Want to create a website or a blog but not sure where to start? Making a website can seem daunting but it’s actually not as difficult as you may think.
Regardless of your skill level, you can learn how to build a website from scratch if you follow this DIY step-by-step guide. You’ll also save thousands of dollars from not having to hire a web developer.
First you have to decide the platform for your site to be built on. There are several options when it comes to building a website or blog.
WHY WORDPRESS IS THE BEST WEBSITE PLATFORM
The 3 commons platforms for building a website are Sitebuilders, HTML, and WordPress. Here is a brief intro of all three and why WordPress is ultimately the preferred way for most people. The short answer is: Plugins.
Sitebuilders are probably the easiest way to build a website and they mostly consist of drag-and-drop platforms. Although they are relatively simple to get started, they can be costly yet limited in what you can do.
The software is usually clunky with excessive bloatware and adding additional features to your website will add additional monthly costs. Most people who start with these platforms eventually graduate from them and either move onto WordPress or a custom HTML website.
- • If you’re on a budget or want more customization, WordPress is the better choice. However, if you have the budget for the monthly subscription fees, sitebuilders may not be a bad choice only because of the marginal simplicity. But keep in mind, the monthly fees are ongoing for as long as you own the site and they can add up quickly.
- • One big caveat is that websites built on sitebuilders are non-transferable so if you want to migrate your site in the future, you’d have to start all over.
If your site requires a database such as user logins, a knowledge of a server side language (ie, Node.js, PHP, Phython) may also be necessary. Learning how to program, enough to construct a website, can be frustrating and time consuming; think minimum half a year to a year.
- • You can also hire a web developer but it won’t be cheap. Web development costs will vary depending on your requirements but can range from a thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. And ongoing edits to your site will also incur additional maintenance costs.
- • Unless you’re trying to build a complex web-application and need advanced customization, using a CMS like WordPress is your best bet.
WordPress addresses the problems of site builders and custom HTML sites. It is completely free to use and does not limit you in what you can build.
It is a Content Management System (CMS) which, in a nutshell, allows websites to easily manage content. What makes WordPress truly unique is the use of plugins. Plugins allow websites to easily add any features like a contact form with just a few mouse clicks.
They are essentially blocks of computer code that can be installed into your website without needing to know how to code – simplifying the process of adding functionality.
And if drag and drop sitebuilders still seem appealing to you, there’s a WordPress pagebuilder plugin for that too.
- • This is why WordPress is one of the most popular ways to create a website for business owners and bloggers. Chances are, there’s a plugin already available for whatever function you need to add to your site.
- • Site maintenance and updates can also be done directly from the WordPress back-end dashboard without the need for help from a site manager.
Below is a list of top 10 content management systems usage. WordPress is used by 33.5% of all websites and has a 60% market share of all content management systems.
WordPress is the clear winner for best platform to manage your website content.
- • It is free, easy to use and flexible so we’ll use WordPress for creating a website for this guide. You’ll realize how powerful WordPress is with the use of its plugins once your website is set up. FYI, this website is also built with WordPress.
- • The steps in this DIY guide is broken up into 5 steps. The final step is optional but strongly recommended when setting up for the first time. Grab a drink and some snacks and lets dive right in.
HOW TO BUILD A WEBSITE
REGISTER YOUR DOMAIN NAME AND WEB HOSTING
Before you can install and use WordPress, you need a name for your website and a web host to host your site. Whichever hosting provider you choose, it is good practice to register your domain name and get web hosting from the same place.
In this tutorial, we will use NameHero hosting because they offer great prices with some of the fastest speed and uptime. Their service is deployed from a cloud-based server with LiteSpeed making it one of the fastest and affordable options.
- • The very first thing you need is a domain name. A domain name is simply your web address (yourwebsitename.com) and the cost to own one is 12.98 per year.
- • The second thing we’ll need is a hosting plan which will make your website live on the internet. Your website needs to be stored in some server computer that will make it visible to its visitors.
- Hosting plans start as low as 3.29 per month with their 45% off deal.
- Note: NameHero is currently offering a free domain name with their hosting plans.
Lets Get Started…
1 – VISIT NAMEHERO AND CHOOSE THE TYPE OF HOSTING
- • The Web Hosting column would be what most people need to get started. You can start with the basic package for $3.29 with a free domain name.
- • Reseller Hosting is if you want to start your own web hosting business. It is applicable for web designers and developers providing hosting services for their clients.
- • VPS Hosting stands for Virtual Private Server. This hosting option is for people who require a virtual dedicated server for high traffic sites.
2 – CHOOSE A HOSTING PLAN
- • Here you can find and compare the different packages. The Starter Cloud should be enough to get started if you’re on a budget and need just the basics.
- • The Plus Cloud maybe be suitable if you expect more traffic or require more than one website.
- • All the packages includes key features like free auto SSL (https secure domain), unlimited email and sub-domains, LiteSpeed and Cloudflare with Railgun.
