Some of my recent posts and ramblings.

Building and hosting a free website

This is about a fun and very enlightening experience I had building the website for DC Diaper Bank, a non-profit organization that collects baby diapers for needy families in the Washington DC metro area.  The existing site was built on Blogger and it was mapped to their domain. It worked pretty well and there were no hosting charges, etc but the site itself had a very dated look and it was like a static website with 7 pages. The new version of the site was to have a redesigned interface, accept donations, allow mailing list sign ups and have a photo gallery. It was a tall order, since all of them needed to be as affordable as possible. But as I started building it out, it was surprisingly very easy. Blogger has incredible theme customizing capability, you can remove all the references of Blogger if you want to. And most premium service providers have pretty generous free plans.

So here is how it breaks out

  1. Blogger to host the website and customize the heck out of the HTML and CSS
  2. Picasa to host all the images
  3. Dropbox to host javascript libraries which are not already on Google CDN
  4. MailChimp for the mailing list sign up box

I needed Dropbox to host the Shadowbox lightbox plugin, just place the javascript file in the public folder and use the URL it gives. Mailchimp free plan allows 2000 members, non-profits get some more.
Take a look at the website here

Its a complete website with mailing list sign ups, donations, a superb photo gallery with a very robust CMS hosted by  Google and its completely free. This is more than enough for the small business or a local restaurant, wonder how much they are charged out there.
I know I’m sensationalizing a bit here since for any software project, most of the costs are for the requirements gathering, design and development, but the hosting costs and other services become significant over a period of time.

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