After many people have asked me how to make a website, I have put together an easy to follow step-by-step guide on website creation. After reading this step-by-step tutorial on how to make a website, you’ll have everything you need to get your website running in an hour.
Let me give you the run down before we get started. First, we’ll have to pick the right website building platform to provide the foundation of your website. Then, you will have to find a domain name and a professional web hosting service. There are tons of providers out there and you’ll need to carefully select the provider as it can impact the overall performance of your website, such as speed, stability, up-time, etc. I will show you exactly where to find the best deals as we go along in this guide.
Once you’ve setup your domain name and web hosting service (only takes a few minutes), it then comes down to actually configuring your website. I will introduce to you WordPress, a free CMS (content management system) platform that is very simple to use to build professional websites in minutes.
Let’s get started…
P.S. This site was created using the exact same steps that I am going to walk you through! Neat huh!
#1 – Selecting the right Website Building Platform
Making a website is a lot like making a house, you need a solid foundation in which to place the house on top of, otherwise you could face issues in the future. The case is the same when making a website, choosing the right website building platform is crucial for the long-term success of your website.
What exactly is a website building platform?
When the Internet first started, the only way to build a website was through HTML code and as you can imagine had a steep learning curve for beginners.
The good news is that in 2016 you have many options when it comes to platforms in which you can build your website such as drag and drop website builders or content management systems’ (CMS for short) like WordPress.
A content management system such as WordPress allows users of any skill or talent level to make a professional website that can be built and updated without the need of a professional web designer/developer or have any coding knowledge.
The Top 3 Website Building Platforms for 2016:
In a report done by W3Techs, you can see that WordPress is the clear popular choice when it comes to website building platforms with 58% usage.
That means that one in six websites on the Internet is powered by WordPress. Many of your most frequented websites are created and run on WordPress, including this guide! 🙂
So Why WordPress instead of the others?
Other than it being the most popular website building choice for beginners and experts, here are more reasons why WordPress is the right choice to make your website.
It’s 100% free: WordPress is built on the concept of open-source, which means that it is built using a community driven code contribution model and the license to use the software is completely free.
Mobile Ready: You don’t have to build two different sites. When you make a website using WordPress, your website is automatically built for viewing on mobile devices.
Ready for the Future: Whether you’re starting off with a simple website and have plans to grow into a full-blown e-commerce website, WordPress will be able to accommodate and be able to do whatever you think of.
User Friendly & Simple to Use: WordPress has spent considerable time working on its user-interface to make it as under-whelming as possible. If you can use Word, you will be able to make, edit and maintain a professional website.
Massive Support: WordPress is used by millions and that means that there is a huge support community both officially and unofficially. You can also attend workshops held in pretty much every major city to learn more about WordPress.
What about Drupal or Joomla than?
Drupal: It certainly is a very powerful content management system for very experienced web developers and coders as it does have a fairly large learning curve for beginners. Also, from attending DrupalCon, I found that mostly government and really large corporations use this for internal websites.
Joomla: It is a bit easier to learn Joomla and does have its benefits for a shopping cart type of website but it does require more than average knowledge of code to slap it together.
I recommend using WordPress because it’s the easiest to use, hands down. The very low learning curve and endless functionality is perfect for beginners to make their website.
Now that we know what website building platform we’re going to be using, I will walk you through the process of getting your very own domain name for free along with web hosting so that you can begin making your website with WordPress.
Remember, if you do get stuck or are facing issues, do not hesitate to contact me. I can’t build your website for you, but I can certainly point you in the right direction.
#2 – Registering your domain name.
When registering a domain name you have to be careful and there’s good reason for this. First impressions are everything and if your domain name has nothing to do with your website content, it negatively impacts your website’s purpose. You want to make sure that use the following criteria when selecting a domain name:
- Is related to your website’s content.
- Is relatively easy and simple to pronounce/spell.
- Is as short as possible
- Has the correct TLD extension (.com, .org, etc.)
Selecting the right domain name can help you achieve better rankings in the search engines. For example, when someone searches for “laser toner”, a website with the domain name containing those words will likely rank higher than those domains that do not. It’s also known that visitors are more likely to click on search results with domain names that closely match their search query. I hope you enjoyed some of that basic SEO (search engine optimization) knowledge. Now, let’s continue…
The age old question, where should I register my domain name. I usually let people know that they should register their domain name with their hosting provider, its a lot easier this way and you will more than likely get it included in the service. The hosting provider that I will be recommending will offer a FREE domain name for the life of the account, this is a $14/year value, absolutely free!
#3 – Get a Web Hosting Account
There are a lot of web hosting companies out there, some great, some okay and some down right horrible. It’s easy to weed out the fly-by-nights by following two simple rules:
- Avoid too good to be true offers.
- Choose an established host.
Look at it this way, you can get a hosting account for $12 a year, the likelihood of you actually getting the service is next to none. Web hosting is inexpensive, plain and simple. Selecting the wrong host can kill your website before it’s even created. You don’t want the headaches, trust me.
I would like to recommend an inexpensive, well established and well respected web hosting provider called GreenGeeks.
GreenGeeks has been around since 2006 and has an excellent reputation not only for its outstanding service & customer service but also for its community contributions and green involvement. They offer unlimited web space and disk space, perfect for your growing web site.
