Content is the words and pictures on your website. In the olden days, you had to know HTML and had to code everything little thing by hand. But in today’s world-wide-web world, there are programs called Content Management Systems (CMS) that make setting up and maintaining a website a lot easier. And you don’t need to know anything about HTML!
The most widely used CMS is WordPress. While WordPress started as a blogging program, it has grown to be much more than that. Large and small corporations run their websites on WordPress with nary a blog in sight! Drupal and Joomla are two other popular CMSs. All three will make blog websites, non-blog websites, or a website and blog combo. Whatever you want. And all three are free, but you have to have a website host (except WordPress, see below).
Some web design companies have developed their own CMS and they have their own website hosting. However, if you decide later that you want someone else to redesign your website or you want to move to another host, you may find that you have to redo your entire website all over again because the web design company’s CMS won’t transfer.
The two largest free options are WordPress.com and Google’s Blogger. Setting up blogs on either of these platforms is easy, but there are restrictions on what you can sell and you are limited to the available themes (how your blog looks). You don’t have to worry about registering your domain name with either of these services because you will be using the services’ name in your blog name, like www.myblogname.wordpress.com.
Self-hosting just means that you are not using Blogger or WordPress.com. You have to find a web host service to use for your site (see Part I). You will also have to register our own website or domain name. Many webhosts offer this service or you can use a registry service like namecheap.com or godaddy.com.
There are hosting services that specialize in hosting WordPress sites. They can provide a wide range of services, setting up your site, keeping it maintained, and making sure you have effective security. Some also provide design services so you can have a unique website that doesn’t look like anyone else’s.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can do this all yourself. There are all kinds of instructions and videos on YouTube to help you set up and run your own website. Good webhosts will use Fantastico or another service that will install WordPress (or Drupal, and other programs) on your website automatically.
One thing to keep in mind is that WordPress.com is different from WordPress.org. WordPress.com has the free blogging service. WordPress.org has the free WordPress program that you will have to install on your website. WordPress.org also has a library of plug-ins, little programs that add extra functionality or options to your website. And they also have a library of free themes. A theme is what makes your website look the way it does. You can change themes and change the way your website looks and still have all your content still on the website (usually – but sometimes you do lose some content). There are also free themes available from other designers and there are premium themes, themes which cost money.
Questions and Comments
This should get you started on your website. If you have any questions or comments, please use the form below.