Home / Technology / How can I set up a small site for a local group? | technology

How can I set up a small site for a local group? | technology

As chairman of our local allotment association, I wonder if I would like to set up a website to provide new and existing allocation companies with information and news. Can this be done with basic technical knowledge and without experience in web design or coding? There are a bewildering number of services that can be used to host websites, sell domain names, provide user-friendly templates, etc. at different prices. What is the catch with the free or cheap services?

We have a Facebook group, but no one in the club is very interested in maintaining this activity. Robin

It is a pity that you do not like the idea of ​​using Facebook, because this is generally the quickest and easiest way for a small group to go online. If an organization has a physical manifestation ̵

1; a school, a park or a church, contingents, a restaurant or something – it may already have a Facebook page. If so, you can apply for the transfer. If that fails, you can start your own page and compete with it.

Using Facebook has advantages: it's free, you do not have to do any programming, and most users probably already have accounts. Facebook pages are also easily accessible to spouses, children and relatives who would not visit a website.

Facebook groups are different from Facebook pages. Facebook groups are more like chat rooms, and you can keep them private if you want. They could use a Facebook page for news and a private Facebook group to publish, among other things, minutes and discuss questions, and millions of people have been on sites like GeoCities "digital homestead" led. Creating websites with HTML turned out to be more involved and tastier than most people. There were many good websites, but most were bleak.

In the early 2000s, homesteading was replaced by blogging, which did not require any programming skills. Templates did not require design skills or even taste. Although a blog's basic journal structure was not designed for any purpose, the free WordPress software did most of the things for those who made the effort … or paid someone to put their website together.

After the Blogger boom We saw the rise of the drag-and-drop website builder we are today. With drag-and-drop systems, you can create websites quickly and easily by loading pre-engineered components to your developing webpage, with no programming.

If you reject Facebook, you have to choose between WordPress and drag-and-drop system. If you think you're ready to try WordPress, read one of the many online tutorials, such as: B. How to properly set up a WordPress blog in 7 easy steps (2019). There's a half-hour YouTube video for the companion.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Drag & Drop

<img class = "gu-image" itemprop = "contentUrl" alt = "Templates and drag-and-drop elements make it quick and easy to create a new website without encoding is required. [19659013] Templates and drag-and-drop elements make it quick and easy to create a new site without programming it. Photo: Guardian Master Classes

There are more than a dozen drag-and-drop website builders, and they all work in the same way with modules you just drop. You make upgrading your website or converting it to another template relatively easy.

Many drag-and-drop website builders have a kind of hosting arrangement and a website address Take out a domain name in advance. Of course, many domain name providers and hosting providers use drag-and-drop website builders to get people to buy domain names and sign up for web hosting packages. GoDaddy is a well-known example:

Web sites built with drag-and-drop website builders should now be "mobile" and adapt to working with smartphones, not just web browsers on PCs. This is something to check.

However, there are some disadvantages. The most important of these is that drag-and-drop websites are very difficult to customize and that you mess up the code of the template at your peril. Second, not every website builder has all the options you need. Without costly adjustments, it is impossible to do what you want. Third, your website may look just like hundreds of other sites, and some users will immediately see shared templates. While this may not bother you, it looks bad on a commercial website.

Fourth, your website may be tied to the assets of the drag-and-drop software provider or web host. They are at their mercy when they have technical problems, when the response times decrease or their traffic explodes. You may not be able to move your site to a host with another site builder and need to create it from scratch.

Bandwidth Fees

Not all webhosting services have an unlimited bandwidth limit that could be as low as 2GB. Find out what the limit is and what happens when you exceed it.

A local site might not expect more than a few hundred visits a month, and if your page is small (500,000 or less), you probably have won. You do not have to worry about bandwidth charges. However, there is always the risk that something will become viral. A post with a photo of a cute kid with a puppy or whatever, shared on social media, could get thousands or even millions of hits.

It's better for your site to go offline when it reaches a bandwidth limit than to be confronted with a huge bill.

Possible Options

Three independent drag-and-drop website builders – Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace – are currently emerging, and there are many comparisons online.

Allow all three Create a free test page where you can find out how well it works. Both Wix and Weebly can publish you. The main drawbacks are that you can not use your own domain name and that you place your advertisement on your website. There may also be storage and bandwidth limitations.

Wix and Weebly like to host free personal websites, because the outages cost nothing and the successful users eventually switch to a paid plan. Squarespace does not want free users: it's aimed at business users, from creative freelancers and small businesses to large organizations.

Wix's paid plans start at £ 3 a month with 500MB of storage and 1GB of bandwidth, but the "best buy". Provides 10GB of storage and unlimited bandwidth for £ 8.50 per month. The latter includes a free domain name for the first year.

Weebly is cheaper. The £ 3 per month offer includes 500GB of storage and unlimited bandwidth and a domain name. There is also a starter offer with unlimited personal storage space for £ 5 a month and a per group and organization per-month service for £ 8 a month. (These prices are for annual payments.)

Squarespace is a more mature operation with offices in New York, Portland and Dublin. It also has the best designs. All of his plans have unlimited storage capacity and bandwidth, as well as a domain name. Personal websites cost £ 10 a month if they are billed annually (£ 13 a month if not), and business websites cost £ 15 a month if they are billed annually (£ 21 per month, if not). There are also cheap offers for students.

You should try all three to find out what you like best, but I suspect you do not want to pay the prices of Squarespace. Otherwise, a free Weebly account – with unlimited bandwidth – looks like the best option if all your content fits in 500 MB.

Do you have a question? Send an e-mail to Ask.Jack@theguardian.com

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