There was a time when creating your own website from scratch was a complicated task. It often required an in-depth knowledge of coding, scripts, and computer programming. This meant that an average Joe, like myself, was not able to create a website of his own. You would have to rely on the ‘professionals’ to have your website up and running. Not only did that cost you a significant amount of money, you had little or no input in the overall design, look, and feel of your own site! Heck, I remember the time when simple things like changing the font on your website required a ‘professional’ intervention.
Well, all that seems to be a distant past now. Designing, maintaining and operating your own website in 2017 is literally a child’s play. You don’t need an expertise in computer programming or coding. As a matter of fact, you can have absolutely no working knowledge of code and still design a beautiful, functional and responsive website. What’s more, you can do all that and have your own website up and running in under an hour, I am not kidding!
Now, why do I think that creating your own website is that easy? Well, the simplest answer to that question is because it is that simple! Trust me, I helped tons of people, with absolutely no technical expertise set up their own website. I know what I am talking about!
If you are someone who is looking to setup your website on your own, from scratch and at least possible expense, this guide is all that you need. In this guide, I will be taking you, step-by-step, through the process of creating your website. All you need to know is some basic stuff about computers such as how to operate a web browser and things of that nature. I am sure if you are reading this, you got that covered!
I will be breaking down the whole process into simple, actionable steps. By the end of the guide, I am confident that you will be well on your way, feeling good and motivated. So, are you ready to make your very own website from scratch? Yeah, so here we go.
1. Why do you want the website in the first place?
It is the very first question that I would like to ask you. And it is kind of an important one. There are many reasons why someone wants to have their own website. Maybe, you are a bit of a writer and want a website to write helpful articles. Or maybe, you want to sell your awesome product online and take the internet by storm. Maybe, you are so enamored by the whole blogging culture that you want to be a blogger. Whatever your needs are, it is important to understand them before you even begin.
To drive this point home, let me give you an everyday example. Say, you are invited by a friend to go somewhere. Before you leave your house, you would like to know where you are going so that you have an idea what to expect from the trip, right. For example, if you are going to a wedding you would want to dress up or if you are going to a beach you would want to carry your swimsuit.
Knowing what you want the website for, is the first and a crucial step toward building one. You wouldn’t want to go to the beach in your tux, now, would you?!
Well, sorry if I rambled on, but back to the point, be sure that you know the purpose of your website. It’s no fun doing all this work and realizing that you could have done better! It always helps to visualize the final product. That way, you can be proactive in designing the layout of your site. Some of the things such as your domain name (in other words the address of your website) will be stuck with you forever. A little planning always helps to avoid silly mistakes like misspelling your website or choosing a mediocre extension. More of this in the sections to follow. I would also like you to visit websites in your niche so that you have an idea of what works best. I always choose some websites that I like and implement some great features from all of them on my new site.
Now that we know what our website is for and how we want it laid out, we are ready to ask the next logical question.
2. I know the purpose of my website, now what?
Well, now that you have thought long and hard about some aspects of your soon to be a new website, it’s time to give it a home. When you create a website, it needs to store a lot of data including files pertaining to how it looks to the content on the site. In turn, this data is accessed by others via the internet visiting your website.
Now there are a couple of ways how you can store this data, which is essentially the soul of your website. All that data is stored on giant stores called ‘servers’. There are a number of companies that operate and maintain these servers so that you can rent a small space on these to keep your website data. This whole exercise is called ‘Web Hosting’. I am sure you must have heard of this.
Now, what a web host does is it allows you to store your website data so that anyone with a working internet connection can access it. As I said, there is no shortage of companies that are renting out their servers for you to store your website. However, there are some important things to remember before you choose one. Let’s see what exactly do I mean by that.
In internet lingo, uptime is usually represented as the percent of the time your website is ‘active’. In other terms, as your website files are stored on the servers of the host, these servers need to be powered on all the time. If they are turned off for some reason, people trying to access your website won’t be able to access it anymore. And your website will be ‘down’. We want to avoid that. We want our website to stay up and running all the time so that people can have access to it wherever they are across the globe.
These days, most popular web hosts offer a 100% uptime. That means their servers are never powered down and your site is active all the time. Well, almost all the time. So, while choosing a web host, it is crucial to pick one that has a good track record of uptimes.
b. Shared hosting
Shared hosting exactly means what you are thinking. It means that if you use shared hosting, your website will ‘share’ the same server with other sites. What that translates to is the fact that if the server is overloaded, it will take more time to access data. Your website will load at a snail’s pace and again, we don’t want that.
Not only slow sites drive people away, they are not looked favorably by the search engines (such as google) either. So, as far as possible, avoid shared hosting.
For most websites, a typically managed hosting should be good enough. Although if you are planning to run a website that is extremely popular and you are expecting millions of visitors, think of a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or even a dedicated server. But I think that discussion is beyond the scope of what we are discussing here.
c. Customer care
Another important thing to note in a web hosting company is the customer service. Let’s face it, if you are not technically proficient, there might be some issues that you won’t be able to resolve on your own. That’s where the customer service comes in. Most of the services that are out there have a great customer support but pay attention to what others are saying. There are many web hosting companies with their pros and cons. Ofcourse AviarHost is one of them. When looking for you best hosting company just look out for coupons and promotional offers.
