How to make a website

Step-by-step guide from a web developer

Don't hire anyone. Do it yourself, it's really simple.

Are you looking for a quick, dummy-proof way to make your first website? Great, you are in the right place.

Building a website from a scratch can be a tough challenge. I’ve been creating websites since 2004 and during that time, I’ve learned a TON of different things.

Luckily, if you go through this step-by-step guide, your site should be up and running in under 30 minutes.

And oh – if you get stuck, use my support page. I answer every single email that I receive.

- Guide by Robert Mening

Why You’ll love this Website Setup guide

instead of others...

Detailed

The guide is very detailed, yet very easy to follow. Suitable for all user levels alike.

Platform Specific

Your website will be set up the right way using the right platform.

Fast Setup

It shouldn’t take more than an hour and your website will work on mobiles and tablets too.

Free Support

I’m offering free help and consultation via email. I’m more than happy to help you.

3 quick steps in this guide

...you'll need to go through

Step one

Choose your website building platform

Step two

Choose your website address (www.)

Step three

Start customizing your website

Step one

Choose the best website building platform

Building a fully working and eye-catchy website isn’t that difficult – even for a beginner who isn’t very computer savvy. But things can go extremely wrong when you don’t choose the right website building platform. A lot of people think that creating a website from scratch is difficult and requires high level of coding and design skills, but that’s not true.

Before I help you to choose the right platform for your website, I want you to let you know that there are tons of different ways to build a website. Back in 2004, most of the sites were built with HTML, CSS or even FLASH.

In 2015, things have changed a lot to say the least. CMS (Content Management Systems) have started to dominate the whole web development industry. See the graph below.

Three most popular website building platforms in 2015

Image and data credit: OpenSourceCMS.com

As you can see, nearly half of the websites on the internet are running on WordPress website platform. The reason is quite simple, actually:

1) No need to know HTML or any other web coding languages.

2) WordPress is FREE and it has tons of different themes/layouts to choose from.

3) The website you build will be responsive (displays well on mobiles and tablets).

My own site, the one that you are currently browsing is also built with WordPress. As an alternative, you can check out other similar website platforms, such as Drupal and Joomla. I’ve even made a pretty comprehensive comparison between WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. If for some reason you don’t want to build your site with WordPress, check out my Drupal, Joomla and HTML5 guides as well. They are all FREE to use.

But for a beginner, I’m suggesting to stick with WordPress. If you wish to know more how popular WordPress is, have a look at this article: 14 facts about WordPress.

If you are ready, let’s go to the step 2 where I teach you how to find a domain name and hosting. In step 3 I’ll explain you how to install and customise your WordPress website. At this point, you don’t have to install or set up anything, this will all be covered in next steps – keep reading.

P.S: I’m currently offering free help via email, so if you get stuck during set up process or need any other help, just use the contact form.

Step two

Pick a domain name and web hosting for your website

Before I move on and give you the step-by-step instructions for setting up a web page with WordPress, I have to let you know that it will cost you some money. WordPress itself is FREE, but a personal domain name (YourSiteName.com) and hosting (service that connects your site to the internet) will cost you approximately $3-$4 per month. If you don’t get hosting nor domain name, your site address will look unprofessional and slightly slow. Some examples: YourBusiness.FreeWebsites.com or YourWebsite.FreeSitePlatform.com

I’ve mostly used www.iPage.com as a web hosting and domain registrar. They currently throw in a domain name for free, so it’s worth checking them out.

In short, if you want to set up a website for others to read/browse – you’ll need both of them (domain name and hosting). When you get a web hosting and a domain name, you’ll also get a personal email account(s): you@yoursite.com – Cool, right?

If you already have a domain and hosting, feel free to skip this step and move onto Step 2, where I’ll going to explain you how to set up a website.

What kind of domain name should I pick?

One of the hardest things is coming up with a decent domain name. Here are few tips that could help you in the long run:

If you are planning to create a website for your business then simply use the company name as a domain. For example: YourCompanyName.com

If you are planning to set up a website for yourself, then YourName.com can be a suitable option as well.

Domain names can usually end with .com, .org or .net. If you are having problems finding the best possible domain name for your website; I suggest you follow these three simple guidelines:

Is it brandable? For example, if you make a site about poetry then best-poetry-website.net is not a good choice: poetryacademy.com or poetryfall.com is much better.

Is it memorable? People tend to like short, understandable domain names. If your domain name is too fuzzy and long then when they want to return they will have already forgotten it.

Is it catchy? Coming up with a catchy, cool name is pretty difficult since there are approximately 150 million active domain names in the world right now.

However, there’s one rule that always applies to domain names: If you like it, go for it.

Step three

Setting up your WordPress website

Install WordPress with “One-Click-Installation”

First, you need to install WordPress to your domain. Almost all reliable and well-established hosting companies have integrated 1-click-installation for WordPress. Simply browse around on your hosting cPanel until you find the way to install WordPress. I’ve listed two possible ways to install WordPress to your domain.

