Creating a personal website is a difficult task. You have to get your ideas together, think of a template and arrange everything by yourself. It is possible to get help from a professional web designer, but it is costly. As an English teacher with a limited budget, you need to be able to create your website without requiring your wallet. There are a lot of softwares available to edit your personal webpage. Some of them are free, but some are not. In this article, I will only discuss about free softwares.
The question is: What are the best softwares to develop your own webpage?
WordPress is a free online tool that allows everyone to create either a website or a blog. If you are reading this article right now, you already see what kind of blog WordPress can produce. Upgrades are available for people looking for something more professional, but they come with a price. You can still create an interesting website using the free tool. As a teacher, developing your website on WordPress allows you to connect your product with all your favorite social networks, for instance Facebook, Twitter and more. The design of your website is easily customizable. You can use the themes offered by WordPress or you could design your own. This means that you have full control over the appearance of your blog. Moreover, WordPress developped a mobile app (for Iphone, Android and Blackberry) to help you edit, publish or simply look at your website wherever you can.
In fact, Jill Duffy said: »WordPress.com gives you the most control of any free blogging platform I’ve seen. »
Blogger is another free online tool to design blogs. It works approximately like WordPress, as it is a blog designing tool which uses themes already available on the website. These themes can be adapted to your interests. This tool was bought by Google, which means that you will need a Gmail address in order to work with the website. In fact, you can’t reach the homepage of Blogger until you log in with your Gmail address. Highly comparable to WordPress, Blogger is simple to use for beginners. After experiencing with the tool myself, I got familiar with it pretty quickly. The interface is clear and simple. You don’t need to look deep into the program to get what you want; everything is accessible.
Susan Gunelius brings an interesting point: »Many bloggers love because it automatically integrates with Google AdSense, so bloggers can earn money from their blogs from day one. » It may look a bit greedy, but I understand that teachers must deal with a limited budget. If you get good with doing blogs with Blogger, the money acquired can be used in your class.
Wix is a free tool (with more than 60 million users!) used to develop websites. The two softwares mentioned above are mostly programmed for blogs. Wix is the perfect tool to design and to play with your own website. It offers a wide variety of templates, going from business templates to music templates. You can get access to other templates by buying additional fees. It comes with a mobile app, which is always great. The only thing you need is an email address (similar to Blogger with Gmail). It is also possible to make money out of your website, but only if needed. For teachers, Wix allows you to do pretty much anything you want. You can create a website for your class to interact with or you could create a website where you let them publish and edit what they want. It uses a drag and drop method to edit templates. This is one of the most interesting features of Wix. It is really difficult to customize a webpage without messing everything up. However, the drag and drop lets you move pictures and titles around without being a professional web designer.
Michael Muchmore adds: »As you build your site, Wix’s Feedback option can be a help: You send a short link, and a friend or colleague can comment on specific spots on your site. You’ll even get an email notification letting you know that comments have been submitted. »
For this section, I will only refer to one software: Microsoft Expression Web 4. This is simply due to the fact that I haven’t work with any other website developing tool. What is important to remember is that this software, along with Adobe Dreamweaver and Espresso, is built for professional web designers.
Expression Web is now available for free since 2012. Although like I said, it is not for beginners. Expression Web designs website using HTML code as well as XML, XHTML and CSS. Programmers use these codes to create websites according to the requirements of a company or a business. Microsoft Expression Web 4 is an excellent tool to design high quality websites. It requires many competencies in programming, which is why I don’t recommand using such tools. As a teacher, web programming does not feature in our regular classes. It is tempting to use this software to create a website that looks and feels better, but it is not so simple to achieve. This is not made for English teachers, but for Web Design teachers.
When I tried to learn the codes and create my own website, I was highly disappointed. The coding was right and the website was working perfectly, but the appearance of my website looked like a PowerPoint slide. After using tools like Wix and WordPress, I will never go back to Expression Web 4. The templates are clean and simple to use. If you don’t trust me, trust Simon Williams’ review.
As a teacher, these tools allow you to create new activies and ways to teach your students. Instead of handing out papers each class, the teacher can post blogs on the website where students will find what they need to do before the end of the class. When doing reading activities, teachers can write their own story on their website. If the teacher has a SmartBoard in class, it becomes easier to show the story to the classroom. Creating their own story allows teacher to concentrate on what they want. If teachers want to focus on difficult words and sentence construction, they can write a story with these elements in it. The story can be adapted to the context of the classroom. For example, if students were working on celebrities in another activity, the teacher is free to create a blog or a story about those celebrities so that students feel comfortable with the text. The ESL teacher simply has to implement difficult words in the blog and student will be able to read it by going on the website whether in class or at home.