Create your own website

Getting started with building a new website

If you are just starting out as a web developer (like me), then consider using Google Sites. Creating websites using Google Sites is fun, easy, and very cheap. The hosting by Google Sites is free. The only disadvantages are that hyperlinks are masked by Google's anti-spam filter redirection (meaning that when users hover over a hyperlink, the end-point URL is a bit difficult to see), and also the Content Management System (CMS) is simplistic. However, the ease of use and smoothness with which one can get a new website quickly up-and-running trumps the simplicity.

A custom .co.za domain is only R100 per year through GoDaddy, meaning that you can use a custom URL for your new website for a very low price. Other top-level domains (such as .com) are far more expensive. But, in South Africa, .co.za domains are cheap, so you might as well just stick with .co.za domains.

One doesn't need a custom URL though, to create a site. Perhaps you just need something even quicker, say just to communicate some information to a class you're teaching, for example, running a class representative election. Then, Google Sites gives you a sites.google.com URL for your website.

Please note that:

  • A Google site can be un-indexed, not appearing in search engine results. The idea behind this is that there is a robots.txt file which asks web crawlers to not index the site. The only chance that the site will be part of the World Wide Web from that point is if somebody links to the site from another website.

  • A Google site can also be restricted strictly and completely to the deep web by requiring Google account users to log in to their Google account, before viewing the website, and then you can share the website with only a select handful of Google account users, making it private. You can also have multiple editors on a Google Site.

This blog post is just an introduction, from my own anecdotal knowledge. For further resources, see the official Google Sites Help site, for info on how to get started (or how to customize your URL, with the CNAME record). Also, please read up on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in Adam Clarke's Kindle book, right from the get-go. His book is a hundred times cheaper than employing an SEO specialist yourself.

Other Content Management Systems

I've even discovered how to use the Domain Deflect tool to publish a Google Doc as a website (http://toolkit.uctecossoc.co.za), with a custom URL, but this technology is very finicky: observe my failed attempt at using Domain Deflect for http://www.ahgc.co.za (to try help a friend), even after contacting the developer.

I also manage http://hermanuscamp.co.za on Wordpress. Wordpress is more complicated (the previous web developer's choice of CMS), but I just delve into what's necessary for me to keep the site looking good.