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Ask HN: What is the cheapest way to make a website?
125 points by protabot 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 92 comments
Must haves: Be able to display a message on the landing page Nice to haves: A Folder to keep articles

I know Strikingly has a cheap ($12?) website building tool, but. It just seems wrong that I can't just buy a domain and get some random content on it without having Go Daddy charge me $5/month to host it? I apologize in advance for the noobness, but this is a serious question ;). Hope everyone is well.

GitHub pages / GitLab pages. I prefer the latter since the CI for pages is less magical and more flexible as a result - you aren't limited to what they support, and they don't claim a 100GB* traffic limit (just fair use). Couple with a cheap .com and free Cloudflare for DNS and caching.

* Corrected mistake, was 10GB

This is my entire CI yaml, which copies static HTML and other files (I don't use any static site generator, just plain HTML & CSS) and flushes the Cloudflare cache:

    - deploy
    - clear-cache
    stage: deploy
      - mkdir .public
      - cp -r * .public
      - mv .public public
        - public
      - master

    stage: clear-cache
     - curl -X DELETE "https://api.cloudflare.com/client/v4/zones/$CF_ZONE_ID/purge_cache" -H "X-Auth-Key:$CF_AUTH_KEY" -H "X-Auth-Email:$CF_AUTH_EMAIL" -H "Content-Type:application/json" --data '{"purge_everything":true}'
     - master


I followed the tutorial at [0] and had my site [1] running in an afternoon, as promised in the tutorial. The slowest thing was figuring out how to get my (paid-for) custom domain to point at GitHub (although a custom domain isn't essential to get your site running). I've had my site active since May 2018 with essentially zero hassle.

Pleasingly, you don't need to know anything about the version control aspects of Git to publish a site or add new blog pages and then edit them.

>> Must haves: Be able to display a message on the landing page Nice to haves: A Folder to keep articles

Yes to both of your must haves

[0] http://jmcglone.com/guides/github-pages/

[1] https://www.non-kinetic-effects.co.uk/

GitHub pages soft bandwidth limit is 100GB/mo (https://help.github.com/en/github/working-with-github-pages/...)

GitHub + Netlify makes a really nice combo as well, since Netlify helps with simple form handling (and a bunch of other niceties)

It really is the nicest combo for any kind of simple site that is either static/calls APIs. Also when paired with something like gatsby can make a full blown CMS/blog-like site with minimal setup

Netlify is awesome.



In addition to the Gitlab/Github options, AWS S3 by itself is fairly decent and a few pennies. You can front it by cloudfront for more money if you need a global CDN.

There's also NearlyFreeSpeech[^1] which is very cheap and very free speech oriented.

[^1]: https://www.nearlyfreespeech.net/

But with s3/cf if you get hugged by something like hn you're going to be in for a hefty bandwidth bill.

HTML and CSS are real tiny. Don't include the kitchen sink if you can't afford sending it across the wire.

I use nearlyfreespeech to host my personal static website. Annual cost is less than 10 dollars. I use namecheap for my domain which is 10-15 dollars/year.

They have a nice estimator https://www.nearlyfreespeech.net/estimate

> It just seems wrong that I can't just buy a domain and get some random content on it without having Go Daddy charge me $5/month to host it?

In order to host any web page requires a machine to serve up the web content and that machine needs to be running 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

So at a minimum, running that machine requires a safe place to house it, electricity to run it and people to keep an eye on it just to make sure it is still running.

All of those tasks cost money.

Heroku, Netlify, AppEngine, Firebase, etc. lots of possibilities to host a personal site completely free.

Serving from S3 with Cloudflare adds tiny marginal cost to both of those companies. I moved a few static sites to that setup. Cost is in compute, storage, etc. not hosting static pages.

For static sites Firebase is quite good. You get a global CDN by default and the free plan is enough for most personal purposes.

I registered my domain via Google Domains for $12. I write content in markdown and use a static site generator called Hugo to turn it into html. I host it on Netlify for free.

