Creating a website is super easy in today's world. You don't have to be a tech geek or a programmer. Follow the right method, select the right platforms, and use the right tools – You can own your first website in no time.
I had zero knowledge in web development when I first started my online business in 2004. I did not hire a web developer until eleven years later. And I did okay.
Today – we have innovative development tools and better web publishing platforms. You will be 100% fine.
In this article, we will walk through all the steps needed to create a website and look into three different ways of website building.
1. Register a Domain
A domain is the name of your website. It has to be unique and convey the brand of your business.
The easiest way to search and register a domain is to go to a domain registrar.
A domain registrar will let you register your domain name either through yearly contracts or long-term contract.
Where to register your domain?
Here are some reputable domain registrars and their starting prices to consider.
Domain Name Tips
- If you have a hard time figuring out a domain name, you can always use domain name generators for ideas. Some of the more popular ones are Wordroid and Lean Domain Search.
- If you’re new, I recommend going to Namecheap to find and buy a domain name.
- Also, read – Domain name for dummies.
2. Buy a Web Host
A web host is a big computer (aka, server) that stores your websites. Some giant companies – like Amazon, IBM, and FB, own and manage their own web servers; other businesses simply rent their servers from a web hosting provider (which is a lot cheaper and easier).
Note: Skip this step if you are opting for a website builder to create your site (see step #3).
What are your choices in web hosting?
Web hosting comes in various packages today.
Traditionally, a web hosting provider is only involved in leasing out the servers with basic software and technical support. Hosting your website with a traditional hosting provider is usually cheaper and more flexible; but requires a little bit of extra work for you to set up a website.
Nowadays, companies are bundling different services together and allows users to build, host, and manage websites all from one service provider. We usually call these companies Website Builders or Online Store Builders. Hosting a website on these “bundle” platforms is usually expensive and less flexible, but you’ll get to build a website or online store easily.
Some newbies-friendly hosting services to check out.
|Free Site Migration?
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|TMD Hosting Review
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|InMotion Hosting Review
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Web Hosting Tips
- There are different kinds of hosting available: shared hosting, dedicated server hosting, and cloud/VPS hosting.
- If you’re a small website, it’s cheaper to go for shared hosting plans. Bigger sites are recommended to use either cloud or dedicated hosting.
- Some key qualities that you need to consider before choosing a web host are their user-friendliness, pricing, server speed, and uptime rates.
- To date we have signed up, tested, and reviewed more than 70 hosting companies – See our best hosting selections.
- Consider using an online store builder, such as Shopify or BigCommerce if you plan to sell products directly from your website.
- Some companies charge unreasonably high server fees, remember to read our hosting market study before you buy.
- Usually you'll receive a welcome email that contains all necessary information about your hosting once payment is done – this is where you begin with your journey as a website owner. Learn more about web hosting onboarding process in this guide.
3. Create & Design Your Website
Once you have your domain name and web hosting in place, it's time to roll up your sleeves and start creating! To design and create webpages, you can either hire a web developer or do it yourself.
We discuss in detail how to outsource a web development task here. You should skip the following steps and move on to that page if you plan to hire someone to develop your website for you.
For the DIYers, here are the three easy methods to create a website:
Method #1: Creating a Website from Scratch in HTML & CSS
Required Skills & Tools
You can create your unique and distinctive website all by yourself if you know the main web languages and the fundamental of a website.
Otherwise, it is advisable that you skip to method #2 / 3; or, get in touch with a web developer.
Basic Web Languages / Tools
- HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language)
HTML is the basic structure of web pages and web applications which makes the content semantic to the web browser. It is consist of sequential tags which has an opening and a closing, and structurally a keyword enclosed by Angle Brackets. Ex: <strong></strong>
- CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
CSS is the styling language which is used to decorate the HTML markup of a web page. Without CSS, a web page would look nothing but a large white page having some unordered text and image on it. CSS is the thing that makes the page ideally how we want.
- Scripting Languages
- Database Management
To store, manage and access user-input data of a website, a large table of information is considered which is called database. A Database Management System like MySQL, MongoDB and PostgreSQL is used in the server-side to do this job efficiently.
- FTP (File Transfer Protocol) / sFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol)
FTP is used to transfer a website’s source files to its hosted server more easily. There are web based as well as computer software based FTP clients that can be used to upload one’s files to the server computer.
Steps to Create a Website Using IDE
Here is the overview of the process how you can create a first-hand website, assuming that you know the basic web languages and website essentials mentioned above.
