So you finally decided to create your own website, but you're completely clueless how to go about it.
No worries, in this article I will provide easy-to-follow, comprehensive, and effective guide on how to start a website.
But before I go on with the details, let me orient you first. There are many website builder out there that will allow you to have your own “website” without spending even a single dime (such as wix, weebly and so on..).
They will allow you to start a website with the least hassle, effort, and time. As this might be the case, you do not have the complete freedom to configure your website as you are under the rule of the server’s owner.
In addition to this, creating a website comes with great responsibility. You must be able to maintain the website and keep it up to date.
You also need to make sure that you have effective web design, both at the front-end and the back-end.
Okay, let's get started!
7 Very Detailed Steps to Creating Your Own Website
Note: If you already have your own domain, skip to step 3.
Step 1: Get A Domain Name
Okay, first thing first! A domain is the name or URL of your site like yourname.com or twelveskip.com. Naming a website is like giving a name for your new pet.
So, the very first thing you need to do is to get your own domain name through reliable registrars.
Where To Purchase Domain Name?
I am currently using Godaddy, Namecheap and Dreamhost, but I'd definitely recommend you to use Namecheap.
Prices range from $10-$12 per year. They provide wide range of features and excellent customer service as well. I’ve been with them for almost 2 years now.
Dreamhost was my favorite until they stop supporting custom nameservers. So I decided to do some research and find another great domain registrar, Namecheap has always been named as among the best.
See if a domain is available: You can use checkdomain.com to determine if your chosen domain name is still available.
Don’t worry if it's already taken. By simply adding one or two words at the beginning and end, you can still retain your desired name.
Some pointers to review before buying a domain:
1. Your domain name will play a crucial role to your website’s identity. It's therefore important that you choose a domain that will complement the purpose of your website.
2. Your domain must be search friendly so that people will be able to find and remember your website easily.
3. Your domain should contain relevant keywords. "Search Friendly" also means that you should incorporate your best keywords on your domain name. You want to make it easier for search engines (and people as well) to find out the purpose of your website. For example, you're doing a photography..you might want to name your site like one of the following:
- azphotography.com (main keyword: photography)
- torontophotography.ca (main keywords: toronto, photography)
- affordablephotography.ca (main keywords: affordable, photography)
4. Your domain should be short but descriptive. Some people argue that long and descriptive domain name is better than the short one. I would suggest that you make the domain as short as possible and make it as descriptive as possible.
Step 2: Purchase a reliable web host
Now that you have your domain name, it's time to select a web host to get your site up and make it accessible online.
Why do you need a web host? You must have a "place" or a space in order to publish your website online and to keep it up and running. Your web host also provides the storage to upload your web files.
Remember, you will most likely be working with that web host for a very long time; thus, it is vital you explore the many options available today before making a decision.
Some general guidelines on how to choose a web host:
- First, do not be tempted with exceptional offers that seem too unrealistic. There are many web hosting companies today that are not competitive enough to help you in the long run. They will try to lure you in by promising great deals and offers.
- Secondly, choose established, credible, and reliable web hosts. This way, you can significantly decrease your risk of wasting your money, time, and energy.
I’d recommend Bluehost, Hostgator or Dreamhost (not recommended for shopping sites). Prices ranges from $10-$15 per month - it depends on your chosen package. These three have always been top-rated. I’ve tried them for my previous clients and never really had any problems.
Step 3: Connect your domain to your web host
In order to make your site work, your domain should point correctly to your web hosting account. You can do this by inserting your name servers info to your domain registrar account.
Your web host should provide the details of your name servers (or DNS) via email or you can view it somewhere on your control panel.
For example, your domain is registered with Namecheap while your web hosting is purchased from Bluehost. Bluehost will send you an email with the name servers included or you could find this info on your control panel. It could look like this:
Once you get the details of your DNS (name servers), go to Namecheap account (your domain registrar) and configure your name servers. If you register your domain name on Namecheap, click here to learn to modify your DNS or click here for video tutorial.
Step 4: Install the right CMS
Alright, so here's the fun part! We are "actually" now going to build your site (using the right CMS). What is CMS anyway? CMS or content management system is a content manager that will allow you to publish, modify or design content, etc.
