How should I set up a one-page website?
April 27, 2014 3:07 PM   Subscribe

I want to have a non-gmail/slightly more professional address for my freelance work, so I'm planning to buy a domain. What companies would you recommend for a) buying a domain and b) hosting the site? I just want to have one page with a background photo, a line of text, and a link to my email. Is Squarespace worth it, since I don't know how to build the page myself?
posted by three_red_balloons to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: for domain purchase and DNS (or all of it if you want to get a little technical)

Google Apps for Business for the hosting.
posted by iamabot at 3:26 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I did all of that through Weebly, including building a website, and I have zero programming skills. I love my site and my domain and my email address at that domain.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:30 PM on April 27, 2014

We used Weebly for our work website. I've found it slightly frustrating at times, but generally fairly easy to use.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:33 PM on April 27, 2014

I also use NearlyFreeSpeech for a couple of very minimalist/business-card websites, it's very cheap. I did the HTML/CSS myself, which is not terribly hard, but you could outsource it if you're not up for learning.

I'd probably ask around and find someone who will code up the pages for a hundred bucks or something to your specifications (MeFi Jobs, maybe?) and then you'll have a static HTML site that you can tweak later and isn't tied to any particular service/host.

Definitely do not use (or let someone else use) a huge framework / Content Management System / database-backed-anything for a static business-card-replacement page, that's just asking for a maintenance headache.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:36 PM on April 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Squarespace is a very good, very easy option.

Other options, in varying degrees of cheap and easy: site with custom URL: very cheap, pretty easy, limited customisation
NFS (for hosting and/or DNS): as cheap as it gets, not easy
A Small Orange or TSOHost: pretty darn cheap, fairly easy
Site44: quite cheap, very easy
Tumblr + custom URL: very cheap, pretty easy, limited customisation

FWIW I've helped a couple of friends with their Weebly stuff and disliked it. But I am a web designer/developer, so it's really, really not for me.
posted by Magnakai at 3:39 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think Squarespace has the advantage of the templates you can get from them looking a bit slicker than most of the other places where you can get that sort of thing, although it helps if you're also willing to drop some money on some decent images to use. But it really depends how many people you think are really going to go to this website--is it just going to be there in case people type it in from your email, or are you going to be trying to drive actual traffic there?
posted by Sequence at 3:39 PM on April 27, 2014

Oh, forgot a couple more that specifically do exactly this kind of thing:
posted by Magnakai at 3:42 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

For the domain, I've been pretty happy with Namecheap (does what it says in the domain and they are not run by reprehensible people, which one cannot say of GoDaddy), and as far as hosting goes, I'm a big fan of A Small Orange.

Though if you don't know how to build the page yourself I'd suggest building it as a Tumblr site and pointing the domain there. (There are some good tutorials on how to make Tumblr behave how you want, my non-profit just moved their site from WordPress to Tumblr.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:54 PM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like Namecheap.

For a simple site, I recommend, find a theme you dig, and buy the add-ons that let you add custom css and point your domain at it.

That way you get a solid design out of the box, you can update without writing any code, they take care of version updates and beating back hackers, and if you want to make simple tweaks like color scheme you can just add a few lines of css or get someone to do it for you.

The thing about having someone code custom html (something I have done professionally for like 15 years) is that, even if they do a great job, you need to call them back to update it every time you want to make even the tiniest change. It's just not worth it. Like I said, I'm a programmer, and for my non-programming personal sites I don't write one line of code except css.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:02 PM on April 27, 2014

You can also use a custom domain with BlogSpot. BlogSpot is free, so you would only be paying for the domain name. It's more customizable than I initially realized and you can turn off comments and things like that if you just want it static. (I recently migrated all my sites to BlogSpot because I was fed up with Word Press. Two of my sites have .com domains. The rest use BlogSpot domains.)
posted by Michele in California at 4:26 PM on April 27, 2014

Squarespace is excellent and professional looking. I like that they offer custom domains with their package tiers. Definitely a good investment for me.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:44 PM on April 27, 2014

Best answer: You can actually host single pages from a single domain with Amazon S3 for literally a penny a month. No advertising or anything. Since it's just file storage and delivery, and since all you're doing is serving a file, it's really simple.