My process is:

- blog in markdown

- add a commit

- push repo // This builds on Netlify

The new content is live within minutes. I have also used Netlify to host a static html landing page that I wrote and styled by hand. I would highly recommend their service. Again, my only (monetary) cost is $12 per year via Google Domains.

You can get cheaper domains, i.e. Porkbun.com is running a 3 per user $4.15 for .com (just looked, I'm happy with them)

I had no idea about Porkbun.com. Thanks for that.

Some domains I have been looking for seems cheaper than usual.

I moved all (30+) of my domains to Porkbun a couple years ago, and have referred all of my friends there since. Everyone has been really happy with their service.

They're just a small team of good people in Portland Oregon running an efficient smart operation. This is their parent company: https://toplevel.design/

Whenever I've had a customer service question, they reply immediately and helpfully.

I try to support businesses like this whenever possible.

I don't like the idea of companies being able to own the TLD for a concept they had no part in creating, particularly .gay, but at least it seems to be in good hands.

As someone who moved entire 20+ domains to porkbun, I can assure you they are a pretty good company. Certainly not a giant, but I never had problems. They are the only few companies that allow https:// domain redirection, email forwarding, and yet provide good prices for domains too.

Updated to fix a tpyo in number.

I'm sure 0+ was a typo :) ... but porkbun.com sounds interesting. I've been on GoDaddy for years but their UI and marketing is so spammy that a minimalist alternative would be a nice change. Thanks.

Porkbun isn't just the cheapest registrar most of the time, they are legit and very trustworthy. Moved most of my domains a couple of years ago and it just works.

If you are looking for domain deals, domcomp.com/ is invaluable.

I do the same, but with Gatsby.js, and Namecheap.

This will probably be an unpopular answer, but if you are in a situation where you need to turn over management of the site to a team of non programmers (which this post doesnt sound like); Managed Wordpress + static site plugin and cdn caching.

Managed Wordpress hosting is $4-$6/m from a reputable place[1], and then everything wordpress and below needs no maintenance. Youll have access control for which team members can control what, and there's probably more wordpress expertise out there than any other platform. The amount of good plugins out there minimize reinventing wheels.

[1] https://www.siteground.com/wordpress-hosting.htm

Another free alternative, like github pages, is https://render.com

Pretty much the same deal, I used it for a while and it worked well. You can connected to a github repo too, so it deploys when you push.

Github pages is pretty much free. You can buy a domain name for ~$10 a year

Not only that, but you don't have to know anything about Git to get it going. You can upload files directly to your repo using the web interface and do the minor editing of the config file (for say choosing a theme) in the browser. I don't know if anyone has written this up. It really is simple enough that absolutely anyone can do it.

Big up for GitHub pages! See the documentation here: https://pages.github.com/ You can also use `Jekyll`, a static site generator, directly with it, if you want fancier features: https://help.github.com/en/github/working-with-github-pages/...

Is Jekyll the only static site generator that works directly with Github pages?

+1 for a static site generator with GitHub + Netlify.

Even manual deployment to Netlify is enough for most needs. Just drag the public folder in and you're done. It's an automagical experience.

I am actually in process of moving to Hugo/Netlify, and if I come close to bandwidth or storage caps I hope B2/Cloudfare has implemented official solutions by then. I'd personally love to avoid s3.

Hugo/Netlify is a dream. One of the few things in web technology that is a joy to use.

Why the adversity to S3?

Get 100gb for free and can deploy a site in minutes compared to the hard work required to get s3 working.

For hosting: Many options. HelioHost[0] is worth mentioning, free 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; Vercel,Git(Lab/Hub) Pages ect

For domains: Take a couple hours to find the cheapest ones available but you can get a free sub-domain as-well which is the cheapest available. I do NOT recommend Freenom ones users always had issues with them. However I do recommend eu.org[1]. You can get a sub domain like (4-letters and more).eu.org or anything.(on of their subdomains).eu.org. For example I have two: asvvvad.eu.org and vvv.int.eu.org.

