It is quite typical these days for newbie webmasters to use blockbuilder software like 1 and 1 My Website to build their new websites. Newbies typically do this because they fear that their knowledge of creating websites is insufficient for them to use anything more advanced. But the truth is, there are a lot of software scripts and programs that you can use to build a website, without needing and knowledge of HTML or CSS at all. And these pieces of software offer far higher levels of customization options to boot, without being any more complicated to use than a standard blockbuilder.
For the reasons outlined in the paragraph above, this very website was born, to show South African website builders the options that are freely available to them for their site building needs. And when I say free, I really do mean free! I used a software script called WordPress to to build this very site that you are on right now, and I didn’t pay a dime for it. All I paid for was the hosting, but we will cover * hosting * in another article.
So, without waiting any longer, I want to reveal to you what I believe are the best, free, easy to use, OTHER pieces of software South Africans can use to build websites today and for the foreseeable future.
I’d like to start off with my personal favourite – WordPress. The wordpress software has been freely available ever since I can remember. It is extremely easy to install. All you need to do to install it is go to cPanel inside your hosting account, click on the wordpress icon inside the “softaculous” area, fill in a few fields that appear on the screen, and click install. It’s that easy! And it only takes a few seconds to install from the second that you click the install button. Here’s a few screenshots which show you the install process.
Setting Up WordPress
After wordpress is installed, your next task will be to set it up to look how you want it to. This is where WordPress comes into its own as a better solution than a blockbuilder. There are so many ways that you can customize your site. The great thing is though, it’s all super easy to do because all you need to do is click on buttons. There’s no code to type, and there’s an easy to follow menu on the left hand side of the backend of WordPress to guide you along.
Essentially, if you can use a word processor, then you can use WordPress too. The first thing you will want to do when you go to set it up, is add a theme to your website. This gives it it’s look, and it’s as simple as going over to the themes area, and choosing a free theme from the huge database of themes that are available. You could also purchase a theme if you are not satisfied with the ones that are available for free, and all this would take is simply to upload your theme as a zip file. Do that, click activate, and voila your new theme is live!
To create a contact form, you will need to install what is called a plugin. Plugins are little add ons for a WordPress site that give the site highly specified functionality. Some are free and others are paid but for your purposes if you are a beginner with website building, free plugins will be plenty good enough. For the purpose of creating a contact form, you can simply go to the plugins area of the menu inside WordPress, and type “contact form” in the search box. Then all you need to do is choose the plugin you want (there’s loads of them) and click install. Then when it has finished installing, click activate. After that it’s just a case of going to the Plugin’s own new part of the WordPress menu that just got created, and finding the shortcode for the form. Then you can just copy and paste the shortcode onto your contact page in the place that you want it to appear. The screenshots below will show you a bit more of what you need to know about this.
Plugins really do come in all shapes and sizes and can serve just about any website function you can possibly think of. Of course most of them use complex HTML code in order to fulfill their functions but as you may have gathered by now, WordPress protects you from all that (if you want to be protected from it). There is also the option to edit the HTML code of all aspects of your site if you have the knowledge to do that, and that gives you even further customization options.
Choice is the great thing about WordPress and if I were to recommend just 1 piece of software to use for website building, it would no doubt have to be WordPress. With that said you should still consider the other major options that are available to you which I have listed below.
This also free site building software is less popular than WordPress, mostly because it requires a bit of a steeper learning curve to get the hang of. It can be a little unforgiving to a newbie, unlike wordpress is, but in fairness the higher difficulty level of using this software does result in it having a slightly higher level of possible functionality. In other words you can do more with it than you can with WordPress.
All the same, you should not allow my words to put you off using Drupal if you believe it is the best fit for your needs. It can be installed just as easily as WordPress can through the use of cPanel, and this would be a 1 click install also.
Unfortunately my experience with Drupal is quite limited and for that reason I cannot say too much about it. I guess I just always preferred WordPress. I will be using Drupal more in the coming months and I will be updating this article as I learn more about it so stay tuned.
Take a look at Drupal below.
3. Coffee Cup
This is the single paid software that you could use to build a website, that made this list. It’s not expensive though so it can easily be acquired.
With Coffee Cup, you can have as short or as steep a learning curve as you want. See, coffee cup has 2 options. It can be used as a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get, for anyone who hasn’t come across that term before) editor, where you just drag and drop stuff, or you can go the coding route, where you open up the inbuilt HTML editor and just use the WYSIWYG feature to check that you are coding it right.
Something I should say about Coffee Cup is that it is an OFFLINE piece of software. This is different to WordPress and Drupal which are web-based. In other words you use them in your internet browser. But with Coffee Cup, you use it away from the internet, and then you upload the end result to the internet. The WYSIWYG feature is just like using any simple piece of software that you already know how to use, like word processing software. If you can move and click a mouse and you can also type, then this could be the perfect solution for you, although at a small financial cost.
This is a software program that I used many times in the past, but in this day and age might be considered a bit dated. It is basically the freeware version of CoffeeCup, and as it’s freeware it doesn’t get updated very often. This makes it easy to see why I say it has become a bit dated.
In spite of it’s age, KompoZer is still a solid program that fulfills its’ required purpose. It’s a bit more buggy than CoffeeCup and this is due to the lack of updates, but if money is an issue and you are looking for a way to build a website offline to put online later, then KompoZer could be just the right piece of kit for you. It has almost all of the functionality of Coffee Cup minus a bit, and of course it has the WYSIWYG option for beginners and a raw HTML editor for a more advanced user. If free is your thing for the project you are working on, then KompoZer might just suit your needs. I personally would only use it for non-enterprise projects now though, because options such as WordPress are far superior.
To finish off this article, I should just really leave you with this: Each person and their individual HTML skill level and website-type preference, will require different software to build their websites. Hopefully the information provided on this website has given you some idea of which software you should use for your own needs. For my needs as an advanced user I prefer something like Kompozer that will allow me to work with a template that I can edit significantly, or if I have the time, just built myself from scratch. That’s what I did most recently, but I understand that not all people have the time or maybe the skill to do that. I was in the same situation in the past. My coding skills were average at the time and I was having relationship trouble at the time. I just couldn’t grasp how to get my girl back and it was really affecting my work as I’m sure you can imagine. So I just used a simpler solution (wordpress I believe). But after that episode passed I got my work ethic back and increased my skills with html and css to a point where it became easy to code out an entire site, theme and all, to where I could just use a basic html editor and build from scratch.
Thanks for visiting, hope you found this informational!