How to Make a Website
1-Stop Guide for All Levels of Website Makers
Select Your Experience Level
Just starting, needs basic learning.
Has a website and internet comfortable – ready to refine and add features.
If you’re new to web development, or find it difficult to use the computer, here’s where you should focus your time. When you have a website setup and feel comfortable you graduate to the medium difficulty section.
6-Step Quickstart Guide
So you want a website right now? Like right now? Here’s the fastest and easiest in only 6 steps.
1. Pick a Platform
2. Choose a Domain Name
3. Buy Domain & Hosting
4. Install WordPress
5. Add a Theme
6. Add Your Content
1. Choose Your Platform
WordPress is by far the best platform to build a website on in terms of ease and power. You can see by percent usage it’s the most popular, and has been for a while. You can get started easily, the software itself is free (though you pay for hosting and domain names), and has huge flexibility and robustness in what you want to build it into. If you’re a technophobe or have difficulty using computers, WordPress will probably be too difficult, and I’d recommend Wix in that case. Wix is about as minimal as possible while maintaining a good site. You may also want to experiment with WordPress.com, which is a freemium platform for WordPress, it’s less powerful than self hosting WordPress.org and looks worse than Wix.com, but it may be enough if you’re not looking for much.
2. Choose a Domain Name
Most domain names that come to you naturally will already be taken, so unless you can pay a premium ($1000) be prepared to try many domain names. My go-to site to find a domain name is leandomainsearch.com, which will take a keyword you give and gives you many dictionary keywords. You can also try panabee.com which will give you some creative versions of your domain. You might need to use a trick to make a domain work, like using a less than desirable extension, or a strange spelling; don’t use more than one.
Attributes of a good name:
2) natural spelling
3. Buy Domain and Hosting
GoDaddy and Bluehost probably represent two of the largest and user friendly hosting and domain name services. Both offer starter packages that includes a free domain name. GoDaddy is more well known for its domain registration, while Bluehost for its hosting. Both services are more similar than different in that they offer everything you need; however I would say the key tradeoff between the two is commitment length and price. Bluehost has a year long commitment (30 day money back), but is cheaper while GoDaddy offers monthly plans but at a higher price. If you think there’s a high chance you’ll give up (self-developing a website is very time consuming the first time), GoDaddy monthly plan will save you from losing out on high upfront costs.
You’ll want to make sure get the following:
SSL – This lets people access your site with https vs http, chrome will give a warning when you visit a non-https site.
Domain Name Privacy – This keeps people from knowing your address and phone number as your domain’s info is public information, there are also sites that store the historical information of all domain information, so it may be accessible even if you add domain privacy later.
cPanel manager – This is a tool kit for managing servers, BlueHost and GoDaddy offer WordPress packages, but cPanel comes with a lot of tools and features that will come in handy.
4. Install WordPress
Installing WordPress should be a simple 1 click process if you’re on the right hosting platform. WordPress is the most used website builder, and is also catered towards newbies, so most host platforms will have some kind of very simple installation process. Normally the process is very straight forward with you needing to enter a title, email, username, and password.
5. Pick a Theme and Editor
Before picking a Theme and Editor, play around with the content format so you have some idea of what you want, which decides how well these tools help you. A site can look a lot better by just installing a theme, but will hurt your learning progress if it slows you down. So before picking a theme, play around with the default options. When you login you can go to the appearance tab, try out as many themes as you want, there are many.
To get a really professional look, and ease of development, I highly recommend Divi as a theme, you can import prebuilt themes which look extremely professional, and give you a good starting point when building a theme. DIVI has one of the easier interfaces, so you won’t need to learn any coding. Instead, you’ll be tweaking values, moving slider values, and dragging and dropping design elements.
While DIVI is a great newbie friendly theme and editor in one, another great editor, which I use on this site, is Elementor. As a theme editor, you can use it to design your header and footer with conditional settings, which allows you to compose various layouts which would otherwise be very difficult to setup. It has a steep learning curve and requires a programming mindset. This is the PRO version, there is also the free version which allows you to edit pages, but this is not a theme. A great theme to go with this is Astra. Here’s a link to what I use:
6. Setup Your Content
You’ve got a great site and now you’re ready to populate it with your content. Your choices here widely diverge depending on what the goal of your site is. For example, you can build a company website with a few pages of information, or build a blog, the approaches you take with each will vary accordingly. Plugins will be your next question, and there are 100s of legitimately and valuable plugins to consider, and will take time for you to figure out what you want. Generally speaking, if you’re running a blog you’ll want to make your post page the homepage, and for business site a single page as your landing page.
WordPress is easy to get started, but can be a long journey to master. Remember though, it powers a huge percentage of the web and has done so for a very long, and in my opinion for the foreable future, so the learning you do now will be usable for a long time.
You’ve got your site’s basics up, now get ready for the marathon run of refining and perfecting what you have. I’ve assembled resources on many of the important topics. If you have any suggestions feel free to contact me, list is still growing.