Have you always wanted to create a website, but don’t know how or where to begin? Well, you have come to the right place. This article is a simple tutorial for individuals, bloggers, business owners, or anyone else who is interested in building their own website. This guide will take you through step by step and help you to develop a functioning, attractive, website.
Step 1: Decide on a Platform
Before you start thinking about color scheme, pages, and graphics, there are many other decisions that must be made. First off, you should start out by choosing what website platform to build your website on. To do so, there are many different platforms called CMS (content management systems) that you will have to choose from.
A CMS is simply a website building platform that is user-friendly, allowing you to build and manage your website content. In a CMS, a user can create blog posts, add pages, change the layouts, add graphics, and select many different color schemes. CMS makes it much easier than having to deal with a bunch of loose data and coding in HTML, CSS, and PHP.
Now, what CMS platform should you use?
There are 3 main content management platforms that most of the internet sites are run on. These CMS are different in what they have to offer, so it is up to you to select the one that is best suitable to meet your needs. The 3 main content management platforms include:
- Word Press
According to recent statistics in 2017, 50% of websites run on WordPress, 18% of websites run on Drupal, and 7% of websites run on Joomla. There are many other website builders available on the market, but choosing from these 3 main ones is highly suggested. These three content management platforms are discussed in a bit more detail below.
#1: Word Press
There is no easier way to build a website than using WordPress. WordPress is the most popular website building platform for several reasons. These include:
- It is user-friendly: WordPress is so easy to use. If you are familiar with the standard Microsoft programs, such as Word or Excel, then you will have no problem using WordPress. The layout of WordPress is very similar and therefore it will be easy to navigate for you.
- It is Free: You don’t have to put any money into using WordPress to build your website. There are additional plugins or themes that can be purchased, but the main content building part of it is free. All that you will have to purchase is your domain, as you would have to with any other CMS program.
- No coding involved: Using WordPress does not involve having to learn any of the coding systems as needed with HTML, CSS, and PHP. This is a huge bonus as coding language can be very confusing to a beginner.
- It is responsive: WordPress works very well on any device, even on mobile and tablets. Having the option to run WordPress on multiple devices is very convenient and essential in today’s world of technology.
- Offers a ton of Support: Due to the massive use of WordPress, there is a huge support community for it. If you have any problems or a questions, it is very easy to find a solution or answer to it. There are many blogs and FAQ sections on search engines for answers to WordPress questions.
For beginners looking to create a small to medium sized website, or a blog, I highly suggest sticking to WordPress. It is the easiest and most convenient website building platform to work with. You will fly through the steps of setting up your site and it will be launched before you know it.
Although Joomla is not as user-friendly and easy to use as WordPress, it still is relatively simple. The website builder is offered free to users and offers many free plugins to choose from. You must keep in mind that sometimes these plugins or additions are not put through security checks, so this could pose a security risk to your computer. If you are looking to use Joomla, you may find some difficulty in finding answers to your questions, as the support community remains much smaller than others. If Joomla is your choice of a website builder, than it can be beneficial in creating e-commerce or social networking sites.
If you are all about customization and creating things to suit your needs, then Drupal is the way to go. The only downfall is that it is much more complex to use than WordPress or Joomla. You will have to spend time learning the system, as it can be difficult to follow. Drupal does not make use of plugins, but rather modules. If you are a beginner in website development, then I would recommend using either WordPress or possibly Joomla. Drupal is also free, but is the most difficult to use of the three. You may need some assistance in utilizing the program.
Step 2: Hosting Provider & Domain Name
After selecting your website building platform, it is time to select a domain name and choose a web host for your site. What is a domain name or web host? Well….
Domain Name: Your domain name is an important part of your website, as this is what people search on the internet to get to your page. Ex. www.yourwebsite.com. Below are some tips that will help you in creating the perfect domain name.
Web Hosting: This is where all of your files are stored and the area which displays these files on your site for visitors. There are many options to choose from when it comes to selecting the perfect web host.
In order to launch and create a website, it is essential that you have both a Domain Name & Web Host.
So, where can you get a domain name and host?
Bluehost is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, site for web hosting and domain name registration on the internet. They are reliable, affordable, have great customer service, and offer a 1 click easy installation process. Bluehost activates your hosting account immediately, so you don’t have to wait around to get started on your site. There are some other web hosting providers to choose from, but it can be complicated to work with a provider that does not help you get through the process as easily as Bluehost does. Other provides may not provide a 1-click installation, which saves so much hassle come time to launch your site. Keep in mind that cheaper is not always better.
Here is a list of some other web hosting platforms:
- Media Temple
- And many others.
To get access to an efficient web hosting program, it will typically cost you between $3-$6/per month. This is very cheap and it is worth the investment if you are serious about creating a great website.
