STEP 1: CHOOSE THE RIGHT PLATFORM
If you want to build a good, mobile friendly and functional website quickly, you’ll need to choose a platform (also known as content management system).
What do I mean by “content management system”?
Well, back in 2004 when I got started with web development, most sites were built using HTML (code), CSS and even Flash. These took a lot of time to learn and were tricky to master.
That’s why most people still think building a website from scratch is difficult or requires a lot of coding and design skills – but that’s no longer true. In 2017, content management systems (CMS) like WordPress have made creating a website accessible to everyone.
To put simply, a content management system (or website building platform) is a user-friendly platform for building websites and managing your own online content, instead of using a bunch of loose HTML pages.
How people build websites
Here’s why I recommend using WordPress to build your website
WordPress vs. HTML & CSS: Learning HTML from scratch can take 6+ months, yet alone CSS and PHP. Having a basic knowledge of HTML can help you gauge things more quickly, but if you want to build a website within a day or two, learning HTML isn’t a viable option.
WordPress vs. Website Builders: Website builders are expensive and often very limited. They are good for one-page websites, but not more.
WordPress vs. Joomla/Drupal: Drupal is a very powerful platform that is popular with web developers and experienced coders, but it comes with a very steep learning curve that makes it a bad choice for beginners. Joomla is similar to WordPress and works great for online stores, but you’ll need at least a little bit of technical coding to make it work the way you want.
If you want more details, I’ve put together 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 beginners, I strongly suggest sticking to WordPress.
It’s the easiest platform I’ve ever worked with, but it’s flexible enough to suit everyone from small business owners, and freelancers to creative artists and bloggers.
THINGS TO DO BEFORE NEXT STEP
Choose a platform to build your website. I’m recommending WordPress which is free to use and easy to understand. In this guide, I’ll be showing you how to create a site using WordPress, too.
At this point you don’t need to install/download anything. I’ll show you this in the next steps.
STEP 2: GET A DOMAIN & WEB HOSTING
Step 2 of creating a websiteIn order to get set up your WordPress (or any other type of websites), you’re going to need two things:
A domain name (a web address like yoursitename.com)
The WordPress platform itself is free, but a domain name and hosting will cost you around $3 – $5 a month. However it costs less than a coffee, so it won’t break the bank.
Owning your own domain name looks far more professional than having your site on someone else’s domain (like yourbusiness.my-free-website.com), and it’s super affordable, too.
Plus, having your own hosting will also make sure your website loads quickly and won’t go down for hours at a time (pretty important for everyone who visits your pages.)
Where do I get a FREE domain name and hosting?
I’ve mostly used www.Bluehost.com as a web hosting and domain registrar.
They’re really affordable, have good customer service, and they’re currently throwing in a domain name for free – so it’s worth checking them out.
When you get a domain name, you’ll also get a personal email account(s): [email protected] – way more professional than a generic Gmail or Yahoo address.
Already have a domain name and hosting? Go ahead and skip ahead to step 3, where I’ll explain how you can set up your website.
STEP 1: Go Bluehost.com
Remember: Since I’m using Bluehost myself, I’ve negotiated a special discount for WebsiteSetup.org visitors (67% OFF).
STEP 2: Choose Website Hosting Plan
Once you click “get started now,” you’ll be taken to a page to select the hosting plan of your choice.
I went ahead and selected their “basic” option, which is a great choice for new websites. Plus, at the moment they’re running a special discount of $2.75/mo (usually it’s $7.99/mo)
The “plus” and “prime” plans are great, but you don’t really need all the extra bells and whistles they offer unless there are millions of people flooding your site each day.
Save your hard earned cash and opt for the cheapest package to start out with.
Choose your web hosting plan
STEP 3: Pick a Domain Name
As an easy starting point:
If you’re making a website for your business, your domain name should match your company name. For example: YourCompanyName.com
If you’re planning to set up a website for yourself, then YourName.com can be a great option.
For this site (WebsiteSetup), I chose WebsiteSetup.org
Domain names usually end with .com, .org or .net, but in recent months, a huge amount of domain extensions (the end part of the web address, like .com) have come out, ranging from .agency to .pizza.
My best advice? Avoid the weird extensions and go with .com, .net or .org unless they perfectly describe what you have to offer – and even then, see if you can find a more common name.
If you’ve already got a domain name, just enter it in and click “Next” on the “I have a domain name” form.
