Build Your Own Website

If you are looking for a do-it-yourself, online website builder, there are several excellent services to choose from. These are template-based services that allow varying degrees of customization along with hosting services for a monthly or annual fee. In most cases, you'll save a good bit by paying the annual fee.

Most, but not all, of these services offer a free trial period. Take advantage of that to build a sample site, play around with design options and familiarize yourself with their tools. Some are easier to work with than others and their approaches to design vary significantly. Some offer several options--from a bare-bones website to a premium account with e-commerce options and much more. If you know HTML and XML code, you can often add much more customization to a site. But if you don't speak those languages, don't worry: These sites were designed with you in mind. Here are some of the services worth checking out:

Big Black Bag
Visual Server
Impact Folios

When you visit their sites, spend time checking out as many of the sample sites as possible. You'll quickly get a feel for the standard design elements and organizational structure as well as how much flexibility each service offers.