If you choose to go with the popular Bluehost, you can get a basic package for only $2.95 a month + a free domain name. If you want more features for your site, you have the option of spending a little extra and going with Bluehost’s plus plan for only $5.45 per month! You can always start with the basic package and upgrade later.
What does a plan with Bluehost get you? If you choose to go with Bluehost’s plus plan, you will receive:
- A free domain name ($15 dollar value)
- Unlimited website space
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Free website builder
- High quality, fast, and reliable web hosting
- An email account (It is provided upon sign up. This helps you maintain a professional profile while responding to clients).
- Ability to host other websites right on your account
This plan is worth every penny and I suggest not letting this one up!
Tips on Choosing a Domain Name
Now that you have selected a hosting package, it is time to select the perfect domain name for your website. If you chose Bluehost for your web hosting, then the domain name is completely FREE. Creating the perfect name for your website can be one of the toughest parts of building a website. It might take some time to think of a perfect domain name that will suit your site. Here are some tips on selecting the perfect domain name. Your domain name should be:
- Memorable: You want to choose a site that is going to stick in someone’s head. You do not want people forgetting your site every time they go to search for it. This can be annoying.
- Short: Don’t create a domain name this is very long. This will make it hard for visitors to remember. Short is the way to go.
- Simple: Refrain from choosing a domain name that is complex. Do not include a bunch of numbers or hyphens in your name. This will make it very hard for users to type and remember.
- Brandable: Try to focus your domain name on the brand. Let’s say your site is relating to books. Try to include the word books in the domain name.
- Unique: Stay away from creating a domain that is very like another site. You do not want people to get mixed up between sites on the web.
Another great thing about choosing Bluehost for your domain name and web hosting is that if the name you are looking for is not available, they will provide you with alternative names that are similar. This makes the process much easier for you and less time consuming.
After you have selected your domain name, make sure to submit it so that it is taken off the market. Bluehost will secure it for you and you can simply move on to the next steps.
Step 3: Set up WordPress
The boring steps of the website building process are now almost complete! Now that you have chosen the perfect web hosting platform and domain name, you are well on your way to making your website live!
Assuming you have selected the WordPress platform to run your website, it is now time to install it. Sounds hard right? Thankfully, this is super easy due to their 1-click installation! There is also the option of manual installation that I will review with you as well.
1-Click-Installation Process with WordPress
Just as the name states; 1-click and it will be installed! It is that simple. To take advantage of this 1-click-installation process, you will have to start by signing into your hosting account. For this example, I will review the 1-click-installation process associated with using WordPress. If you chose to use Joomla or Drupal as your web hosting company, then there is no need to worry. The process is very similar and the same steps can be followed.
Below are the steps that you need to follow for the easy “1-click-installation” process:
- Login to your web hosting account. If you signed up with BlueHost, simply head over to their site and login.
- Find the button that says “Control Panel,” and click on it.
- Select “1-Click-Installs.”
- Find the “WordPress” icon and click on it. (This is where it will differ if you chose another web hosting platform. Simply find that companies icon and select it instead).
- Now you will need to select the domain where you want to install your website on. If you purchased a domain name or got yours free through BlueHost, simply select the one you want to use.
- Click the “Install Now” button and voila! You now have access to your brand new website. A screen will show up with the details on how you can access your site.
Sometimes website designers prefer manual installation to customize all the components of their website. Another reason, is that sometimes web hosting companies do not offer a “1-click-installation” procedure. If that is the case, they you should really consider changing your website host! For whatever reason it may be, below are instructions on how to manually install WordPress. (Again, I am writing the instructions for WordPress. For Joomla or Drupal, the process is somewhat similar).
- Create a folder on your computer and unzip WordPress into that folder.
- In the folder, find the file name that reads “wp-config-sample.php.” Change this name to read “wp-config-php.” You can either click on it to rename the file or right click and select, rename.
- Open up “wp-config-php” and fill in this information:
define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘database_name_here’); – Database name (if you are unsure of this, ask the support team) define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username_here’); – Your hosting username define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password_here’); – Your hosting password
- Click Save.
- Login to your hosting ftp. I suggest using FileZilla. The FTP address will be ftp.yourdomain.com. Your username and password are the same ones that you used to register your host.
- Upload all files from WordPress to your FTP server. You can simply drag and drop these files into FileZilla. Note: If there is a file named “index,” delete it.*
- Now go to the URL: yourdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php. You should now see your website.
The manual installation process is a lot more work than the 1-click installation. This is something to consider when selecting what web host program to go with!
Step 4: Set up your Website
Now that you have purchased your host provider/domain name, and you have installed WordPress, you are ready to customize your website! It is now time to choose the perfect theme/template for your site. WordPress automatically installs a very basic, clean, theme to your page. To make the theme more unique and customizable, you should start off by changing it! Here are instructions on how to find the best theme to suit your website.
