Long gone are the days when you needed to be a programmer to start a website. Today, it is easier than ever for the average person to build a polished and professional for practically no cost. This is a step by step how to make a website tutorial. After you follow all these steps you will see how easy it is to get your way online. Larry contributed to our ” how to make a website ” so it was easy to understand and you can get going today.
Whether you want to start a blog from scratch or open an ecommerce store, all you have to do is follow this step-by-step guide to creating a website.
Step One:How to make a website- Choose a Website Building Platform
Now, it you aren’t the most tech savvy person, the phrase “website building platform” might not mean much to you, but the concept is pretty simple.
When the internet first took off, you had to learn a coding language in order to create a website. Most developers used HTML or CSS, which both involve a steep learning curve. For those who didn’t have the time and patience to learn a whole new language, hiring a web developer was basically the only option.
Fast forward to 2016 and the market is flooded with content management systems (also commonly referred to as a website building platform) that allow anyone to easily build a website.
Which Platform Should I Choose?
The Top Three Website Building Platforms
Now, there will inevitably be some debate about which platforms are the best, but WordPress, Wix and Weebly are consistently ranked at the top of available choices.
Despite some stiff competition WordPress continues to be the reigning king. In fact, the vast majority of websites on the internet are published by WordPress. Here are some statistics to put the scope of WordPress’s popularity into perspective:
- WordPress accounts for 50-60% of the entire global content management market
- Every second, 17 posts are published on a WordPress hosted site
- New York Post, TED, USA Today, CNN and NBC all use WordPress
- Free! If that word is like music to your ears, then you will love WordPress. You can download it for free and instantly have access to a huge and growing number of themes, templates and plugins.
- User Friendly. Yes, there it will take a little time to learn your way around and get used to navigating the different menus, but the dashboard is highly intuitive. If you are familiar with Word, then you shouldn’t have a problem adding content to your WordPress site.
- Scalable and Flexible. WordPress is one of the new options that works just as well for a small blog as it does for high traffic sites like Time.com. Your site can seamlessly grow with you are your needs change and your audience expands.
- Fully customizable. Start with beautiful theme and then the sky is the limit. Want to add a new feature or functionality to your site? You are almost guaranteed to find a plugin that can do the job.
- Extensive user community. With millions of users all over the world, it is easy to get answers to your questions and speak directly with theme developers and plugin creators about their products.
- Responsive sites. Your website will look great whether your readers are viewing it on their PC, tablet or smartphone.
The Pros and Cons of Wix
Wix is an undeniably strong option. It offers a drag and drop editor, technical support and a decent selection of themes. However, it does come with a monthly fee and users often complain that it takes too long to speak with customer service. Expect to pay for a premium pricing package if you want access to the same features that come standard with WordPress.
The Pros and Cons of Weebly
The beauty of Weebly lies in its simplicity. It provides basic tools that cater to beginners. Unfortunately, its greatest strength is also its most glaring weakness. Users can quickly outgrow the platform and become frustrated with too many limitations. This is especially unfortunate considering the fact that it does come with a price tag.
Ultimately, WordPress provides the most versatile and affordable option. You won’t be disappointed with the range of tools and capabilities available.
Step Two: Choose a Domain and Hosting Provider
Keep in mind that WordPress simple provides a way to design and manage your content. In order to make your website live, you will need two additional elements:
- A domain name. This is your web address that allows people to find you on the internet. For example: www.mywesbite.com
- A Hosting service. This is a service that allows you to connect your website to the internet.
With WordPress, you can get a free domain, but your URL will look something like: mywebsite.wordpress.com. If you just want to publish a blog to practice your writing or share news with friends and family, then this free domain option might work just fine.
However, if you want to reach a wider audience, generate revenue or build a business, you will want to invest in purchasing your own domain. It will look far more professional and help you to build your brand.
The good news is that a domain and hosting service will only cost your about $5 per month.
Where Do I Go to get a Domain Name and Hosting?
Again, there are a lot of options out there. Bluehost, Hostgator and GoDaddy are all big industry names, but there are some lesser known brands that may better serve your needs. Fatcow is one of the most affordable options that is also highly compatible with WordPress.
The Advantages of Using Fatcow Web Hosting Services
- You get a free domain name.
- If you own a domain with a different provider, you can have it transferred for free.
- Your plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- A personalized email and unlimited mailboxes
- $100 Google Ad Credits
- $100 Bing Ad Credits
- The website is full of awesome cow-related puns
- Excellent secuirty and load times
Fatcow is one of the most affordable and convenient options. At just $49 for an entire year of service, you can get a domain and hosting for around $4 per month.
The other great part about going with a hosting service is that you don’t have to worry about updates. You can rely on Fatcow to provide the latest in security and server technology.
