OCTET

Oberlin Center for Technologically Enhanced Teaching

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How to build a website

There are many tools where you can build a website online with no coding involved. While the options are similar products, there are key differences that need to be explained for you to choose the tool that best fits your needs.

If you want guidance in creating your own website for personal use or a project, visit the OCTET office in King 125 during the Student Tech Assistant’s work hours and we will be happy to help! Hours are listed on the About Us page in the Who We Are section.

Google sites – Great basic tool that is completely free. It functions similarly to other google products in that it is easily sharable with other users to edit or make suggestions. There is not a good selection of templates, but the tool is easy to use and a great choice for a free, basic site or a space to collaborate with friends and colleagues.

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Google sites is perfect for building a portfolio, or for a project that needs to be easily shared and edited by colleagues. It is not for a flashy personal or promotional site. Google sites is also great for designing your own template and linking together other google products to increase productivity. This tool is designed around cooperation, users can subscribe to site changes, upload and share files, post announcements and more. The builder also lets you edit some of the HTML codes.

Squarespace – Paid service that has many powerful website creating tools, including sharing ownership, management, and moderation. Powerful store integration, as well as blog, publicity, and general tools for businesses, personal portfolios, and social forums.

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If you want to try Squarespace out, there are plenty of free trials to choose from. The biggest strength of Squarespace is its selection of themes and layouts. Squarespace has by far the best style and options for creating your own personalized website. It also may be the best tool for building a stylish personal portfolio. The other place Squarespace shines is for business. With the premium service Squarespace offers high quality services for managing your storefront, user data, and other metrics that come in handy when running your online business.

Wix – Drag and drop interface for personal use. Has storefront options and designed to be very user friendly and accessible to beginners. Limited functionality and much of the tools are behind a pay wall. Freemium service that can be utilized for free but to access the full potential you need to buy one of the four paid plans. Great mobile view editor.

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Wix has many drag and drop tools that can be pretty powerful. The builder allows for plenty of flexibility and creativity, for example, setting a video as the background. Another strong feature is that the mobile friendly editor is independent of the desktop view, so you can add or remove elements to keep the experience smooth. This feature is great for increasing your search potential on Google, which now looks for how mobile friendly a site is. Wix is a great tool overall but it should be mentioned that while using it I had a few lag problems where the site would become unresponsive and not register internet connectivity. Since the page must be saved manually, if this problem occurs you will lost progress if you don’t save frequently.There are many similar bugs with the service, and without those bugs it would be my favorite service on this list.

Author’s Choice:
Weebly
–  Cross between the functionality of Squarespace, the freedom of Wix, and a touch of the collaboration of Google Sites. Templates are sleek and designed to be modern and mobile friendly, the widgets and tools used to build the site are mostly drag and drop, as well as fairly customizable. The mobile view is heavily dependent on the theme you choose, and there are limited options to editing it outside of how the page is built in desktop view.

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This is my top recommendation as a great webiste builder that has strong free features, is easy to use, and pays attention to functionality and detail. Using the builder is always a fast and smooth experience, and the building blocks are well organized. Creating a website with Weebly was the most intuitive experience out of the options on this list. There is some freedom that is offered by Wix that is unavailable with Weebly, such as placing a video as your background or the limited header and menu customization, but the power of the store options and integration of social features makes up for it. The site has many powerful tools to utilize, similar to Squarespace, including blog functionality, forums, and more. It also allows you to set up editors and bloggers for the site to create a network of administrators and content creators.

WordPress – Great for creating blogs and professional sites. Requires coding and add-ons if you want to access its full potential, but otherwise straightforward to use.

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Wordpress is a powerful tool that has been around for the longest. Because of this there are plenty of powerful plugins and add ons that make this service a powerhouse. To access the main functionality a paid plan is necessary. This is the most in depth tool in that it has the most feature packed interface, but also requires coding to reach its full potential. It is possible to create a great site with powerful tools and a solid theme without coding though, as long as you use the plugins well. This website is built on WordPress.

Faculty can also request the use of WordPress instance where the materials are all retained on an oncampus server.  To go this route, contact octet@oberlin.edu.

Webpgr – Cool website building tool that navigates similar to a powerpoint or prezi presentation. It is still in beta so there aren’t fleshed out tools to develop a full website, but interesting nonetheless.

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Webpgr is great if you want to create a visual and animated portfolio or presentation. This tool is great for simple content that is intended to show or spread a message to an audience. Publicity would be a great use for this tool. Anything more fleshed out, like a full website is not currently possible with this tool because of its limited functionality and testing faze. It is still an interesting tool and is worth a try.