There are times when you need a simple, well-designed web page, but you don’t want to put the effort into creating the necessary code and formatting. Ever since the very first WYSIWYG interfaces came out, I’ve been obsessed with their features for the simple fact that they allow you to toss together a website in a fraction of the time it takes to code them. Yes, the features are usually limited, but in the end, services that let you create free websites instantly serve a very important and useful purpose.
Why You Might Need to Create Free Websites Instantly
For my own personal websites and blogs, the extent to which I usually “save time” only involves starting out with a few free CSS templates and then customizing them, only because I’m too lazy and too short on time to start from scratch. However, I’ve also resorted to using these free “instant website” services for very specific purposes. James touched on a version of this in his article on how to create a disposable webpage and Wendy covered a couple of these tools in her article on how to create a website for free without ads. They are especially useful for Internet marketing, but also for the following uses:
- Simple one-page promotional sites for a product or service
- A simple Internet page for your online resume
- A one page article on a current controversial topic, allowing visitors to respond with their own opinions
- A one page tribute to a lost loved one
- A perfect solution for someone with zero web design skills
If you do choose to use the following free services, keep in mind that there’s one major downside. The ease with which they provide sites also leads to an entire plethora of absolutely ugly, horrendous, MySpace-like web pages that should never, ever be published on the Internet. Now, with that said, if you know what you’re doing – you can create some pretty cool websites with the following tools.
BlinkWeb – Create Free Websites in the Blink of an Eye
BlinkWeb is one of those rare sites that offers something for free without any gimmicks or loopholes. The website that you end up with doesn’t have any major drawback other than the fact that your site is a subdomain of BlinkWeb. In other words, a free site called VB Programming would be addressed as vbprogramming.blinkweb.com. The design interface is very well written, and a lot like many of the major web design applications out there, you can select the item from the left menu and drag it into your page, as shown below.
The site builder offers 100 templates to choose from, and a small mix of widgets like a guestbook, Earth maps and Google ads. When you first join, you can choose whether you want your site to be formatted like a sales newsletter, a content page or a blog. While it can take a little bit of creativity, it’s certainly possible to create a pretty decent web page with BlinkWeb, such as the dieting website below.
If you want to create free websites instantly and quickly, I would rate BlinkWeb at least as one of the top two or three sites to get the job done with very little hassle.
Squidoo – Even Better Than Free, You Get Paid
Squidoo is one of the most popular web page creation services that’s taking “instant websites” to a whole new level. Squidoo is sort of the “Associated Content” of website design, in that each site you build is a lot like an article, and it’s also a part of the larger Squidoo social network. Squidoo calls each page a “lens,” and each lens essentially consists of various elements that you’ve chosen to put together into a single page. Those elements include modules of text or images, CafePress module, Ebay module, Amazon module and many others.
The potential to create some very cool content with Squidoo is very good. Laying out the pages aren’t rocket science, and the interface is about as easy as a web design can possibly get. You just click on the modules you want to edit, or you delete the ones you don’t. When you’re finished, click “Publish” and you’re page is finished.
It’s important to note a few things about your Squidoo web page. First, you don’t even get a subdomain, you get a directory on Squidoo.com. Your page shows up much like articles do on many free article sites, with the title at the end of the Squidoo domain. So, remember to title your Squidoo page to show up well on Google search.
WetPaint – When You Want to Know What Other People Think
Like Squidoo, WetPaint is a very cool community that seeks to provide wiki-like websites where the entire community can edit your page, but no one needs to know any programming language. Once you create your page, if you configure it so that the public can edit it, the page is immediately live even while you’re editing. There are some cool features like the ability to upload photos or add video – but the real power behind this free service is that you can essentially create a collaborative community page where everyone can provide input. Have a controversial topic and want to see what the community thinks? Create a page on the issue and provide the ability for visitors to argue each side of the debate.
The only ads that show up are unobtrusive Google ads, as shown above, but you can edit your left navigation bar with new pages so it’s highly customizable. A great example site that I found is the “HP Community Wiki” shown below.
As you can see, these pages aren’t drab or boring, and they also don’t quite have the same old-fashioned “wiki” look as many other wiki coded sites do. Creating your own web page to sell a product or to publish content is one thing, but creating a “living document” on the web that’s constantly changing as the community sees fit is very exciting. WetPaint is one of the first sites that successfully combines the wiki community style with free website design.
Weebly – The Best Free Instant Website, Hands Down
In my own humble opinion, Weebly is the best service to create free websites instantly. Why? Well, Weebly isn’t just free, it’s ad free and it offers more tools and features than the other sites. The interface on Weebly also offers drag-and-drop, but there are more items to choose from such as the basic toos like text and images, multimedia content like a photo gallery or embedded YouTube player, a variety of revenue generating widgets and useful miscellaneous features such as forms, a feed reader and even a simple forum.
You can choose from about sixty to seventy templates, but even having a clean template doesn’t prevent people from making some pretty horrendous websites – there are lots of examples if you search Google for “weebly.com.” However, there are also some examples of some very clean, simple websites that would take less than an hour to put together without any knowledge of HTML, FTP or any other form of web programming.
You get a free subdomain like “yoursite.weebly.com” and there aren’t any annoying ads of any type. Weebly is supported by the domains that they sell to customers who decide they want their own.
Have you ever used a free webpage creator, and were you pleased with the result? Share your own opinion in the comments section below.