DIY web

It is not what is used to be.

In the past, you had to write a website in html and all its associated languages (css and javascript are the main ones), then you needed to test it, then find a hoster, fix up a domain name, then learn how to use ftp and upload the result.The whole thing was frustrating as hell and you had to beg to pretentious and rude web people and pay a 5,000 dollars bill.

Things have changed a lot

If you want a website like this one, you don’t need money upfront.
You can register for a free one at wordpress.com.
If you stick to the basics, like I did here on purpose, it is really easy.
All is done in a simplified online word processor.
You don’t need any software beyond your web browser.When you are happy with the result, you get yourself a domain name, which will cost you a few dollars every year and you add the domain in your newly wordpress site for a few more.

What do you get for free?

  • A neat presentation called a “theme”
  • with a neat header
  • good menus
  • the ability to add pages yourself
  • a great blog (like a notice board) to provide short and frequent news
  • and few goodies such as
    • neat mailing lists,
    • social media links
    • out of the box web statistics
    • great simple online editor
    • and more

In fact, absolutely everything you see here is done this way.

Even Better

Your site is automatically adjusted for mobile viewing (try it with your phone, it is spectacular). And again, not a single line of code is required.

Playing around a bit

You can add your own pics, for instance the one below is a graph I made earlier and I gave it a title in a label under it. I uploaded it without leaving the page and selected it for showing on this page.

copyMatlabstyle
A graph in R language

And you can format your text like in a word processor. For example here, I asked the system to wrap the text around the graph so that you can see what I mean.This ability is a first way to control the layout of your page and is exactly what you would do in a word processor in many cases.

What is really great is that you don’t need any software…I just write this right here right now and use buttons that are on the page.

It will be publish when I click “Save”.

Visual ways to control your page.

If you read until here you may have noticed I used

  1. Headings
  2. Bold and italic characters
  3. bullet lists (even multi-level ones)
  4. Images
  5. Wrapped around text
  6. And a now numbered bullet list 🙂

I have not written a single line of HTML…

What if I want to use HTML or CSS?

You can to some degree as you can switch the editor to HTML mode.
You can then enter in HTML to your advantage.
You can use HTML tags that are not supplied in the visual editor.
You can also add inline CSS styles , this is not as convenient as using custom CSS files, but that does the trick really well.

What if I want to use javascript?

Unfortunately you can’t on these free plans.
This is to protect you security in a heavily shared environment.
But that is generally not too much of an issue for general publishing and blogging.

How about adding a gallery of pictures?

Below is a set of pictures I just uploaded to the server without leaving the page.
I selected them and asked to display them as a mosaic et voila!

There are other ways to display them (for example slideshows are popular)

What about menus?

A reliable navigation is important and not all that simple to do.

Here, I have a top menu with submenus and again I have not had to write any code.
This is because the administration panel allows to organise this very easily.

It’s your turn

Go ahead! get yourself one and try!

If you are the tinkerer kind, you will find that you can do a lot already.
You may even do the lot and get yourself online.

If you are not too sure, use the contact form and I will come and help you out.