Tools to Create Your Own Website


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Many people, organizations and small businesses would benefit from creating their own websites. They don't need a developer to create it for them, since there are many cheap or free applications they can use instead. Even startups seeking to develop a new product can sometimes start with an existing application to test out the market with. Later, they can develop it further or build a new application.

Here’s a table of the most popular categories of websites, and recommended services or applications you can use to set them up. See below for an explanation of the different categories.

Hover over the column headings for a quick definition.

Website Type Definition Free Web Service
Premium Web Service
Part of Network Install Your Own Application
Static site
Basic HTML Site Static content, rare updates Jetstrap* Bootstrap site builder 
Webflow Online Design Tool
(or Strikingly
Neocities
Geocities replacement
HTML pages + editor
(e.g. Microsoft Expression Web)
HTML pages + editor
Content Site  Many pages with frequent updates
Weebly*
(or Google Sites
Squarespace
Create nice standard sites
Replaced by social networks Wordpress - powers much of the web
or Concrete5 - simpler
Docpad
(or Jekyll)
Blog Regular posts displayed in reverse order Blogger
Completely free
Wordpress.com*
Free until you want more control
Medium.com
or Quora Blogs
Wordpress
(or Ghost, a newer simpler option) 
Jekyll 
(with Octopress)
Wiki Many contributors to same content Google Sites
works as a wiki
Wikidot 
(or corporate solutions)
Wikia
From the creator of Wikipedia
MediaWiki 
or DokuWiki 
Gollum (git-based)
or Mayuki
Forum
Users discuss topics
ProBoards (old style)
or Lefora
VanillaForums.com
(expensive)
Google Groups
(or social networks)
Discourse
(or Vanilla)
Muut
(Embedable anywhere) 
Ecommerce Site Users buy stuff Storenvy
Shopify
Ebay

Magento or
PrestaShop
Content Site + Paypal Cart
* Freemium

Types of Websites

Here's a description of the different website categories (from the left column of the table). Note that many services can be used for multiple types of sites, such as content, a blog and ecommerce. If you want to create multiple sites, check the capabilities of the primary tool that you choose before setting up another application. 

Basic Html Site
Sometimes, you just want an online profile for yourself or your organization and will rarely need to update it. In such a case, you can put up a simple static HTML website that just displays the content. If you need to, you can use a more advanced tool to customize the design, but  you don’t need a full-blown CMS (content management system) or Website Builder to run the site. 

Content Site 
In many cases, you’ll want a site with many pages, where you may often change content or add new pages. In such a case, it would be too much of  a hassle to just use a basic HTML site. Instead, you should use a website builder tool or a CMS. If you use a CMS, it’s best to use one that creates standard HTML so you have full control and flexibility over your site. 

Wiki
Wiki’s allow a large group of people to edit the same content, and are often used internally in companies to document company information. 

Forum
Online forums pre-date standard websites, and they are still used heavily, even with all the social networks that now exist. Although you can use an old-school forum application, it’s a good idea to pick a modern forum solution instead. 

Blogs Ecommerce sites
You know what these are.  

Ways to Setup a Website

The column headings above describe different ways you can setup a specific website.

If you don’t want to worry about maintaining your site, go with a web service instead of installing your own application. They take care of running a specific service that you use. You won’t have full control over the code but you also won’t need to worry about the site going down.

You may also want the benefits of being part of a network. You'll still have your own site, but it will be easier for other people on the network to find you.

If you want full control over your application or you’d like to experiment with different applications, you should install your own application. This requires selecting a web host, installing it, and maintaining it afterwards.

If you want more control, but don’t want to deal with a server-side application, you can build a static site instead. These sites don’t require servers and just send static files to visitors. They may require a little more work to edit, but are easy to host for free.

So pick an option above and create your own website! If you're signed in, you can link to your new site in the comments below.

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