Quick note: More than 1350 people have followed my step by step guide. Lately, this guide has helped a lot of new… :
- Small Businesses
- Creative persons (writers, artists, photographers)
and so on…
In fact, people who have build personal and business sites with my guide are saying that this is one of the EASIEST guides online… and I’m doing my best to keep it simple and straightforward. I’m also offering free help via email, so if you need any help, just use the contact form.
If you want to start building a website, start with step 1.
Step 1 - Choosing Domain Name and Hosting
Before I move on and give you the step by step instructions for setting up a web page, I want you to let you know that it will cost you some money. Building a website with WordPress is actually FREE, but personal domain name (YourSiteName.com) and hosting (services that connects your site to the internet) will cost you approximately $5-6 per month.
In short, if you want to set up a website for others to read/browse – you’ll need both of them (domain & hosting)
Whenever you buy a hosting & domain, you’ll also get personal email account(s): email@example.com – Cool, right?
If you already have a domain and hosting, you can feel free to skip this step and move on to Step 2. where I’m going to explain you how to set up a website.
If you don’t have a domain and/or hosting, see my suggestions by clicking below:
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.
If you are having troubles finding the best possible domain name for your web-page I suggest you to follow these 3 simple guidelines:
- Is it brandable? For example, if you make a site about poetry then best-poetry-website.net is not a good choice while poetryacademy.com or poetryfall.com is much more better.
- Is it memorable? People tend to like short and understandable domain names. If your domain name is too fuzzy and long then when they want to return they have already forgotten it.
- Is it catchy? Coming up with a catchy and cool name is pretty difficult since there are approx 150 million active domain names in the world right now.
However, there’s one rule that always applies for domain names:
If you like it, go for it.
Hosting & Domain – Where to get?
As I mentioned above, in addition to domain you will also need hosting. There are literally hundreds of different hosting companies who are all available to host your site.
However, in the past 4-5 years while I have been setting up and managing different websites and blogs I have found out that there are only couple of real and legitimate hosting companies that actually deliver. From those hosting companies you can usually get your domain and hosting at the same time.
Dreamhost – They are offering 2 week trial for new clients, but their service is quite expensive compared to others. ($100 per year)
SiteGround – They are pretty cheap compared to others. Plus they are currently offering free domains for a limited time. I have used their services for 3 years in a row and so far I haven’t noticed any problems. The page loads quite quickly, support is always available and there is nothing to worry about.
However, you can always feel free to use any other hosting company as long it’s reliable and secure. So make sure you double check the background before buying anything.
Step 2 - Building a website
For me, this the most fun part.
The are actually many different ways of setting up a website, but the most popular ones are Content management systems – such as WordPress, Drupal & Joomla (they are all FREE to use & very user-friendly)
I even made a pretty comprehensive comparison between 3 of them.
In THIS tutorial I’m going to show you how to set up a site using WordPress (WebsiteSetup.org is built using WordPress as well :)).
Installing Your Site (WordPress)
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 dashboard until you find the way to install WordPress.
In case there’s no “one click” install for WordPress (which is rare) you can feel free to do it manually as well, simply follow THIS GUIDE...
Installing WordPress Manually
1) Download WordPress from here: http://wordpress.org/download
2) Create a new folder on your desktop and unzip WordPress in it
3) Look for a file named wp-config-sample.php and rename it to: wp-config.php
4) Now open the wp-config.php (with notepad for example) and fill the following lines:
- define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘database_name_here’); – Database name (if you don’t know it, ask this from your hosting support)
- define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username_here’); – Your hosting username
- define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password_here’); – Your hosting password
After you have filled the gaps, save the file.
5) Now log into your hosting ftp (download FileZilla for that). The FTP address is usually ftp.yourdomain.com, username and password are the same that you used to register to your host.
6) If there is any file named “index” – delete it. After that upload all the files from your WordPress folder to your FTP server. I believe you can use “drag n drop” function in FileZilla.
7) Once you have completed the previous steps, go the URL: yourdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php
This is the page you should see:
Just fill in the forms and you are ready!
Designing your WordPress website
Once you have successfully installed WordPress to your domain, you’ll see very basic yet clean site:
1) Log into your WordPress dashboard in order to change themes and start building your site – you can log in from http://yoursite.com/wp-admin
This is your WordPress dashboard:
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 from WordPress Dashboard (Appearance -> Themes). In case you want something more professional or elegant, you can feel free to head over ThemeForest.net
However, at first I suggest you to try free themes because some of them are actually really professional and well-made.
As you can see above, installing new theme (outlook) to your website is very easy. All you need to do is look for specific keywords and/or use filters.
Once you have found the theme you like, click “Install” and “Activate” afterwards:
Finding a perfect theme can take a while, but it’s worth it. In case you don’t find anything good right away, you can always return and search more later on. Changing themes won’t delete your previous posts, pages and content. In other words, you can feel free to change it more than 5 times a day.
P.S: In case you want a theme that works well on mobile phones, look for the keyword: “responsive”.
Adding content and creating new pages
Once you have installed the 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 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: In case 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
Tweaking your website (Widgets, comments & just some “stuff” you need to know)
Under this paragraph I’ll cover some of the basics things that might help you to tweak your website.
Changing website title & tagline: You must have noticed, that my website has a title: “How to Set Up a Website” and a tagline: “… Step by Step tutorial“.
In order to change that, go to “Settings -> General” and simply fill in the forms.
Disabling comments under Posts & Pages: Some websites (business/organization 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: In case you want your site to have a static front page, go to “Settings -> Reading” and pick a static page for your website. Otherwise WordPress will take your latest posts and start showing them on your homepage.
Editing sidebar: Most of the themes have a sidebar on the right side (in some cases left). By default you’ll see something like this:
If you want to delete the categories, meta & archives (which are in most cases pointless) go to “Appearance -> Widgets”. From there you can use drag n’ drop function in order 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.
Installing plugins to get the most out of your website
WordPress has a great possibility to install different plugins that all add value and make your website more “personal”.
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 plugin, I suggest you to read this article: Things you need to know about using WP plugins. Below here, I have put together a list of plugins that are useful and popular among many different webmasters:
Contact form 7: My website has a contact form on my About me page. It’s great since people can simply fill in the form and send me e-mail without logging into their email provider. In case you want the same, install contact form 7.
Facebook box: A lot of websites have Facebook plugins on their sidebar. In that way you can drive more traffic and likes to your Facebook fanpage (in case 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, here’s a list of top 100 plugins for WordPress by Tom Ewer.
For people who are just starting out, I recommend to use WordPress because it’s by far the most user-friendliest and easiest way to create and manage your own site. However, if you want to consider other options, you can feel free to follow my guides below:
- How to Build a Website with Joomla
- How to Build a Website with Drupal
- Beginners Guide to HTML5 and HTML5 Cheat Sheet
P.S: I’ll be updating this page soon with different tutorials on how to build your website using Dreamweaver – so make sure you check back later.