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Spin your own web

Need to build a website but can't be bothered with all that coding malarkey? Then relax - this handy guerilla guide shows the way to cut corners and still get your point across on the web

November 1, 2004
4 min read

Step 1 – Plan

Work out your audience, your message and how you will maintain, build and publicise the damn thing. Look at other websites and note what you like and dislike. Storyboard your website to work out how many pages you need.

But do you really need a website at all? Maybe a simple blog – an online diary – would do the trick. A myriad of blogging sites will let you rant within minutes (try www.blogger.com).

If you are determined to build a website, here’s the fastest way.

Step 2 – Buy your land and register your virtual home

You need to find someone to lease you space for your new home on the web (a host provider – see links at the end). Find a company that offers space, gives you a web address (lets you register your domain name) and also offers free and idiot-proof site building tools.

If you can’t register your site through your host provider, do it through www.gandi.net, the cheapest place to register domains for non-profit organisations and activists. Or use an existing domain shared by groups working on similar issues (www.schnews.org.uk).

Step 3 – More advanced sites and communities

If you want your site to look professional, you may need to buy website software such as Microsoft’s Front Page and Macromedia’s Dreamweaver. These take a while to learn and are often expensive, but give you total control.

If you want to build a community site where people can post their views and you can store masses of content, look at the Open Source movement. This massive community creates free software to get people on the web. Take a look at ready-to-go portals such as PHPNuke (www.phpnuke.org). The learning curve is steep, but open source software lets you create a complex site without spending a penny.

If you’re not a web techie and have a bit of dosh then look at ‘website in a box’ resources. Poptel (www.poptel.net), for example, has a click-to-build website that can get you online in hours.

Step 4 – Test

Test your site before launching it. When you are ready to go, ‘soft launch’ first – your site will go live without drawing too much attention, allowing you to check glitches that only occur after you’ve started up.

Step 5 – Web promotion

With major search engines overrun by product commercials, getting found on the web is a whole different ball game. The bare minimum you must do is:

  • submit your site to the major search engines;
  • choose the right keywords for describing your site – imagine what your audience will type in when searching the internet. This way your website will be picked up by major search engines, for free;
  • get other sites to link to you;
  • write lots of good content;
  • tell your mates and put the site URL in your emails;
  • publicise your site on message boards;
  • and ask people to sign up to a regular e-newsletter and use it to keep them interested.

    Resources

    Free site tools

    Everything the budding webmaster might need for building, promoting and maintaining their lovely website is at www.freesitetools.com.

    The best free resource for web-related stuff is www.webmasterworld.com

    Webmonkey is great for building and updating your site. Creative Commons is a good source of copyleft (non-copyright) content.

    Free web hosts

    Free web hosting for activist groups with no funding is at www.riseup.net. For groups with money, it will take a donation.

    Also try:

  • https://new.resist.ca
  • https://members.tao.ca
  • http://mutualaid.org/apply.html
  • www.gn.apc.org
  • Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
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