So, in this step, we chose the home of our website or a web host. Let’s move on.
3. What do you want to name your website?
Now that we got our web host, it’s time to pick a name for our site. The name of a website is called its ‘Domain name’. You can literally pick and choose any name that tickles your fancy. But you are not alone picking up names and hence, the name that you really want might be taken already. It’s kind of like choosing your email id when signing up for an email service. If a domain name is not available, you will have to improvise.
The last part of the address of your website is called the extension. For example in the case of www.google.com, the .com is an extension. You must have come across multiple extensions such as .org, or .net or something like that. The point is, you can choose that extension too, well from the available list.
Now that you have decided to name your website, here are some tips to selecting the best name:
- Pick a name that is small and easy to remember. Take a look at some of the best websites around, all of them have a simple name that you can remember: google.com, microsoft.com, apple.com
- As far as possible, avoid hyphens in the title of your website. I see many people naming their websites with a hyphen in the title, it not smart. Just avoid it!
- Choose the extensions wisely. I mean, there are a ton of them available. But always remember, most people still associate a website to end with a .com. So, it is your best option. Although if you are an organization a .org might make more sense. If your website is going to be a commercial venture, stick to the .com.
- Don’t get stuck up on choosing the perfect name. I mean be creative and play around a little bit, but don’t put all your attention on this single issue. Although a name is important, it is not going to be the be all and end all kind of a deal. So, chill, pick the best you can and move on.
You can register your domain names with all the three major hosting services we saw in the earlier section. The domain names are usually sold on a yearly lease that you will have to renew. If you fail to renew it, someone else has the option to buy it.
4. How do I add content to my website?
Now that we have our host and name, it’s time to build the backbone of our website. All the content of your website is handled by a Content Management System or CMS. It is sort of a central hub where you can shape your website. You will be adding pages, creating blogs changing the look and feel of your website all through CMS.
Assuming that we are beginners and have no or little experience with code, we need a CMS that will allow us the most support. If you are brave and want to venture into the HTML land and create your own CMS, more power to you! But that’s not what we are going to discuss here. I am going to stick to some of the most popular CMS that you can use.
There is a number of CMSs available out there. Here is a list of some of the most popular ones with their prevalence in percentage:
- All others…..14%
As you can see the top three CMSs are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. For most websites, WordPress is my favorite. It is easy, you don’t have to know a line of code and it is simple. WordPress is one of the most popular CMS. It is robust, simple and has a huge community. If you come across any problem using this CMS, there is a ton of resource material available out there. The other thing is that it is very simple. If you can use MS word, you can use WordPress without sweating. You can make your website look almost like any other website you like. Making pages and blog posts is also incredibly easy.
5. How to setup WordPress?
This is the final part of our website building process. Setting up WordPress is incredibly simple. For the most part, the installation of WordPress on your website is automated. You can go to the control panel of your web host account and with a click of a button, WordPress is installed.
The first screen that you will see after installing WordPress is called the dashboard. It is a simple program that has everything that you will need to get started. Let’s see what we can do on WordPress installed on our website.
a. Install a theme
A WordPress theme is what makes the graphical interface of your website. A theme determines how the website looks and feels. You can choose from thousands of free themes available by going to the section marked appearance. Make sure that you pick a theme that goes well with your intended use of the site. If it is a business website, chose a professional looking theme and so on.
b. Customize the theme
Once you have installed the theme, the next step would be to customize it to your liking. You can play with the settings to find that perfect look and feel. Change backgrounds, colors, fonts and so on. Explore and try things out.
c. Create content
As a final step to your website design, we got to add stuff to it. You can create a number of pages for sections such as a blog, your info etc., the options are limitless. Once you have your pages set up, it’s time to add content to it. You can add articles, videos, pictures and more to your website. There are hundreds of videos on YouTube that can guide you through every step of customization of WordPress. There you go, your website is up and running, just like that!
Other things that you may consider doing
Apart from these basic steps, you may want to do some additional steps as well such as design a beautiful logo for your site, or order content from freelancers to put in the pages you created.
Another thing that you can and probably should do is advertise! Now that you have your own website, everyone needs to know about it, that’s the point, right? Get on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever other social networking platforms you use. Spread the word and make your presence known.
Once people starting hitting your website, you can keep them coming by posting fresh, new content. Use google analytics to track who is visiting your website and from where. That will give you an idea to customize the experience for a specific group of people coming to your website.
A final word
Creating a website is simple and easy. There is always a learning curve associated with anything new you try. So, keep on exploring, learning and making the most of your brand-new website. We are always here to help you. Remember that there is a huge community of people just like you who are learning from each other’s experiences. So, you are not alone!
I hope that this guide was helpful in increasing your confidence and you will soon be the owner of a great website! Until next time…