- Railgun is a website speed optimizer that usually costs 200 per month. It is however free with NameHero through their partnership with Cloudflare.
- Note: Plans can always be upgraded or downgraded as needed in the future.
3 – CHOOSE A DOMAIN NAME
- • A domain that ends with .com is the most popular and well known. Avoid odd and esoteric extensions like .mobi or .club.
- Most potential visitors will automatically assume your website domain name ends in .com. Ideally, you want to make it easy for people to find and remember your website.
- • Choose a domain name that best represents your brand or purpose. Avoid hyphens and names that may be confused with other domains.
- • Try to avoid very long domain names. Finding a short domain can be difficult these days but 15 characters or less is ideal.
- Don’t worry if it’s more than 15 characters as long as it isn’t stuffed with unnecessary or excessive words.
- Tip: You can just add a related keyword to your desired domain name.
- • Don’t forget about checking name availability with social media. Chances are you’ll probably want account names similar to your domain name.
- Its also a good idea to run the domain name through the USPTO trademark database. You don’t want a domain name that can violate an intellectual property.
- ALREADY HAVE A DOMAIN NAME?
- • Choose the Transfer your domain from another registrar option if you already have a domain name and want to transfer it to NameHero,
- • Choose the I will use my existing domain and update my nameserver option if you have a domain name but don’t want to transfer it.
- You can use your existing registrar by updating the nameserver from the NameHero hosting dashboard.
4 – CHOOSE THE TERM OF YOUR PLAN
- • You’ll notice that choosing a longer term will be cheaper than a shorter one but you should choose the option that’s comfortable for you.
- • Automatic nightly backup is already included with every NameHero hosting plan so “Offsite Backup” is probably unnecessary but can be added later if needed.
- • A “Dedicated IP Address” will give you your own IP address within a shared server just like you would with a dedicated server.
5 – CHOOSE ADDITIONAL FEATURES
- • Add ID Protection for domain privacy protection. This will prevent your personal information from being visible to the public which can prevent spam. At 2.98 per year, it is a bargain compared to other hosting companies.
- • NameHero comes with unlimited email addresses but if you need your email forwarded, you can enable email forwarding.
6 – COMPLETE REGISTRATION AND CONFIRM YOUR ACCOUNT
- • Input your account details and don’t forget to write down your password. Upon completion, a verification email will be sent to your designated email address.
- • Per 2013 ICANN RAA, your registered email address needs to be verified to activate the registered domain name. Don’t forget to check your email or your spam folder to confirm. (This Step is important)
7 – LOGIN TO YOUR ACCOUNT
- • Go ahead and log into your NameHero account so you can now install WordPress.
Now that your web host account is setup, you now have a place to install WordPress to. Installing WordPress is as easy as a few mouse clicks in your account cPanel.
The cPanel is your backend of your hosting account where you can perform functions such as installing WordPress, setting up email, opening support tickets, and much more.
Tip: A quick and alternate way to acess the cPanel is by going to your browser URL and navigating to www.yourdomainname.com/cpanel (replace “yourdomainname” with your actual domain name).
1 – LOGIN TO YOUR CLIENT AREA DASHBOARD
- • Click Cloud Web Hosting then choose the hosting plan you registered with.
- • Click Login to cPanel from the left sidebar.
2 – INSTALL WORDPRESS FROM SOFTACULOUS APPS INSTALLER
3 – ONE CLICK WORDPRESS INSTALL WITH SOFTACULOUS
4 – INPUT WORDPRESS ACCOUNT INFORMATION
- • Choose the most recent version of WordPress.
- • When choosing the protocol, choose http://www instead of the https because it can take some time for the SSL certificate to be generated.
- • Enter your Site Name and Site Description. You can always edit this in the WordPress dashboard so no need to dwell on it here.
- • Enter your Admin Username and Admin Password. The Admin Email should auto-generate and will be your first email address with your website.
- • Gutenberg is the newest version of WordPress and brings a new look to the interface. With the update, the WordPress editor no longer looks like the classic version as shown below. Click the Classic Editor checkbox if you prefer this look.
- Even if this option isn’t chosen now, the plugin can always be installed later.
- • You can select a theme here but this part is optional. You can access the full theme library after the installation process is complete. Just click the “Install button for now and select a theme later.
5 – LOGIN TO YOUR WORDPRESS ADMIN DASHBOARD
- • Once installation is complete, you’ll be displayed the installation details. The URL (http://www.yourwebsitename.com/wp-admin) is where you can login to your WordPress backend panel. It’s not a bad idea to bookmark this page.
- • Once logged in, you can control everything about your website including themes, pages, posts, plugins, and much more.
WordPress installation is now complete and your website is ready for a theme.
DESIGN YOUR WEBSITE WITH A THEME
In order to start designing and editing your WordPress website, you need to first install a theme. Free themes can be installed directly from the dashboard sidebar.
