Basic Tips and 5 Do It Yourself Services for Building Your Website
Building a successful site using these tools is easier by following these three guidelines before you start:
Identify your website needs:
Websites can be as simple as a one-page flyer for your business, or as sophisticated as a multi-media marketing and sales hub. Determine your requirements before you begin building. Most free website builders are great options if you want to start simple with just a few pages, and offer varying levels of upgrade packages as you scale your website. Generally what is included in a free package versus a premium package will vary from provider to provider so knowing what you require now – and what you might need later – will help narrow down the list of potential website builders. Here’s a list of basic features to consider, and which are generally included in a free package versus an upgraded package which has an associated cost.
|Website Features||Typical Free Website
Website Builder Package
|# of pages in website||Usually 1 – 5 pages||More pages|
|Website storage (for storing web images)||Enough for a simple site||More storage|
|Templates & design||Yes||More templates & customization|
|Tools such as online forms, blogs, slideshows||Sometimes||Yes|
|Links to your social media pages||Yes||Yes|
|Video and audio players||No||Yes|
|Search engine submission||No||Yes|
|Mobile device optimization||No||Yes|
If you need a basic website for your business or organization, these five services let you design, publish, and host your site for free, or for a small monthly fee. All of these services use a "What You See Is What You Get" editor to build and revise your new website. This means that as long as you know basic word processing, you can build and edit a professional-looking website.
Moonfruit is a free website host and editor with lots of designs and editing options.
- Choose a theme. They can all be customized later. If you don’t like any of the themes, you can choose a blank theme and build your own site from there. Once you have chosen a theme.
- Start using the webpage editor. If you have any trouble using the editor, use the Beginner's Guide to get help.
- Edit the Page Master first. The Page master determines the elements that will appear on every single page of your website. You can also edit pages individually. The Webpage has an “Editor's Toolbar” to guide you. The toolbar includes the basic options that will use including Save, Edit, Design, and Admin. Clicking these either opens a menu of additional options or brings you to other pages where you can set up various services.
- While you're logged in to the editor, clicking any element on your website will open the element's "Editor" palette sub-window with tabs for options for editing your page. Uploading files from your PC is accomplished by clicking on the Files button in the toolbar. This will let you upload multiple images, video clips, or audio clips. If needed, Moonfruit has a library of images and multimedia elements.
- Once you've finished editing your website, click Save and your site will go live.
Moonfruit's basic services are free for one website with up to 15 pages, 20MB of online storage, and 1GB of monthly bandwidth. To use Moonfruit's free features, you also have to update your site once every six months. If you need additional websites, storage, or bandwidth, you can purchase packages that meet your need from $6 to $50 per month.
Pros & Cons
The themes are very customizable, and there are a lot of designs. There is a small and unassuming ad on free pages. They have multiple packages. They publish in Flash, HTML, and mobile-optimized HTML5. The editor is reportedly a bit difficult for novices.
Weebly offers a design tool that is very easy to use. The design templates offered by Weebly are not as flexible as those on Moonfruit. The templates offered by Weebly are very similar to WordPress. Weebly will also optimize your site for mobile devices.
- Go to www.weebly.com.
- Fill in the form.
- Tell Weebly whether you'd like to use a free Weebly.com domain (such as http://yourname.weebly.com), register a new top-level domain, or use a domain you already own.
- Once you have completed steps 1, 2, & 3, you will be taken to the Weebly webpage editor. The Weebly editor builds your site first, and then lets you choose a theme, if you want one. The basic template resembles a blog, with an image, a menu bar, and a blank space where you can drag elements. If you'd like to start with more direction, you can click on the Design tab at the top of the page and choose one of hundreds of premade designs.
- The Weebly editor is a simple drag-and-drop application with tabs and toolbars. To add an element to your page, you click the Elements tab, find the object you want, then click the element and drag it onto your webpage.
- Editing elements is simple. You run your mouse over the element, and click on the “Click here to edit” button. A toolbar will appear with big, easy-to-use buttons.
- You can only upload one file at a time.
- Once you've built your website, just click on the Publish button to send it off to the Web.
Weebly is free offers two websites with unlimited pages, bandwidth, and storage, although you're limited to a 5MB upload maximum. There is a Weebly Pro version that costs under $5 per month. Weebly Pro lets you create up to 10 websites. It also offers additional site elements, including video, audio, embedded documents, and password-protected pages, and an increase in your file upload limit 100MB per file. Plus, you can delete or customize your page footer.
Pros & Cons
The editor is very easy to use, and lets you edit from within your browser. You can search for licensed photos. You get unlimited bandwidth and storage with free version, and there is a low cost paid version. On the other hand, the design themes are limited, and they seem similar. The page layouts don’t have a lot of flexibility, and you can't upload multiple files simultaneously.
Qapacity is a website host and editor with a business focus. Qapacity lets you add a "service" to there network of businesses, and then build a website to promote your service.
- Fill in your name, verify your email address, and then click Add Service.
- Start by adding your service and a description.
- Build your website. You can use one of the free 25 themes, choose a paid theme, or design your own style using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) language.
- The website designer features a toolbar with options for adding pages and modules, changing the theme, and sharing your website. You will be taken step-by-step through the creation of your website.
