Website Advice



Many people are using websites. If you use the internet then you are using websites. Many people are even creating websites. There are many ways to create websites. To one extent or another, Facebook, Google+ and sites like them can be used to do things that people create web sites for. Here is a little bit of advice about creating websites.

First, it helps to understand what a "domain name" is and about registering them. The domain name of this site is SamHobbs.org (it does not matter whether you use upper case or lower case for domain names). You must "register" a domain name to use it and pay an annual fee.

Second, it helps to understand about "hosts". Unless you are a large organization with staff that are capable of creating and maintaining an internet server, you are likely to use a hosting company for your website. There are very many considerations to understand relevant to choosing a hosting company. One consideration is whether you want a Linux (Apache) server or a Windows (IIS) server.

Usually it is possible to purchase both services from one company, both the domain name registeration and the hosting, so that they might seem to be one thing. One significant advantage of that is that it is easier you and support personnel to make them work together. There is something called Domain Name Servers (DNS) that specify where to look for the server for a domain name. The domain name registration includes configuration of DNS and fully understanding it is very technical. I tend to keep my domain name registration separate from my hosting service but for non-technical people it is probably better to use the same service for both.

The next thing to understand is how to create the website. There are many ways to do that. You can use just plain HTML and/or you can use programming with HTML. The programming can be done in the server or the client. A client is the user's system; you might call it a browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. One advantage of doing things in the server is that your programs are protected from (cannot be seen or altered by) the public. One advantage of doing things in the client is performance; anythng done in the client does not require the clent computer to send a request to the server and get a response back.

There are many website providers, such as  Wix.com, that make it easy to create web sites. The disadvantage of most of the companies that do that is that it is difficult to move your website somewhere else using different software. Their software is proprietary and most of them don't want to make it easy for you to go elsewhere.

There is software called a Content Management System (CMS) that is quite popular. There is not a clear definition of what a CMS is except that they make it easier for non-technical people to create webistes. Most (probably all) CMSs have a way for programmers to create customizations of the CMS so that the CMS can do things specialized for the website. Each CMS has it's own terminology for referring to the customizations, such as extension, module, plugin or widget; see Modules/Plugins/Components - What Are They? for more about that. The most popular CMS is WordPress; some other popular CMSs are Joomla! and Drupal. Wordpress can be used in (installed into) most hosts and many hosting companies have special packages dedicated to Wordpress.

Young people should learn about website development. I am not suggesting website development as a career but many careers will be benefited by the ability to develop websites.

Free Hosting

There are many hosts that either offer a free hosting plan or that offer "static" websites. A static website does not provide server-side programming, including no use of databases; it only has HTML and images and other files that are sent to the client as-is.

You can create a WordPress site for free in WordPress.com, except your site will have an address such as "wordpress.com/read/blogs/95196423" where the number will identify your "blog".

Most (probably all) people with an Android phone have a Gmail account. With a Gmail account we can create web sites for free, as in my So Cal Sam's Site. The web site address will be something like "https://sites.google.com/site/socalsamssite" where the name "socalsamssite" is chosen by you. There are some things about Google Sites that are frustrating and the features are limited but Google seems to be improving Google Sites.

The Microsoft Azure Cloud Computing Platform & Services is Microsoft's cloud service that provides a large number of services. You can create up to 10 websites for free and you can get $200 worth of services to get started with.

The following provide free hosting, either permanently or nearly so; for longer than just a trial period. I have tried (succeeded in using) all of these.

I have not tried the following but they are worth trying. I have not tried them because I don't want to use the free trial period unless I intend to spend time using it.

Features

The following are features that might be important to you or might not and that are often not made obvious in hosting company's list of features.