Step 1: Setup a local working environment
In order to create and organize source files of a website, a good local working environment is important. You can create a web development environment on your computer device by installing an IDE (Integrated Development Environment). An IDE basically consists of a Text Editor, a Build Automation, and a Debugger.
On the other hand, there are extended IDEs like Adobe Dreamweaver which offers a handful of other features (Ex: Server Connectivity, FTP).
Step 2: Plan and Design Your Website using Adobe Photoshop
Planning website structure and navigation system are of grave importance. First, you have to understand how you want to deliver your content. Plan how many navigation menus, how many columns or content fields, how many images you want to include, and where.
The best practice is opening up Adobe Photoshop and creating a rough drawing of your web pages. Alternatively, modern design collaboration tools like Figma and Canva allow you to synchronize your work with designers and coders on the same platform.
Step 3: Codify the Design using HTML and CSS
After you have finished up making rough designs for your web pages in Adobe Photoshop, you can start writing the source codes.
This is the easiest part. Make HTML markups for the web elements you wanted to include and use CSS to decorate them according to the designs you made.
Only HTML and CSS based websites don't exist in modern days because front-end user interactions cannot be controlled through HTML or CSS.
Step 5: Upload Local Files to the Server using FTP Client
The final step is uploading all your source files to the web server. The best and easiest way of handling it is through an FTP client.
First, download an FTP client on your computer device and connect it to your web server using an FTP account. After you have successfully connected it to the FTP account, copy all your local files to the root of your web directory. Some good FTP clients are FileZilla, WinSCP and Cyberduck.
Method #2: Creating a Website Using CMS
Required Skills & Tools
A CMS or a Content Management System is built so tactically that it fits first-day-at-work beginners to experienced web developers.
It is a software application that makes it easy to create and manage online contents. Most of them are open-source and free to use.
If you know the basics of HTML, CSS or PHP, it is advantageous for you. It is not a big problem if you don’t know because these platforms are very much intuitive. Here are top three free choices of CMS platforms you can choose according to your need.
WordPress, according to various statistics, is being used in the maximum number of blogs and small to medium-sized websites. Nevertheless, many mighty big websites do prefer WordPress for its simplicity. WYSIWYG Editor is the only thing you need to learn in order to land your first content.
This platform is institutional for beginners as well as heavily develop-able by different classes of web developers. It has many free plugins and themes on its own repository. For its being the #1 CMS choice, plenty of third-party resources (known as plugins) are available on the side.
- Highly flexible and customizable
- Easy to use,
- Tons of learning resources,
- Excellent community & support
- Needs code for major visual customizations
- Updates may cause issues with plugins
Joomla is similar to WordPress in many ways. It is also easy to use, easy to install, and can easily be expanded with the help of modules – the equivalent of WordPress plugins. As a result, it is the second-best option for beginners.
However, beginners might be more intimidated to explore Joomla because of the number of available options. In addition to the left menu, there is also a menu on the top bar right above the “Control Panel” logo. To avoid confusion, remember that some of the items from the left and top bar menus are similar, including “Content,” “Users,” and “Extensions.”
Just like WordPress, Joomla has some styles and templates that can quickly give your site a distinctive look. But out of all three content management systems, Joomla offers the easiest solution when it comes to creating a social network. With platforms like EasySocial and JomSocial, you are just minutes away from your very own social networking website.
- More technically advanced
- Websites generally perform better
- Enterprise-level security
- Modules are hard to maintain
- Middle-ground CMS – Not as easy as WordPress, not as advanced as Drupal
Experienced web developers attest that Drupal is the most powerful CMS.
However, it is also the most difficult to use. Due to its flexibility, Drupal is the second most-used CMS in the world, but it is not a favorite amongst beginners. To successfully build a “complete” website using Drupal, you need to get your hands dirty and learn the basics of coding. Knowing your way around the CMS is also challenging for beginners.
- Easy to learn
- Great help portal
- Updates integrate seamlessly
- More built-in options
- Steep learning curve at starting stage – recommended for advanced users
Steps to Create a Website Using a CMS
For this method, we will use WordPress as our example. By now you should already have a web hosting account and a registered domain name.
Step 1: Find the WordPress installer in your web hosting panel
Web hosting services usually feature a quick installer for installing WordPress and other common platforms.
So log in to your web hosting account and find out which installer you have. The popular names you should search for are Softaculous, QuickInstall, or Fantastico.
Step 2: Install WordPress through the installer
Softaculous is the most popular auto-installer and it is featured on cPanel. I will walk you through the installation via Softculous. The other installers are pretty much the same.
Here comes the important part.
Configure the options as follows, leave other fields to the default configuration (will sort out later), and click install.
- Protocol: You have to decide whether you want to install the http:// or the http://www. version of URL. Whatever you select, you won’t see much difference. From the technical point of view, http://www. is better in terms of flexibility and cookie management. Note that if you have a valid SSL certificate and want to install WordPress on it, just select https instead of http.
- Domain: Select the domain on which you want to install the website.
- Directory: Specify where you want to install the WordPress site. If you want to install it on your root URL (ex: http://www.yourwebsite.com/), keep it blank. If you want it on a sub-URL (ex: http://www.yourwebsite.com/myblog/), specify the directory in the field.
- Admin Account: Set your username, password and email which you will use for logging in to your WordPress site.
If you have succeeded in the last steps, well done. Your website is live!
Now log in to your WordPress site. Your site’s login page will look like wp-login.php trailing the website URL you set.
Step 3: Install a theme and some important plugins
Next, you have to install a theme and the must-required plugins. Have a look at the left sidebar of your WordPress Dashboard.
There are tons of free ready-made themes available in the WordPress directory.
To browse these free themes, go to ‘Appearance > Themes > Add New’, search for the theme that meets your requirements, and click the install button.
You can also install third-party themes from the ‘Upload Theme’ section. For paid, professionally designed, WordPress themes, I recommend Elegant Themes (for its efficient code and beautiful front-end designs).
For plugins, browse ‘Plugins > Add New’.
Search and install the plugins you only need. 3rd Party plugins can also be installed from the ‘Upload Plugin’ section.
Here I want to suggest a few important free plugins. Search by their names on the WordPress plugins directory to find them out. Note that installing just one plugin from each category is enough.
- For SEO: Yoast SEO, All in One SEO Pack
- For Security: iThemes Security, Wordfence Security
- For Site Stats: Jetpack by WordPress.com, Google Analytics for WordPress by Monster Insights
- For Form Creation: Contact Form 7
- For Performance: W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache
For your site identity, you’ll still need to create something even if you use a great theme. There are a ton of awesome logo generators around, but I’d take a look at Logaster. They’re a paid service but what’s great is that they offer tiered pricing. This means you can simply pay for what you need – just a web-format logo, or you can even sign up for an entire brand kit which includes formats for various platforms.
Step 4: You are ready!
Your site should be up and running by the last step. But there are a few more things that should be sorted out.
- Under ‘Settings > General’: Set your site title and the tagline.
- Under ‘Settings > Reading’: What your homepage should display and how many blog posts you want to show on a single page.
- Under ‘Settings > Permalinks’: Set what will be the URL structure of your blog post.
Method #3: Creating a Website with Site Builders
Required Skill & Tools
Site builders have made it effortless and instant to setup a website. Without knowledge of web languages, one can launch his full-featured website in a matter of minutes. They offer Drag & Drop website builders which require zero coding knowledge.
There are many site builders scattered over the internet but not all of them can satisfy the needs.
The following three are the most-talked and potential website builders you can use.
Wix is one of the easiest site builders in the market that features 500+ fully-customize-able templates sorted under various categories. So it is pretty much sure that you will find one that suits you.
They are offering a flexible Drag & Drop website editor that is always visible over the content. You can drag one item from the list and drop it anywhere on the website to add. Any visible item on it can be moved or edited.
The only drawback is that there are on-site advertisements on Wix Free and Connect Domain plan. You can get rid of it by upgrading it to their Combo plan, which sets you back at a minimum of $8.50/month.
Hostinger Website Builder (Zyro)
Even taking into account the nature of website builders, Hostinger Website Builder is absolute easy to use. If you’ve ever used a word processor or similar What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) application – you will not have a problem building a site using the tool.
The theory is the same. It’s like playing with building blocks. The blocks are pre-designed website elements, such as images, text boxes, and so on. Designing a website can be as simple as choosing the element you want, then dragging and dropping it into place.
Weebly is easier in many ways like navigation, and user-friendliness. They offer hundreds of templates to choose from but personalization options might feel limited.
They have a good number of pre-designed page layouts (for example about page, pricing page, and contact page) that can be used and modified.