How Do I Choose a Domain Name?
It depends. If you have an existing business that you are looking to build a site for, then your domain name should be the same as your company name. YourCompanyName.com
If you are creating a personal site that is meant to build your personal brand, then you using your name is the obvious choice. YourName.com
When you go to enter your domain name on Fatcow, you will notice that there are a bunch of options when it comes domain extensions. Traditional extensions, such as .com, .org or .net, are still your best bet.
More Tips for Choosing an Awesome Domain Name
First and foremost, if you have an idea that you really like, that should be your top choice.
If you aren’t feeling too confident about your domain name, then here are some tips to consider.
- You want a name that will be easy to brand. This requires a certain balance between being too general and too specific. Ideally, readers will have an idea of what to expect when they visit your site just from your domain name.
For example: top-health-site-for-women is a little too boring and will be difficult to brand. Try to add some personality that better reflects the style and tone of your site.
2. Make it easy to read and spell. Some marketers like to get cute with their spelling of common words or create brands with crazy names. The truth is that this can actually work against your site. You want to come up with something that is to the point and easy to remember. Don’t go overboard.
As you enter potential domain names, you may find that a lot of your top choices are already taken. With about 150 million domain names, this shouldn’t come as much or a surprise. Just keep trying different combinations and see what works.
You may even consider adding another domain extension to your root domain name.
With all that in mind, you are ready to set up your Fatcow hosting account and secure your domain name. The entire process should just take a few minutes and then you can move onto the next step.
Step Three: Setting Up Your Website
All the tools you will need are in place you are ready to start building your website! You will need to install WordPress, but the good news is that Fatcow makes it easy to download the program and link it up with your site.
Log into your Fatcow Control Panel. Towards the bottom of the screen, in the section labeled website, you will see the icon for WordPress.
Once you click on this button, you will be asked where you would like to install WordPress. Simply enter your domain name. From there, you will be given detailed instructions on how to set up WordPress.
This process will include creating a WordPress username and password that you will use to access the backend of your website. Be sure to save this information in a safe place.
Logging into Your WordPress Publishing Platform
When you are ready to start editing and adding to your site all your have to do is type your URL along with the extension /wp-admin. For example:
Keep in mind that you will be asked to enter your username and password before being directed to the WordPress dashboard, so keep that information handy. Once you are logged in, your screen will look something like this:
Choose a Theme or Template
This is where things really start to get fun! In simple terms, theme is a template that provides an outline for your website along with basic font and color scheme choices. When you first login, you will notice that a very clean and simple theme is serving as a placeholder. You can certainly use this to design your site, by why go with the first choice when there are so many free options available.
One of the main problems with choosing a theme is that there are so many options. It makes it hard to choose and you can eat up a lot of time scrolling through the seemingly endless list of themes. The best way to start narrowing down your choices is to start by looking at the free themes.
In the sidebar on the left, click on “Appearance.” This will open the menu and “Themes” will be the first item listed. Click on this link and then type free in the search box to view all the free themes.
When you see a theme you like, hover you mouse over the thumbnail photo and two buttons will appear. You can preview or install the theme. It really is that easy to change the look of your website.
You might also want to consider searching based on the type of content you will be publishing. There are themes available that specifically cater to photo blogs, travel sites, news stories and a wide variety of other content.
If you will be using your site to mainly showcase videos or images, there are themes that specifically cater to your needs. The same is true for sites that are looking to publish articles and written content or find a balance between images and text.
As you are browsing themes, also be on the lookout to make sure that your top choices are responsive. Basically, this means that it can be easily viewed on any mobile device. You will want to make sure that readers who are using their phone or tablet to navigate your site don’t run into any problems. While this is quickly becoming an industry standard, there may still be some holdouts who have yet to update their theme.
Should I Pay to Purchase a Theme?
While you certainly can spring for a premium theme, there are plenty of high quality, free options available. In addition, it you are just starting out, a free theme might be the best way to learn your way around WordPress and build your site. If you want to change things up in the future, you certainly can.
The other bit of good news about premium themes is that they are relatively affordable. If you find one you really like, prices typically range from $50-$100. That is a pretty reasonable one-time free to help get your site set up and running.
When you think about the fact that most professional web developers charge upwards of $100 an hour, a premium theme starts to look a lot more affordable.
Install Your Theme
Once you find the theme of your dreams, all you have to do is click on install and activate the theme. The best part is that switching themes doesn’t erase any of your content. This means that you are free to change themes whenever you like without having to worry about building a website from scratch all over again.
It is time to start creating pages, posts and really getting down to the nitty gritty of building your site. Let’s start with how to add pages.
