The Zero-Budget Website

Set up a website for a handful of beans, or, if you prefer, for free. See the links on the left for my personal recommendations.

Please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive guide, more a quick reference. You, being a creative genius, must do the research. Hopefully the links and examples on this page will whet your appetite!

Find a Host

Your ISPs may provide some free webspace; otherwise you can register with a free host. Read some reviews and recommendations here. Of course there's no such thing as a free lunch: most free sites are supported by adverts placed on your pages, and there are other limitations such as restrictions on certain types of file, or file size limits. Free sites also have a nasty habit of disappearing without warning (taking your data with them, unless you've kept an off-line backup), so it's probably a good idea to register a domain.

A domain is the address that people use to find you or your company online, eg myname.co.uk, or myname.com. Most free hosts will offer you either a subdomain: a subdivision of a domain, such as "myname.freehostprovider.com" or a directory: "www.freehostprovider.com/myname". Domain names are cheap: a name ending in .co.uk will set you back about £3 per year, .com about a tenner. It's a good idea to have your own domain. It's unique to you, and will not change, no matter how many times you change your web host. Read more about registering a domain here.

If you simply can't buy a domain - you may be unwilling or unable to use a credit card online for example, you might consider using a url redirection service. These are free, easy-to-remember web addresses that can point to any other website. Most are ad-supported, or else require a link back to them on your main page. More information here.

Build Your Site

Although your host may provide you with online site building tools and templates (indeed if that's the only option, find another host), it's always better to construct your pages offline. Web-code, called HTML, is really not difficult to learn, and requires only a text editor such as Notepad. Many people prefer to use a WYSIWYG ("What You See Is What You Get") editor. Some good, free editors are listed here.

Getting Round the Restrictions

Using a free host for your website is likely to have several downsides: In addition, the host may operate an inactivity-limit, often for 30 or 60 days. Dormant sites will be shut down.

Often the solution to these problems is to fetch the file or script or whatever from another server by direct linking (sometimes known as hotlinking.) Most free web hosts have a problem with others hotlinking to them, since this is regarded as bandwidth theft. However they rarely (with the exception of Geocities) mind if you directly link to a file on an external site. There are actually free file hosts who allow hotlinking, and kindly supply the code to embed content in your web page, such as the music player below. Free script hosts supply the html code for your contact form, page counter etc which is stored on their own server. These services are a must - never put a link to your email address on a webpage, this will only be harvested by spammers.

Goodies

Using Remote Host for Music
Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA

Some things are just for fun. The logos in the head of this page were generated by a free online site, and the flash slideshow on the left was made using free software (see the links). Try Google Images for free graphics, background wallpapers etc and YouTube for videos. Have fun.

It all sounds like hard work!

Well, if it's too much hassle, you could try Ever So Lucky low-cost, bespoke web design service!