Write your own site, with HTML, CSS, PHP, and a bewildering choice of additional web software. Or rather don’t, it’ll take you years to figure out. Instead, use the mature tools and services that’re available.
First, consider a good hosted site-building package deal
These are excellent services, that you generally pay a monthly fee for. Here are some that struck me:
- CoffeeCup: you buy one of their tools for your machine, sign up for their hosting, and even pick a theme to get going!
- Create (my theatre colleague Chris Connaughton uses to promote his books).
- Jimdo looks damned good for creative types.
- Moonfruit‘s good for small creative businesses.
- Squarespace is stunning, and so you pay more for it. The small range of templates are beautiful. Momentum is my favourite. SiteBuilderReport has a nice review.
- Squidoo – they look like a nice bunch, and, anyway, have a look at Seth Godin’s blog.
- Wikispaces could be right for a collaborative info site.
- WordPress.com is of course excellent, good when free too, and in any case, have a read through their Get Focused!
Or install a CMS onto your own server space
This is what I (and many many people with vastly more experience than me) can help you with. The advantages are varied. It can work out a lot cheaper, but it’s also very flexible – you can build your site pretty much how you want, if you know what you’re doing, or have found someone who does. It’s maybe a tougher path though, which is why you should consider the kind of all-in services that I’ve listed above.
If you do want to go ahead, you will need to:
- Register a domain name.
- Choose a hosting service (server space). I picked Hostpapa, because they’ve got a good Softaculous installation.
- Choose a CMS. I selected Concrete5 for my actor site, because I liked it’s simplicity, and I’ve chosen WordPress for this here IT blogsite, and I’ve got my IT DokuWiki tucked inside it!
- Select a theme for your CMS – which I found to be almost the key decision! It’s by looking at themes that I realised what systems I needed for my various websites. I’ve written a post on WordPress themes.
- Be aware of what plugins you’ll be needing: generally CMS’s are enhanced by all kinds of useful and often essential scripts (some of which get absorbed into the next iteration of the CMS).
And of course you’ll need the time and energy and resource to navigate your way through all of the choices. Someone like me may be right to help you get going, and also help you look after the technical well being of your site as technology advances.
You do need to be well advised
Your content is facing the vast world wide web 24/7. It needs to be:
- in a form that search engines can easily catalog, so that the right people can quickly find it
- well laid out for ease of access
- well protected against hackers
- regularly backed up
You should also have an on-going log of how your website is built, so that it can be quickly repaired when things don’t quite go as expected.
You can ask me for help (if it’s the kind of basic stuff described here), dig around in the relevant pages of my DokuWiki for more clues, and in anycase, begin gathering your content, and prepare to publish! Even if only a few key people read what you post, that’s enough to make it a lot of fun. Good luck!