You don't FTP to S3, you use their console or something like CloudBerry to upload to it, but it's as close to free while staying entirely unbranded as possible. You'll need to use their Route 53 web route to point your domain to their S3 bucket, but that's it.

More here.
posted by disillusioned at 5:13 PM on April 27, 2014 [7 favorites]

I tested Squarespace a couple of years ago, and I liked it a lot. But it's probably overkill for your needs. Still, if you think you might eventually expand your site, maybe Squarespace would be a good choice now.
posted by alex1965 at 9:13 PM on April 27, 2014

In addition to Weebly and SquareSpace, you could check out Virb and Strikingly. And there's this NY Times article on this topic from last year.
posted by Dansaman at 10:02 PM on April 27, 2014

Pugly pixel has a tutorial on how to customise a blogger site to a static website, including removing 'blog' features and the floating blogger bar etc. If you are ok with basic HTML, it's pretty easy, and a good free option (just register the domain and point).
posted by jrobin276 at 2:51 AM on April 28, 2014

disillusioned: You can actually host single pages from a single domain with Amazon S3 for literally a penny a month. No advertising or anything.

Or you can host simple websites on your personal Dropbox account for free.
From ~/Dropbox/Public/How to use the Public folder.rtf:

The Public Folder lets you easily share single files in your Dropbox. Any file in you put in this folder gets its own Internet link so that you can share it with others-- even non-Dropbox users! These links work even if your computer’s turned off.

Step 1: Drop a file into the Public folder.

Step 2: Right-click/control-click this file, then choose Dropbox > Copy Public Link. This copies the Internet link to your file so that you can paste it somewhere else.

That's it! You can now share this file with others: just paste the link you into e-mails, instant message conversations, blogs, etc.!

And you can use redirect your registered domain to this URL for simple static web hosting. (Incidentally, Dropbox hosts on Amazon S3 if I recall correctly.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:45 PM on April 28, 2014

RedOrGreen, probably worth noting that Dropbox killed public folders for newer accounts.
posted by Magnakai at 3:39 PM on April 28, 2014

> probably worth noting that Dropbox killed public folders for newer accounts.

Ah, interesting. I think their "public links to any file or folder" model still works for this purpose, though - create a basic index.html file (copy one that you like, that's the best way to start) in a Dropbox folder "MyWebsite", generate a public link to MyWebsite, and view the public link in a web browser.

If that looks good, have the domain registration redirect to that public link: as long as the folder has an index.html file, it will work as a public-facing website backed by (indirect) Amazon S3 hosting.

OP, if you're already a Dropbox user, this is a very simple (and totally free) way to try your website hosting to start with. (I host my wife's art site this way - I set it up as a trial and never bothered to change, since she's not pulling 1 GB/day, let alone 20 GB/day. The only downside is that deeper link-clicking + "Back" reveals that it is on dropbox, not a professionally-hosted site - but for a single page, that's not an issue.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:21 AM on April 29, 2014

RedOrGreed: Sorry to keep threadsitting, but they're not public links at all. This is a simple html file that I attempted to share outside of a public folder:

You'll notice that it's a download page. There's no way to get a publicly accessible link direct to the file anymore. A shame imo.
posted by Magnakai at 12:44 AM on April 30, 2014

There's no way to get a publicly accessible link direct to the file anymore. A shame imo.

Oh wow. I had no idea that they were monetizing public folders in this way, and that I was grandfathered in. (Now there's a first...) That's a shame, and a real loss of usability.

My apologies - it looks like my suggestion won't work unless the OP was already a Dropbox user...
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:42 AM on April 30, 2014

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