Want to learn how to build a website from scratch? Then you have come to the right place – Welcome!
Making your own website is so easy, anyone can do it. And I’ll guide you through the process – step by step.
All you need to make your own website is (1) a domain, (2) hosting and (3) some software- that’s it. Those are the three essential elements, no matter what kind of website you have in mind.
And if you follow this guide you can have a professional looking website for less than $10 per month.
But the devil is in the detail and there are quite a few things to consider along the way. So I have divided this guide into different categories, to make the process as clear and easy to follow as possible. But before we get to it, I just want to give you an overview of the different elements of website creation we’ll be covering. The following “table of content” can also serve as navigation to the different parts of the guide.
Are you ready to get started? Great! Let’s jump right in.
Your website’s chances of a success is to a large degree determined before the actual site is created – in the planning stage. Good planning can not only be the difference between success and failure, but it will also make later decisions a lot easier. So don’t make the common mistake of skipping this essential step.
Here is a list with a few questions aimed to get you thinking. At the very least consider these and other questions you find relevant. However to get the most of the process, I recommend not just thinking about it, but taking the time to write down clear answers to the questions.
- What are your goals for the website?
- What is it about?
- Why does your website exist?
- How is it different from the other websites out there?
- Who is your audience?
- What do you want your audience to do?
The domain is the foundation of your website. And just like when you build a house, it’s important to get it right from the start. If you don’t, you could end up wasting a lot of time and energy later.
So spend some time finding the right name before you register it. I’ve written an article about how to choose a domain name that will guide you through the process.
Register Your Domain Name
When you are ready to register your new domain I recommend one of two ways of going about it, depending on your preferences.
The first and easiest way to register your domain is to buy it together with your hosting. This is the option I recommend if convenience and keeping things as simple as possible is your priority.
The disadvantage is that you’ll have to pay around five dollars more for the domain each year and that you only can choose between the most used domain extensions (.com/.net/.org). The advantage is that you’ll have everything in one place and don’t have to worry about changing the name servers after you buy hosting. You can jump right ahead to the section about hosting if this is your choice.
The second option is to register your domain name at a separate domain registrar. This is my recommendation for those of you who want another domain extension than .com/.net/.org, advanced features, the lowest price and don’t mind having to change the name servers later (I’ll show you how it’s done). Read and follow the instructions in my article about how to register a domain name if this is your choice.
Hosting is where your website is located and made available on the internet. And having a good host will save you a lot of trouble along the way – trust me, I speak from experience on that one :).
I recommend Hostgator (affiliate link) when it comes to hosting your website. I’m sure there are other good web hosts out there, but Hostgator is what I use for my own websites and I’m very happy with their service.
So head over to Hostgator (affiliate link) and click the big yellow button in the middle of the screen that looks like this:
On the next page you have to choose what type of hosting you want. Hostgator offers three different hosting options and it looks like this:
The first option is called “Hatching Plan”. This is all you need if you only have one website.
The second option is called “Baby Plan” and that’s what you should choose if you want to make more than one website. You can actually host as many websites as you’d like with this plan.
And the third option is called “Business Plan”. And you only need to get this one if have plans about making a website that can accept credit card payments without using a third party solution like Paypal or Google Checkout (an e-commerce site is one example).
On the following page you either have to register your domain name in the box on the left (if you chose to buy domain and hosting together above) or type in the the domain name you bought in the box on the right.
And remember to use the coupon code WSFHosting if you would like to take advantage of the 25% discount I managed to get for my readers. Then click the yellow button that says “CONTINUE TO STEP 2″.
On the last page you have to enter your billing information. And don’t forget to choose your preferred billing cycle (you have to choose the longest billing cycle if you want the maximum discount, since the discount only applies to your first payment).
Also make sure the email address you use is valid, since you’ll receive your log in information in an email when you are done. When you have filled in everything hit the yellow button at the bottom of the page that says “CREATE ACCOUNT”.
Within a few minutes you should receive a confirmation email from Hostgator with your account information. And if you bought domain and hosting together you are good to go and can continue to the next step.
Change Name Servers if You Bought a Separate Domain
If you bought your domain separately you have to change the name servers before moving on. The guys over at Namecheap made this little video that shows you how it’s done (just remember to use the nameservers specified in your Hostgator welcome email):
The software determines how your website works and what it looks like. You can code the website yourself, but the best option in most cases is to install a piece of software that automatically generate the code you need.
I recommend WordPress for almost any website project. And that’s also the software I use for this site. So to get started read and follow the instructions in my article about how to install WordPress.
The design is another important aspect of your website’s identity. And good design can give you more time to win over a new visitor, just like horrible design can repel people before they even get to your content.
Even though design is important I generally advice people not to pay for a custom design when they’re just getting started (that might however be a good idea if your website becomes popular down the road). Instead I either advice people to use a free or a premium Worpress theme to begin with (themes are a super easy way to change the design of your WordPress website).
Free WordPress Themes
A free WordPress theme is the way to go if you want to limit your costs as much as possible. A few words of advice is however not to use the standard theme that comes with the installation. That’s one of the mostly used designs on the internet (and being unique will increase your chances of being remembered), it sends the message that you didn’t care to work on the design and a lot of spam websites just use the standard theme (that alone should be reason enough to change). Security is another thing to be aware of when using a free theme (it’s possible to hide all kinds of nasty things in the code). So never use a free theme from a random website and the best thing you can do is only to get free themes from the WordPress directory.
Premium WordPress Themes
A premium theme is the way to go if you want a unique design, security, advanced features and more flexibility. I’ve used Headway (affiliate link) to design this website and recommend it if you want to make your own design, but don’t know how to write code.
Update: A lot of people have asked me for advice on what pre-designed premium theme to choose (that’s if you want a premium theme, but don’t want to design it yourself). I haven’t used a pre-designed premium theme myself, but if I ever need one I’ll go with WooThemes (affiliate link) because I’ve had it recommended by several friends I trust.
When you have made your choice, read my article about how to install WordPress themes.
The content is what people visit your website for. And in WordPress it’s usually added on either posts or pages. Text, images, video and audio can be added directly in the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. Functionality on the other hand is added with plugins (how to add a plugin to WordPress) and widgets.
Before you start adding your content it’s a good idea to think about your website structure and you also need to know how to setup WordPress.
I hope you found my tutorial helpful – you’re most welcome to link to it from your new website.
The above tutorial is a general run through of how to make your own website from scratch. But if you need a tutorial on something related, you might find what you are looking for here.
Lav din egen hjemmeside (my Danish tutorial on website creation)
Have a question? You’ll find the answers to the most frequently asked questions below.