Basic web development?
January 13, 2008 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Basic web development for a non-technical user?

I have a friend with a very small business who's been asking me to create a website for him, and I just don't have time -- especially for the ongoing maintenance and changes. I can do the first steps to get the site up and running, but I want to set him up with something he can update himself.

The challenge is that he's pretty non-technical. He's okay with MS Office and basic computer functions, but he would be utterly lost if he had to deal with HTML, CSS, javascript, PHP, mysql, etc. (My preferred web-dev tool is a text editor -- write all the code by hand -- but then he would be utterly dependent on me to make changes in the future.) Dreamweaver and similar complex web-dev tools are right out. He'd love an online store, but I'd have to maintain that myself, so that's not going to happen. So we're really just talking a few decent looking pages of basic text, pictures, links, and such. I have an web hosting account on Dreamhost that I'm planning to host his site on, but that's not set in stone.

Something like MySpace (but without banner ads or the MySpace stigma) would actually be okay. Is there a site that offers business-oriented pre-fab web hosting? Free is best, but a small fee may be okay. My other option, that I'm leaning towards, is to set him up a basic site using *cough* Microsoft Word, walk him through how to update the site, etc. I know Word is lousy, but he kinda knows Word, and he's comfortable with it... Unless there's a far simpler/better GUI tool out there?

Suggestions? Remember, I'm considering using MS Word. It doesn't have to be "good"; it has to be simple.
posted by LordSludge to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Set him up with typepad. Use a pre-dev template. Easy-peasy.
posted by miss tea at 2:13 PM on January 13, 2008

Google Pages! It even includes hosting!
posted by cdmwebs at 2:24 PM on January 13, 2008

How about Joomla or a similar CMS?
posted by Funky Claude at 2:26 PM on January 13, 2008

Yeah, Typepad. Or Wordpress. Even if he doesn't need/want the blogging function, it works fine for static pages. There's a buttload of themes for it. And it's not that intimidating—my mom managed to post to a WP blog I set up for her, and she's very non-technical. WP has a WYSIWYG-ish text-entry box and everything.

WP is free, but he'd still need to pay for hosting (or piggyback on your account or something).
posted by adamrice at 2:26 PM on January 13, 2008

Seconding Google Pages.

Self-hosted blogging software is probably going to be too complicated for him, and will require your continued maintenance (patches, updates, etc) to keep it secure.
posted by toomuchpete at 2:40 PM on January 13, 2008

Was going to third Google Pages until I noticed the 'online store' part. Is this just an online presence, or does he actually need shopping cart features?
posted by hungrysquirrels at 2:47 PM on January 13, 2008

Weebly looks pretty to be a pretty straightforward WYSIWYG online web editor, so maybe that'd be worth a try. The results looks quite nice, and it'd be easy for your friend to make changes later.

Also, it supports using your own domain, which I don't think (although I may well be wrong) Google Pages lets you do without going down the Google Apps for Your Domain road, which would probably add unnecessary complications. Having a top-level domain would look a lot better for your friend's business than

I think we all know that there's no need to go down the Microsoft Word road on this one.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 2:48 PM on January 13, 2008

Get an account at All the joys of wordpress without having to host it.
posted by media_itoku at 3:20 PM on January 13, 2008

Response by poster: Dreamhost has Wordpress, and I see there's even a Wordpress for Dummies book -- and he's a big fan of instructional books. I'm installing and checking it out now. Thanks for the suggestions; keep 'em coming!

hungrysquirrels, I actually have an online store shopping cart thingy (zencart) installed-but-not-setup on my Dreamhost account, but the whole thing stalled out when I needed a couple hundred bucks for the SSL certificate. Until and unless the site really takes off, I'm not gonna worry about the store aspect.
posted by LordSludge at 5:22 PM on January 13, 2008

If you want a GUI tool, Adobe Contribute is the lightweight, more user-friendly, version of Dreamweaver. It can also act as a blogging client.
posted by Remy at 5:31 PM on January 13, 2008

If he can use Word he can use FrontPage. Isn't that included in MS Office? If you don't have it, then I nth Google Pages. Free, no ads, and super easy.
posted by exhilaration at 8:25 PM on January 13, 2008

« Older What games are set in Los Angeles?   |   Make my '65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue Sing Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.