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I'm looking for an easy-to-use, well-supported tool for building your own web site, that a non-technical person can understand. Preferably something web-based and hosted, so they have to do as little as possible to get started. Any recommendations?

I want something I can recommend to friends and family, when they ask me how they can build a site for their business, wedding, etc..

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Is this actually a completely abstract question, or are you asking about a particular person? If the latter, it might help if you told a bit about the business. There are, for example, some hosted services aimed at particular markets. – Su' Apr 14 '11 at 19:47
Might also be a better topic for Programmers.StackExchange.Com – Nate Apr 14 '11 at 20:19
@Su': It's abstract...I get this question a lot. – JW01 Apr 14 '11 at 20:45
This question is too vague. Are you asking if you should do it? How much you should charge? What's the best service? You should edit your question to be a bit more specific. – Ciaran Apr 15 '11 at 4:19
@Ciaran: Thanks, I clarified the question. – JW01 Apr 15 '11 at 5:41

One technique that always works for me is to ask them for the content they want to have on the site, and offer to start coding as soon as they give it to you. Rarely do they actually give you the content, so there's no work involved on your side.

If they do then give you the content... suggest that he uses something like Tumblr or Wordpress.com - no hosting or domain name hassle for you, no cost for him. Just register it for him, install a theme he likes, and you're done. Google Sites is another option here.

If he's willing to pay a little bit for hosting and a domain name, first get a long term registered domain, and set that up. You don't want to be renewing their domain every year. Then, Dreamhost have a automated install system for both Drupal and Wordpress. The automated-install on Dreamhost keeps it upgraded, applying any security fixes. If he quibbles about the cost, refer him back to Wordpress.com or suggest he finds somebody that will do it cheaper. Explain the security aspects as 'if the code is insecure there is a good chance all your customers are going to be infected by a virus from your website'. FUD is your friend there.

There are loads of free themes available for both Drupal and Wordpress. There is loads of documentation for how to write/edit content, so you shouldn't need to provide much training.

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How about: "If the code is insecure there is a good chance all your customers are going to get their credit card or email addresses or home addresses stolen." 'cause that's true, no need for the less likely FUD. – Kzqai Apr 14 '11 at 21:24
@Tchalvak - I know, but when I raise that they say "I'm not going to collect credit cards and email addresses". Most non-technical people don't understand the concept of automated hacking bots - they assume that because their site is small, nobody will try doing anything to it. So FUD is your friend - since what you're saying is true. – Blowski Apr 14 '11 at 21:30

use easy cms like wordpress... its easy and greate also

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As long as you secure it properly and keep it up to date. – Kzqai Apr 14 '11 at 19:48
@Tchalvak - hosted wordpress instead? – MrChrister Apr 14 '11 at 21:17

I agree with previous answers. But let me go down a bit.

I also receive this kind of proposal many times. "It's simple. I just want some contact info, some product pics... no big deal". After one month... "Yeah, but you also know photoshop, right? you can make those mobile pics become like professional ones..."

Closer people are a two-sided razorblade. They trust you, they know you, and they can make some really nice word of mouth marketing for you for free. But they want to pay ridiculous wages for top services.

First thing, when they look for your job, show'em your professional side and threat them like any other client. Explain the whys and hows about internet stuff. Show them that you care about the quality of things you build.

Be sincere, respect them, show that you really know your business, support their questions... But don't accept engaging something just for friendship/relationship.

If they want something really simple, recommend a CMS or blog platform. Set up, provide training, and deploy. Ah, and don't forget to make a simple contract, just to cover the basis. This will avoid them to ask you to keep making magic all the time, like write about their new product every week, editing photos, and integrating every new social stuff that appears in the market as new sensation.

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