In this short series we have looked at a bunch of technical terms, so that you will have the required back ground knowledge when it comes to creating a site featuring you and your books. We had a look at what you should put on your website. Remember Small is Beautiful! Simplicity has a depth that can outdo complexity every time.
Now we will look at some tools you can use to create your own website. The truth is that there are hundreds of tools out there. We cannot cover them all. We will just touch on a few of the most popular ones.
We have focused on tools that take away the hassles of hosting and of creating pages. By default the website is hosted on their domain. In some cases, using a paid service, you can use your own domain with them.
WordPress.com is the hosted version of popular free and open source blogging software wordpress. By hosted version, we mean that you do not need to download the software and find a hosting server to install it. You can just sign up with wordpress.com and have your own blog or website.
Although, wordpress is primarily thought of as a blogging tool, its features make it a great generic Content Management System. Using “Pages” feature, you can create static pages of your website. “Menu” makes navigation easy. Overall you can have a nice website with an integrated blog. By using a paid service, you can also register your domain name (with them, or elsewhere), and use it to have full-fledged author website.
- High level of customizability
- Many ready to use widgets
- 100+ free themes
- Allows for great control
- Allows for customized domain name
- Content can be exported and imported into a self-hosted wordpress site
- Even with your domain, the wordpress.com bar is visible to other wordpress.com users.
- You cannot remove credits to wordpress.com in themes.
Blogger, part of the Google family, was one of the first hosted blogging tools and played a major role in making blogging popular. Its features are comparable to wordpress.com. You cannot register your domain through them. However, once you have it registered elsewhere, you can use it with your Blogger site. One advantage, if you produce content that can earn from advertising, is its easy integration with Google Adsense.
- Very easy to use
- Highly customizable
- Mobile-optimized version automatically available
- Can access Google Analytics directly from the Blogger dashboard
- Recently introduced interface can put users off.
- Has a history of lagging behind other tools in features, although lately it had practically caught up.
Another free Google tool. It is primarily a Wiki platform, but it is still a great tool to create a decent author website.
If you want to use your own domain with Google Sites, you need to sign up for Google Apps for your Domain (GAYD). It is a paid service. The advantage of signing up with this is that you also get to use Gmail, Google Drive and other Google services on your domain. (i.e. you will have a gmail address that will read like email@example.com).
If you are collaborating on your content with someone, Google Sites can prove to be a better than blogging tools.
- Very easy to setup and use
- Paid version comes with Gmail for your domain
- Easy to integrate with Adsense
- Easy to collaborate on content
- Does not have a lot of templates
- Templates border on simplistic
- Limited control over page layout
- No integrated blogging tool
About.me provides an easy way to setup a personal page, with all the information about you. You can link to your social media profiles, blogs and other websites from here. It can be considered an entry point to your online identity.
- Free. It won’t cost you a cent, Rupee or Piaster
- Using it is as easy as falling out of a tree.
- Comes with a free email address
- Offers real time stats
- A dedicated iPhone app is available
- Cannot have a personalized domain name
- Simple one-pager website – can’t really replace a full-fledged author website
- Very limited layout editing options
We all know that Facebook is primarily a social networking tool. But it allows you to create different kinds of pages, from personal to celebrity, from fan to business. Facebook Pages allow the flexibility to create a simplified, but not simplistic, author website. If you are already networked well on facebook, a facebook author page can be a great marketing tool for you. It lets you post updates, write long notes, post photos and create event pages. It can easily be a replacement for your website as well as blog.
- Ease of use
- Huge number of users
- Most people are already familiar with it
- Already mobile ready
- Practically zero layout editing options
- Hardly any control over design
- Can only host limited files
- Clearly facebook-branded – can’t have your own domain name
Unless you are a web designer and developer yourself, or can afford a team to do a custom job for you, our recommendation from among the available tools is WordPress.com. It has the advantage of being simple to start with, and it provides ample facilities for more advanced requirements too. Besides, if later you decide to take absolute control over your website, you can export the content and import it into self-hosted wordpress site.
This does not mean that the others are not worth it. With a bit of care, even a limited option, like About.me can look great. Think through how you are going to interact with your readers and accordingly choose a suitable option. In all likelihood, you would want to go with more than one of these options. You can have a custom website, with blog hosted on wordpress.com or blogger. You might have a facebook page along with a website. But remember not to go for all of these. Whatever places you decide to create your online presence on, make sure it is active and constantly updated.