Free web hosting doesn't make you a Yahoo!
Finding free web hosting can be a hassle…especially if you are blind. Not only are the "free" sites growing fewer and fewer, but those that do exist may (or may not) be accessible to a blind computer user such as myself. So, needless to say, I was chagrined to find that a really good source was right under my nose, in a very obvious place.
I admit, rather sheepishly, that I didn't want to look there. Not this place…I didn't think they would be accessible…let alone free, and so I balked…until now.
"What is he going on about?" you're asking the monitor aloud?
Geo cities at Yahoo! Yep, that's right; Yahoo!
I'm not trying to denegrate such a popular company, but (honestly) I was not sure at all considering the problems I've had with other Yahoo services (such as Yahoo groups). The issues weren't accessibility-related, but rather tied to reliability and consistency. When it takes nearly twenty four hours for a simple no mail command to go through, you can't help but question the wisdom of trusting this same company for your little personal freebie web site. I, however, was pleasantly surprised.
Okay, so what do you do? Here's the one and only catch…needing to have a yahoo profile…such as an Yahoo e-mail address, or membership in a Yahoo group, for example.
Now, go to The Geo cities/Yahoo web site and prepare to sign in.
If you don't have a user profile , just click on the new user "sign up" link and follow the instructions. They're pretty self explanatory, and the site is properly alt-tagged for you blind users.
If, however, you do have a Yahoo profile, just click the "sign in" link and enter your user name and password. However, before doing this, go to this link to find out about the features you have. You may choose to go with a paid plan instead.
Once you've properly signed up, you get a page that has your Yahoo username as part of the page. It would read like this: http://geocities.yahoo.com/username.
By default you get an index page (index.html) that says (in effect) "I haven't built my site yet".
Yahoo has a number of templates for setting up your first page, and the help area is actually quite helpful. Among the templates for a "quick start" page are:
* Fun D'Mental
* Night Vision
* Disk Drive
* Classic Tan
* Classic Blue
* Great Outdoors
It's no big surprise, but I chose the "techie" for my pages at:
My Yahoo-geocities web site
In addition, there are a selection of popular themes people can choose to use, these include:
* Baby Page
* Baby Announcement
* Birthday Invite
* Birthday Invitation
* Personal Page
* Personal Page
* Party Invitation
Yahoo also has a picture site theme and if you have some cash, you can upgrade to Yahoo Web Hosting which gives you access to Yahoo Site Builder, a piece of software that allows use of over 300 templates for page design. In a future article, I may write on the accessibility of this software, but for now, all I could afford was the free site.
From here on out, it's up to you. You can be creative and have an interesting, fun page for all your friends and family to see.
One last note to blind users: unlike the Yahoo Groups and the Yahoo briefcase, there is no little graphic code that you have to copy into an edit box. This little trick to prevent spamming on the Yahoo Groups e-mail groups isn't necessary here, thankfully. As it is, I'm not fond of their (Yahoo's) solution to this problem. To call customer service seems a hassle when other places like MSN.com use sound files of the code for blind users. But, alas, that is an article for another time. So, until next time, happy Yahoo web site designing.