Individuals and small businesses now have new, user-friendly ways to create websites that are ideal for today's go-go world of mobile devices.

Until recently, those who used do-it-yourself services to fashion websites had to navigate a tedious array of codes and steps. And with the rise of smartphones and tablets, Web creators sometimes had to create one version of a site for desktop applications and another version for mobile applications.

"More Web design services are using what we call responsive design principles," said Michael Tchong, founder of San Francisco-based Social Revolution, which tracks technology trends. This kind of design enables people to access a website with a minimum of scrolling, resizing and panning -- regardless of whether they use a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Strikingly and WordPress, both based in San Francisco, and Squarespace, based in New York City, are among the companies that have embraced these new design techniques.

All three companies say their tools allow users to design websites within a few minutes -- and they don't have to know any code to do so.

"It can take hours to set up a website, but with our technology, it can be done in 10 minutes," said David Chen, chief executive officer of Strikingly. "The websites that people create through us are optimized for a mobile platform and for a desktop platform."

At the Strikingly site, users can choose from personal, business, or portfolio options. Then they can edit the templates, including the title, font and other elements. The site has prompts for creating links and new sections.

"We started this in college because we needed to build a website easily," Chen said. "We realized that consumers have trouble building their own websites. Nobody really understands how to do it. We wanted to democratize the whole process."

All three services allow users to just click away and build the lead page and inside pages as they wish, add images and create links. People can also insert buttons or locations for social networking efforts such as Twitter or Facebook.

"You don't have to know any code. You don't even have to know how to set up a site," said Raanan Bar-Cohen, senior vice president of commercial services for Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. "The beauty is the user doesn't have to think about all this stuff. It all happens behind the scenes."

WordPress offers hundreds of themes -- including event, nature, recreation, retail, restaurant, industrial, entertainment, historical and architectural -- for users to choose. They can scroll until something catches their eye, or they can conduct a search for a theme. Once they do so, they can build with a click.

The website creation services also enable people to include an array of features within the sites they build.

"Squarespace is a completely integrated platform that can handle blogs, stores, calendars, portfolios, and more within a single website," said Squarespace CEO Anthony Casalena.

Strikingly and WordPress offer very basic and limited Web pages for free. But for fees ranging from $8 to $60 per month, users can enhance and upgrade their basic websites. Squarespace charges fees of $8 to $24 per month, but offers a 14-day free trial period.

For Strikingly, Squarespace and WordPress, a mobile-friendly approach is the top priority in how they fashion their tools.

"So many people are coming to websites from smartphones or tablets now that this has to be a priority," said Ben Bajarin, a principal analyst with San Jose-based Creative Strategies, which tracks the technology sector. "More than half of the traffic to websites is coming from mobile devices."

Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow at twitter.com/georgeavalos

WEBsite building do-it-yourself
Strikingly, WordPress and Squarespace offer user-friendly ways for individuals and small businesses to create their own websites. Strikingly and WordPress let people build very basic websites for free, while Squarespace has a 14-day free trial before users have to start paying. Here's a summary of the fees:

Strikingly
Under the free version, bandwidth is limited to 5 gigabytes a month and customers must use the Strikingly.com domain name. For $8 to $20 a month, users can create two or three additional websites, obtain more bandwidth ranging from 50 gigabytes a month to unlimited bandwidth, and have their own personal Web domain and email.

Wordpress
For $13 to $60 a month, users can create custom domains and have access to custom design features and enhanced video services.

Squarespace
After a 14-day free trial, users who pay $8 per month can get 20 pages on their website, 500 gigabytes of bandwidth, and galleries and blogs. For $16 a month, users can have unlimited pages and unlimited bandwidth, along with galleries and blogs. For $24 a month, they also get accounting services and the ability to sell unlimited products.
Source: Mercury News reporting


The big idea
Remember that cool idea you had for a website?
Creating a website by yourself has never been easier.

Do-it-yourself
Who doesn't love a good template to make it simple? Strikingly, WordPress and Squarespace have a variety of designs to match the look of your idea.

The upload
No need to fuss with any coding or programming. You can easily add pictures, videos, links and all kinds of other fun stuff. Edit type right on the page so you can see what your site is looking like in real time.

Done easy
Publish your new website as quick as you can input your information.
The templates automatically conform to mobile formats for phones and tablets.