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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

How to build a personalised website for £3 a year


This is very, very easy, and you don't need to learn complex HTML code to do so.

I tested this by building a website for our neighbourly residents association. The Secretary was here for only five minutes before we had the website built, and a further ten minutes before we had purchased their individual name and pointed it to the new website. 

No Knowledge of HTML code was needed at any stage.
Google has made it extremely easy and it is free, if you don't mind a slightly complex address to give your friends.

In fact, everything is free and you don't have to pay a penny to get your site up and running and give all your friends and contacts an address to log on. The payment only comes if you want a more personalised address.

As an example, I have a blog at Google Blogger called ampers.blogspot.com. I decided to get a more personalised address which is ampers.me.uk. You may say that isn't a lot of difference - but I might want to move my blog to Wordpress, or build my own, or go to any one of a number of other blog providers. Having my own name means I just need to redirect my own address to whatever site I have moved to, and my visitors won't need to change my address in their address-books as they use the same one.

Here's how to do it.

If you haven't already got a Gmail account, register for one.

Once you have registered your Gmail account and you are in the Gmail home page, Look at the top left of your page. You will see a large Gmail logo and on the right of it, you will see a search box. Immediately above the large Logo, you will see some links:

Gmail” – “Calendar” – “Documents” – “Photos” - “Reader” - “Web” - “More”

Click on “More” and choose “Sites” which may be the first name under “More”.

When in the “Sites” page click on the “Create new site” button and, when you see some sample sites, click on the far box which says “Browse the gallery for more”.

You can now choose the theme for your website. Each of the templates are not only different but cater for different requirements so it is worth spending a lot of time when making your choice.

I will chose “Home Sites” for this article. When I click on “Home Sites”, I got a page with more of a description and a link offering me to preview the Template. It opens the preview in another tab so you can browse and investigate the preview as much as you like and, if you like it, click on the “Use this template” on the top right, if you aren't happy with it, delete that tab, then return to the “sites” tab, you may then need to use the back button, and look at some others.

It is worth spending a little time on this to get it right. When you have made your decision, your website is built in a flash, and all you have to do is to put meaningful copy in all the pages – more about this further down.

When you have selected your site, you will be invited to name your site. If you haven't decided to pay £3 a year for your own name, then you need to choose this carefully as the name of your site will be:

https://sites.google.com/site/ followed by your choice of name after the “site/” In other words, if you were going to call your website “chuggers” it would read: https://sites.google.com/site/chuggers

If you are going to buy your name, you could put “wdilufesk” or “jkhdgfdsda”, it wouldn't matter as nobody would see anything other than the personalised name you decide to purchase. Of course, something you can remember will always be more useful than my two examples above.

Although I am finishing this part of the article here, remember, putting your own copy into the website might take considerable time as a website is “your window to the world” so it is worth taking the trouble to get it right.

Now to purchasing your own domain. 123-reg (co.uk) is one of the largest in the UK but whoever you choose. Ensure they have a control centre for their customers and, in that control centre, you can redirect your web address to another web address. This usually carries the term: Web-Forwarding.

I use 123-reg and when I purchase a web address – they come in all costings, but co.uk is the cheapest and is just under £6 for the first two years – thereafter you renew at £3 a year.

When you have your name registered – and remember it can take 24hrs to 48 hrs for all servers to have this information around the world - you can go to your control panel, make sure the pull-down menu has the website you want showing, and click on Manage. When you are into the Control Panel, click on “Web Forwarding” and then on “Temporary”, and put in https://sites.google.com/site/yourname into the framed forwarding box and probably one other box there.

Within a couple of days every server anywhere in the world will direct anyone typing in your own .co.uk address to https://sites.google.com/site/yourname.

This is an incredibly easy, and inexpensive, way for people to have their own, very personal, website.

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