What's the difference between a website designer and a large pizza? A large pizza can feed a family of four.

Creating a website doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. There are lots of "freebie" places on the web where you can create a website for free, such as simplesite.com, weebly.com, jigsy.com, wix.com or hubpages.com... not to mention all the blogging websites like Facebook, Wordpress, LiveJournal, TypePad, MyBlogSite and Blogger on the Internet. It's OK to use these free services to post articles with links to your main website... but these "freebie" services:

  1) create "cookie-cutter" sites from a limited number of templates that have a strangely similar look and feel - "deja-vu all over again" - and limited functions that constrict what your site can do;
  2) place your website name as a sub-domain under their domain, such as "facebook.com/fred-smith-company" or "fred-smith-company.weebly.com" ...not very professional-looking (although with some of them you can pay around $15 per year to register your own domain name); and
  3) lock you into their hosting service and/or their proprietary website software - they "own you," so it's very difficult to pick up your website and move to another hosting service. Also, if that free service changes its terms or algorithms (like Facebook often does), your website can lose its followers or be shut down, or if the free service goes belly-up your website goes "poof" - it vanishes.

So if you'd like to have us create your own custom website and unique email addresses that you control, you can either contact us (see our email address below) to help you design it and bring it online, or you can click on FastDomain.com, the hosting service we use, to set it up yourself. Another one we've used for clients is the top-rated JustHost.com service - both offer lots of free extras like WordPress, Weebly or LiveSite with your own domain name, autoresponders, MySQL, Joomla, Drupal, Moodle and more. We can also help you attract visitors to your new website: what good is a store front if nobody comes through the front doors? And we pledge to use standard, off-the-shelf or open source software so that you're not "locked in" to us.

The first type of custom website creation is what you see here at CompuNerds.Net - a header of your choice (it can be a photo of you or your organization, etc.), a navigation menu and a footer that appear on every page are included in our "template.html" template (model) file. The size and style of your menu, body text and links are defined using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). You can place ads on your template to generate revenue, if you so choose. To add a new page, all you do is make a copy of this template.html file giving it the new name you choose. Then add your title and text - for this part you can use the free open-source HTML5 website editor "Bluefish".

The header, menu and footer automatically appear on every page. JavaScripts control the contact info, menu and footer, so you only need to modify those items in one place and the changes automatically show up on each page. Last, add the new file name to the menu on each page and upload the new and changed pages to your website. When you want to make some changes to the text in any existing pages, just use the "Bluefish" program and upload the changes to your website. Because you create and maintain your website on your computer, you always retain control of your website. (Of course, you should backup your files offsite as well!)

The second method of creating and maintaining a custom website is to use a "CMS" (Content Management System) such as WordPress, Weebly, LiveSite, Joomla or Drupal - five very popular open-source CMSes. Everything is automated in a CMS, so you don't have to think about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. - the entire user interface is "WYSIWYG" (What You See Is What You Get). WordPress has many free templates, but the nicer features are available only for a fee. Weebly has a nice drag-and-drop visual interface. LiveSite is a bit more complex CMS that includes blogs, forums, calendars, photo galleries, web forms, shopping carts, content management, e-commerce, SEO, ads, membership management, donations, login access, staff portals, project portals, mailing lists, e-mail campaigns, and more.

Joomla and Drupal are even more powerful CMSes. The flip side of using them is that they're quite large software packages, and they require a fairly steep learning curve (especially Drupal). One thing to keep in mind with CMSes is they run on your remote website server - you add or modify pages by working directly on your website server. So you should make frequent backups and download them to your computer in case you might some day decide to move your website to another hosting service.