Making a website or creating a blog by yourself comes down to following a number of easy steps. Everyone can make a website, it does not need to take a lot of time. It is also not necessary to pay a lot of money for often overpriced web design.
I started from scratch myself by going through the below steps – by sharing my own experiences I hope to inspire you to get started now.
STEP 1 – Choose the best website platform for your project
The very first step you need to take to make a website, is to make a very good assessment of the platform that you want to use to start building your own website. Think well before you act! If you make a good choice now, this will save you a lot of time and effort in the future.
When I make a website, I always use WordPress – this is in my opinion (and the opinion of the other millions of website owners that use it) the best CMS for both beginners and experienced web developers. Below I summarised the main reasons why I think it is the best, for more details please check out my post on Why You Should Use WordPress.
WordPress is good for blogging and much more
WordPress started in 2003 and was originally designed as a blogging platform. Over the years WordPress has evolved into a full content management system. Through thousands of widgets, plugins and themes the functionality of WordPress can easily be extended to support fully functional and responsive websites and apps.
But what does this mean exactly? Starting to build a website with WordPress is easy – you first start by installing WordPress and then you choose a theme for your website. A theme can be thought of as a template for your site – depending on the theme that you choose, your site will either be a blog or a fully functional website including a blog, static pages, a forum, and potentially so much more. Once you have chosen the theme for your website, you can start publishing and managing your content. With a few simple clicks you create a new blog post or static page, and every post or page you create shows up in your WordPress dashboard, allowing you to keep track of and oversight on your website.
WordPress is free, open source and extremely popular
WordPress is completely free. You can download it for free and use it to create any type of website or blog that you would like. In addition, there are thousands of free themes available, that provide you with a website layout to start with.
WordPress is an open source project. This means that it was created by the WordPress community, hundreds of people around the world that helped writing the software code and the supporting documentation. The community is continuously updating the software (meaning that it is much better supported than most of the commercial software that is available for sale), with a clear focus on improving the user experience and following the latest web standards. There is a ton of free information available on the internet.
WordPress is very popular. Simply type in WordPress in Google, and you will find plenty of websites, discussion boards, and other sources where you can find tons of information on how to use WordPress and where you can get in contact with other web developers and get answers to most of your questions. When you use WordPress, you are not on your own!
WordPress is easy to install and setup
All you need to get started with WordPress is your own domain name and web host. While you can do everything yourself and manually download and install WordPress, you can also get a hosting plan from a web host that does everything for you, such as SiteGround. They offer easy one-click WordPress installation and other tools that make it very easy to manage your site, such as managed updates (they inform you by email when there is a WordPress update available and even install it for you so that you never have to worry not having the latest version installed), a fantastic support team with extensive WordPress experience that is available 24/7, and so much more. Check out my detailed SiteGround review if you want to know more!
WordPress – full functionality with Themes, Plugins and Widgets
WordPress is super easy to install and get started. In just a few clicks, you can install it, choose a theme and start writing your content. But there is more… WordPress is not only easy to setup, it is also pretty easy to extend its functionality from just a blog or simple website, into a fully functional website that is up to date with the latest web standards and with the latest Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques applied.
As said before, a theme can be thought of as a general template for your website. It defines what your homepage will look like, where your blog will be situated and how your latest posts will be displayed. As WordPress is so popular, there are literally thousands of free WordPress themes out there that you can choose from!
The best starting point to look for free WordPress themes is the wordpress.org theme directory. The directory allows you to browse through an incredible collection of themes that you can simply download for free and start using on your own website.
The fact that there are so many free themes out there is one of the strengths of WordPress. Still, I would advice you to consider using a premium WordPress theme. A premium theme is a theme that is developed by a professional developer with a strong reputation and that is available for purchase (usually at a low price).
So now you are probably wondering why would I actually pay any money for a premium theme, when there are so many themes that I can just download for free? Basically, like with so many things in life, I would say you get what you pay for – free themes can be great, but they can also have their limitations.
In general, with a free theme, you will spend more time yourself to setup your website and customize the theme to your needs. When you use a premium theme, the theme developer will provide you with support and lots of documentation to help you setting up, customizing and maintaining your theme. This will allow you to focus on creating content for and attracting visitors to your website!
The main reasons to consider using a premium theme to make a website are the following:
- The best free themes are used by hundreds or thousands of websites – with a premium theme the look and feel of your site will be more unique.
- The quality and functionality of premium themes is superior – after all the developer needs to deliver quality and support you in the use of his theme in order to protect his reputation and future sales.
- Premium themes are continuously updated and adapted to be compliant with the latest web standards.
- The ROI or return on your investment is very high – you usually only pay a rather low one time fee for the theme, but the time that you save and the increased possibilities that you have in the development of your site are definitely worth it!
If you would like to see real examples of available premium themes, make sure to check out the themes provided by StudioPress. StudioPress builds WordPress themes based on the Genesis Framework – affordable, high quality WordPress themes that just make your life so much easier (this website is based on the Genesis Framework).
Plugins are applications that you can install on your WordPress website to extend the functionality and add numerous features to your site. At the time of writing this article, there are over 47000 plugins available in the WordPress.org plugin directory that have been downloaded more than 1.4 billion times!!
WordPress allows you to easily add widgets to your website – a widget is a specific section or part of your website where you can add a specific functionality. For example in a sidebar of your blog, you could add a widget that automatically displays all your recent blog posts – no additional coding required from your side!
With WordPress you can easily keep track of all the media files you use on your website
WordPress allows you to easily add multiple media formats such as images, audio files and videos. With a few simple clicks you can upload media files and embed them in your blog posts, pages, etc. Through the WordPress dashboard you can also easily track and manage all the media files you have used so far in your website.
STEP 2 – Choose your website name and get it online
Before you start building your own website, you need to think about a domain name for your site. The domain name is the web address where people will be able to find your site, like www.nowmakeawebsite.com.
Once you decided on the name for your site, you need to check whether nobody else came up with that fantastic name before and try to register your website name. If your name is still free, you will then need to get some space on the internet to actually make your site available online. For this, you will need to look for a hosting plan.
Actually you can easily combine both, by subscribing for a hosting plan that includes a free domain name.
For my website, I use SiteGround as the web host. They offer great packages that always include a free domain name and their customer service is amazing. If you want to know more about them, you can check out my detailed SiteGround Review.
STEP 3 – Setup your site and write your content
Setup your website
You can setup your website easily if you use WordPress:
- One click install through your hosting provider
- Choose from the huge amount of free or premium themes out there
- Setup your theme – change basis customisation in just a few minutes
Plan your content before you start writing
Wow – we are almost there! In just a few steps, you have managed to get your website online and set it up with a nice layout. Now before you start adding content to your site, plan your content! Envision how your site will look like – what are the main pages on your site? Will you only have blog posts or will you also publish static pages or landing pages? Will you allow users to add content to your site by commenting on pages and posts or will you be the only author on your site?
By planning upfront you will have a clear vision before you start writing and you will be much more effective and efficient in managing your content.
Write you content – drive traffic to your website
Now that you have a nice looking website, you need to start adding engaging content so that people will actually visit your site.