Take a look at Lifehacker’s post today on the Top Ten Google Products You Forgot About. The Monster is alive and well. And here’s one I hadn’t heard about (which is blowing my mind particularly fiercely at this moment):

Googe Page Creator!

googlepagecreator2.jpg

That’s right. Google created a full-featured WYSIWYG editor that allows you to build entire websites just by filling in the blanks. It’s free, the hosting is included (your URL is http://your_google_id.googlepages.com), and unlike most webpage builders, it appears to have some pretty decent quality and reliability behind it.

I have two (contradictory) gut-reaction responses:

  • “WTF?!”
  • “It’s about damned time!”

Check it out and tell me what you think.  I’m crossing my fingers, hoping this will solve the age-old “I have no money and I need a pretty website right now — what do I do?” quandry and make the world a better place.

The most common question I get is “How much does a website cost?”

My usual response is, “How much does a house cost? It depends on a lot, doesn’t it? Websites are like that, too.”

Their common reaction is persistent disbelief, and they want me to name numbers. So I tell them: “A website can be $5, or $50, or $500, or $5,000, or $50,000, or $500,000.”

They usually can’t wrap their brains around this, so they ask how much it would cost for me to make them a website.

And at this point, I give them a sad look and tell them that right now, I only build websites with an enterprise-level development team, and our websites cost about as much as a house.

It’s usually not a very pretty conversation.

Here’s what they really want to know but are afraid to ask: “What do I need to do to get the kind of website that I need?” Because there’s more to getting a website than paying what’s on its price tag, and there are many, many, many different kinds of web solutions available. So the first question, really, is “Do you know what you need?”

I’m going to turn it over to Seth Godin now, because he pontificates beautifully on the subject. He recently posted two articles:

How to Create a Good Enough Website – Because, admit it, this may be all you need.

How to Create a Great Website – Ten principles not to avoid.

I know you don’t want to believe me, but the first article is actually a lot more enlightening and useful than the second. Most of the people who ask me “How much does a website cost?” are really, when they get down to it, only looking for this level of solution. And that’s okay! But it’s hard to admit, isn’t it? I know they would be immeasurably happier if they came to terms with this fact before the end of the project.  I’ve seen too many of them end up with websites that feel way too expensive and don’t actually do what they need them to do.

So read Seth’s advice, alright? He’s got it.

And get your priorities in place before you shell out a dime.

You may have noticed that my last post was about having a full plate. You may have also noticed that my last post was nearly three weeks ago. These are not coincidental. They are quite related.

But while I have a few free moments on “Indigenous People’s Day” (or “Columbus Day,” if you live in a less rebelliously liberal part of the United States), I’d like to give a quick summary of my recent technodrama and its unexpected happy endings.

First, Gmail. I posted awhile ago about getting locked out of my gmail account. Fortunately, I received some very valuable feedback from a reader who has now become a very valuable friend to me (yay for broken tools creating new connections!) and was creatively persistent with Google. Forty-two days after the incident, I finally received an apology from them, along with instructions on how to now access to my account. My Gmail account is alive again! The irony is that I had forty days and forty nights to completely detach from it and pronounce it dead. It feels sort of like a zombie now. (A zombie that wants to eat my brains.)

Second, the Treo. Have I told you about the physical health of my beloved Palm-driven cell phone? Let me put it this way: every single person on my web development team has been threatening for more than six months now to steal it from me and destroy it so I will be forced to get a new one.

More specifically, the antennae is held on by a paperclip. That paperclip is held on by green electrical tape. The earpiece has broken off. The holder for the stylus is so loosened that I’ve now lost three of them and have given up on carrying one. The front face plate has separated from the back of the machine and is being held on by a single loose screw (and the paperclipped antennae, when it happens to be attached). The RAM is so overloaded that it takes 5-10 seconds to load the dialing screen when I’m ready to make a phone call.

BUT IT WORKS FINE! I DON’T SEE WHAT ALL THE FUSS IS ABOUT!

The laughable part is that I’m paying for full insurance on the machine (which is all of $6 a month), and I could have claimed it for repairs or replacement a long time ago, given its condition… even without my coworkers first stealing it from me and throwing it into the bay.

The camel’s back broke yesterday, though, when I dropped the machine on the pavement and cracked the front face plate. Now it took four fingers clutching the machine from three different sides to hold its pieces together well enough to get a signal. It still worked — no, really, IT STILL WORKED! — but okay, yeah, it was probably time to take advantage of the insurance.

This morning, I did a final hot-sync with my computer to back up the data… which turned out to be quite an undertaking because the hot-sync port is mostly broken, too. The task required propping the machine halfway up on the edge of a notebook and weighting down the cradle port with a pair of heavy metal scissors, stepping back, and holding my breath for ten minutes, praying that the precarious sculpture wouldn’t move before the sync was complete. It took a few tries to get it right.

Then I walked into the Sprint Repair Center at 4th and Folsom, slapped my busted Treo down on the counter, and announced, “My Treo is exploding in on itself and eating its own brain. I have insurance. What are my options?” The man ran some diagnostics (which amounted to dismantling the tape and paper clip and watching it fall apart in his hands like some kind of gag gift), and returned with a concerned look on his face.

“We can’t repair this for you,” he said apologetically.

“Oh,” I said with disappointment. “But I have insurance…”

He interrupted me. “We’ll have to replace it for you.”

“I am TOTALLY OKAY with you replacing it for me,” I reassured him. “COMPLETELY FINE WITH IT. But, um, how long will it take? Do I need to go without a phone for a few days?”

He pulled out a new Treo and handed it to me. It was already connected to my phone number. “Here you go,” he said.

“That’s it? I don’t need to sign anything? Or pay a deductible?”

“Nope. That’s it. If you’d like, you can wait ten minutes and I’ll transfer your contacts.”

“No, that’s fine, I have it synced on my computer,” I said.

And I ran home gleefully, laughing and skipping in puddles and dreaming about all the beautiful ways this new phone will fall apart on me over the next year.

Ah, beginnings!