Even as a beginner, you DO NOT NEED to learn HTML/CSS/PHP coding or read tutorials to create a website.
In this article, I will guide you on how web developers create websites. Also, I will help you create your website without involving website builders who are expensive and often limited to bigger sites.
This article will help you also avoid some mistakes most beginners make when starting out.
Before we get started, it is important to note the following:
There are various website building platforms and website builders on the market today. Some of the most common include WordPress, Wix, Joomla, Drupal, among others.
Instead of using these website builders, there is an option of creating a website from scratch. However, this option is not recommendable because of two main reasons.
- It is an intensive activity that consumes a lot of time
- The end results may not be appealing
Which is the best option to create a website?
Below are some recent statistics from BuiltWith that shows some of the common website building platforms in 2019.
From the above graph, the most common website builders (content management systems) are:
- WordPress (free)- 60.1%
- Wix(paid) -7%
- Joomla (free)- 4%
- Progress Sitefinity (free)- 4%
- Squarespace (paid)-4%
- Weebly (paid)-4%
Why is WordPress the most popular website builder on the market?
One of the main reason why WordPress is popular is that there is no initial payment involved.
Besides, it is not only the easiest platform but also flexible to suit everyone’s needs such as personal websites, small business websites, online shops, etc.
WordPress compared to other available options
WordPress vs. HTML & CSS
Learning programming languages such as HTML, CSS or PHP may take a long time. Basic programming knowledge may help you have a better understanding of the things involved in creating a website. However, this may not a practical option when you want to build a website within a few days.
WordPress vs. Website Builders
Compared to WordPress, most website builders are very expensive and offer unreliable services. In most cases, website builders are suitable for one-page websites
WordPress vs. Joomla/Drupal
Unlike these options, WordPress is more user-friendly
A step-by-step guide on how to create a website
Note:I will be using BlueHost as an example
Step 1: Get a Web Hosting and Register a Domain Name
In order to set up your website (WordPress or any other) you will need two main things:
- Domain Name (Web address such as YourSiteName.com)
- Web Hosting (service that connects your website to the internet)
These are the two most important components you need when creating a website. For instance, a web hosting will enable you to store your images, content and other website files. Also, it enables your website to be visible on the internet.
Having your own domain makes your website look more professional than having it on someone’s domain. Moreover, it is super affordable since most hosting providers offer cost-effective domains (usually $9-15/year).
In short, your website will NOT exist if you do not have a web hosting or a domain name.
Where do I get a domain name and web hosting services?
Bluehost is one of the most popular hosting providers in the market with an introductory price of $2.75-$3.95/month. Besides, they are currently providing a domain name for free in the first year of registration. It is a well-established company and is secure enough to host your website.
Most of BlueHost servers are located in the US. However, they still have the ability to handle traffic from across the world. In fact, they might be cheaper than most of your local providers.
If you already have a domain name and hosting, you can skip to the step 2 where I will explain how to set your website.
In the meantime, below are steps on how to sign up with a web hosting provider to register your domain name.
1) Go to BlueHost (Or any other hosting company)
2) Choose a plan that suits your needs
Most hosting providers have flexible options to cater to the needs of different clients. The main three options include:
- Choice plus
The basic plan is a great choice for small scale sites that have low or no traffic. On the other hand, if you want more traffic on your website, you can choose either the plus or the choice plus options.
Remember, these options can be upgraded or downgraded depending on your needs.
3) Choose a unique domain name
Setting a domain name is very easy. For instance, if you are creating a website for your business, it is recommendable to match the domain name with the company name.
On the other hand, if you are setting a personal website, your name should be a great choice.
For a long time, the domain name has been ending with a .com, .org or .net. However, in the recent past, there has been a development of other domain extensions like .agency, .pizza, etc.
It is advisable to stick with the common extensions and avoid these weird ones unless they perfectly describe what you do. Even then, try to have a more common name.
If you already have a domain name, go straight to ‘I have a domain name’ and fill the form.