- To add an element to your site, you click the "Add Module" link. You can add up to 10 elements per page, including images, text, video, RSS feeds, and more.
- To edit elements, mouse over the element, and an "edit" button will appear.
Qapacity's free features include one website with five pages, 16 images, 1GB of storage, and 500GB of monthly bandwidth. Free users can't use their own domain name, premium themes, or use the priority email support. There are options for users who need more services. They range from $12 to $40 per month. These options offer you one site with 10 pages, 500 images, 3GB of online storage, and 1TB of bandwidth. They also allow you to use your own domain name, access the premium themes, and have more than one blog on your site.
Pros & Cons
Qapacity uses a wizard to help you through the design of your website. As an example, the wizard starts by asking you to write an introduction, and then takes you through adding other elements of your work and basic contact information. They also offer a business focused marketplace for selling service. The Qapacity ad on free pages is small. On the other hand, there are not very many templates to choose from, and the website editor can be confusing.
Jimdo is an easy-to-use website designer that adds e-commerce functionality. Their free membership lets you list up to five items for sale, although Jimdo will take a 10 percent cut. They do offer a $15 business membership that lets you list as many items as you want without the 10% fee. The business membership also optimizes your site for mobile devices.
- Choose a subdomain. An example is http://yourbusinessname.jimdo.com.
- Enter and confirm your email address.
- Jimdo starts your website with a default layout. You can choose a different layout and move the elements around. Jimdo's free layouts look very similar to Wordpress-style blogs. There are additional designs that come with the $15 per month business membership. The free option does include e-commerce for your site as long as you don’t mind a large ad on your pages.
- The website editor uses a toolbar with Layout, Style, Friends, and Blog buttons along the right edge of the browser.
- Edit an element and move it up or down on the page by using the arrow buttons, or by dragging-and-dropping.
- The e-commerce allows you to have a shopping cart on your website instead of going through PayPal or Google Checkout. This lets your customers add items to their cart without ever leaving your site before completing a purchase.
There is a free version that offers 500MB of storage, and you can list up to five items in your store. Jimdo will take 10 percent of your sales, and include ads that appear prominently on every page. The Pro version for $5 per month, lets you register one domain and email account with 10GB. You will also be able to access the enhanced designs, get 5GB of storage, and be able to list up to 15 items in your store. Jimdo will take 5 percent of your sales. There are also a few other benefits like no advertising, a hidden login, and the option to upload your own logo. The business version is $15 per month. It lets you register up to two domains, gives you 20 email addresses with 10GB each, 50GB of storage, and access to advanced designs. This option also lets you list an unlimited number of items in your store, and eliminates the commission that Jimdo charges on sales from the website.
Pros & Cons
The website editor is extremely easy to use. The integrated e-commerce is a great feature for retailers, and the membership packages are affordable. On the other hand, there are large ads on the free sites. The templates are limited, and the sales cut is large unless you have the $15 per month package.
Yola offers full-featured websites, hosting, and an editor that lets you add e-commerce to your site through PayPal.
- Complete the preliminary registration.
- Choose a website category. Based on the category you choose, Yola will recommend pages for your website.
- Select a site style or theme.
- Choose a layout for your pages.
- Use the toolbar across the top of the page to add and save pages, choose styles and layouts, and add or delete websites. There is another toolbar is for adding elements to the page you're working on.
- Add elements by dragging an element from the right-hand toolbar, and then dropping it onto your page. You can add everything from images and text to forms, maps, and e-commerce. You can only drag-and-drop items to certain areas in your chosen layout.
- You can add unlimited products or product catalogs using PayPal to your website. You must, however, have a PayPal Premier or Business account to sell products.
- Once you've finished perfecting your site, just click Publish to the Web
Yola has a free package that includes up to five websites, 1GB of storage space, and unlimited bandwidth. It also lets you upload files of up to 15MB in size. They also have a package that costs $99.95 per year. It offers 25 websites and 5GB of online storage space, and it lets you upload files of up to 100MB in size. You also get a custom domain name; access to premium templates; Google AdWords and Facebook advertising credits; and an HP Logoworks Logomaker credit. Their top package costs $499.95 per year. It offers everything the Silver package gives you, plus a consultation with a professional designer and a professionally-designed, five-page website.
Pros & Cons
You can do an image search directly from your browser, and the unlimited e-commerce with a PayPal Premier or Business account are great advantages. On the other hand, the layouts are limited, and files can only be uploaded one at a time
Which to Choose?
Moonfruit is a great choice for people with more experience with website design, and who have a good idea of what they want their website to look like. Their library of stock images, videos, and widgets that you can add at no extra cost is a nice benefit. Although it may take time, you can customize your website to look as though you hired a real Web designer. The optimization for mobile devices at no extra charge is also a great benefit.
Although Qapacity is a basic website designer, it adds value with its social network. However, their social network is very small, and your social media efforts are better directed to larger networks, like Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Weebly, Jimdo, and Yola all offer you a blog-like template. However, you can customize your website to some extent if you are a paying customer. Weebly is the easiest to use and edit, and Jimdo’s e-commerce feature can be valuable asset for retail businesses. Yola is a great choice for novices because it gives you step-by-step instructions as you build your website, and it even helps you figure out the types of pages you should add. It does offers e-commerce, but shoppers pay through PayPal.