“Build a Website for Free” by Mark Bell is a good resource for those wanting to use open-source and free software to build a website. According to Bell, this open-source and free software will allow you to create fun, interesting, dynamic web pages for very little money. With this book, he shows you how and points you in the right direction. It’s written in easy to understand language, so even the novice can follow along and understand. However, it goes deep enough into topics to benefit those with a bit more experience as well. It’s a well-organized guide to building websites, if not for free, for very little money. I found it an easy read, and its organization makes it easy to go back to review the sections that will help you with your website.
For some, this book might be all they need to get up and running with a simple site. For others, additional resources will be needed to continue learning and do more. For example, there is a short chapter on the program Joomla. Those that chose that option can learn more by looking to resources that are specifically targeted to using Joomla to build websites.
There is a short introduction where Bell explains what the book is about and how to use it. The book then goes into the basics in chapter one. Again, this is for the new beginner, so some people may know some of this, but basics are always good. I think the part about planning your website first is especially important if you really want to do a good job and achieve your goals for the site. The next chapters discuss topics such as choosing a location for your site, planning your site (told you this was important), designing your site, gathering your tools (lots of sites with free tools), and moving files to and from the Internet.
The next part of the book contains chapters on website building basics such as elements of a website, using existing websites, web page services, HTML basics, working with images, working with multimedia, building a site using HTML, finding out how other sites do things, and making your site mobile. Next comes chapters on site testing and maintenance such as testing your website, promoting your website, and maintaining your website.
From there, Bell goes into how to build a blog using WordPress, building business sites with content management systems, multimedia and using Wiki. The book concludes with an appendix with a list of the most common HTML tags and another with free and open-source software sites.
This is a very good starter book. It is basic and easy to understand, regardless of your experience or knowledge of website building. If you are experienced, you most likely will want a more in-depth guide. The book is really for those who want a website, don’t know where to begin, and don’t have many funds to invest in one. If that’s you, this book is a great place to start.
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