Project websites for all!
Until recently, project websites were typically set up only for large
construction projects. Unless you were working on a major project that was going
to last for at least a year, it was just too costly and time-consuming of a task
to create a dedicated site. And forget doing it yourself —
just registering the domain name (the URL address) and learning the
software to create the site was enough to scare away anyone but the
professionals. But today's technology has changed to the point that anyone can
set up a website and obtain a domain name in minutes.
Free or browser-based website hosting options
If you're thinking about setting up a website for your project, first you
need to decide where your site will be stored or "hosted." Few people keep their
site on their own servers —
instead they rent space on a server or computer dedicated to hosting websites.
There's a large number of hosting companies to choose from, with varying costs.
Most offer common, easy-to-learn software packages for creating websites, and
provide an easy domain registration process. You then work within that software
to create your site.
But several other hosting companies offer an even easier option with a much
lower learning curve. And if this is your first time setting up a project site, it would be
helpful for you to try creating some sites with a free or low-cost option
offering the lower learning curve. That way, you can easily determine if the
option will work for you without spending a lot of money or time researching.
Below are a few companies to try out:
After registering on this site, you are free to create up to two project
websites at no cost. This company features a drag-and-drop method and allows for
the use of multimedia such as photos and videos. There are several tutorial
videos and step-by-step instructions if you get stuck. Site statistics are also
these are helpful in determining how much your site is used. As for the domain
name, you can use one of theirs, which would look something like this:
http://yourproject.weebly.com. You can also register any available name
through their site or ask them to point the website to a domain name you might
already have registered, like http://yourproject.com. If you like
Weebly and want more sites, you can create more for a fee.
This company also offers an option to create a free website with up to five
pages at no cost. There are also low-cost options with expanded features:
$8/month for one business website and $30/month for unlimited websites. Like
Weebly, SnapPages uses a drag-and-drop interface to create websites. This option
does not allow for a custom domain name in the free option.
Google Sites —
Google also offers a free and easy option for creating project websites. If you
already have a Google account, you can get started right away. Otherwise, first
go to http://www.google.com,
and set up a free account. Once you have your account and are at the Google
Sites page, just hit the "Create" button to begin your site. Google will walk
you through the steps to get you up and running. And if you need help, you can
access Google Sites help here: http://support.google.com/sites/?hl=en. Like other free
options, Google will give your site a domain name that looks like this:
http://sites.google.com/site/yourproject. But Google does offer the option to
point your website to your own domain name if you already have one registered.
The image in this post is a website that has been built using Google Sites.
Those are just a few examples of how to easily set up a free or low-cost
site. You can find a listing of many more at this link: http://smashinghub.com/40-online-powerful-and-easy-website-building-tools-to-create-your-free-site.htm
Standard website hosting options
While the sites above might meet the needs for most small projects of short
duration, a much more involved project might need a larger website. Fortunately,
most standard website hosting packages today offer a quick and affordable method
of setting up a site and registering your own domain name. Most also offer a
choice of common website-building software to use to create the site. I am going
to use my current host provider in this example only because it's the one with
which I am most familiar —
keep in mind there are many more out there that offer similar features and
Dreamhost - most of my
websites have been set up through Dreamhost. This company, like most, offers at
least one free domain registration with a hosting package. So for approximately
$9/month, you can register any available domain name and set up unlimited
websites using that name. For example, I might set up a domain name of
http://www.myproject.com for the general public. Then I can set up
another at http://plans.myproject.com to hold all the plans and other
project details that only the contractor, engineer, and owner might be
interested in. There is no extra charge for this domain name because it is
viewed as a "sub-domain" of my original name. If I want to establish other
websites through my hosting package using a different URL or domain name, I can
do so by registering another domain name for approximately an additional
$9/year. As for the software used to create the site, here are just a few of the
software packages offered: Wordpress, MediaWiki, and Joomla.
Low-cost vs. standard hosting
As you can see, setting up a project site through a standard hosting package
is a little more complicated than with the free or browser-based options,
because the creator needs to be familiar with specific software packages. While
they are easy to learn, there is a higher learning curve than using a
drag-and-drop method. Editing the site is also more complicated and may involve
logging into the actual computer and file structure of the website server. But
with this option, the creator has more control over the site and its features.
And this option allows for backup and archiving of the site or redeployment on
another server. The standard hosting package also includes unlimited file size
For most small projects that only last a few months, the low-cost or
browser-based option is most-likely the best choice —
as long as backups are not required. They're so easy to use that anyone
can set up a site in minutes. However, if you have a large-scale project that's
scheduled to last a year or more, you might want to go with the standard hosting
package because it will offer you more storage, pages, features, and the ability
to archive and backup the site.
Check back for my next post, which will look at what information and features
should be included on a project website.
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