YOUR OWN WEBSITE

Xara Web Designer 9There are dozens of ways to build your own website these days, but some are easier than others. The good news is you don’t have to learn HTML or coding of any kind, to produce a great site. And most of your choices are free.

The first question to ask is would you rather work on or off-line? Online is great for collaborative sites. Your contributors won’t have to own special software to edit the site and add material. Just give them the password and they can get on. On the road, you can work from any computer.

We’ve created several sites using Yola.com, and we think they look great. With drag and drop, you can add social networking, storefronts, and photo galleries. But of course the web creation tool you choose depends on your purpose. Bloggers tend to like WordPress or Tumblr.  Wix has great templates for business. The Wix templates are free to use if you don’t mind having “wix” in the website name. Yola works the same way. For $20 a year you can have a web site name without “Yola” in it.

We’ve also used Microsoft Front Page, and its successor: Expression Web. We were warned by a web designer years ago that the Microsoft program would cause us a lot of grief in the long run. In general, it was OK, but we have found a lot of bugs; new programs from other companies have worked out better.

What’s it all good for? Well promoting your business or cause or self, of course. “Facebook Pages” are good if you want your business or cause to be easily discovered by friends. Crafters should look at Etsy.com for selling hand-made items. They’ll create a web page for you. It costs 20 cents to list an item for four months. Etsy gets 3.5 percent of sales.

If your web connection is slow, you might prefer working offline. We like Xara Web Designer 9 for that kind of website. It has great tutorials and templates.

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