If you are not ready to choose a domain name at this stage, you can do it later in the website setup
4) Fill in your account details
Enter your personal information on the ‘create your account’ page to create an account.
The personal information includes your first name, last name, country, street address, city, zip code, phone number, and email address. You will get your receipt on the email address you’ve provided here.
Adding your business name on this form is optional
After filling your account details, you will need to enter your payment information to continue
4) Select your package and finish the registration
Selecting your plan and package are among the few last steps of registration. You will just need to choose the length of your hosting registration.
The ‘choice plus’ option comes with Domain privacy and Codeguard. Otherwise, it is recommended to get a domain privacy protection when you choose the other options.
Privacy protection helps to hide your registration information from the public. With this protection, it is difficult to trace the domain back to you.
5) Create a password and log into your account
You will be able to create a password for your account after finishing with the registration process and paying.
Step 2: Set up your website
You are on the right track if you have already bought your domain name and set up hosting.
In order to get your website up and running, you will need to install WordPress to your domain.
How do I install WordPress?
There are two main ways of WordPress on your website.
Since WordPress is the most popular website platform, most hosting companies have an integrated one-click installation which makes it easier.
For example, with Bluehost, there is a ‘1-click-installation’ for WordPress on the control panel of your account.
Below are some steps you should follow to set up WordPress on Bluehost and other major hosting companies.
- Log in to your hosting account
- Go to the control panel
- Look for the ‘WordPress’ or ‘website’ icon
- Choose the domain where you want to install your website
- Click the ‘install now’ button to access your WordPress website
Click on “start” to initiate install proces
Choose domain where site needs to be installed(Leave the 2nd text box empty unless you need this to be installed inside a folder(eg. blog for this to be accessible on path https://yourdomain.com/blog/)
Provide a username and password then click install now.
Wait for installation to complete
If the hosting company you are using does not have a one-click installation for WordPress, there is a manual guide for WordPress installation
Note: you are probably dealing with a bad host if they don’t have a 1-click installation
Step 3: Design Your Website
After successfully installing WordPress to your domain, you will get accessed to a very basic site.
But you want your website to be unique and different from the rest.
To do this, you will need a theme that presents your website in a unique way.
Here is an example of a free theme on WordPress
Interestingly, there are over 15,000 professionally designed themes to choose from. What’s more, these themes are free and customizable to your own liking.
Here are some steps to help you find a theme that may suit your needs
1) Log into your WordPress dashboard
If you are not sure on how to do it, type in your browser and search https://yoursite.com/wp-admin (replace “yoursite” with your domain).
The WordPress dashboard should look like:
Remarkably, everything is labeled for easier navigation on the site.
Access free themes
As mentioned earlier, there are over 1500 free themes on WordPress. Just click on ‘Appearance’ on the sidebar and ten ‘themes’.
Here are the 27 most popular WordPress themes
If you are not appealed with the free WordPress themes, you can look for more themes on ThemeForest.net at varying costs.
However, before you purchase themes on other websites, it is advisable to try and spend time on the free themes. You will be amazed at how some of the free themes look professional and elegant. So, don’t just disregard them.
From the above information, it is very easy to install a theme on your website.
Since there are many themes to choose from, finding a perfect one that suits your need may take a while. Alternately, you can search for specific keywords or use filters.
Choose a theme that is responsive to multiple devices such as smartphones and tablets
- Install your new theme
After you have selected a theme, just click ‘install’ followed by ‘activate’.
Note: Changing the theme of your website does not compromise content. Therefore, you can change themes as often as possible without losing your content.
Step 4: Add content on your website
Once you have installed a theme for your website, you can start creating content.
But first, let’s go through the basics.
Adding and editing pages
Do you need a ‘service’ page or an ‘about me’ page on your website?
- On the dashboard, click on ‘pages’ along the sidebar
- A screen will appear where you will have the option to add text, images or any relevant information to create the page you want. Save it after you’ve finished.
