When I created my first website in 2005, I encountered lots of difficulties as a beginner. It was the time when html was the main language for creating a website. Content Management Systems(CMS) were nowhere in the picture . Now a days there are CMSs which allows us to build websites easily without any knowledge in any coding language. I decided to write a guide on how to make a website which will be helpful to all the newbies who plan to build their website themselves.
How to make a website in simple steps?
There is a misconception among newbies that web developing is a difficult area. People become scared and give the work to some web developer who may charge thousands of dollars. What I will emphasize is that there is absolutely no need to pay thousands of dollars to web designers for building a site. All you have to do is follow the below mentioned 3 important steps in creating a website. The approximate cost will be around $120 including domain name, hosting and Premium themes.
The 3 important steps are,
- Choose a domain name.
- Choose the best web hosting
- Select the suitable Content Management System (CMS)
Step #1: Choose your Domain Name.
Everyone will have different needs and different area or niche. Choosing a perfect domain name will play a crucial role in getting recognized over the internet. Using the right domain is important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) also . Typical cost to hand register domain names are from $10 to $15.
You can find some Domain registration coupons in my other posts.
But if you prefer to get an aged domain name, you will have to purchase it from the domain aftermarkets like Godaddy Auctions, Afternic, Sedo, Flippa etc. Keep in mind that getting an aged domain from the aftermarket will significantly increase the cost.
Which Domain Extension should I choose?
.com is the best domain extension unless you target a specific country. It is the most widely used and accepted domain extension around the world. For country specific websites, select the appropriate CCTLD like .co.uk, .in, etc. You may also go for .net, .org, .co, .info etc. as an alternative if the .com is not available for reasonable price.
Exact Match Domain Name (EMD) or Brand able Domain? Which one to choose?
In simple words, if you choose ” cheaphotels.com” it is an exact match domain name. The domain name itself reflects what the website is about. You will get a slight SEO advantage by selecting an exact match domain name.
On the other hand, if you choose “hotelmonkey.com”, it is a brand-able domain. It does not tell anything about the website content. It is just a catchy name which will generate curiosity to someone when they see it. Brand-able domain names are typically promoted by advertising.
It is always better to choose a short domain name. Direct type in traffic will get a boost if the domain name is short!
You can refer to the following post for more information on EMDs , their advantages and about Brand able domains.
Now that you have decided on domain name, it is time to go for the best web hosting which is suitable for your needs.
Step#2: Choose The Best Web Hosting.
Web hosting is the technical name for the service which “hosts”or stores your website’s content and makes it available to users over internet. There are lots of web hosting service providers around the globe like Hostgator, BlueHost, Godaddy, Namecheap etc. and finding the best one is always a tricky task. Don’t worry, I will give some valuable suggestions for choosing the best web hosting for you.
Some hosting companies like BlueHost provide a free domain name with their yearly packages. Hence if you plan to register a new domain name, you can save some money by selecting such type of a host.
For beginners, Shared Hosting is the most cost effective and simple option. I would recommend Hostgator Shared Hosting as I have excellent experience with them since 2013 and found that they are quite reliable and fast. You can check the Hostgator Coupon Codes, which will save you upto 60%. The yearly package which can host unlimited number of sites (Baby Plan) is available for around $57.
Remember that all hosting companies offer a money back guarantee of 30 or 45 days. If you are not satisfied with the web host, you can cancel the account within this money back guarantee period and get a full refund.
Step#3: Choose The Content Management System (CMS)
Gone are the earlier days of building website with html. I still remember the old days in which we made websites in html and connected database manually and became crazy when something went wrong. Now a days there are Content Management Systems which have drastically reduced the difficulty in website building. With a CMS website building is just a walk in the park even for a beginner!
Mainly 3 types of CMSs are widely used for general purpose websites. They are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
It is the most widely used and simplest CMS in the world. I totally recommend WordPress for beginners. It has huge community support and tutorials available online. Also WordPress has a gigantic collection of themes and plugins which are capable of fulfilling any needs of a web master.
Joomla is mainly used for E Commerce websites. EBay uses Joomla for their interface. Joomla is little bit more technical oriented than WordPress and hence it is not recommended for a newbie web developer.
It is a very powerful and robust CMS that widely used by experienced web developers. But that power is not at all required for a newbie and he can not even digest it properly!
And Finally Recommended——> WordPress
WordPress is so simple that even people without any technical knowledge in html or php can build and manage websites. All web hosting providers have One Click Installers for it which can be found in the Control Panel- typically CPanel.
Let me tell you something about web hosting control panels.
When you purchase a hosting account, typically you will get a welcome mail containing urls and credentials to login to your billing portal and control panel. Shared Hosting packages use CPanel as the control panel. It is the most widely used one and very easy to use also.
How to Point your domain to your Hosting Account?
