No. You don’t need a website

Posted on June 1, 2011


web geek (unix creator)

Well you certainly don’t need to pay for one. I cringe when I hear people saying that they’re paying someone or a techie friend of theirs is building them a website soon which will be useful for their enterprise, band, project, life etc – if they ever finish it.

I went through the website alternatives process before starting this blog a little while ago. I was seriously considering using the live local site but in the end I wanted a bit more flexibility and I’m very glad I went with wordpress. The first theme I had was the classic blog look with all the post scrawling down the page in full, with the typical poor navigation. Eventually I took the leap towards this current theme which looked way too flashy for my liking at the time but I was well into the magazine style layout on the front page so that people stumbling across it for the first time don’t just read this whole rant about websites but maybe they could look at a community garden story, some cargo bike reviews or listen to an audio piece on a men’s shed. Sorry, that was a very long sentence. *breathes* ahhh.

I doubt many people are fully aware that having ‘your own’ website means:

  • You have digital real estate in the form of a domain name which comes knocking annually for $10, 20, 50 more? and if you don’t get the renew email you  might just find you’ve lost your domain name, possibly forever ! Countless friends have had stress over this. Don’t let it happen to you!
  • You have to pay a server company to host your site, this is according to how complex the site is and how many people access it. This tends to fluctuate and your server host generally won’t.
  • Unless your web dude has setup a Content Managment System you probably need to be a web geek yourself or at least very tech savvy to ever have a hope of updating it
  • Stale, old and non-updated websites look baaaaad. (I say this full well knowing that I have considerable black outs from updating this place, ahh “Do as i Say…”)
  • ummm, I’ll think of another one soon enough. Just heckle below.

Alternatives for your own site:

Live local, Permaculture Global, Wiser Earth, Aussies Living Simply are all alternatives to having your own simliar  simple/frugal/eco/permi blog. They might even be better for you because of the communities which are formed within each little directory group.

Instead of starting a travel blog, have a look around at sites which are built specifically for that, ive seen ones like My Trip Journal/Book, etc. They have alot of specific tools which suit traveling and staying in touch with folks eg: progress maps and itineraries which will prob be more efficient than setting up a blog from scratch for travel writing.

Website alternatives for Musos include Reverbnation or tools like soundcloud. Between them you could have everything you need to promote your music, tour dates, recording etc. If you have finished recordings to plug then Bandcamp is the clear independent alternative to AppleMacs force: iTunes, and it’s making its own little waves in the music industry.

Of course, im a big advocate of blogs since they are so flexible. Also, whilst im not thoroughly researched on this, the word-of-mouth vibe on their ethics/values is solid. We met some of the founders when tech-ing on a conference for them in Sydney – they were pretty solid decent web nerd characters. I say this in contrast to the bigger badder brother which is blogger, aka blogspot which google owns. Not fantastic for privacy or ethics I might suggest. They tend to be quite inflexible with the themes & layout (traditional blog scrawl) but more flexible with plugins eg: intense debate, link within etc which do not play nice with wordpress – and with all of this im talking about not .org, the difference is defined here for those keen folks yet to know.

Mum’s Music Site (case study/story): Take for example this workflow, my mother is a singer/teacher/performer and recently recorded an album.
Phase one was getting a blog site up which basically looks like a website, tabs, pages and all. Only the home page features the blog style reverse-chronological posts. We also looked around for online directories and posted her details on Music Teachers Online . A free alternative to a previous directory which she paid to be on, which is stuck in the web design dark ages of the 90’s. Things like myspace and reverbnation weren’t really relevant because she also wanted to promote these teaching aspects with extended blurbs. It’s here at Zero setup costs and a quick, easy roll out made it a breeze for me to do. Now getting Mum to come up with content was another story 😉 we got there soon enough.

Phase two was getting some sound on there, also, relatively easy. Upload the recordings to SoundCloud then embed their player into the wordpress pages. Bingo! we had a setup which would save alot of time explaining about the teaching styles and the music performed and people could listen to performance samples straigh off the page and even download them to show to friends offline (mp3 players and the like). This provided a real alternative to a physical trip which people would make out to the studio to hear Mum perform her tunes for them individually. Very useful.

Phase Three was, once the album was all finished and ready, to get it out there! I know nothing better than Bandcamp for this, they are the shining light for musos as far as im concerned. So once that was all slowly uploaded at full quality the bandcamp wigdets also play nicely with the wordpress site so it’s all one happy family. As well as nailing digital downloads, the lovely BC folks also cater for physical units so our relatives and friends around the world could have a decent choice for how they would like Check out the bandcamp side of things here.  By the way there is a 15% profitshare involved with the Bandcamp sales which sounds fair enough to me. Theres a whole van load of good reasons to check out there model, so I won’t rave anymore here. Apart from putting a litte widget here to demonstrate, one of about 7 which you can customise alot:

Pretty pro hey? Overall I reckon a nice tidy solution – and that’s just one example. Theres loads of free tools which you can assemble to suit your needs, perhaps just a simple directory site is all you need, perhaps a slightly complex arrangement like this one. Good luck with it whatever the project. Feel free to bug me for more info below..

*update: hey – just as i was saying this is a negative point for (non-social network comment plug in) – theyve just gone ahead and rolled it out. cheers wordpress folks – keep rolling out the good stuff!