Adding pages to the menu
If you want the new page you have made to appear on the navigation bar,
- Save any changes by clicking ‘update’
- Along the sidebar on the dashboard, click ‘Appearance’ then ‘Menus’
- Click the checkbox next to the page you’ve created to add it to the list and the ‘Add to Menu’
Adding and editing posts
If there is a blog on your site, click on ‘Posts’. It is advisable to categorize similar posts as shown below.
If you need a blog on your site, you can use different categories and posts. For instance, you can create a category named ‘blog’ which you will add to the menu. It will be an easier way to start making posts.
Here are two options on how to create a new category
- Go to ‘Post -> Categories’ to create a new category
- Go to ‘Post-> Add New’ to create a blog. You will need to add your blog post to the right category
After creating the category, add it to the menu and you’ll be good to go.
Customization and endless tweaks
This section addresses some of the basic things you will need to tweak your website
- Changing your Title and Tagline
The titles on your page explain what your website is about. These titles also play an integral role on how search engines determine rankings.
For better ranking on the search engine,it is advisable to use appropriate keywords in the titles. The keywords should be as natural as possible. Also, every page should have a unique title. For instance, the title for this article is ‘How to Make a Website’
On the other hand, Taglines are added at the end of page titles. For example, the tagline for this article is ‘Step by Step Guide’
To make changes on the title and tagline, go to ‘Settings ->General’ and fill the form as shown below.
Disabling comments for posts and pages
If you do not want visitors to comment on the pages on your website, follow the following steps
- When posting a new page, click ‘Screen Options’ on the top right corner
- Next, click on the ‘Discussion’ box. The ‘Allow Comments’ box will appear at the bottom
- Untick ‘Allow Comments’
Do you want to make disallow comments a default on every page?
- Go to ‘Setting-> Discussion’ and untick ‘Allow people to post comments on new articles’
Setting up a static Front Page
If you are frustrated that your home page looks like a blog post, you can fix it by making it ‘static’.
Making your homepage static means that it will remain the same all the time. The homepage will show the same content every time a visitor comes to the site. This is unlike a blog where a new article will show up at the top every time.
To set up a static front page;
- Go to ‘Setting-Reading’
- Select the static page you have created. In the case that your site is not entirely a blog, ‘Front Page’ indicate the home page of your website while ‘Post page’ denotes the front page of your blog.
If you do not make your site static, WordPress will start showing your latest posting on your homepage.
Editing the sidebar
In most cases, the sidebar is on the right side of the WordPress dashboard (it is on the left in some in some instances)
Here is how you remove the sidebar or edit the items you do not need.
- Go to ‘Appearances-> Widgets’ on the dashboard
- Use drag and drop to add or remove items on the sidebar
Also, there is an ‘HTML box’ where you can sue the HTML code to edit the sidebar. However, for beginners, it is just easier to use the drag and drop option
- Installing plugins
What is a plugin?
These are extensions that are meant to expand WordPress capabilities by adding more features and functions that are not built-in.
In other words, they are shortcuts that enable you to perform certain tasks on your website without the need of building the features from scratch.
How to install a new plugin
To install plugins on your website, go to ‘Plugins->Add New’ and search.
There are over 25,000 different plugins to choose from. Also, the installation is very easy. Just click on ‘install’ once you have identified a plugin you like.
Below are some of the most common must have plugins
- #1 Contact form 7: This an awesome feature that enables visitors to fill a form and send you an email without logging into their own email addresses.
- #Yoast SEO for WordPress: This feature makes your WordPress site even more SEO-friendly. It helps you edit title tags, meta-descriptions and much more from within the page.
- #3Google Analytics: This plugin enables you to track the traffic on your website. Also, it helps to see the behavior of the visitors.
These are just a few examples, there is an unlimited list to choose from.
Congratulations- you have just launch your website.
Note: Please feel free to write in comments here if you are facing any difficulties following steps.