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