Help me build a website
August 7, 2010 6:14 AM   Subscribe

MrsMoonPie wants to gay marry you, too! But, she needs a website, first.

Like my husband MrMoonPie, I, too, am registered as a civil wedding officiant in D.C. I have done about 15 weddings, so far. They have been primarly, but not exclusively, same-sex couples.

I want to create a website for my small, but growing, business so that other couples who are looking for an officiant can find me. I'm not very technically inclined, but MrMoonPie tells me that I have hosting and a domain. He also tells me that I'm not looking for a big CMS.

He will be able to provide me with some technical guidance. But, I'd like to be able to handle some of it on my own. Wordpress seems overly technical for me to use and a bit overkill for the kind of site that I'd like to create. Is Dreamweaver my best bet? Something else?
posted by eviltiff to Technology (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Dreamweaver isn't a CMS, so I'm not sure how much help it would be. Maybe something like Squarespace would be an option?

I'd consider giving Wordpress another look - there are a ton of templates out there, so if you found one pretty similar to the look you want, it wouldn't be much work to adjust it to your liking.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:21 AM on August 7, 2010

You have a domain and hosting, so it seems like what you need is a simple HTML template that you can fill in with your information. There are tons of them out there - my own wedding website template came from here, with a few tweaks. HTML and CSS aren't that hard to tweak, in the scheme of things - there are lots of resources like w3schoool.

This won't get you anything fancy with flash or forms - for that you'd probably have to hire a web designer.
posted by muddgirl at 7:06 AM on August 7, 2010

I don't know why I included "forms" at the end of the comment - I think I got carried away with the alliteration...
posted by muddgirl at 7:07 AM on August 7, 2010

eviltiff: Wordpress seems overly technical for me to use and a bit overkill for the kind of site that I'd like to create.

Word Press is not overkill. A Word Press theme like this, this or this is very simple and informative and for it's graphics, relies entirely on photographs, if any. (I'm sort of assuming that from these 15 weddings, four or five people won't mind you using a photo!)
posted by DarlingBri at 7:20 AM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Wordpress is perfect for what you want to do, a CMS that puts you in control of how small or large the site is, whether it displays as a blog format or not. For example, start off with a one or two page "brochure" site that lets people find you and that you can point people to; grow to include options as you need them.

There are some excellent resources out there to learn Wordpress from scratch, for example Killer Sites or Digging into Wordpress (the $27 book is really good).

But you can of course as muddgirl suggests, start off with a (free) simple html template, transferring the css tweaking skills to Wordpress at a later stage should you want to.

Dreamweaver is an editor, you use this (or better yet a free or low cost alternative) to create html and css code that you upload to your webspace (hosting) or that becomes part of your Wordpress "theme" or directly to your website. You'll probably also need a graphics software (e.g. Gimp, Photoshop, Illustrator) to edit, reduce images and photographs.

But first I think it's best to decide the content of your site before deciding "straight code" v cms.
posted by ceri richard at 7:45 AM on August 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why not just use Wordpress? It's dead easy to set up and to manage.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:20 AM on August 7, 2010

Best answer: Weebly is another dead simple alternative (like squarespace) for making a website. This is good if you don't want the hassle of dealing with any code; you can even set up your own domain. I believe that you can transfer a current domain, or point a current domain to a weebly site; however, I can't guarantee this.

If you don't want to get into any coding, go for a template+wysiwyg editor route. Weebly is a service that combines these two things.

Wordpress provides templates and a method for filling that template with content through using a backend - a CMS. Wordpress is awesome and easy to set up. Don't be overwhelmed by all the fancy things you CAN do with Wordpress - you can make a very simple, nice looking website with it fairly simply.
posted by kellygrape at 8:40 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're on a Mac, Rapidweaver is a great fast template editor, that you can use, more or less like an offline CMS. Rapidweaver will manage your site, and ftp new files as you edit them. So in that sense its not a true CMS, but it'll do everything you want it to. It has several robust default templates, which include sub templates, like photo galleries, blogs, etc.

And for that matter, if you're on a Mac, give iWeb a look. You've probably got a demo copy installed. This is my favorite recommendation for novice web designers. It'll look nice and be dead easy to update. With iPhoto, you also don't need to worry about web-sizing photos. It's kind of impossible to screw up actually. Give it a look.
posted by fontophilic at 8:56 AM on August 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

nthing Wordpress. It's very easy to just pick a template, play around with images, and use that for a website. Really, it's likely the simplest thing that you'll find.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:42 AM on August 7, 2010

If you're looking to do something that is going to be frequently updated (i.e. new content will be added semi-regularly) then Wordpress is great, but if it seems intimidating, then as fontophilic says, iWeb is great if you're on a Mac. Otherwise why not try Google Sites? You have to have a google account, but it's very very easy to set up a simple site, it's free, and it's almost absurdly well documented. I know lots of academics who use it as a central location to make their CVs and papers available. It seems like a good choice for a site that is meant to be simple and not change a lot.
posted by tractorfeed at 11:10 AM on August 7, 2010

Best answer: Any of the simple solutions already listed will be sufficient for you! I think Wordpress is probably a better bet than Dreamweaver, which even for a couple of HTML pages is in many respects more complicated than a mini-CMS like Wordpress.

I think the most important thing, frankly, is to have a domain specifically for this. For example, when I was looking for an officiant for my same-sex wedding here in DC, I went to Google and typed in "dc wedding officiant" and the first link that came up was this. And that's who I went with! (And they were very nice, but if I'd known about you I'd have probably gone with you instead.)
posted by me & my monkey at 2:10 PM on August 7, 2010

Oh, and if you're going to go with Google Sites, get yourself a domain and set up GAFYD Standard Edition (free) with that domain.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:10 PM on August 7, 2010

Response by poster: I see that many of you recommend Wordpress. But it seems that I first have to set up a database(s) first in order to create a website. Is there a way around this? Am I looking in the wrong place?
posted by eviltiff at 10:24 AM on August 8, 2010

WordPress does require a database, yes. However, there are many hosts that offer "one click WordPress installation" so that the database creation is automated. Your host should also be able to walk you through it on the phone. Alternatively, drop me a MeMail and I'll do it for you. It really is a five minute job!
posted by DarlingBri at 10:39 AM on August 8, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for their wonderfully helpful advice! I went with the Weebly option for now. Also got a domain that I think will generate a decent amount of traffic and be easy for couples to find. On mrmoonpie's recommendation, the site is named It's still in its infant stages, so tips and pointers are appreciated. Take a look...
posted by eviltiff at 9:30 AM on August 10, 2010

Response by poster: I have started to receive email inquiries via the site. Five today!
posted by eviltiff at 5:08 PM on August 17, 2010

Neat followup--

Imagine you're a gay couple looking to get married. You understand it might be a bit difficult to find a liberal-minded officiant, but you get to work googling for a name, anyone that will do the deed. Imagine how very, very happy you'd be to find my wife's site, with that picture of us at the National Equality March right there on the home page, relieving your insecurities, knowing that this person won't be judging or discriminating against you. Imagine how happy you'd be.

Then imagine that you, yourself, were at the march, and remembered seeing that couple.

Now imagine if you, yourself, had taken a picture of the couple, and here you are, googling around for an officiant, and you find my wife's site, with a picture very similar to the one you'd taken. Imagine how happy you'd be then.

This just happened, for real. We get to make people that happy, and you helped.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2010 [3 favorites]

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