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So you want to create a website?

Every year I have requests for help with setting up someone's website.  I figured it is easier to write up a post where I outline all the options so I can quickly access the information I've accumulated over the years.
Before creating any website there are a few considerations:
1.  Cost - You can spend anywhere from $0 to $1000+ depending on what you go for.  It's amazing what you can do for free but I have also found you often get what you pay for.  There are three main costs:  your domain name (i.e. www.myname.com ) - Internic offers domains for $30-50, goDaddy is around $20.  Your price goes down the longer you prepay for and you may get a deal if you buy it as part of a package.
Hosting - this is the server that hosts your pages.  Content - photography, writing, design, coding - these are all skills that professionals can make the difference between a decent site and one that makes an impact.
2.  Updates - once your site is live how often will it be updated?  Never, yearly, monthly, daily, or hourly?  Using a social media feed (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) is a great way to update frequently but you do need to think about who will update the site when it is needed.
3.  Does a webpage meet your needs?  Facebook pages can serve the purpose of having your brand/information out there.  Who is your audience?  Why are you trying to connect with them?
4.  Technical skills - there are options for all levels of skills.  Coding, photography, design, search engine optimization, marketing - these are just some of the skills involved.
Solutions
I've used all of the following solutions (I will make sure to comment on the ones I have not used).  

Neocities

Neocities - https://neocities.org/ is a free web webiste service.  Create an account, upload html files, edit or create them online.
Pros: It's free!
Cons: you need to know how to code HTML (and CSS and JavaScript), static - you can't use php or other server side programming languages

Google Sites

You can create multiple sites and it is fairly easy to use.  The new revamped version is pretty slick and looks nice.  No coding skills required.
Pros: It's free!  Google is big enough you can bet it won't be going away.
Cons: Old version was clunky and hard to do advanced things.  Not sure about the new version yet.  Very template driven with limited ability to customize.

Local ISP

In my town Vianet is an ISP - you have to get your Internet from somewhere, find out if you already get web hosting for what you are paying for.  Often ISPs will provide free basic Unix hosting - you can host your webpages but can't run server side programming such as PHP or have access to a database (i.e. SQL).  If you upgrade to advanced unix hosting you can get database and php capabilities.  It sounds hard but if you download wordpress you can take advantage of these capabilities by simply uploading the files and then going to a web page and filling in your settings.  After that you rarely (if ever) need to use FTP, you can simply manage your website online.
Pros: You may be paying for it already.  Fair amount of control
Cons: Requires ability to code, file management skills

GoDaddy

 is another ISP that has done a great job marketing themselves.  Because of their size they offer great value but you need to watch that the price you sign up for isn't an introductory offer that will skyrocket after

Weebly

Weebly is an online service that allows you to create a free website (with weebly in the domain name).  It is very simple to use and the end result looks great.  You can pay to have more options (your own domain)
Pros: looks great, quick and easy
Cons: constrained by their templates

Facebook Pages

Facebook offers pages and groups - both have advantages/disadvantages but are fairly easy to set up and use.  You can also pay to boost posts to spread your word
WordPress - you can create your own blog on Wordpress.com for free or install wordpress on your own server to be able to add plugins.  It is amazing the functionality you get from the thousands of plugins (i.e. shopping cart, calendar functionality).

eCommunities 

similar to Wordpress.  A friend of mine runs this and has put together a great company.

AWS

 - Amazon allows you to control servers in the cloud - incredible amount of power but it comes with a lot of work.  They offer a free year which is a great way to explore the potential but I wouldn't advise it unless you are interested in technology.

Azure

 - Microsoft's way to control servers in the cloud.  I'm just getting started playing with this.

Xampp/laragon

you can install a server on your own computer (or a USB stick) - this is a great way to learn how it functions.

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