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Challenge: Build a Custom Web Presence for $50 or Less


Does your organization, event, or department need a website? Does your organization lack sophisticated web design and development skills to create a custom site?  Does your department lack a budget for creating a site?  Here’s a strategy for using really powerful tools to get a custom website up quickly (and for next to nothing).  The average college student should be able to use the following tools to create a clean, powerful, full-featured website in a day or so.

1.  WordPress.com – Free blog hosting website with built-in RSS, search, and text widgets.  Allows users with little or no web design/development experience to create pages and posts.  Many free templates allow users to customize headers, categories, tags, etc. and some incorporate social networking site posts (check out Vault 9 and Vigilance).  For $15/year, you can customize the CSS code in your WordPress theme (requires knowledge of CSS). If you purchase a custom domain name, you can point it to your WordPress blog using the Extras.

2.  Pixlr – A free, online tool that you can use to create a custom header for your site.  Just determine the required dimensions in your WordPress theme.  Pixlr is like a stripped-down version of PhotoShop, and supports layers and has many of the standard tools you would expect.

GO BEYOND A WEBSITE AND CREATE A WEB ARSENAL!

3. YouTube – Leverage YouTube by creating a free account.  YouTube gets around 91 Million U.S. viewers monthly!

4.  Twitter – Twitter is a free website that allows users to share short messages.  Twitter is viewed by over 24 Million U.S. visitors monthly.  Get a free Twitter account, use free, online tools to create a similarly branded theme as your WordPress blog, follow ONLY organizations and professionals who publish helpful, relevant information, and post ONLY ‘tweets’ that provide useful and relevant information. Tip:  Tweet links to helpful blog posts.

5. Google Docs – Create a free Google Docs. account (You will need to create a Google account if you do not already have one).  You can upload and publish any type of file.  Publishing allows you to share the published URL with the world.  Even better,  you can create forms very quickly, publish them and link directly to them. Use your imagination — create feedback forms, surveys, or registration forms, and you can even set it to e-mail you whenever someone submits your form!

6.  Delicious – Online bookmarking on steroids – Create a free delicious account and keep track of all of the useful links you might want to share with others.  Because its managed completely online, you can access your bookmarks from anywhere, group them, search them, share them, etc.  For power users, add the FireFox extension to add a website to your delicious with a single click.

Written by Gina Clifford 2/16/2010

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