Web Site Building for Writers and other Non-Web Pros


Most of us are not quite the computer guru we might wish we were, so learning my way around registering my domain name, finding a web host, pointing the domain name to the Web site, and so on were confusing and intimidating to me. However, as luck would have it, I found a very informative site that explains the whole process in terms I can understand, so I thought I would share that with anyone who might be in a similar situation. It’s called The Site Wizard, and it’s loaded with all the information you need. Free. Although do consider making a donation if you find it helpful.

Initially all I wanted to do was to register my chosen domain/pen name, and work on developing a site later. There are several companies that can do this for you, registering the domain name with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). You can get a list of them at the ICANN Web site, as well as see who they’ve received complaints about. One of the better known registrars is GoDaddy.com, but there are tons of others: Network Solutions, Register, and on and on.

WordPress.org lists a few Web hosts that they recommend, but from what I can tell they all force you to sign up for hosting with them at the time they register your domain name, although the domain name registration is then free through them. Alternatively, WordPress.com can register your domain name, and map it to your blog for a very small fee ($14.97/yr, $9.97/yr if you already own the domain name). You can read more about that at this Support page on Domain Mapping.  You will still be limited on what kind of content you can have Lots of  choices on how to go about this. I guess it comes down to personal preference.

I’ll admit I have a little bit of a leg up on some. I know how to use Dreamweaver, and have created a Web site with it, although that one is hosted free by my ISP. I know how to upload static pages via FTP, how to design them, know what an IP address is. If I want to go that route, I certainly can. However, most of the hosting companies that I’ve been checking out from here, recommended by WordPress.org, don’t require any of that. I’d be using the same WordPress software I’m used to, and there are more templates available to play with, so site design at least initially would be relatively painless. Later on, if I learn more and figure out CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) I can customize more.

I think for my purposes something attractive but simple is probably the way to go. I don’t want to get into a lot of Flash content, JavaScript, or anything like that right off the bat. Years ago, when the Web was even more like the wild west than it is now people tended to go overboard with animations and all kinds of gee-whiz effects on the page that were tacky and hard to look at. There are still many of them out there that haven’t figured out how hard it is for visitors to sift through all the crap and cheesy backgrounds to find the content. A good book on graphic design can go a long way. Music on a site (unless it’s a band or artist’s site) is probably one of my pet peeves.

Something else you might find helpful was a short four-part series at Editor Unleashed on Building Writers Websites the DIY Way. It’s a nice primer that explains a lot of the process, very clearly. I’ve read it over more than once.

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17 thoughts on “Web Site Building for Writers and other Non-Web Pros

  1. Congrats on getting the domain name! I don’t know anything about Homestead, but I have heard the name, many years ago. They’re owned by Intuit who puts out TurboTax, Quicken, etc. I didn’t see them listed at the ICANN site, the only Homestead they have listed is a dba “NameVault” out of the Bahamas. No idea what’s up with that. It could be Homestead/Intuit contracts with NameVault to register the domain names. I did find several pages of pretty poor customer reviews at CNET: Homestead Reviews at CNET.com.

    Make what you will of it.

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  2. I should probably add, no doubt we could dig up negative reviews on any site. I was thinking of going with Network Solutions, but found a lot of negative reviews of them. BlueHost (that WordPress recommends) seems to have a pretty good rep from what I can find. They (and others) also have online video tutorials which is good for those of us who are just learning our way around. Another one I ran across that seems to have good word-of-mouth is Lunarpages.com. I ran through their “Plan Wizard” and to go with something small and simple they offered a package for $12.95/mo. They have packages as cheap as $4.95/mo.

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  3. I’m running the new blog on Bluehost. It takes literally seconds to download/install the WordPress software for the blog, then you have to log in separately to the blog, which really confused me for awhile. I thought it would show on the Bluehost control panel (cPanel) but it doesn’t. I got a separate e-mail giving me the address and login for the blog page from SimpleScripts. I’m still trying to figure out the cPanel, and how to do various things. Bit of a learning curve but it’s all good, I like learning this stuff 🙂 So I still have an actual Web page to design and put up, separate from the blog, but I don’t really have anything to put on it yet so I guess that’ll wait for a bit.

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