For DNS forwarding (A/AAAA/CNAME/TXT records ect): I started with Namecheaps FreeDNS but switched recently to 1984hosting.com's free DNS service I used the former for quite a while and didn't have many problems with it just set it up and forgot about it but using 1984hosting's feels better and easier specially the interface

1984hosting also have a hosting plan that include free .com domain. It only have yearly payments which is $109 for a year and $129 for renewal which is less than $10 a month. That's pretty cheap for an unlimited hosting with a .com domain included I guess

[0]: https://www.heliohost.org/ [1]: https://nic.eu.org/ [2]: https://1984hosting.com/buy/hosting/

Notion can be used to create simple websites. You can then find an online tutorial to use Notion with a custom domain. Other than the cost of the domain, this method is entirely free.

The notion websites I have used have been very slow loading.

If I didn't know they was notion I would have exited and went else where.

What I have done is set up my application with Google Cloud Run.

In my case I used that for two websites - one is a blog and another one is a website for auto-generating comments.

In the case of first one, I use middleman to render static HTML files and then create a container that ships nginx and the application.

For the second app, the backend that generates comments is a Node.js application. The frontend is an app created using React, compiled into static website and Node.js serves the files.

Both apps cost me less than $0.1 per month and they have some traffic, but not a lot of it.

For the first app, I've also set up a CI/CD system using Google CLoud Build. So, every time I commit a new blog article, things get updated automatically. I did not have time to migrate the second app to same approach, but it should not be hard to do.

Google Cloud Build + Google Cloud Run can help you run a large variety of technologies almost for free, but in my case I only did it for stateless apps. You could use Google Cloud Run with a database, but I have not tried it.

Using github page is free and easy for static web pages. Surge[0] is also an awesome CDN with cli support. You can update the content as well, so not really static in the way IPFS do.

If you need non-manual dynamic content, 000webhost[1] has free mysql & php server for you.

If you prefer to program the server in node.js, webtask[2] has free severless node.js env for you.

If you're considering non-free solution or more control/freedom, linode[3] is my first choice. The cheapest plan is $5/mo for 1GB RAM, 25GB SSD and 1TB traffic.

[0] https://surge.sh/

[1] https://www.000webhost.com/free-php-hosting

[2] https://webtask.io

[3] https://www.linode.com/pricing/

I'd recommend Hugo or similar plus netlify. It's incredibly easy to get a static (or mostly static) page up and available. Use someone else's template, then you can deal with everything with drag & drop if you want.

It's all also free unless you want more features, and you can easily take it and host elsewhere (like S3).

Actually you can get all your want by simply Google it but for your convenience:

1) free options: you can choose wordpress.com, blogspot, github, etc to host your website, but the drawback is you have to use their sub-domain system which is ugly, like yourwebsite.wordpress.com, another con is the backend of website lack many customization features, all in all, you host your content on other's house, what more can u ask!

Sure you can buy a domain and attach your domain to those services, its up to you.

2) A much cheaper and regular way to host a website is choose a hosting company like Namecheap, Godaddy (not recommend though), you can lower your cost to less than $20 first year, with a domain + shared hosting.

3) you can still choose static site generator like Hugo, Jekeyll, netilify, etc, but the concept is same, you either host your content for free on their domains, or buy yourself a lovely domain to start with.

You can use a custom domain name with BlogSpot.

The hosting is still free. All you pay for is the domain name.

I have set this up for other people for a few bucks because doing the CNAME stuff is a bit of a pain. But once it is set up, you're set. It's a one time thing.

I've been using GitLab pages along with its CI, and it has been really great for static sites.

For less static websites, I'd recommend signing up for free tier GCP. They give you a (very small) VM for free. I've had no problem running several docker containers backing my personal sites. To be fair, they don't really have much traffic, but for the < 10 people that use my stuff, it has worked out great.

The GitLab CI is really nice, and I'd recommend it even if you don't go for Pages or GCP. It's pretty simple to set it up to automatically build images (using its personal container registry) and deploy them for you.

With this setup, the only things I pay for are domain names which I use to add SSL via let's encrypt and HAProxy (which also does some routing for me).

Hope this helps give someone some ideas.

