Rohan wants to make a website for himself where he wants to show-off his writing skills. In short, he wants to be a blogger. He asked me how he could easily develop a website without knowing programming. Rohan is not alone. A lot of people (non-programmers) ask this question whether it is possible to make a website and then maintain it without having any knowledge of coding.
I told Rohan that nowadays there are several ready-made platforms for quickly developing a professional looking website. Gone are the days when web development was a territory only for geeks. Especially for bloggers, there are plenty of free blogging platforms.
Let me explain a few options with which you can make a website or a blog with minimal efforts.
First of all, you should know the basic steps of building a website. You would need to have a domain name and web hosting package. In case you don't want to host the website on your own, you can opt for a free blogging service to start your website.
Once you've completed these basic steps, then you will need to select a suitable platform for your website.
WordPress is not just a blogging website. It is, in fact, a comprehensive platform for developing PHP based database driven websites. You can download WordPress and start building your website on it. Instead of creating posts (as bloggers do) you can create pages for your website. WordPress is highly customizable and loads of plug-ins are available to provide a variety of facilities on your webpages. By selecting a good WordPress theme you can change the entire look-and-feel of your website in a jiffy.
If you want to create a website where a community of users collaborate to develop the content, then MediaWiki is suitable for you. Of course, there are other Wiki platforms available as well. But MediaWiki is arguably the best among the lot. I personally use MediaWiki to host large websites.
NOTE: If you don't want to host a MediaWiki site and just want a free one, then you should head to Wikia.com service. They provide a MediaWiki based website free of cost (just like WordPress.com provides)
MediaWiki is the platform that runs Wikipedia. You can download MediaWiki and set it up (it doesn't take more than 10 minutes) and your website is ready!… Just like WordPress, MediaWiki is also highly customizable and you can give your website a look of your choice (meaning you are not bound to have a the Wikipedia-like interface). Not many MediaWiki themes are available but you can design your own if you know HTML, CSS and PHP.
MediaWiki is a heavy and complex platform. For big MediaWike based websites, you'll need powerful server. I have written a few articles about common issues pertaining to MediaWiki websites (like upgrading MediaWiki and enhancing MediaWiki performance)
This option is for those who have some knowledge of PHP and MySQL. Programming environment is the first thing you need to build a website from scratch. XAMPP is the easiest way of setting up this environment.
XAMPP is a package of software which are used in LAMP platform. Download XAMPP from ApacheFriends website. This package quickly installs on PHP, Apache HTTP Server and MySQL your Windows, Linux or Apple Mac computer in a flash. You can also choose to install FileZilla (an FTP client) and Mercury (a Mail Transport System) among other software. XAMPP will setup the whole server environment on your Windows computer within minutes.
Now that the programming environment is set on your computer, you can begin coding with PHP.
So, these are various options for easily making a new website. You can opt for free services or you may want to created a self-hosted website. Some websites are single-user (like a blog). Some of them are collaborative in nature where thousands of users work together to develop content. First you sit down and plan what exactly you want from your website. Making a website is easy but making a good and useful website takes planning and hardwork.
Do let me know if you face any problem in creating your website. I will try to answer your queries. All the best!