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I'd like to hear any recommendations, please, for simple website software that you have used, preferably where you had little or no previous web experience and found the product easy to use.

I was an IT professional in my previous life (!), so it may sound odd to be asking this, but the fact is that I've only ever used expensive professional products in my job and these are often too complicated and in any case too expensive (to use legally!!), and have too many facilities for a beginner. I'm sure that new free/cheaper stuff must have appeared since I retired 7 years ago. I've done a quick Google search and there's a lot of stuff out there but it would take too long to evaluate them all. I'm looking for a shortcut.

The requirement is for a friend in our village (French, but language wouldn't be an issue) who is building a site for the "conseil municipal", so he needs a site which he can update easily with about half a dozen pages to cover the mairie, enterprises, manifestations, etc, and the capability to include photos. I can teach him the basics but I haven't got time for ongoing support.

I've already registered the domain for him, which was tedious (getting approval for www.village_name.fr from AFNIC), and I have webspace ready. The hosting company has a very simple web-builder but it is too restrictive, with only a few fixed templates which don't fit the need here.

Here's hoping!

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 I have used these people ; http://free.20m.com/

 

I created a club site years ago using them .many pages  with photos etc ... My club has a mobile home designed for the use of disabled people on a Haven  park and we also show the availability and do the booking applications from the site  . I have experienced  no problems using them . Site was created in 1995  

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Thank you, 3 suggestions so far:

Serif WebPlus is now on version 5 and there is a cutdown version WebPlus Essentials which could be good for a beginner. I think this looks promising and I'll do more research on this one.

Joomla: I'm not sure about thi one, RH; but I really want something that you have actually used.

20M appears to be bundled with their hosting and I'd rather keep hosting separate if possible. 

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Wordpress is the way to go. Very easy to use and perfect for someone who doesn't know much about web design. Thousands of themes to choose from and you make posts as easy as on here.

If you use http://www.bluehost.com/ to host your site, you'll get your domain name free for a year and wordpress is automatically activated on your account.

My site in my signature was done using this method. Didn't take very long to set up at all.
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Hi CdL, I Googled Wordpress... is it free? There doesn't appear to be a price mentioned. EDIT Apprently it's FREE!!

Your own website has the features we'd be interested in, and I see that there is a French version of the software too, which would be even better!

I don't need hosting or domain names, that's already done.

I have some more evaluation to do then!

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I have to agree with Mr Cœur de Lion, wordpress is the way to go,you can use the standard themes and adapt to suit or you can buy, very cheaply, loads of themes to work from. And yes it it free, it is however open source, so be aware that there are regular updates going on, some of which can, but not always, break what you have in place, you need to be mindful of that, not a major issue, but things like security updates need to be done as with any website.

Even I can use it  www.ihro.org.uk

Have fun

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Hi Sid,

I use the professional version of NetObjects Fusion but they offer a free version HERE  Simple WYSIWYG software easy to use and produces a good website.  You create the site on your PC not online, then publish to your web hosting account.  THIS is an example.  Your hosting account doesn't have to be in France by the way.

 

Regard

 

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I like the Serif products.... I don't like the Serif sales force, I'm fed up with calls asking me to do the free evaluation.  Them "What have you got to loose" Me "What I've already got is quite sufficient" Them "Hold on a moment, (pause) Oh Steve has just said that you can have an extra discount" Me "Still don't want it" (That's teh shortened version). Usually at least 10 minutes that I'll never get back.

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I use Serif, now on X5, and am very pleased with it. Excellent instruction manual and quite logical in how you build in the site. Admittedly haven't used anything else, so can't say how it compares, but I started a website from scratch with this software and now - several websites on - feel quite confident with it. So recommended. And, yes, the sales force can be a pain ..
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If the situation is that you want to set up the site such that OTHER PEOPLE with no technical skills can add material (articles, pictures etc) to it without you having to be involved or intervene, but where they can't screw up the basic system, then you probably want a "content management system" (CMS). Both Joomla and WordPress do that.

Also you will want to have a system where when people forget their passwords they can get them reset automatically otherwise you are going to be forever messing around with admin tasks long after you have better things to do with your time.

After spending a fair amount of time wrestling with this myself and testing various open source (i.e. free) CMS I went with Drupal 7 which meets that requirement (e.g. the password reset is built in to your basic site). It can look a bit daunting but is actually very easy to get a basic site running, it comes instantly installed with many low cost hosting services (as do Joomla, Wordpress etc) .

The trick is going to be to not saddle yourself with being the only person who can do anything at all on the public site. That gets to be a real pain if the site is successful, as then you can't get out without making big changes to the underlying system. That is a problem with many "conventional" website programmes which seem really to need a single "master administrator" - I know, I've been caught out like that myself.

Steve.
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The Sunday Times (23.10.2011) had a test of 6 website builders for those of us with little knowledge.

The list in order of value, i.e. cost v. appearance was:

basekit.com @ £4.50 to £6.00 per month

mrsite.com @ £15 per month

moonfruit.com @ £7.20 per month

1and1.co.uk @ £9.90 per month

fasthosts.co.uk @ £5.39 per month

Apparently basekit gives very professional results and lets you build a 10-page site with 1GB storage. The tester says they knocked up a good home page in about 2 hours.

It sounds about my level !
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[quote user="Steve Last"]If the situation is that you want to set up the site such that OTHER PEOPLE with no technical skills can add material..... [edited] .... . The trick is going to be to not saddle yourself with being the only person who can do anything at all on the public site.  Steve.[/quote]

Steve, you've hit the nail on the head!

I've got tied up with something else at the moment so still haven't set-up Wordpress for a trial, but that's looking favourite from what I've gleaned so far. There is also a French language version which will be a big help. I'll report back when I've had a go.

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Then I'm pretty sure you need a CMS rather than any of the systems that come as "instant websites" with some of the hosting companies, WordPress will probably do it for you. A year ago it was definitely more suitable for individual bloggers but I believe it has been expanded. Drupal 6 had a dreadful image as being unfriendly to beginners but is very powerful and Drupal 7 is far more accessible which is why I went for that. Good luck!
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You may also want to bear in mind that it is strongly advisable to optimise your web site for mobile use. Wordpress has a plug in that can automatically format your site for mobile users.

Within the next year (if not already), the majority of internet access use will be via smartphones, tablet pcs or even ebook readers. So if you're not set up for this, you could lose out on a lot of traffic.
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