Assume that you have registered the domain name at Godaddy and purchased web hosting from Hostgator. You have to change the Name Servers of the domain to point to your hosting account. Your allotted name servers will be mentioned in the welcome email you received from Hostgator.
Nameservers for Hostgator Shared Hosting are something like nsXXXX.hostgator.com, nsXXXY.hostgator.com.
Once the domain is pointed to your hosting account, you can proceed to install WordPress on the domain. If you registered hosting account by giving an existing domain name or registered a free domain , you don’t have to add it as Addon domain. Otherwise, you have to add the domain as an Addon Domain from the CPanel. If you plan to have more websites, each domain must be added as Addon domain in the CPanel.
How to install WordPress from CPanel?
See below the screenshot of Hostgator CPanel. There is a One Click WordPress installer available.
Click on the “Quick Install” button and select the domain name on which WordPress is to be installed. Input your desired admin email, site name, admin username and a password (In Hostgator, they will generate a random password and mail it to you). Then Click the “Install Now” button and you will see that WordPress is installed and login credentials will be emailed to you.
How to Configure WordPress Installation?
You can access the WordPress Dashboard by opening the url http://yoursitename.com/wp-admin and logging in with admin username and password you got in the above mentioned email.
Every WordPress site’s appearance is decided by the theme you install and activate on it. There are thousands of themes, both free and premium. To install any WordPress theme on your site, Goto WP Dashboard->Appearance->Themes.
There you will find the existing pre installed default themes and option to install free WordPress.org themes.
To install a new theme, click on “Add New Theme”. On the next screen you will see lot of free WordPress.org themes and also an option to “Upload Theme”. You can just browse through the list of free themes and try installing and activating any of them on your site. There is a search option where you can input your specific requirements like travel,recipe, photo gallery etc. and get the refined results.
If you need more functionality and customization, you have to purchase some premium theme from WordPress Theme Providers like MyThemeShop, Theme Junkie, StudioPress etc. After the purchase, the theme files will be given as a zip file. You have to upload that theme zip file in the “Upload Theme” field shown in the above picture. After upload is completed, click on “Activate Now” and the new theme will get activated.
How to Add Content to your WordPress Website?
- Check the left sidebar of your WP Dashboard and find “Pages”.
- Click on Pages and go to “Add New”. There you will see the WordPress editor. It is just like any other word processing software, for example, Microsoft Word.
- Give a Title to the Page. You can type text in the below editor and add images or videos by clicking on “Add Media”
- When the editing is completed, click on the “Publish”button at the right side and your page is live!
How to create Categories and Posts?
Categories are types of WordPress Posts. For example, “Travel Guides” , “Blog”, “Coupons”etc. After creating each post, you can set the category of it. If you click on the Category name, all posts of that category will be displayed.
To add Categories goto WP Dashboard–>Posts–> Categories
To add Posts to your WordPress site, Goto WP Dashboard–>Posts–> Add New. Editing the content of a post is exactly same as adding content of a Page which I have explained above.
Create a WordPress Menu
Menus are the main navigation points from where the visitors can reach any section of your website. To add a menu,
- Goto Appearance-> Menus and click on “create a new menu”.
Set the Site Title and Tagline
To set the site title and tagline, goto Settings->General from your dashboard. See the screenshot from my own site.
Site title and tagline(site description) should be something catchy and relevant to the content of your website. They are very import for getting ranked in search engines.
Set HomePage of your Site
By default, your website’s home page will be showing latest posts in descending order. If you do not like this appearance, you can create a Page with different layout and set it as home page. Many Page Builder Plugins are available for free usage.
To set a Home Page,
- Goto Settings->Reading
- In the Reading Settings, change the “Front page displays” to “A static page (select below)” and select an already created Page as Front Page. See the example below.
Install WordPress Plugins
As I told in the beginning, there are thousands of WordPress plugins to add features and functionalities to your site. They are addons which get integrated with the WordPress installation and provide the desired feature. Plugins are extremely comfortable. You do not have to do any coding to add any feature. Instead,just install the plugin and activate it!
To install Plugins, go to “Plugins -> Add New” and search for the required ones. In addition to the huge number of free plugins, you can purchase Premium plugins, Upload them and activate.
Below are some extremely useful plugins every WordPress site should have.
This plugin helps in optimizing your WordPress site for search engines and helps in getting ranked fast. It gives suggestions while editing a post and helps you to add keywords and meta info for better SEO.
Akismet helps you to get rid off unwanted spam comments. Lot of people spam over the internet with automated links and comments. Akismet scans the comments and blocks all spam.
Contact Form 7
This plugin creates beautiful Contact Forms which can be added in the Contact Us Page.
Now that you have successfully learnt how to make a website easily, it is time to rock over the internet. There are lots of Youtube videos for WordPress help. By watching them you can get more familiarized and do more customization on your WordPress website.
So how was my guide on how to create a website ? I hope this tutorial will help at least some beginners who wanted to start their online presence or business. Let me know your opinions as specific questions by commenting below.