If you signed up with iPage or any other similar hosting company, you should find your WordPress “one-click-installation” in your account control panel. Here are the steps you should follow (should be similar/same on all the major web hosting companies):

  1. Log in to your hosting account.
  2. Go to your control panel.
  3. Look for the “WordPress” icon.
  4. Choose the domain where you want to install your website.
  5. Click the “Install Now” button and you should get access to your NEW WordPress website.

If you want more in-depth guide for installing WordPress to your domain, see this guide. If for some odd reason (some hosting companies don’t have one-click-install for WordPress) you don’t have the possibility to install WordPress automatically, look this manual guide below:

Installing WordPress Manually

Choose the right theme/layout for your website

Once you have successfully installed WordPress to your domain, you’ll see a very basic yet clean site:

1) Log into your WordPress dashboard to change themes and start building and tweaking your site – you can log in from http://yoursite.com/wp-admin

This is your WordPress dashboard:

Looks pretty awesome, doesn’t it?

2) Now you need to start looking for a proper theme – make sure it fits with the overall topic of your new website. You can find over 1500 free themes via the WordPress Dashboard (Appearance -> Themes). If you want something more professional or elegant, head over to ThemeForest.net

However, at first I suggest you to try the free themes because some of them are actually really professional and well made.

As you can see above, installing a new theme (outlook) for your website is very easy. All you need to do is search for specific keywords and/or use filters.

Once you have found a theme you like, click “Install” followed by “Activate”:

Finding the perfect theme can take a while, but it’s worth it. If you don’t find anything good right away, you can always return and search further later on. Changing themes won’t delete your previous posts, pages and content. In other words, you can change it as often as you want.

P.S: If you want a theme that works well on mobile phones, search for the keyword “responsive”.

Add content and create new pages

Once you have installed a theme you like, you can start creating content. Adding new pages in WordPress is again very easy, but I’ll cover the basics for you.

Pages: In order to create new pages such as “About Me”, “Resources” etc (like I have on the menu), you need to head over to the WordPress dashboard and look for “Pages” -> “Add New”.

If you want those pages to appear on the menu as well, you need to go to “Appearance -> Menus” and add them to the list.

Posts: If you want to add a blog to your website, you can use different categories and posts. Let’s say you want to create a category named “blog”. To do so, simply add it to your menu and start making posts. Here’s what you need to do:

a) Create a new category by going to “Posts -> Categories”

b) Create a blog post by going to “Posts -> Add New”. Once you blog post is ready, you need to add the right category for it.

c) Add a new category to the menu

Tweak your website (Widgets, comments & just some “stuff” you need to know)

In this section I’ll cover some of the basics things that will help you to tweak your website.

Changing website title and tagline: You probably noticed, that my website has a title: “How to Make a Website” and a tagline: “… Step by Step tutorial“.

In order to change the title and tagline on your website, go to “Settings -> General” and simply fill in the form.

Disabling comments for Posts & Pages: Some websites (business/organisation sites mostly) don’t need any comments from visitors.

While you are writing a new page, click “Screen Options” (top right) and then tick “Discussion”. The “Allow Comments” box will appear at the bottom and all you need to do is untick “Allow Comments”.

In case you want to turn off comments on every new page by default, go to “Settings -> Discussion” and untick those options:

Static front-page: If you want your site to have a static front page, go to “Settings -> Reading” and pick a static page for your website. If you don’t do this, WordPress will take your latest posts and start showing them on your homepage.

Editing the sidebar: Most WordPress themes have a sidebar on the right side (in some cases it’s on the left). By default you’ll see something like this:

If you want to delete the categories, meta and archives (which are pointless in most cases) go to “Appearance -> Widgets”. From there you can use drag n’ drop to add different “boxes” to your sidebar.

There’s also a “HTML box” which is basically a text box where you can use HTML code.

Install plugins to get the most out of your website

WordPress gives you the opportunity to install different plugins that all add value and make your website more “personal” and unique.

To start installing plugins, go to “Plugins -> Add New” and simply start searching. Keep in mind that there are over 25,000 different FREE plugins.

… but before you go and install every single one, I suggest you to read this article: Things you need to know about using WP plugins. Below, I have put together a list of the most popular and useful plugins that webmasters find useful:

Contact form 7: My website has a contact form on my About Me page. It’s great, as people can simply fill in the form and send me an email without logging into their email provider. If you want the same, install Contact Form 7.

Facebook box: A lot of websites have Facebook plugins on their sidebar. A Facebook Box helps you drive more traffic and likes to your Facebook fanpage (if you have one).

Forum: Interested in starting a forum on your site? Look for the plugin named “bbPress” and follow their tutorials.

Actually there are many more plugins available. Here’s a list of the top 100 plugins for WordPress by Tom Ewer.

… and that is basically it. Now you should have a fully working WordPress website! If you need some further help, please use the contact form at the footer area.