Funny you should ask, I made just the thing for you the other day:


It's just a git repo you can clone, so you own your site (it's not a service or a static site generator). It uses Lektor to generate pages (just because that's what I use, though I'm eyeing Zola as a good alternative), and it supports deploying to Gitlab Pages and Neocities with its CI config. You can also push the site to IPFS with one command (ipfs add -r pages/).

It's also trivial to host on Netlify if you want (just add the repo there). All these services I mention are excellent, but slightly different. Neocities is more of a quirky/indie website community, for example, which I love.

I likes. Suggestions on how to integrate comments into it?

I use commento, but generally find comments a bit useless.

I use netlify. Server static pages, has good integration with lets-encrypt and even supports the 'point me to a github repo and I will rebuild for you' workflow. I am in the free tier, and there is no hchance my blog would ever get out of it (unless the free tier gets nixed)

For static sites you can emulate this workflow fairly cheaply, from github-pages, to serving with aws s3, or simmilar (I have an abandoned blog on s3 and pay ~cents a month, but I never fully grokked aws pricing)

If you need people that wouldn't edit text/markdown/html directly, there are even git-based cms, that can abstract away the dev-friendly 'edit text, commit, push to repo' to more user friendly 'login somewhere and click a button to change content'.

Do you have an old computer at home, and an internet connection? You can always host it yourself.

The electricity used may not be cheaper than paying someone else a few bucks to host it from their data center.

I don't think this would work. How would one get around the ISP's NAT to expose your address to the wider internet? At least, without potentially paying the ISP extra or going through a (relatively) lot of trouble to monitor/manage where your DNS is pointing. If I am way off base on this, please elucidate.

Dynamic DNS has been a thing for ages and it is trivial to PAT on most any firewall you may have hooked up to a modem in bridge mode.

Not all ISPs have NATs, I guess.

In the US, most don't have NATs, in my experience.

There's a big community around self-hosting at reddit on /r/selfhosted. The sidebar has links to specifically hosting your own website.

If you have a constant-on internet connection, then right on your own machine (WIndows or Linux). Use a dynamic DNS (DDNS) service (with a low TTL) so people can always find you by name even if your IP address changes. After that, learn a bit of PHP or Python and use one of many web application frameworks (Flask or Bottle or Django).

Price $0.

Around $12 annually to buy a domain name if you like (if you are not happy with one that the DDNS service will give you).

When you start getting traffic, you may want to consider AWS, starting at the free tier and going up.

Just another option:

V-Server from https://netcup.de ca. 3$/month

.space domain ca. 2$/year from https://gandi.net

(I am not affiliated with any of them)

I wanted to a little bit more e.g. having my own calendar, and hosting my own Mercurial server (since almost nobody supports that anymore, maybe GitLab in the future). Found than out that this offer is good enough for my own VPN and even having my own tiny cloud storage.

I'm building a site generator for this very purpose (apologies for the shameless self promotion)....


git: https://github.com/jonascript/htmlgoddess

It generates static HTML pages that are as simple as can be. If you setup a git account, it will cover the hosting for free. A domain typically costs $12 a year.

https://www.netlify.com/ if you have a lot of time. If you're still using github pages give it a try you will be very impressed.

Time isn't free, we have a lot of backend developers use https://versoly.com/ as they don't want to focus on design and actually want a good looking website quickly.

Looks like netlify requires a github account? I have an issue with that, as I'm against monopolies. As far as small private web sites are concerned, there are a lot of totally free options, and Hetzner offers web sites for 2 euro a month - 10GB space and unlimited traffic included, and it's a very solid company.

If you're against a monopoly Netlify is actually a good option for static hosting, since it's a competitor to GitHub Pages. They also support Gitlab and Bitbucket. I'd assume the reason they don't integrate with arbitrary git repositories is that a lot of their automation features rely on workflow messages from the repository hosts beyond what a normal Git server would provide.

Namecheap WordPress hosting.

3 bucks a month and they handle scaling and all that shit for you supposedly.

It's not free but you get a way more functionality than a static site offers.

On a side project[1] I used Vuepress[2] and deployed it using Github+Netlify and the experience was amazing. On Netlify, the whole deploy script is: `yarn docs:build`. That's it.

