish to sell your photographs, however, you may wish to invest in the services of a professional web site designer and creator. When your image can make or break a sale, professionalism and originality are probably worth the cost of an expertly-designed site.
Q: I'd like a web site on which I can post my creative work or thoughts so that people can read and respond to what I write.
A: Creative writers are increasingly turning to blog sites as an outlet for their creative ideas and works, and for good reason. Blog sites - such as Blogger (http://www.blogger.com) - provide ready-made templates for a variety of purposes, leaving you free to create content for your site, which is what will help to get your site in front of the most eyes the quickest.
Furthermore, blogging web pages are designed to allow visitors to comment on what you say. Because they're database-driven, blogging sites can provide form fields into which your visitors can type comments - and you can respond.
A blog page is easy to maintain and configure, as well. Should you tired of the look and layout of the blog you create initially, you can always work with the blogging site's interface to change the look and feel of your page.
Q: When does it pay to start my own web site from scratch?
A: If you have the time, the know-how, and ambitions for a web site project that outstrip what you can find for free using templates provided by one of the free build-your-own services, then it may make sense to start a site from scratch.
Before you do, though, it's a good idea to sketch out exactly which features you want your web site to boast so that you can know which tools to use and which tools might be available to help you automate your job.
For instance, if design is not your forte, you can get a big head start on the site as a whole by investigating professional services like TemplateMonster.com (http://www.templatemonster.com) or Free Layouts.com (http://www.freelayouts.com), which provide thousands of ready-made and custom-designed templates for all types of web sites. Most of these are easily editable in standard web site editing packages such as Microsoft's FrontPage.
Also, some common elements of web sites these days are available in ready-made form for free. For instance, if your web site will contain a forum on which visitors can chat about a subject, free forum software such as SMF from Simplemachines (http://www.simplemachines.org) will give you everything you need to erect that part of your site.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur