So, you want to learn how to build a website?
You’re in the right place!
Let’s start with the good news: You don’t have to be a professional web designer or coder to build a great-looking, fully-functioning website.
How do I know this?
Because I’ve done it since 2007.
I’ve built tons of websites and blogs (including this one) and still know very little about coding.
Do you know what this means? If I can do it, you can do it too.
Let me explain:
When making a website (or blog) I always use a free software called WordPress – in the web design industry, it’s what’s known as a Content Management System (CMS).
This software creates the backend for your website. It handles the content, the database and everything else.
I’ll tell you more about it in a minute but know that on a good day, you can setup a WordPress website in less than 30 minutes.
If you’re an absolute beginner though, I recommend taking your time. Give yourself a few hours in case you make mistakes.
Okay, let’s get going.
The 5 step process for setting up a self-hosted WordPress website
- Find the perfect domain name
- Register and manage a domain name
- Choose and buy web hosting
- Install WordPress
- Making your website look the part
Now let’s look at each step of the process in more detail.
1. Find the perfect domain name
A domain name is the address people type into a browser to find your site. Every website has one. Before you start a website, you’ll need a domain name.
Ideally, it’s best if you choose a domain that reflects your business or the content of your website. If you want, you could even use your own name.
Some folk use keywords in their domain(s) as they believe it helps improve search engine rankings. As Google uses over 200 factors to determine which sites appear in the results, the words used in the domain probably do have an effect, quite how much impact is another matter.
Video: 8 rules for choosing a domain name – Whiteboard Friday
If you’re stuck for ideas, check out Lean Domain Search – a useful online app which suggests domain names based on your suggestions.
2. Register and manage a domain name
Once you decide upon a domain name, the next step in the process is buying it.
It’s an exciting time!
The average cost for a domain is around $10. But you can get them cheaper if you shop around.
For a long time I used a company called Fasthosts to buy domain names. These days I use, and recommend, namecheap.
Typically, you register a .com domain for one year at a time, but you can register them for longer. Some country-specific domains, like co.uk, have a minimum registration period of two years.
Click the following link for an in-depth look at choosing, buying and managing domain names.
3. Choose and buy web hosting
This is where things start getting a little tricky.
While it’s a lot of fun and incredibly exciting choosing a domain name for the first time, looking for a suitable hosting company could give you a massive headache.
There are tons of companies to choose from and loads of technical jargon to get your head around:
- Cloud hosting
The list goes on and on.
If you’re starting a website for the very first time, it’s a good idea to stick with one of the more popular hosting companies. That way you can get up and running in no time.
As you learn more, if you don’t like the hosting company you initially signed with, you can easily leave and go elsewhere (and yes, you should get a pro-rata refund if you paid for a lengthy term in advance – but do check with your provider first).
Many hosting companies over a migration service, where they move your site (and associated email accounts) from your old host to the new one.
Typically, changing hosts shouldn’t affect your search rankings as long as both servers provide the same experience. Page loading time is a ranking factor, so if you move from a fast server to a slow one, your rankings might drop. Probably not overnight, but certainly over a period of time.
And if you move from a slow server to a past one, your rankings might improve.
Let’s go through the process for buying a domain and hosting from Bluehost.
Step 1: Visit Bluehost.com and click on the ‘get started now’ button
Step 2: Choose a plan – the Starter plan is good enough for beginners
Step 3: Choose a domain name
Step 4: Success! Now enter your personal account information
Step 5: Setup your hosting package
You should pay careful attention to the detail at this stage otherwise you could end up paying more than you want to.
The image below shows the default options offered by Bluehost. If you don’t change any of these, the bill for setting up your blog could be more than you expect.
You probably don’t need Site Backup Pro or SiteLock Security, but if you want to keep your personal name and address out of public databases, such as WHOIS, you do need Domain Privacy Protection.
(Many businesses choose to reveal their name and address on public records to improve customer confidence (should anyone ever check). In some countries, businesses are required by law to make this information public.)
Tick and untick the boxes relevant to you.
Step 6: Enter your billing information
4. Install WordPress
Here’s a mind-numbing statement for you: WordPress powers a quarter of all websites!
That’s because it’s easy to install, and although there is a learning curve at the start, once you get to know how it works, it’s very easy to use.
Bluehost, and other web hosting companies make it easy to install. All you have to do is click the install button and follow the on-screen instructions.
Instead of walking you three each step with a series of screenshots, take a look at this video to see how easy it is. Skip to 1.25 if you want to get straight to the instructions.
5. Make your WordPress website look good
Once you’ve installed WordPress, the next step is making it look good.
WordPress uses something called a ‘theme’ to create the design. You can choose from thousands of themes, many of which are free. You do this from inside WordPress (tutorial coming soon).
If you are looking for a design (theme) with a more polished and professional look, search online for ‘WordPress premium themes.’
Premium themes aren’t free, but they’re a great choice for business websites.
Which is best?
Premium themes are typically better because they come with support, they’re often better coded/designed and combine additional features.
If you have enough money in your pocket, I definitely recommend buying a premium theme over using a free one. But if you’re just testing the water, go with a free one for now and upgrade when you have the confidence.
I hope this page helps you understand the process for starting a WordPress website? As you can see from each of the steps I’ve described, the process is reasonably straight forward. And it’s probably one of the easiest and cheapest ways to setup a personal or business website.
If you have a question about any part of the process, please feel free to ask in the comments section or get in touch through the contact page.
*Please note, this article contains affiliate links, which means, if you buy after clicking one of our links, we earn a commission from the sale.