The cost of starting and maintaining a website can vary wildly. You can buy domain names for a few dollars and get a webhost service for anywhere from $100 to a few thousand dollars a year, depending on what you want to do with your site.
Then, of course, there is free. Google, for example, offers Google Sites, which puts the entire website process in your hands without taking a thing from your pocket.
Steve Kieley, a volunteer teacher at Ewing’s Computer Learning Center, will talk about how and why to take advantage of free website tools like Google Sites on Tuesday, February 7, at 2 p.m. at Ewing Senior and Community Center, 999 Lower Ferry Road.
His presentation, “The Free and Easy Way to Create Your Own Website,” is free and will be preceded by a Q&A session beginning at 1:30 p.m. Call 609-882-5086 or visit www.clcewing.org.
Prior to his life as a volunteer SeniorNet instructor, Kieley worked for PSE&G for 39 years. A mechanical engineering graduate of Stevens Institute of Technology, he holds a master’s from NJIT and retired in 2003 as PSE&G’s director of asset management.
Kieley worked in electric distribution field operations and construction around the state and consulted on management structures and practices for electric companies in Brazil, Oman, Peru, and Chile.
A former president and member of the board of the Engineers Club of Trenton, Kieley also serves on the board of the PSE Federal Credit Union in Somerset.
When it comes to websites, Kieley will be talking more about smaller, personal, and more community-oriented projects than about business.
Volunteer coaches for kids’ sports teams, for example, can take advantage of the reach that free websites through Google can offer. Coaches, Kieley says, can build sites that feature the team, its schedule, and other related information.
The same goes for other community organizations, such as social groups, which can offer information to their members without anyone having to make sure the site is paid for every month.
When it comes to businesses, Kieley says free websites can benefit some newer, smaller enterprises. He would not, however, recommend free websites for businesses looking to sell lots of products online, as Google Sites’ templates do not allow for that level of sophistication.
Google does offer website development and hosting for businesses that need more than the basics, but it costs money, and Google is not forthcoming as to how much.
Google Sites does advocate the use of its free pages for company intranets and newsletters, however. Much like a coach posting team news, companies can share information with employees without taking up more space on their main web pages.
If you’re going into business, Kieley says websites are essential and will stay that way, so free or not, you should have one. Customers and clients almost always check companies out on the Internet first these days, and using Facebook as your company’s sole public face is almost never a good idea — largely because you are not allowed to do business through Facebook.
Google Sites is an easy way to make a website because it has few frills and no need for advanced web-design knowledge, Kieley says. According to Google, its free websites offer single-click page creation, no HTML, and a series of customizable templates.
Also, Google Sites is integrated with other Google products, so if you’re already using Gmail and YouTube, you can insert videos, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photo slide shows, and calendars directly onto your Google Sites pages.
And you can search using Google’s search engine, which means you can find specific pages and documents as quickly as you could on Google.com.
As for page rankings, Google Sites offers the inborn advantage of being a Google product, so websites made through the company can do well in page rankings on Google’s search engine.
But for the purposes Kieley is teaching, he says it does not matter so much. Small enterprises or community organizations could (and should) just give the website to their members.
There would be no need to worry about page rankings, since increasing traffic to the site is not the primary concern.
“Volunteers find websites useful for sending announcements of their organization’s regularly scheduled or special events or updating lists of members and committees,” Kieley says. “Teachers use them to post classroom assignments or announce schedule changes; coaches use them to stay current with team members and parents.”
For the average person looking to stay in touch, through an organization or not, there is almost no reason to not have a website these days, Kieley says. “Have you ever gone on vacation and wanted to share your travel experiences?” he asks.
“Ever planned a family get-together or reunion and wanted to keep track of who is coming? There are simply countless ways to make your own website work for you,” says Kieley.