Appearance > Themes > click the Add New button
You’ll be able to search and preview many free themes by category, filter, or with the search bar. There are many themes to choose from so take your time and choose the one most suitable for your needs.
Find a theme you like and click Install then Activate. If you later decide that you want to change the theme, you can do it without losing your content so feel free to experiment with different themes.
Tip: Premium themes have more features and functions with a better design.
MyThemeShop and Elegantthemes have many custom paid themes that you can check out. Premium themes have advantages like ongoing support and updates but test the free themes first before paying for one.
ADD WEBSITE CONTENT
With your theme now installed it’s time to add some content. In WordPress, you can add content to three areas in the dashboard sidebar (Pages, Media, and Posts).
Sample pages, posts, and media will come pre-installed with themes so it’s okay to delete them and start from scratch.
1 – HOW TO ADD PAGES
- They can be standalone pages or can be part of the header navigation menu (we’ll set that up in the next section). From the dashboard sidebar, go to:
Pages > Add New > give it a Title and include any content you wish.
2 – HOW TO ADD MEDIA FILES
- • Media is where files like images and videos are stored. You can find all the media files used throughout your website from the Media tab. Pictures and videos can be added as you create your posts so there is no need to add it ahead of time.
- • To add images or videos while composing a post, click Add Media and the file will be embedded where the cursor is pointed.
- Tip: If you need unique stock photos for your website, a site like depositphotos has many images to choose from. Keep in mind that using high resolution images can slow down your web page loading time so using smaller sized files are better for speed.
3 – HOW TO CREATE POSTS
- • Posts section is where you would compose your blog posts or pages. Blog posts are organized by date so new posts are always displayed on top of older ones.
- • Not all business websites have a blog section but if you do have one, this is where posts would be created. From the dashboard sidebar, go to:
Posts > Add New > then create your title and content
- • After creating your pages and posts, don’t forget to click the Save Draft button. You can also Preview the content to see what it looks like. Once you’re ready to make your pages live, click the Publish button.
- • By default, WordPress displays the blog section as the Home page but this can be changed. We’ll go over how you can make an individual page as the Home page in the Initial Settings and Installing Plugins section below.
SETTING UP A NAVIGATION MENU
It’s time to create a navigation menu using the pages you created. Every website should have a navigation bar so visitors will have easy access to different sections of your website. This can be done from the dashboard sidebar.
Appearance > Menus > Create a Menu Name > Create Menu
You should be able to see all the pages that you’ve created. Create your menu by giving it a name.
Select your Pages > Click Add to Menu > Check Primary > and Save Menu
This is the order in which the navigation menu will appear. You can change the order of the navigation by simply dragging the tab around.
Dragging a menu item slightly to the right will create a dropdown sub-menu.
INITIAL SETTINGS AND INSTALLING PLUGINS
There are default settings that should be initially adjusted for every new WordPress site. They include setting up the structure of your permalinks, making the Home page static and installing some essential plugins.
1 – HOW TO SET UP PERMALINKS
- • A permalink is how your URL will look in the browser. When a new post is created, the name should be extented into the URL. However, by default, WordPress will not properly display your post name in the URL. To change this go to:
Settings > Permalinks > choose Post Name > Save Changes
- • Now your webpage URL will properly include your post name and look like this: https://yourdomainname.com/postname/
2 – HOW TO SET UP A STATIC HOME PAGE
- • Although WordPress is used for all types of websites, it initially started out as a blogging platform. That’s why the default setting will make your Home page will look like a blog with blog posts.
- You can change your Home page to a static one if you don’t want it to look like a blog. To change this go to:
Settings > Reading > and choose A Static Page radio button.
- • Choose the page that you want displayed on the Home page from the drop-down menu. The second drop-down menu is for the blog page. Specify the appropriate page or just leave it as is.
3 – HOW TO INSTALL PLUGINS
- • So far the only thing we installed is a theme. Plugins are essential building blocks for all WordPress website that allow functionalities and features. They are available from the dashboard sidebar:
Plugins > Add New > Install > Activate
- • You can search plugins by category or within the search bar. After installing a plugin, click Activate in order to make it active.
- • There are plugins for everything you may need such as a contact forms, Google maps, SEO tools, and many more.
- Don’t forget to visit this vast marketplace if you ever need to add a function to your website.
- •TIP: For new sites, here is short list of essential plugins you should consider installing.
- – Contact Form 7
- – Yoast
- – Akismet Anti-Spam
- – Smush
- – Classic Editor
- – Wordfence Security
- – WP Fastest Cache
Congratulations on creating your first WordPress website!
You just built a website using the same method a web developer would, but without the costs. I hope this DIY guide fulfilled its purpose in helping individuals and business to get online.
But its not over. There are plenty more customization and features you can add to your site that are further explained in our free guides. Feel free to look around.
- For help with installing web fonts and google fonts.
- Free stock photos and images for your new site.
- How to make your WordPress website fast.