Calissa Leigh wrote:
WordPress and other freebies can look just as professional for a indie game maker who simply wants to have fun and make the type of games they enjoy. It will also save you lots of time and headaches. You can get away with having a Blogger blog or even a Tumblr account.
The biggest problem I see with free blogging platforms, is that you don't own them. What if you get banned from Wordpress.com (guilty or not)? They won't give you time to save your content or even explain why they took your site down. If Wordpress.com, Tumblr or one of the bigger blogging providers decides to discontinue their service, it is highly unlikely, they would not give you time to move the site. However you will lose all the traffic from every backlink ever created, by you or your fans. You will also lose all the traffic from Google and most pages on your new site, will no longer show in Google - because your content was likely copied elsewhere on the web, Google will now see your own content as duplicate. I don't think that any free blogging platform allows 301 redirects, which would allow you to move the site, without losing all your traffic and indexing in Google.
Calissa Leigh wrote:
Running your own website is not so simple. There's coding and updating and the potential for trouble. My own personal website has been hacked several times over the last few years, most recently hackers were placing malware onto my scripts and getting me in trouble with Google and my own hosting. It took several weeks to fix it.
Google Webmaster Tools has an option to check your site for malware (I don't know if it's any good at it). Wordpress installations also get hacked very often, because people don't update them often enough. A security fix in a new version means, that the hackers now know about the security hole in the old version. Custom CMS is much safer in this respect, because it's not as known as already made platforms and doesn't have open source code.
Calissa Leigh wrote:
This is not to say you will have the same trouble. Mileage will vary.
Well, you need to consider, you started all this when there weren't so many tools available or at least they weren't so mature. Things are a lot easier these days. Kids today just don't know how good they have it...
A good host can also mean a huge difference. A friend of mine got a pleasant surprise for a change, after he accidentally deleted his site. The hosting company support told him they do daily backups and just restored his site.
Calissa Leigh wrote:
That all said, when I look at a website hosting company, especially a free one, I usually have a few questions:
Stability: What's the likelihood this company will go down in a year (or less?) and will I be notified and be allowed to move files when needed? If someone else is paying the bill, and they happen to forget, your website may be affected.
Requirements: Am I going to be required to display someone else's ads? This is usually the case with freebie hosting companies, so I look at current websites to see how intrusive this might be on the website.
Ease of use and security: Am I able to access a CPanel that isn't networked to files that everyone else owns? (So I don't screw up files by anyone else?) Are security features updated regularly? I used to have problems with hosting companies (that I've paid a lot of money for) who would have my server down for a day at a time every couple of weeks. That's pretty bad when you're running a business.
Hope this helps.
I sure wasted a lot of time with various free hosts. The problem was, that they either went down or started placing ads. Checking current websites won't really help. A lot of them place ads only on high traffic sites. A lot of them start with no ads for the first few months and add them later. Searching for a free host, that supports PHP and MySQL takes a lot of time in the first place and then you need to find a new one once or twice a year and move everything.
I don't think it would be econonomical to run a free hosting service with no monetization. Stability and advertising are always going to be a problem.
However, in a small VN circle like this, I think a free hosting service could be provided for anyone who needs it. With the "free hosting project", hosting is provided on reliable hosts, like Hostgator and GoDaddy. With "unlimited domains" packages, adding another website means no extra cost. If there will be enough interest, we could schedule automatic backups, from one server to another. With such redundancy and a few people sharing their hosting, even if one of the servers would be taken out, the websites could be restored from backups and continue running on another server. This would resolve the issues of stability and ads, while providing top hosting services for free.
Some themes for Wordpress are highly customizable from the backend.
These 3 websites are all using the same theme - Thesis, customized without CSS or HTML knowledge.
Thesis theme costs around $90, but there are free themes available, with almost as much customizability.
You can also get a fairly unique design, if you look for it on the web. Wordpress has only a couple of 1000 or so themes available directly from administration. However most themes are not in Wordpress'es themme database.
If you find a theme somewhere on the web, it is going to be used much less, than the ones available with one click. Often site with themes list downloads, so you can check if it has been used much.
Here's a preview of a HTML template I made - http://www.visualnovelenglish.com/VNtemplate/
It still needs a bit more work (and testing). I'll make a simpler version too. It should be very easy to edit with or without HTML/CSS skills.
I can help make a website design for you, but it seems like you have one already that uses a CMS (Content Management System, basically the commenting system for your site).
I'm good with static HTML and CSS3. I would recommend using Wordpress if you're not too willing to mess with HTML.
Even if I did make a design for you, if you didn't know how to edit it, it's not too good for you.
Do you have a MySQL database with your host? If you do, I can help you set up Wordpress. If you don't, there might be other options...
We could make a few templates with a few different layouts and color schemes. People can just replace the placeholder text and images or expand it if they want and know how to.