Setting up your web hosting account with GreenGeeks
You will need to go to their website by clicking this link: http://www.greengeeks.com
You will land on their home page with a big getting started button as seen below, go ahead and click it. This is their EcoSite plan, which will give you everything that you need to host your website and more. It also offers that free domain name that I talked about earlier in Step 1.
You will then see the order form, enter in the domain name that you wish to register. Remember, the domain name is free when you sign up with GreenGeeks. This is a savings of over $14/year. You can thank me later 🙂 If you’ve registered already registered the domain elsewhere, you can just enter in your domain name into the box that says “I already own a domain”.
Press next, and you’ll be asked to fill in your account and billing details. Once you’re done that click on Create My Account.
That’s it! That wasn’t hard was it? Your web hosting account has been created. It will usually take an hour to get your account active and ready to use. You’ll be sent an e-mail containing all the information that you need, such as your login information, DNS, server names, etc. Print this out or save the e-mail.
Now that the domain name and web hosting have been taken care of, it’s time to Install WordPress!
Note: If you’ve registered your domain name outside of GreenGeeks, then you must change your name servers on the domain name to those provided in the login information e-mail that you’ve received from GreenGeeks. If you have registered everything with GreenGeeks, you do not have to do anything — it has all been done for you.
#4 – Installing WordPress
You might be asking, what the heck is WordPress and why should I install it on my hosting account?
WordPress is a free content management system that has been used for bloggers and developers for many years. It allows you to create websites with ease and no knowledge of HTML. It’s highly customizable and a very powerful tool for creating professional looking websites.
Tools such as Themes allow you to select free themes widely available on the Internet to help you make your site look professional, without spending a dime on designers. It’s also great for cool plugins that make your life easier, for example “All in one SEO”, which does all the required work to ensure that you get maximum visibility to the search engines for your site.
Manually installing WordPress can be a hard task for some, especially if you’re new! But that’s why I recommended GreenGeeks!
GreenGeeks offers a tool called Softaculous, which offers a built-in, one-click automatic WordPress installer. Fill in a few things and click install, pretty easy huh? I’ll walk you through it now
Installing WordPress with Softaculous
Log into your account at GreenGeeks, usually at https://www.greengeeks.com/login/. Once logged in, make sure you’re in your hosting account’s cPanel.
This is where you’ll be able to manage all aspects of your account, I suggest looking around to get yourself familiar with the tools that are available to you for your hosting account.
Scroll down to find the Software/Services category and click on Softaculous as seen below:
You’ll then end up at a page which shows you the “Top Scripts”, you’re going to want to hover over WordPress and click on Install.
You will be asked to fill in information regarding the install, such as your e-mail address, wordpress username/password, and other basic configuration things.
Note: There will be a field called Install in Directory, leave this blank. Otherwise it will create a sub-folder and that’s not what you want.
Once you’ve filled out all the information, click on Install. That’s it. You’re done.
You’ve now got a fully functioning WordPress-powered website, complete with the default theme which can be changed easily later on.
Let’s move on to configuring your website!
Step 5 – Configuring your Website
You’ll be able to see your site by going to https://www.yourdomain.com/. You’ll more than likely see the default, which is a “Hello World!” message. In order to configure your website, you’ll need to log into the configuration area which can be accessed at:
After logging in, you should come to a page that looks like this:
This page is called WordPress Dashboard. You should make yourself familiar with the interface, you’ll be using it quite often. Anything and everything that you do to your website will be done from the Dashboard.
Overview of the Dashboard
In the “Right now” section you’ll notice a quick link section to posts, pages, tags, category and comments. This will allow you to quickly get into the areas that you’ll most frequently use. Pay close attention to the “Update” button as well, it’s important to keep your WordPress software updated at all times!
On the left side, you’ll see a navigation menu that will give you access to all the other tools available to you. There are tons of things, but I’ll talk about the important ones:
- Posts — This is used more often when your website is acting as a blog. It will allow you to publish articles, select the category in which they’ll be archived, and let to set options specifically for that post.
- Media — You’ll be able to manage your images, videos, sounds from this menu.
- Links — If you’ve ever wanted to create a “friendly links” list, this is where you would do it. You can then use it for your sidebar widget.
- Pages — This is where you’ll create static pages, like about us, product information, contact information, etc.
- Appearance — This is where WordPress is absolutely amazing. You’ll be able to totally customize the look and feel of your website by using themes, menus, widgets and more.
- Plugins — There are thousands of plugins available to make your site cooler or your life easier for managing things. Browse the plugins area to find what you’re looking for.
- Users — You can give access to other people to modify your website, add posts, pages, etc.
- Settings — This is where you’ll manage the configuration of your WordPress installation, such as site name, URL, date format, media settings, comment settings, etc.
Now that you’ve set up your site, let me give you a few pointers of how to get your site indexed on the leading search engines.
Step 6 – Getting your website Indexed on the Search Engines
What’s the point of building a website if no one is ever going to find it. I’ll walk you through an easy method of getting your site listed on Google, Bing and Yahoo.
It doesn’t require much work at all, all you have to do is go to a single link at https://www.submitexpress.com/free-submission.html … or if you followed my advice and chose GreenGeeks, use the SEO tools that they have inside of the control panel for more 1-click action 🙂
That’s it… you’ve set up your domain, web hosting account, installed WordPress, configured it and got your website indexed on the search engines. Go out and tell everyone about your website and look for other places to get linked from.