Over the past dozen years or so, I’ve rated and reviewed services that allow website creation for beginners with no experience in design or knowledge of HTML. Those types of services are often based on basic generic templates with little control offered. This is really of necessity and rarely changes much due to the need to allow only the most elementary edits of basic pieces of navigation and simple editorial control of body text.
When I was asked to review DotEasy, I expected more of the same – and got that.
This is a walk-through of the process of reserving a domain and setting up a free web hosting account. The DotEasy experience or reserving a domain is straightforward and takes only as long as you take to choose your name. The domain registration has a standard search box with a dropdown for .com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, etc.
Once you choose a name and before you reach the payment page, you’ll be offered upsells to private registration, and other premium services, but can forego those and choose the standard registration rate of $25.00 per year and then you can choose the free hosting package offered through the landing page.
I received an offer of an additional gigabyte of storage if I referred them to a friend at the end of the signup process and did that so I can store photos.
You’ll receive a confirmation email and instructions to log in for the first time after the name is reserved. Login to the free website builder requires the member name and password you created while signing up and takes you to a welcome page with the expected array of options, including the ability to add some basic free elements to your new site such as hosted forms and blog.
There are domain management, email management, as well as other available free options to add into your site such as forum and guest book, along with links within the member area to premium service upgrades to include SQL databases, or extra bandwidth.
The process of creating your first website is simple if you want to jump right in to that. Launching the website creation tool that is built in to the basic free hosted plan serves up a list of categorized templates with 3 to 5 variations in template for each of the following categories:
- Fashion & Beauty
- Financial Services
- Food & Beverage
- Home & Garden
- Information Technology
- Media & Entertainment
- Vehicle & Automobile
Below is a screenshot of three “Business” category templates with variations in placement of the navigational elements and links to other pages.
I chose one of these and then clicked the button to “edit body content” which is offered beside the other options of “Edit Header” – “Edit Sidebar” and “Edit Footer” – with each of these offering up the expected options. When the page loaded for the first time, I was a bit surprised to see what looked like Microsoft’s odd flavor of markup code from Word or – for those of us around for awhile longer – from FrontPage.
The code was wrapped around the default body text for a fictional company called “ABC Advertising” as a placeholder to what you type in there. I don’t think most newbies will be entirely comfortable picking their way through that microsoft code to find the text without fear of breaking something
There was an option in the controls to insert FCKeditor under a tab called “Options” in the tool, but it didn’t seem to change anything when selected. Some options take some time to resolve onto the page, though, so maybe I didn’t give it enough time. I’ll update the post if I discover that option updated. It could be that it’s not available under the free web hosting account type. Still, I’m not sure newbies will want to wade into that code pond and may find some broken strings of stuff on their web pages if they can’t edit the text without wandering into markup code.
It’s fairly simple to set up email and a page which guides you through setting up your email client – if, that is, you use Outlook Express. No help was offered for Mac Mail or ThunderBird. There appear to be some assumptions about their potential users here, but it’s not unreasonable to assume they won’t be users of non-standard email clients.
Setting up the hosted web form was simple, following the wizard and the blog was also pretty basic. Integration instructions are not so easy though, since I couldn’t find a way to integrate the blog and hosted form into the site navigation after setting them up. Maybe that will become clear with a call to support, which I have not yet attempted. Will update on the level of service there after making the attempt later.
All things considered it is a straightforward process without major drawbacks for the beginner to launch their first website without knowing anything about website design. Free hosting makes the effort worth trying for someone who is interested in putting up their first site in a day and gives everyone the opportunity to see what being a webmaster of their own domain is like. I’ll give it three stars ????????? on a scale of 5.