If you aren’t ready to choose a domain right off the bat, you can do it at a later point in your website setup.
Bluehost choose domain name
STEP 4: Fill In Your Details
To create your account, just enter in your personal information on the “create your account” page.
You’ll need to add in your first name, last name, country, street address, city, zip code, phone number, and email address. Your receipt will be sent to the email address you enter here.
It’s optional to also add in your business name within this form.
Your account information
Then, enter in your payment information to continue.
STEP 5: Check Your “Package Information” and Finish Registration
The next step in registering for a Bluehost account is to select you plan and package.
These are the last steps you’ll go through before your account creation is complete, so pay close attention to the extra options available, like Domain Privacy Protection.
Choose add ons and length
Domain Privacy Protection is only $0.99 cents more per month, and keeps your personal information under wraps such as your name and address.
If you want to keep your website and domain information anonymous, go ahead and spend the extra $0.99 per month. If you don’t, be sure to uncheck this box.
STEP 6: Create Your Password
Once paid and registered, you’ll be able to create your password:
THINGS TO DO BEFORE NEXT STEP:
Do some brainstorming to come up with a unique domain name that reflects your future website, business or blog.
Secure your domain name and web hosting. For this I recommend Bluehost.com, but you can pick any other web host as long it’s reliable and simple.
UPDATE: I made a simple guide for Bluehost (which package to choose & how to install WordPress).
STEP 3: SET UP & CUSTOMIZE YOUR SITE
Once you’ve bought your domain name and set up your hosting, you’re well on your way!
Now it’s time to get your website up and running. The first thing you’ll need to do is install WordPress to your domain.
There are two possible ways to install WordPress, one MUCH easier than the other.
1. TO CREATE A WEBSITE WITH WORDPRESS (OR JOOMLA & DRUPAL), USE ONE CLICK INSTALLATION:
Almost every reliable and well-established hosting company has integrated 1-click-installation for WordPress, which makes getting going a snap.
If you signed up with Bluehost or any other similar hosting company, you should find your “1-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):
Log in to your hosting account.
Go to your control panel.
Look for the “WordPress” or “Website” icon.
Choose the domain where you want to install your website.
Click the “Install Now” button and you will get access to your new WordPress website.
Installing WordPress Website
If you’re unable to locate it, look here: How to Install WordPress on Bluehost.
2. … OR MANUAL INSTALL (if needed)
If for some odd reason (some hosting companies don’t provide one-click-install for WordPress) you don’t have the option to install WordPress automatically, look this manual guide below:
Installing WordPress Manually (Click to expand)
Pssst – if they don’t have 1-click-installation, maybe you’re dealing with a bad host!
Choosing a Theme/Template for your site
Once you have successfully installed WordPress to your domain, you’ll see a very basic yet clean site:
Basic WordPress website
But you don’t want to look like everyone else, do you?
That’s why you need a theme – a design template that tells WordPress how your website should look. See a sample version below:
Here’s where it gets fun: There are thousands of awesome, professionally designed themes you can choose from and customize for a site that’s all your own.
Here’s how to find a theme you like:
1. Log into your WordPress dashboard
If you’re not sure how, type in: https://yoursite.com/wp-admin (replace “yoursite” with your domain).
This is what the WordPress dashboard looks like:
Everything is easily labelled. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t sweat it – I’m going to show you where to go next.
2. Access FREE themes
Once you’re in the dashboard, you’ve got access to over 1500 free themes! Just look along the side bar for “Appearance”, then click “Themes”.
I’ve even compiled a list of 15 most popular free WordPress themes.
If you want something more professional or elegant than what you find here, you can head over to ThemeForest.net where there’s a HUGE library of themes to pick from at varying costs.
But before you do that, I really suggest you at least try spending some time browsing the free themes. Many of them are actually really professional and well made; so don’t write them off.
As you can see above, installing a new theme for your website is very easy.
You can search for specific keywords and/or use filters to find themes that suit your style. Finding the perfect theme can take a while, but it’s worth it.
You should also look for themes that are “responsive”, as this means they will look good on any mobile device.
Just punch it in as one of your keywords, and you’ll be all set!
3. Install your new theme
Once you have found a theme you like, installing it is as simple as clicking “Install” followed by “Activate”.
IMPORTANT: Changing themes won’t delete your previous posts, pages and content. You can change themes as often as you want without having to worry about lose what you’ve created.