How to Make a Website — Beginner’s Guide for 2017

You know you need an online presence for your business. But, you’re not sure how to make a website and how much tech expertise it requires.

Don’t worry – making a website is easy in 2017 and it doesn’t require much tech knowledge at all.

In this guide, we’ll go step-by-step through everything you need to know to make a website for your business.

Here are the necessary steps to getting your website online –

  1. Choose your platform (we recommend using WordPress),
  2. Choose a domain name,
  3. Choose your web host (we recommend using SiteGround),
  4. Install WordPress,
  5. Customize your site to your liking with plugins and a theme,
  6. Publish content on your website.

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Website?

Starting a website doesn’t need to be expensive. Especially if you’re doing it yourself.

If you’re on a budget, at a minimum, you need –

  • A domain name and
  • A web hosting plan.

The cost of your web hosting will depend on which hosting company you use and what level and type of plan you choose. For basic hosting with SiteGround, prices start at $4.95/month.

You can also get your domain name through SiteGround, or you can purchase through a company like NameCheapName.com, or GoDaddy.

Can I Use a Free Website Builder?

You can. However, we don’t recommend this if you want to use your website for business or if you intend to make money with it. A free website looks less professional and reliable than a self-hosted website.

In this guide, we’ll show you exactly what to do at each step so you won’t be left wondering what’s next.

1. Choosing Your Platform

The first step in making a website is to decide which platform you will use. There are several platforms available including WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. You need to choose the right platform that allows you to set up and easily manage the site.

We have hands-on experience in using all the common website platforms and our only recommendation, even for beginners, is self-hosted WordPress.

WordPress is easy to use, extremely customizable, and popular. In fact, it powers 28.7% of all websites. And here are the reasons why it’s so popular –

  • WordPress makes it very easy to get started within a short period,
  • It allows you to create any type of website you want,
  • Offers a lot of different themes so that you can change the appearance of your site,
  • There’s plenty of third-party applications and plugins to add more features,
  • It is very easy to find support for WordPress,
  • The professionally optimized coding will help your SEO efforts,
  • WordPress follows all the security best practices,
  • The platform is regularly updated to ensure better performance for your website.

2. Choosing Your Domain Name

Now that you have selected the platform, the next step is to choose a domain name. This is the name of your website which looks like this –

www.makewebsite101.com

If you have a business, you’ll probably want to use your business name as your domain name. If you don’t have a business name, think this over before making your purchase. You need the domain name to be simple but attractive and easy to remember.

Here are some proven tips on choosing a great domain name –

  • The best domain name to use is the name of your business. Your visitors are more likely to search for you via your business name than anything else.
  • While you could choose a .org or a .net, the best type of domain name is a .com. It’s simply the most popular and the default for most web browsers. You may want to buy the other common variations of your domain name too if you want complete control of your online presence.
  • The shorter your domain name is, the easier it will be for the visitors to remember the address. Short domain names will also help you in the search engine result pages and offline marketing.
  • In any case, you shouldn’t use hyphens or numbers in the domain name. Using these will make your domain difficult to pronounce.
  • If you decide to change your business name or domain name later, you can redirect your previous domain to the new one.

What if my preferred domain name is taken?

If your domain name is taken, you have three options –

  • Contact the owner and make them an offer,
  • Use your preferred domain name, but add your country code to the end (for example, .com.uk or .org.au), or use other domain extensions like .co, .net, .org, .biz. etc.,
  • Choose another domain name.

Domains are like real estate, and some people invest in them as part of their business model. If you have your heart set on a particular domain, you might need to pay a premium price for it.

3. Choosing Web Hosting

At this point, you have chosen the platform and picked up a domain name. The next task is to select a hosting provider. They will provide you with web space where you will store the website files.

While there are a lot of web hosting options, we only recommend using SiteGround because –

  • SiteGround offers a 99.99% uptime guarantee to ensure that your website is always accessible,
  • The inexpensive hosting plans have several levels so that you can choose the right one for your business,
  • All the hosting plans use SSD drives to deliver a blazing-fast loading speed,
  • Latest technologies like HTTP/2, Nginx, and the free CDN will enhance your website performance,
  • You will get a free SSL certificate with your hosting plan,
  • The in-house firewall security rules will keep your valuable website data secure,
  • You will find all the necessary management options in the enhanced control panel,
  • SiteGround support is fast and helpful, often going above and beyond to assist with your inquiries.

