Throughout my 6 years of building websites, I have seen and heard just about everything. Based on my experience, the two major issues professionals run into are: (1) They don’t have the funds to pay a web developer for a unique site and (2) They don’t have the know-how to build their own.
So, I decided to see what I could do to help with at least one of these issues.I am going to give you – whether you be blogger or business owner – this basic, step by step guide to building your own site.Let’s begin!
This guide is not to replace professional web developers, nor is it to downgrade the job that developer do.
This guide is to help those that do not have the funds to hire a professional. I have and will always stand behind hiring a developer if you can.
Developers have skills that take simple sites to the next level. They have the skills to take “traditional” looking templates and turn them into incredible, unique sites built specifically for you business venture.
Okay, the three major steps you will need are:
(1) Choosing the Correct Platform
(2) Choosing your web address (www)
(3) Setup and Customize your website
Step One: Your Platform
Now, before you can worry about styling and domain names, you need to decide on which platform fits your needs.
What do you mean by platform?Well, back when websites began (and all the way into the early 2000’s) they were built using code – HTML, CSS or Flash.
Not only were they difficult to learn but they were even more difficult to master. This is why most people believe website creation requires a lot of code and design skill – but that’s no longer true!
Content management systems (CMS) like WordPress have made creating a website available for everyone! A CMS is a simple, no code required platform that allows you to build your own website and manage your unique, online content without using loose HTML pages.
Today, the three top platforms are:
Let’s go over a short review on all three.
(1) WordPress (my fav)
In most cases THE easiest developer to use, has tons of support, is mobile friendly, amazing pre-made layouts, and probably best of all it’s completely free!
A lot of free themes here as well, but I’ve found not near as many or as easily accessible as WordPress.
Extremely powerful, tons of options, but a bit more of a learning curve for new comers than I would recommend.
If you would like more detail, please, by all means, do some research, find out what fits for you. To save time, however, let’s focus on WordPress and go from there.
In my own experience, WordPress is easy, flexible, and works just as well for everyone from the up and comer to the seasoned site building veteran.
Step Two: Choosing a Domain
Now at this point, we’ll move on to Step 2, which is “choosing your domain“. With, WordPress itself is in fact free, however, domain name and hosting will cost a mere 3 to 4 dollars a month.
This means you can own your very own domain name without going broke and using all your hard earned money on web building. And it doesn’t hurt that it looks far more professional as well. It’s quick, easy, and incredibly fast.
Also, once you get a domain name, depending on which site you use, an email usually comes for free! So at this point you’re likely asking “What name should I pick?”
Well, honestly this is a personal choice. If you want to go with fun and friendly, most anything will do. If you want to go business and professional, however, you may want to put some thought into it.
Perhaps consider using your own name. Chances are, it’s just professional and original enough to warrant a decent URL.
Whatever you chose, just make sure it’s brand-able, memorable, and all around catchy.
Step Three: Building on WordPress
So you’ve picked your CMS, your domain name is registered… Let’s get building!
Like I said, we are going to stick with going through WordPress because it’s simple and the most popular.
The first thing you’ll want to do is install the program. There are 2 ways here (one far easier than the other), and that is self install, or manual install.
If you simply click install, it will first ask you to log into your hosting account (there are plenty of these, but I prefer WA hosting), then go to your control panel, find the WordPress Icon, choose the domain you want to install to your site, then click “install”.
Yes, it is, in fact, as simple as that.
Manual install is not so easy and would require much more explanation that can be placed in one blog, however, if you DO insist on a manual install, an internet search shouldn’t be too far away.
Either way, once you are installed, it is time to choose your template! Again, there are tons to choose from, so don’t get overwhelmed.
First, just log into your dashboard, then click on “free themes”, take a look around at the 1500 free themes to date, and get creative. Just check out the side bar for the word “appearance” if you get too lost, then “themes”.
And again, yes, there are well over 1000 themes here, so by all means, take your time. This is your site and you don’t want to rush it.
You want it to reflect who you are so give it some thought. You have plenty of time. Use specific keywords and searches to find what’s right for you.
Once you’ve found it, go ahead and install your new theme. Just click “install” and “activate” and you are all ready to go.
And no, you do not have to worry about changes made affecting your previous post. You can change your theme as much as you like without fear of deleting your hard work you’ve already written.
Once you are comfortable and want to add new pages, simply go to the dashboard and click “pages” and “add new”.
You should see a fairly famliar looking page if you’ve ever used Word. Just type what you need and it does the rest.
If you want to add new pages to the navigation bar, click “update”, then appearance”, then “menu”. Then, it’s just a matter of finding the page you just made and clicking “add to menu”.
This is a good point to mention page titles. You want a good page title that will easily come up on a search engine and inform a reader just exactly what lies within your page.
Taglines added at the end of titles also give a clear view on what each page represents. Take a moment and label each page and your readers will thank you.
The beauty of WordPress is the simplicity of it all, but I will take a moment to go over plugins.
What is a Plugin?
Think of it as an extension to build upon the capability of your site.
Almost like a simple command letting your site know what it is you want it to do. To install a new plug in, go to “plug ins” then “add new”. From there, check out the over 2000 plug ins WordPress employs to help you out.
Again, take your time, make it you. You absolutely do not have to rush. Once you find one you like, just click “install” and you are off and running!
So, by this point you should be about ready to launch if you haven’t already.
All it takes a little motivation, know how, and hopefully the blog of this 6 year experienced designer.