Even in this time of Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook many people argue you need your own online presence with a personal or professional website. Having your own website gives you a place to represent you that is under your complete control.
Here are three free services that can help you create a website. By default, they all direct your newly created site to a generic domain name, but all three also let you use your own purchased website name if you choose.
For those looking to minimize their coding commitment, it’s hard to go wrong with blog platform Wordpress.com from Automattic. Instead of opting for the DIY, self-hosted version of Wordpress, Automattic’s service creates a fresh install of Wordpress for you on their servers.
All you have to do is pick a theme and start adding pages and posts to get started.
The beauty of Wordpress is that even though it functions as a blogging platform, it doesn’t necessarily have to operate that way. You can create, for example, a landing page that your site visitors see first, and then only use the blog portion for news about your professional life, business, or whatever.
As a former, but longtime, Wordpress user, I can’t recommend the platform highly enough. It is very flexible (even the free, hosted version) and helps you build a very robust site.
For anyone looking for a pure blogging platform that is straightforward and simple, yet tuned for ease of use on both mobile and PCs, Tumblr is a good choice—even more so if you plan on using your site for quick shares of videos, pictures, and short posts.
Like Wordpress, Tumblr offers a variety of themes. Many are free, but the truly great looking ones will cost you a few dollars. Once again, if you know CSS, you can tweak a Tumblr theme to perfectly suit your preferences. The downside of Tumblr is that it offers less control of your site than the other platforms do.
Of the three options, this one is the most technical as it requires you to know at least a little bit about CSS, HTML, and (to a lesser extent) JS.
Pancake.io helps you build sites in two ways: using Jekyll, the static site generator created by GitHub co-founder Tom Preston-Werner, or by uploading files to Dropbox.
For the more daring, the first option requires knowledge of the Git version control system in addition to HTML know-how.
But for those not looking for anything fancy, the Dropbox version lets you simply add text files to a folder in Dropbox and they’ll show up as webpages using Pancake.io’s default style on your site.
In fact, if all you’re looking for is a website that displays a single, nicely styled webpage then Pancake.io’s Dropbox solution is worth considering—although you’ll have to know CSS to really make it shine.
The nifty thing about Pancake.io is that since it relies on Dropbox you can add files to your site from anywhere on pretty much any device that connects to the cloud storage service. Pancake.io allows you to create three websites for free.
Those are just three of the services that you can choose from. Google’s Blogger is still alive and kicking and works very well. And for anyone willing to pay for the privilege services like Squarespace can help anyone design a nice looking site, even without a deep knowledge of the languages of the web.