How close are we to websites for the masses?

Is it possible to create a website for little cost and without having to be a programmer?  If you are looking for association software for a small association, is it realistic to do it yourself?  Evidently, yes.

Having come from an environment where putting up a new website was expensive and understood by only fairly senior technical folks, I was a little surprised to see how much is available on the web to allow people to create their own websites without much technical knowledge at all.  This is not what I expected to find and proves how insular you can be when focused on just a specific segment of the market.

To review, my objectives for the new website for the Catalina380 International Association were the following:

  • Create members only site to share technical information about Catalina380 series sailboats.
  • Provide excellent full text search capability to easily find the information needed.
  • Work with an environment that a non-technical person could manage easily.
  • Create the site with little outlay in cash and only a small outline for hosting.

There are a number of ways to achieve the objectives.  There are even many web sites that will support the effort and provide free (or almost free) hosting for your site.  Initially, I was looking at DotNetNuke community edition since I already had experience with DotNetNuke professional version but my investigation of DNN at the basic level didn’t pan out.  Simple non-technical maintenance and cost ruled DNN out.  So then I looked at Drupal and then at WordPress.  I finally settled on WordPress given the wide availability and support.

What I found was the following:

  1. WordPress is open-source and very well supported in the community so you can do a lot without spending much money.  As with other open-source software, there are “premium” themes and plugins available for specific purposes if you are willing to pay for it.
  2. You can log into www.wordpress.com and actually create a free account, visible to the public if you want it to, or just an account through which you can learn the environment.  The have a rule that you can only use their own supported plugins and this ultimately became too restrictive for my project.
  3.  If you want to have your own domain, they will create one for you to make it look much more sophisticated than just www.wordpress.com/yourname.  You can have www.yourname.com assuming it isn’t already used.
  4. If you then want to graduate to something more sophisticated, you can log into www.wordpress.org where there are many plugins that can be added to enhance the site but then you will need hosting for the site.

More about WordPress and this project as I get further into everything.  Right now, it is all looking good.

Bottom line is that there are a number of ways that anyone can have their own website or blog and not spend much, if any, money in the process.

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