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Home  \  Web Design Articles & Resources  \  How to Build a Free Website (and Why it May Be Too Costly) Part 3

How to Build a Free Website (and Why it May Be Too Costly)

(Part 3 of 3)

In Parts 1 and 2, we discussed free and low-cost web hosting accounts, domain names, and creating basic HTML websites using free “wizards” and what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) web design tools. This month, we'll look at free graphic and image editing tools to add visual pizazz to your site.

The First Rule Of Web Design

As we strive to make a site more attractive and inviting, we must remember the first rule of web design: Just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should. Any animated logos, photos, and colourful graphics should add to the functionality of your site, or at the least be consistent with the brand image of your business. Many home-made websites are busy and confusing for visitors, and do not have a clear, well-planned navigation scheme. Often, less is more.

Optimizing Your Images

For the images and graphics you do decide to use, you'll want to optimize the files in two ways: first, the image files should be scaled to the exact size they will appear on your site, and second, you'll want to compress the files to produce the smallest possible size while still maintaining the desired image quality. Considering that nearly 50% of internet users have dial-up access, reducing the time it takes for your page to load is still a primary design consideration. Fortunately, there are many free tools to help you edit and optimize images for use on your web page.

You may already have a program that can satisfy your image-editing needs. Most scanners and digital cameras come with photo editing software that will enable you to optimize images and create simple graphics for your website. There are also many free or open-source alternatives available on the internet.

One popular image editor is “the GIMP”, an open-source program that has even found it's way into blockbuster Hollywood movie production. The GIMP is available for most operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and Mac, though it's a little more difficult to install than many Windows users are accustomed to. You can find out more at

Finding The Right Image

“Stock photographs” offer web designers a low-cost option for professional images. While many of your photo needs will best be served through a professional photographer (such as for staff or product photos), generic “stock” images are available at prices from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. Prices are often determined by the image size and intended use, and license restrictions must be carefully considered when selecting an agency and image. For instance, one of my favorite stock image resources is, which offers a wide variety of subject matter for just a few dollars per image. However, one condition is that their images may not appear larger than 640 pixels by 480 pixels in size on a web page.

You can also find free, public-domain clip art and images for use on your site. maintains comprehensive listings of clip art sites, many of which offer images for free. Again, pay close attention to the license terms and restrictions of both paid and free sites before you begin downloading and incorporating images into your web site.

Designing your own website using the free tools we've covered may be the least expensive way to get your business on the internet, but it may not be the most profitable. Whether to support your existing marketing efforts, or take advantage of new “local search” technologies introduced by Google and Yahoo! search engines, a professional web designer can help you plan and identify useful technologies and trends to insure your site meets the needs of your business, and more importantly the needs of your customers. A growing trend is to work with a designer to plan and create a content management framework, which allows your staff to maintain and update a professionally-designed site that has been optimized for search engine rankings.

New, Free WYSIWYG Web Page Editor Launched

Finally, a new open-source web page editor based on the Mozilla Composer has recently been launched. N|Vu can be downloaded for free at, and promises to expand on the Mozilla Composer just as Firefox and Thunderbird have built upon the original Mozilla browser and mail client. If you want a free, WYSIWYG web page editor, then you should certainly take a look at N|Vu.

© 2004, 2005 by Russ Jackman


Russ Jackman, Internet Advisor
Russ Jackman is the principal of Internet Advisor, a web design and internet marketing firm located in St. Thomas, Ontario.

The concept of the "Internet Advisor" is that the designer becomes a partner or trusted consultant, who can simply provide advice and direction, completely implement a solution from start to end, or any degree in between. This insures that the strengths of a client are utilized, to minimize the investment required and maximize the benefits to their organization.

Site last updated May 06, 2020, at 02:30 PM

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