In short, SiteGround has everything you need to get your website started at an affordable rate.

Ready to get started? Here’s how to set up hosting with SiteGround –

  1. Choose your plan option. SiteGround offers a range of plans to suit your business needs.1-siteground-plans
  2. Choose your domain name. Make sure Register a New Domain is checked and enter your preferred domain name into the box. Click on Proceed.2-siteground-choose-domain
  3. Create your account. Enter your details to set up an account with SiteGround and fill in your payment details to purchase your hosting plan.

4. How to Install WordPress

Installing WordPress on your new site is easy. SiteGround gives you the option to install WordPress with one click.

  1. Select Start a New Website and then select WordPress from the list of software.3-install-wordpress
  2. Click on Confirm.
  3. Create the login details for your website and click Complete Setup.

You’ll then be redirected to your user panel where you can start working on your site.

5. How to Change the Look of Your Site With a New Theme

Now that you’ve got WordPress installed on your website, you’ll want to customize the appearance of your site to suit your business.

There are plenty of themes available that can change the look and add features to your site. WordPress offers many themes for free, or you can purchase a premium theme. Here are the differences between the free and premium themes –

             Free themes: 

  • These themes are available for free
  • Has regular quality coding
  • Offers no support
  • Features limited functionalities
  • Doesn’t look so great
  • Doesn’t receive regular updates
  • Doesn’t come with multiple demo designs or page templates
  • Good choice for small business, startups,  or personal sites

            Premium themes: 

  • You have to purchase the premium themes
  • Features better quality coding
  • Comes with premium support
  • Offers lots of additional features
  • Features professional designs
  • Most premium themes are regularly updated
  • Offers lots of ready-made demo design along with page templates
  • Best choice for professional, corporate, or established business websites

Where to Find WordPress Themes?

The official WordPress theme directory is the best place to find free themes. You can explore the featured, popular, latest themes, search for themes, and filter the available themes by using the available features.

That said, there are several marketplaces to get premium themes.

Among these, ThemeForest offers the largest collection, followed by others like MyThemeShopMojo MarketplaceElegant ThemesStudioPress, and so on.

How to Install a New Theme?

When you install WordPress for the first time, you will have a default theme set up for you. As the default theme is targeted at creating blogs, you need to change this with a new theme.

Here’s how to change your website theme –

  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Go to Appearance > Themes.4-siteground-appearance-theme
  3. Now click on Add New.
  4. Browse through the hundreds of free themes available. Once you’ve decided to install a theme, click Install.5-siteground-install-theme
  5. To activate your new theme, click Activate.

The above process was for using a free theme.

If you are using a premium theme, you need to follow these steps –

  1. Purchase your chosen theme and download the zip file.
  2. Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  3. Go to Appearance > Themes.
  4. Click on “Add New.”
  5. Click the “Upload Theme” button.
  6. Browse to locate the zip file you just downloaded on your computer and upload the .zip file.
  7. Click “Activate” to activate the theme.

If you want to customize your theme appearance, you can do this in Appearance > Customize. Check out the official documentation to find more information about using the various theme features.

6. How to Customize WordPress With Plugins

If you aren’t comfortable in adding code to your website to add new features and functions, don’t worry. There are over 52,000 plugins available that you can add to your site.

Some plugins do everything from add social media sharing buttons to speeding up your website!

What’s more, there are lots of premium plugins that come with advanced features, regular updates, and professional support. CodeCanyon offers the most extensive collection of premium plugins available right now.

Here’s how to install plugins on your website –

  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Navigate to Plugins > Add New.6-plugins
  3. Choose the plugin you want and click Install. To upload a premium plugin, click Upload Plugin and upload the plugin .zip file.
  4. Click Activate to enable the plugin on your website.

But, with so many plugins available, how do you decide which ones to install on your site?