But you need to ask yourself first: What kind of website do you want to run? Is it a brochure site? A portfolio? An online store? or a blog? Here's some guide:
- Wordpress (Free): This platform is free to install. If you're a blogger or someone who wants to showcase their work and services (portfolio, brochure-style websites), then this one is for you. There are many other great CMS out there but this one is probably the best and it's also the most popular one, which I always use for my clients. It has so many beautiful features and plugins that will make your life much easier. Here's an example of a Wordpress site (my portfolio):
- PrestaShop (Free) or Opencart (Free): Obviously, these are for online stores. So if your main purpose is to sell goodies, this CMS platform is for you. Here's an example of a shopping cart site:
Question: How Do I Install A CMS on my website?
If you're using one of the hosts I've recommended, they should have "FREE 1-Click Installation" included somewhere on your cPanel. Here are the list of tutorials (don't worry, it only take few minutes to set it up!):
For Wordpress users:
- Installing Wordpress with BlueHost
- Install Wordpress with HostGator
- Install Wordpress with DreamHost
But if you still want to install Wordpress manually, you can click here to learn.
For PrestaShop/OpenCart users:
- Installing with BlueHost (same procedure, just find the link under "ecommerce" section)
- Install with HostGator
- Dreamhost do not offer a one-click installation for shopping carts. but you can do a manual installation.
Step 4.1: Familiarize Yourself
It's also worth mentioning that familiarizing yourself with your chosen CMS will help you learn much faster. Read tutorials online, experiment and do some more research for more help.
- If you're with Wordpress, click here for Wordpress Lessons.
- For Open Cart tutorials, click here.
- For PrestaShop, click here.
You might also want to consider learning some basic HTML so it will be easier for you to edit stuff next time such as creating link, image, paragraphs, etc.
Step 5: Select A Theme & Design
Yay! You've just built your site! How does it feeel? Whooooop! But of course, you also want to make it pretty to attract your users, right?
You'll need to select a theme that matches your site's purpose.
For example, if your target audience are girls, you want to install a girly theme on your site.
You have two options here..
You can either hire someone to do the designing or do it yourself. If you have the know-how and technical knowledge on how to design a website, then you can design a website in no time. If you are not confident enough with your design expertise, you can opt to ask web designers to create your website from top to bottom.
If you decided to do it yourself.. read on:
You can search and use ready-made themes to install on your website and familiarize yourself with your CMS' dashboard/control panel so you get the hang of how it works.
If you're using Wordpress, you can go through the internet and find themes perfect for your website’s goal and function. Some are free while others come with a reasonable price. Here's a list for you:
Step 6: Add content
A design will be fruitless if you do not have content. You can use videos, images, and texts as part of your website’s content. As expected, content should be relevant to your website. It should be search-friendly as well. Make sure that you own the rights of the content you use to avoid future problems. You can also hire people to add content for your website.
Or... As I've said, researching and reading lots of tutorials and experimenting with your chosen CMS will help you get the hang of it.
Step 7: Get Noticed! Make your site search-friendly
No matter how impressive the design and content of your website, they will all boil to nothing if no one’s going to visit your site in the first place. There are many ways to promote your website and to increase its visibility. Here are some examples:
- Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to increase the Page Rank (PR) of your website.
- Use the social media as well to engage more people.
- Another way to promote your website is to use email marketing, mobile marketing, affiliate marketing, ads, pay-per-click advertisement, and many others.
You can also check this out to learn the ins and outs of SEO.
The bottom-line is to make your website helpful and relevant. If people will see your website as something useful, they will most likely keep on coming back to your website and tell your friends about you.
If you want to broaden your knowledge, you should also consider reading the following articles:
- Beginners Guide: How to create your own blog
- The basic rules of SEO
- How to choose the right domain name
- Choosing a niche for your blog
These steps are sufficient to let you create your own website. Don’t worry; most web hosting companies are user-friendly. They will give you more information as you go along.
Starting your website is the easiest part of the process. Hard work still lies ahead as you try to stay afloat and beat the intense competition in the online world. You will need commitment, patience, and resources to be able to succeed in this endeavor.