When you want to put up your own
website, how free can a freebie be?
By Brian O’Heir
Let’s face it, if you Google yourself and find only hits for other people who
have the same name, you’re not gonna get that special feeling — that feeling
of purpose, place, and accomplishment in society.
I wanted to be a search-engine somebody, with
my own personal website to represent me. Also,
I wanted to share events and photos with friends and
relatives. And naturally, I didn’t want to pay for it!
Initially I searched for “free websites,” but the
ones I found were hardly free. Intuit is free for
1 month, and $5 per month thereafter. Microsoft
is free for 1 year, but then you pay even more. The
Yahoo! Geocities Page has the word “free” all over
it, but nothing can be done without paying money.
Freewebs.com is genuinely free, but is ad-support-ed, and really slow, and it crashed my browser. That
kind of “free” costs too much.
One genuinely free option is Google Page Creator.
It’s a Google Labs beta product, which may not
work perfectly and may change as refinements are
added. Probably the basic version will remain free
when more powerful versions become available
Currently, each Page Creator account allows you
three websites with a total size of up to 100MB.
Best of all, the system is extremely easy to use,
and should enable literally everyone who can use
a computer to build their own website.
1. SIGN UP
Go to pages.google.com and you’ll be asked to
give your Gmail address. If you don’t have one, click
the link at the right to create one. Your Gmail user-name will then be used to create the URL for your
home page in the format http://yourgmailname.
(You can also create and register your own URL,
and point it to your Google site, but we’ll get to
88 Make: Volume 14
2. ADD TEXT
Click “I’m ready to create my pages” and accept the
inevitable terms and conditions. You’ll now find yourself in Page Creator’s Layout Manager (Figure A). Make
up a title for your page (you can change it later) and
an optional subtitle. I used “Ball Toy” because I wanted
to promote a toy that I designed for children and cats.
Now type text in the main content section, or just
copy and paste it from another window or application.
Note the button bar, which allows you to format any
highlighted text, including the Heading button, which
lets you apply preset text formats.
3. ADD IMAGES
Click the Image button, and the Add an Image window opens. Browse and open any image file on your
hard drive, and a thumbnail of it will be added to this
window. Everything you upload accumulates here.
Next and Prev buttons navigate through groups of
eight images, with a current limit of 500 files and
maximum single file size of 10MB. Click the image
you want, and then the Add Image button, to place
the image on your page.
4. ADJUST IMAGES
When you drag an image, text will flow around it
accordingly. This feature didn’t work great and was
a bit frustrating at times, particularly if the field
contained no text. Temporarily placing some text
to buffer images helped. Selecting any image on the
page presents an Edit Image button, which opens
a window where you can change size, brightness,
contrast, and other features.