How to Find a Theme
- Login to WordPress: Type in http://yoursite.com/wp-admin to bring up this page. (Replace “yoursite” with your domain name that you have selected). This will bring up your dashboard.
- Search the Themes
A theme is a collection of files that are put together to produce the style of your website. A theme includes things such as: design, color schemes, fonts, templates, menus, structure, and style. Themes differ in many ways.
WordPress gives you access to over 1500 FREE themes. You can access these free themes under the “Appearance” tab in the left hand section of the dashboard. WordPress gives you the ability to search through these free themes using the filter option. Customize your search by selecting a specific color, pattern, design, size, or background picture based on what you are looking for. This will limit your results and give you themes based on your wants. If you change your mind on your theme type, simply unselect your selections in the filter options and customize them to something different.
In addition to the 1500 FREE themes, you have the option of selecting a theme that is more elegant, professional, or unique. WordPress offers access to many other themes that can be purchased for just a small fee. Under the appearance tab, you can search the premium themes section to see these themes. Finding the perfect theme for you site is very important. Take your time with it. The theme is what attracts people to your site, and they will be able to determine how much time was spent on this aspect.
How to Install your Theme
Once you have found the theme that you like, you can install it. This is very simple. You simply select the theme, click “Install,” followed by, “Activate.” If you want to preview your theme before you install it, simply click on the “Preview” button. If you make a mistake or decide on a different theme later, you can select a new one and activate it the same way. Changing your theme in the future will have no effect on your website content.
Add Content/Pages to the Site
Once you have installed and activated your theme, it is time to add content and pages to your site. Adding content and pages to your site using WordPress is very easy.
How to Create a Page
Let’s say you want to start off by creating a page for your website for your “Contact US” section. Below are the steps you need to follow to create a page for your site.
- Open WordPress: Simply open the site.
- Click Pages: Select the word “Pages” down on the left hand sidebar, and click “Add New.”
- You will then see a screen that is like a Microsoft Word document. Here you have the option of adding text, images, videos, links, etc. Play around with the content and make sure it is very appealing for your audience.
- Add Content: Add all the contents for the section in this portion of WordPress. If you type some and want to return later, simply click “Save Draft” so that it will be there for you later. You can also click “Preview,” and see how the content will appear before it becomes “Live.” Make sure to follow proper tips for content for websites. You want to make sure your website content meets all the standards.
Add Pages to the Menu
If you want your pages linked to your navigation bar, then you will want to add the pages into your menu. You can add your pages into your menu by:
- Opening WordPress.
- Clicking “Appearance” and then “Menus” in the left sidebar in WordPress.
- Select the page that you want to add to the menu by selecting it or clicking the checkbox next to it and hitting “Add to Menu.”
This page will now show in your navigation bar. The same steps can be taken to add additional pages.
If you are a blog writer, then “Posts” is the section that you will want to work in and you should be familiar with this section. In the “Posts” section, you can categorize your different posts into categories. To create a new category for your blog, simply:
- Open WordPress.
- Select “Post” in the left-hand side bar on your dashboard.
- Then you want to find the “Categories” button. Click it and press “Save.”
Like what you did with pages section, you can add content to your posts and edit them within WordPress. When you are ready for the content to be published, don’t forget to hit “Save.”
Other Website Customizations
Now that we have covered the basic customizations in WordPress, you will be able to browse through the other features and tweaks that you can make to your site. Using your dashboard, you will be able to add graphics to your site, change titles, add video content, and many other awesome features. Take your time with customizing your website. It will only be as good as the amount of time you put towards it. Your dashboard will be your best friend and make the customization process easy for you.
Step 5: Installing Plugins
To get more out of your WordPress account for your website, it is a great idea to install plugins. But what is a plugin?
A plugin is an extension that is linked to WordPress capabilities that enable you to add features and functions to your site that don’t come built-in or are not readily available. Rather than having to build features from scratch, you can install plugins right to your site. Plugins are useful for doing many things such as adding forms, creating stores, or adding photo galleries to your site.
How to Install Plugins?
Go back to your WordPress dashboard and go to “Plugins,” and then click “Add New.” Here you can search from thousands of different plugins available. There are over 25,000 FREE ones to choose from. So, take your time browsing! Just as you could with the themes, filter your search options to narrow down the plugins that you are looking for. This will save you time in finding what you want.
Once you come across a plugin or plugins that you like, simply click “Install.” It is that easy.
To make the plugin search a little bit easier for you, I have provided you with a link of some of the best and most popular plugins available in WordPress.
Step 6: Ready to Launch!
By this step your website should be fully functioning! If you missed any steps, or something is now working, simply scroll up and follow through again. Always contact support if you have any additional questions.
So, creating your website wasn’t that bad, was it? If you follow the steps provided in this article, you are on your way to creating a great website. Although this is the last step in this article, this is not the end for your website. Continue to improve your website and update it. The more time and attention you give it, the better it will be!