Adding and Editing Website Pages
You have probably looked at enough websites to know that there are usually a few basic pages that most sites include. If you are building a business site, you will want to include a “Services”, “Contact Us” and perhaps “Mission Statement” pages.
All this can be done by using the menus located in the sidebar on the left. Click on “Pages” then “Add New.”
Once you have opted to create a new page, you will be taken to an editor that looks similar to Word and works basically the same. If you have decent word processing skills, then you should be able to easily create content for your pages.
- REMINDER – Before your exit out of the page editor, be sure to click the “Update” button in order to save your changes.
Create a Menu and Site Navigation
Once you create a new page, you can also create a link to the page that will appear in your navigation bar. This primary menu will make it easy for your readers to find their way around your site and direct them to major sections.
To create a homepage header menu, start by clicking on “Appearance” in the sidebar. You will see an options for “Menus.” Click on that link and you can begin to create your navigation.
In on box on the left, you will see a list of all that pages you have created. To add a page to the menu, simply check the box next to the corresponding page. Towards the bottom of the page, you should also see a section labeled “Menu Settings.” If you set the menu as your primary or header menu, it will appear at the top of your homepage.
- REMINDER – Before you exit the menu page, be sure to click the “Save Menu” button in the bottom right hand corner.
Adding a post involves the same process as adding a page. Simply click on “Posts” the “Add New.” From there you will be taken to the editor where you can write and edit your blog posts. While WordPress will automatically save your work as you go, be sure to hit the “Save Draft” or “Update” button before you exit the screen.
For any business or website looking to attract traffic, a blog is an essential tool. Setting up a regular posting schedule is the best way to grow an audience of readers. The good news is that WordPress makes blogging extremely easy.
As you add posts, there are a few other tools you should take advantage of. In the right hand side bar, you should be a box labeled “Categories.”
As you can see, you can create your own categories. This is a great way to organize your posts and help your readers sift through your site, especially once you have accumulated quite a few posts.
Tips for Making Basic Edits and Changes
One of the main reasons WordPress is the most popular web publishing program in the world is because you can customize your site. In fact, for those who know code, they can go directly to the code source and simply type in any modifications.
Since you are reading this posts, you probably aren’t quite there yet, so here are some common adjustments you can make to help you not only customize your site, but make it more search engine and reader friendly.
Changing Your Site’s Title and Tagline
This is your chance to explain exactly what your site is all about. Choose a title that tells the reader what to expect and ties into your domain name. This will also send a clear sign to search engines and help them rank your site and decide whether or not to recommend it to readers when they search for certain keywords.
When you are ready to edit, go to Settings > General and you will see your website information.
Set Up a Static Front Page
If you aren’t going to be using your site solely as a blog, then you will want to create a permanent homepage that always looks the same. Here is how you do it:
Under the General settings menu, click on “Reading.”
At the top of the page, you will be given the option to click on the circle next to “A static page.” Directly below that, you can tell WordPress which page to use as the front page. If you don’t make this designation, then every new post you publish will go directly to your front page. This is ideal for blogs, but probably not what you want for a business site.
The Wide World of Plugins!
Once you have the basics of your site setup, it is time to start exploring plugins. These little snippets of software code allow you to expand the functionality of your site. If there is anything you would like to add, chances are that a programmer from somewhere around the world has already created a solution that you can download. The best part, is that a lot of plugins are totally free!
With over 25,000 free plugins at your fingertips, it can be hard to know where to start. When you search plugins, which are listed under their own menu header in the left sidebar, be sure to pay attention to ratings and how many other people have downloaded that plugin. If you install and plugin and it isn’t quite what you expected, you can simply deactivate it and/or uninstall it directly from the plugin menu.
To help get you started, here some top plugins that are great for any site:
- Contact form 7. This simple plugin allows you to add a contact form to any page on your site. Readers can then send you an email without having to copy your address and log into their personal email account. It provides a quick and easy way to send a note and collect the emails addresses of your readers.
- Google Analytics. The absolute standard for tracking website performance. You can see how many people are visiting your site, which pages they look at, how long they stay on your site and a whole lot of other information that will help you make improvements.
- Yoast SEO for WordPress. This plugin is another industry standard for making websites SEO friendly. It will analyze your site, give your suggestions for improvements and help you avoid leaving out any meta data that helps search engines crawl and rank your website.
Step Four: Start Creating!
With a couple hours and a few bucks, you can start a website from scratch. It has never been so easy and accessible for the average person to start and manage a website. Once you get the bone of the site in place, start learning your way around WordPress and discovering all the great design and SEO tools that are available. The great thing about WordPress is that it is simple enough for anyone to use, yet powerful and flexible enough for advanced programmers and international corporations. The sky is the limit!