[1]: https://smocker.dev/

[2]: https://vuepress.vuejs.org/

You can host websites from a spare computer at home. You can use Cloudflare's free CDN for serving cached responses. If your ISP does not provide static IP addresses, and you wish to use a custom domain then you will need to periodically update your domain's A Record to point to your current public ip (which can be automated).

I am not sure I fully understood you. Do you want to have a static site without the hassle of having to host it with Go Daddy?

Github + Tiddlywiki. That's what I do for https://philosopher.life/. It's free (unless you rent a domain name), flexible, and easy to distribute over many kinds of channels.

What is your site about? I've seen it four times this week, but I haven't really figured out why it's popular.

I think it's fair to call it a personal site and a public self-model, though I cannot say it merits popularity. Unfortunately, I don't have a short and clean answer for what it is about (though I spend significant energy trying to answer that question). It's a place to think, a conduit to communicate with myself and others, and it's where I do philosophy. Each member of my immediate family writes in a wiki every day. We autonomously tell the stories of our lives with these devices. Some kinds of relationships and conversations require 10,000 hours, and we aim to make art of our lives together. It is my honor to speak with others through my wiki.

That makes sense, thank you.

Perhaps it's about frustration with boring convention, and what that looks like when you render it into a website design?

Very possibly, though in this case the lack of convention doesn't help me understand what the website is about.

github page would be the cheapest. Then it's a control vs price.

You can generate your own static site with Hugo / Jekyll / Frankenstein's ___.sh then upload somewhere (including github)

You can go S3 static pages : https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonS3/latest/dev/EnableWebsit...

(I think backblaze has a cheaper API-compatible S3 clone,)

You can go the VPS way, Vultr being amongst the cheapest (Monthly $3.5 IPv4 / $2.5 IPv6 only)

Or you can go semi managed hosting, with nearlyfreespeech starting at $1.74 per month for static sites if you host DNS with them.

It might not be that simple. How long do you want the solution to last for?

There's plenty that will be free or low cost initially, but it may be a matter of time before the deal changes, they're acquired & shutdown, or they go out of business.

Type words in a file, run it on vercel, you have free mysite.now.sh

Buy a domain, point at your free site.

This is "free" (sans domain):

* Google Firebase hosting * Static site generator

Example: https://notes.tomgoren.com/how-this-blog-is-hosted.html

OVH has a 10MB storage free plan where you can host a landing pages, images and such.

https://neocities.org/ has a free tier. It's limited (no arbitrary filetype uploads, no custom domains), but convenient and easy to use.

Has anybody had any experience with hosting their domains and web sites/content(personal and professional) on the Google ecosystem? Specifically; Google Domains/Sites/Pages/App etc.?

You can use multiple static site hosting solutions for this use case for free. Many have a free tier till 100 GB bandwidth per month. Some that I know of:

Github pages Surge.sh Render.com Gitlab pages Netlify Vercel

Hugo + Gitlab CI/CD to push in to Google Firebase. I use namesilo for domain hosting at $12 / yr. I'm well under the free quota offered by GCP

I'm hosting a website with 300K pageviews/month for free (-ish: I'm paying for form collection but not bandwidth) on Netlify.

Depends really. Perhaps https://carrd.co will cover your requirements.

You have to buy a domain and if u know to write HTML, Javascript and CSS then just use Google cloud storage as everything is static.

Hope this helps - https://free-for.dev

$3.50 / mo - Amazon Lightsail with mostly automatic wordpress setup.

notetoweb.com will let you convert your Evernote notes to a website for free, but you have to pay for a custom domain.

If you are comfortable with the CLI Hugo/Firebase hosting is a good combination

If you have a domain, check Tumblr as they were hosting for free.

You can make one for free on WordPress.com

I have found Webflow to be incredibly useful in doing this - the various templates for different use-cases (Blog, E-Com Store etc) was quite simple to quickly setup and get something off ground.

Are you a designer?

I have spoke to a lot of founders, marketers and developers who struggled to use the platform.

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