Saturday, August 10

New options for building a free website

New options for building a free website
| By Michelle V. Rafter, MSN Money

Use these simple, low- or no-cost tools to build a personal page or site for your small business.

Still don’t have a website - what are you waiting for?

If you’re job hunting, work for yourself or run a small business, you’re at a distinct disadvantage without some kind of online presence -- and in some circles, you might as well not exist.

As of the end of June, close to 699 million websites were registered worldwide, according to Netcraft Ltd., a U.K. Internet research and services company. That month alone saw individuals or companies create 25.8 million new websites, according to the researcher.

In the Internet’s early days, building a site was a painstaking process that involved taking a class or reading a book to teach yourself HTML, the software code that web browsers recognize and display as pages of text and pictures. The other option was paying a web designer hundreds or thousands of dollars to do it for you, and then paying them more every time you needed updates.

Today you don’t need to know how to code, hire someone - or do much of anything, really - to create a website. Instead, you can call on a variety of online website building tools to do most of the heavy lifting. Best of all, many of them cost little or nothing, though some do require registering a domain name for your site, which could require an additional annual fee.

Some of these website builders help you create a professional-looking landing page that you can use in lieu of a resume or plain vanilla LinkedIn profile. Others help you build a more fully fleshed out website that you could use for marketing or for general business purposes.

Here’s a brief rundown of some popular options: If all you need is an online business card, might be just what you’re looking for. Sign up with the former AOL-owned service and you’ll get a single page that you can use to post a photo, bio, interests, what you do for work or other bits of personal data you’d like to share. You can also include social media buttons so people can find you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like. puts two relatively small ads promoting its service on each website, otherwise the pages are ad free. The company also has an app for Apple iOS devices that lets you use an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to create or edit your page.

Cost: Free

Vizify: This relatively new service is a good option if you’re active on social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Vizify pulls data from all your social media accounts and compiles them a single, eight-page interactive resume. Set up an account, follow the directions and you’ll end up with an infographic-heavy website that shows your location, education, work history, and more. My favorite part: it turns items from your Twitter feed into a 30-second multimedia slideshow. To see what the slideshow looks like, take a peek at mine: Michelle Rafter.

Cost: Free

Website Builder: If you want your own domain name -- so your website’s URL looks like or, for example, you might consider using a service like GoDaddy’s Website Builder. The Internet service provider offers a personal website package for $12 a year that includes a domain name, one email address, a website of up to five pages, use of 8,700 stock photos to make your site look pretty, a gigabyte of disk space and 150 GB of bandwidth, which controls how quickly pages on your site load onto a reader’s web browser. The service’s small business and Business Plus packages offer more pages, email address, storage and bandwidth.

Cost: $1 a month or $12 a year for personal site; $4.49 a month for small business site; and $7.49 a month for Business Plus site.

Wix: Started in 2006, Wix says it’s helped more than 35 million people in 190 countries build websites, with 45,000 new signups a day. The company’s free package includes several hundred design templates that one reviewer calls gorgeous. It also has a drag-and-drop editor for adding and moving elements around the pages. If the basic package isn’t enough, you can pay $4 a month or more for extra features such as a shopping cart app or for extra data storage and bandwidth, good if you’re using the site as an online store or are loading pages with videos or graphics. Free Wix websites carry the company’s ads, or you can upgrade to one of the premium services and the ads go away.

Cost: Varies, from a free bare-bones package to $19.90 a month or $194.04 a year for an ecommerce site suitable for a small business.

If you’re the DIY type who doesn’t mind doing some coding, you can build your own website. Check out how on this post from the tech website Lifehacker: How to Make a Web Site: The Complete Beginner’s Guide.

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