How to Create Your Own Personal Home Exchange Web Page

ImageforCreateYourOwnWebsite2

The first question to ask yourself about having a personal web page is:  Why would you need or want one?

For home exchange purposes, the major home exchange web sites allow you to do quite a good job of presenting your home to potential exchangers.  You can put a large number of pictures in your home description and also tell about your home, your neighborhood, local attractions and activities, something about yourself, where you would like to visit and when.  In our opinion, you don’t really need your own personal web page to arrange home exchanges but if you do have one most home exchange web sites allow you to put in a link to it so potential exchangers can go to it.

But, even though you don’t have to have a personal website, still there are reasons why you might want one.  As good as they may be, the home exchange websites have limitations on what can be presented and how it can be presented.  With your own personal web page you can have unlimited pictures in larger sizes and information presented in any format you desire.   For example, you could play a slide show with captions or even use video to present your home and you can share it with family and friends and anyone else you like, not just people who happen to be members of the home exchange website.   If you want to maintain a history of your own exchanges with description and pictures of your travels, you can do that.

Another reason to consider creating a personal website is that it has become very easy to create and maintain one and you can do it at little to no cost.  You no longer have to do programming to maintain a website.  It is comparable to learning to use a sophisticated word processing system to do things like utilize templates, apply styles, and employ widgets which perform various functions for you without programming.

There are a number of websites which offer a free website. These come with limited options and, if you want to eliminate ads or have greater capabilities, you will have to pay for those.  Usually the free versions of the websites are supported by ads, which means that ads will appear on your web pages.  If you move up to a paid version, you can eliminate the ads and get more capabilities.  

Perhaps the best known website which allows you to build your own free website is WordPress.com and for good reason.  It  is widely used and offers a lot of support.  It is very customizable with over a hundred free themes or templates to use for your website.  There is an excellent blogging interface and plenty of widgets. If you want your own unique domain name you can get it when you start through WordPress.  Otherwise free, the unique domain name will cost you $17 per year.  It is a PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice for these types of websites.

Another option is to purchase inexpensive hosting services and use free wordpress software. With this option, you can build any kind of website you want. You can get the free website software from WordPress.org. This option opens the door to limitless possibilities and has an incredible support community.

For our website we decided to go the second route.  We started by getting a hosting account with Hostgator.com, which costs as little as $3.96 per month.  We also purchased this web site name for $12.95 per year.  Hostgator caters particularly to wordpress users and is set up to install wordpress with a single click of a button.  Once you have wordpress installed, you can choose one of the free templates and build your website.  There are many, many wordpress tutorials available to help you get started.

If you are creating a fairly simple website, the free themes should be more than adequate, but if you are looking to be able to have more complicated features, you may want take a look at using at using  a premium theme.  If you have a specific type of website, such as a photo gallery, you can choose a theme meant for that specific purpose.  There is a wider variety of premium themes and they are better supported than the free themes.  Developers will modify them to counter security threats or to work with newer versions of wordpress when wordpress itself is modified.  This may not be true of free themes.  A related idea is to use a paid theme which is built upon a foundation framework theme.   That way, the fundamental functions, including security, are contained in the framework and do not have to be addressed in all the themes based upon them.   The result of our research on these issues was to use a theme from Studiopress.com.  They have a good selection of themes, all of which are built upon the Genesis framework.  The framework and the theme we purchased cost $79, but once you’ve purchased the Genesis framework, additional themes only cost around $20.

There are plenty of other choices of tools for blogging or building websites that you can find by doing a search for “create a website”.   The ones we described in this blog entry are simply ones we think you would do well to consider after you decide you want to create a personal web site.