Want a great looking website but aren't sure how to get started? This page is intended to cover all the bases! If you have more information about hosting or creating a website, please add it below.

Using a Simple Template

This can be a good option if you have some basic HTML and CSS coding skills (or are willing to learn), and don't want the hassle of setting up anything fancy on your server (place you host the site). The downside is that all your updates are manual, and you are a bit more restricted in what you can do (nothing dynamic).

Once you download a template (perhaps from sites like this one), you will want to tweak the CSS and the graphics to suit your own group's identity. This can be as simple as adjusting the colours and adding your logo at the top, or as complex as changing everything (keeping just the basic layout).

You may want to use a graphical editor to work on your web pages. Try the free, open source package KompoZer (available on Linux, Mac, and Windows).

Content Management Systems

If you have more control over your server, you may want to consider a content management system, or CMS. Many CMSes are open source and free! If you can find a web-saavy volunteer to help you install the CMS, you shouldn't need them again aside from the odd support request. Once things are configured (both in terms of looks and function), you should have an administrator log-in that allows you to add news stories, for example, that will appear on the front page automatically. You can usually add forums and other permanent pages to your site.

To run the most common CMSes, you'll need web hosting space with:

  • A web programming language (such as PHP, ASP, or Java)
  • A database (such as MySQL, MS SQL, or MS Access)

(The programming language and database can be hosted on different servers but it may impact performance)

Check out Joomla! for a very user-friendly CMS, and Drupal for a more complicated but very powerful option. Both are free to download and use.