The Drag & Drop builder is easier to use but you are sometimes limited to the designated areas for customization. The availability of extensions and third-party apps is also limited.
4. Validate & Test Your New Site
Once your website is ready – it’s time to validate and test how it works in major browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, IE 11, etc.) as well as on different screen sizes.
We can run these tests with the help of free tools online.
What is markup validation? Coding languages or scripts such as HTML, PHP, and so on each have their own formats, vocabulary, and syntax. Markup validation is the process of verifying whether your website follows these rules.
5. Fine-tune & Grow Your Website
Publishing your website on the internet is stage one. There are still many other things to do to ensure the success of your website. Here are a few tasks to begin with…
Google has stated clearly that site speed is one of its ranking factors. This means your site may rank higher if it loads quickly.
Also, the faster your website loads, the happier your website visitors will be. It is proven, in countless case studies and experiments, that a slow-loading website will damage user experience and affect website revenue. Amazon would have lost an estimated $1.6 billion in revenue if its site slowed down by even one second.
Website Search Visibility
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You don’t need to be a master in search engine optimization (SEO) to get your website noticed. But some basic search engine optimization skills are always good to have.
Create a webmaster account at Google Search Console to submit your website to Google and to identify any SEO issues. Do basic keyword research and then optimize your page title and headings for your primary keywords. Implement schema markup on your site to stand out from search result pages.
Ever since Google Chrome started to label HTTP websites “Not Secure” – SSL certificate has become a big deal. To make sure that your website is “trusted” by users – an HTTPS connection is a must.
Expand your reach on social media platforms
Your website should also have a presence on social media platforms where most of your targeted audience hang out. For our site that means Facebook and Twitter. For others, it may be LinkedIn, Tumblr or Pinterest.
Did you see the letter “W” in a blue circle that appeared on the left of your browser tab? That’s known as “favicon”. Like a logo, the favicon is a smaller visual element that represents a website.
The Favicon is a nifty little branding technique that’s often overlooked by website owners. If that sounds like you – make use of these free favicon generators to help you.
Essential Pages to Have on Your Website
No two website is ever the same as they might serve different purpose and/or function. However, there are three standard pages that every website should have: Index (homepage), About Page, and Contact Page.
The homepage is often the first place where most visitors will go see after they landed on your website. Your homepage should deliver the right pitch and drive your visitors deeper into your site.
About Page is all about building a rapport with your visitors. It lets you introduce yourself and give detail information (well?) about your website. Usually it's recommended to include photos of the people who own and run the website.
It's important to communicate with your users and potential clients. Hence – the contact page. Include all possible communication channels (social media profiles, contact forms, email address, etc) to make sure that your visitors are able to reach you.
That's a Wrap
And there you have it! You now know more than enough to create and build a successful website. It’s time to put your knowledge to work. Go start now and rock the internet!
Recap: Step-by-step Process to Create a Website
- Register a Domain
Register a unique domain name that represents your business brand and is easy to remember using domain registrars like Namecheap, GoDaddy or Hostinger.
- Buy a Web Host
Choose the right web hosting provider that fits your needs, whether you want basic software and space or website building and management services.
- Create & Design Your Website (3 Methods)
Create and design your website with the help of a web developer or by using one of the three methods: 1. Creating it from scratch, 2. Using a CMS or 3. Using a website builder. You get more flexibility in designs and site functions with method #1 but it requires good knowledge of web languages. The creation and management process is much easier with method #2 and #3. You should choose one of these methods depending on your competence.
- Validating and Test Your Website
Validate and test your website's compatibility with different browsers and screen sizes using free online tools like Markup Validation, Browser Test, and Screen Test.
- Fine-tuning and Growing Your Site
Fine-tune and grow your website by optimizing its speed, search visibility, HTTPS, and social media presence, and by having standard pages like Index, About, and Contact.
Frequently Asked Questions
GoDaddy has plans built around its website builder that start from $10/mo.
Most website builders are easy for beginners to use. By their very nature, website builders are targeted at non-tech savvy users and offer a lot of help. This ranges from user-friendly interfaces to pre-built templates.
Before you even embark on your site build, it's the same as starting a blog, the first thing that should be addressed is your intent. What you want your website to be or achieve can play a significant part in its design and development.
The time taken to code a website depends on its complexity. The more you need in terms of features and design, the longer it will take. Simple, static websites can be coded in as little as a few hours, while larger, complex sites can take several months.