Some of the most popular plugins you might want to install are:

  • Akismet – Helps you to stop spam and malicious comments.
  • Jetpack – A multi-purpose plugin that provides you with security, email management, website analytics, and various other options.
  • Contact Form 7 – Enables you to create and display simple contact forms so that your audience can get in touch with you.
  • Yoast SEO – Provides you with all the necessary options to optimize your posts for search engines.
  • AMP – Helps you to create AMP pages for your mobile visitors.
  • Wordfence – Comes with lots of security features to help you protect the website.
  • UpDraftPlus – Allows you to backup and restore your website data and the database.
  • TinyMCE Advanced – Extends the basic functionalities of the default post editor.
  • WooCommerce – Enables you to set up and manage fully functional online stores.

7. How to Set Up Your Pages and Create Content in WordPress

Now that you’ve configured the appearance of your website, you need content.

The first thing to add is pages. Pages form the basic structure of your site. For example, you might want to add “Start Here,” “Privacy Policy,” and “Contact” pages for your business site.

To create a new page, navigate to Pages > Add New.

This will take you to a page like the following –

a) Enter your Page Title here

b) Write your Page Content here

c) Add code in this tab

d) Add images or other media here

e) Control the look of your content with these options

f) Save your page without Publishing it

g) Preview what your Page will look like

h) Publish your page

Repeat the process to create as many pages as you want for your website.

Setting Up Your Menu

Once you have created the necessary pages, you need to show them on your site so that the visitors can check them out. You can do that by adding the pages to the navigation menu.

Here’s how to set up the menu –

  1. Navigate to Appearance > Menus,
  2. Select a menu to edit from the drop-down box or click on “Create a New Menu,”
  3. Add pages to your menu by checking the box,9-menus
  4. Click “Add to Menu” to add all the selected page to your menu,
  5. Drag your pages into the order you want them to appear on your site,
  6. Choose where this menu should be displayed by checking the box for Primary, Secondary or Footer menu,
  7. Click “Save Menu.”

Setting Your Home Page

What do you want the first page of your site to look like? This is the one your visitors will see first, so you want to welcome them and direct them to your best content or your offers.

That means you need to create a new page that will act as the home page. If you want to have a blog on your site, you need to create a page for displaying the blog posts as well.

Here’s how to set up the home and blog pages –

  1. Navigate to Themes > Customize,
  2. Click on Static Front Page,
  3. Choose to display either your latest blog posts on your front page or a static page,
  4. If you choose a static page, select your desired page from the drop-down box in the Front Pagesection.
  5. In the Posts Page section, use the drop-down box to select the page where your blog posts will appear.
  6. Click Save & Publish.

Creating a Blog Post

Creating a blog post is very easy – it’s almost identical to creating a page. You will have access to all the options you used when creating a new page.

To create a new post, follow these steps –

  1. Navigate to Posts > Add New.
  2. Create your new post and hit Publish.

Posts have two additional features that are not available in the pages – categories and tags. This allows you to set the category and tags for your content to help your visitors find the posts that they’re interested in.

You can create a new category by clicking the “+Add New Category” button. To add tags, write the relevant tags separated by commas inside the “Tags” section, and click the “Add” button. You can manage the categories and tags from the Posts > Categories/Tags pages.

11-categories

Setting Up Other Options

There are some other things you need to take care of before you publish the website.

For instance, if you want to change the title or tagline of your site, you can do that from the Settings > General page. You will also find options to change the admin email address, the time zone, date format, site language, etc.

Go to Settings > Permalinks to change the URL structure of your website. In most cases, you should choose the “Post name” option here.

Don’t forget to click “Save Changes” to apply the new settings.

8. The Best Resources for Learning WordPress and Getting Support

Now that you’ve got your basic website up and running, where should you go if you need more support?

For learning WordPress:

Browse our other posts here at Make Website 101!

For Support:

Since WordPress is such a widely used website creation platform, a quick Google search can help you find the solution to most of your problems.

For issues with your website (for example, getting it set up, conflicting plugins), contact your web host provider.

If you’re using a premium theme or plugin, contact the seller or developer for additional support.

Conclusion

If you want to make your own website – you can! It’s not too hard, and there’s plenty of resources available online to help you get it done. You don’t need to know any code to make a simple website and bring your business online.

Over to you – have you created your own website yet? If not, what’s stopping you?