PalmBeach Daily News - Create a Website

Computer America: Create a Web Site Without Buying Software

SpinSite has everything you need to create your own site and easily steps you through the process

By Craig Crossman, Special to the Daily News

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Even if your business is located on the highly prestigious Worth Avenue, trying to run a new consumer-orientated company in this highly competitive world without a Web site would be like trying to run a business without a listing in the Yellow Pages.

In fact, I'd say it comes closer to trying to run a consumer-orientated business without a Yellow Pages ad, no telephones, no mailing address and no advertising anywhere to promote your business. An Internet Web site in many ways rolls all of these basic methods of communication into one very necessary window of access through which your potential customers can see.

The bottom line is that today, most any business – and especially any new business – that offers consumer products and services really needs to have some kind of online presence to let everyone know that it exists. Going online will also help it to compete with others in case the business is something that's not unique in all the world, and in many other ways, an effective Web site will generally help a business to more quickly become a successful venture.

Once you've made the decision to create a Web site, the next question is how to go about doing it. As with anything as complex as the Internet, there are many solutions that come with varying degrees of cost, lengths of time to be invested in such a venture and requirements of expertise.

Until recently, you had two choices. You could either hire a company or individual to develop one for you, or you could do it yourself. The former could literally cost you hundreds, even thousands of dollars. The latter could literally cost hundreds, even thousands of hours of learning how to program in HTML. And you would still be faced with the expense of having to buy special development software such as Macromedia's Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage, plus finding and paying for a service to host your Web site.

And while there are a number of applications out there that you can purchase that will let you create a Web site without having to know HTML programming, I'd like to tell you about another alternative that lets you create, design and publish an original Web site for your business without having to buy any software.

Ironically enough, the product that helps you develop a Web site is, itself, a Web site. SpinSite is a service you access using an ordinary Web browser. After logging on to your account's development page, you begin to create and design each Web page, deciding where to place graphics and text. The company calls SpinSite a "Web page designer" and not a series of Web site templates. The system lets you chose from a large selection of themes to get you on the way. But you can modify, add and delete just about anything you want.

You can literally paint the screen as you add columns, rows, text, images and links. Threaded newsgroups and special Web pages such as a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page and discussion forum pages are literally a few clicks away from creation.

Many other important elements can be created, such as requiring users to log in so they can contribute to your site in specific ways – logging in, for instance, before they can post a public message.

And as time passes and you become more proficient, SpinSite even allows you to go under the hood to tweak and enhance your Web site using HTML. Because you don't need any development software, you can literally change or edit your Web site from any computer with Internet access and a browser.

A more recent addition to SpinSite is the ability to create an online store with inventory management that is integrated with PayPal's shopping cart. Currently, SpinSite does not offer a facility to accept credit cards.

After you create your Web site, SpinSite offers two performance packages. The Express package includes three months of hosting your Web site, Instant Setup that lets you go online in a few minutes, two e-mail accounts, 25 megabytes of document and image storage space and five Web pages for $49.

The Platinum package ups the storage to 50 megabytes, five e-mail accounts, 50 Web site pages and adds several other features for $99. Check the company's Web site for more details.

I'm not saying that SpinSite is right for everyone. But it does offer an alternative to creating and hosting a Web site. Having a server-based setup like the one offered by SpinSite offers a number of advantages over the more traditional methods of Web site creation and collaboration.

For details, visit www.spinsite.com.