An easy step-by-step website setup guide written by web developers who have created hundreds of websites and helped thousands of others to create their own website. 6 reasons why you’ll love this awesome website setup guide:
A step by step tutorial – we start off with finding the right content management system, choosing a domain name, then the right web hosting service, adding the right themes, plugins and customizing your site’s appearance. By the time you are done with this how to make a WordPress website for beginners guide you’ll have a full fledged website ready to go!
- Choose the right platform for your website
- How to find and register a domain name for free
- Choosing the best web hosting
- How to install WordPress
- Installing a template to change your site’s design
- Creating pages in WordPress
- Customizing WordPress with addons and extensions
- Promote Your Website
Choose the right platform for your website
Platform #1: WordPress
I’d recommend you use the WordPress platform.
I primarily recommend WordPress for most websites due to it’s ease of use. If you’ve used Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress. (Note: This is WordPress.org, not WordPress.com, which offers free sites).
WordPress is totally free, making it an incredibly cost-effective platform.
It’s responsive, meaning it works really well on tablets and mobile devices, which is absolutely essential these days. If your site doesn’t work well on mobile, no one will want to visit it. I mean, seriously, have you visited one of those sites? They’re absolutely atrocious.
It is exceedingly easy to use, it is free and comes with an enormous number of premium quality free themes and plugins. The cost of hosting is low and many hosts provide for easy one click installation of WordPress. And since a growing percentage of online entrepreneurs do not know how to program in HTML, CSS and PHP, WordPress is the best choice as it offers excellent customizability even to WordPress newbies.
How to find and register a domain name for free
The next step in our process involves choosing a domain name. A domain name is basically the URL one types into a browser’s address bar to visit a particular website.
Getting the right domain name is crucial. A few things you need to keep in mind while considering domain name choices.
- Short – Shorter names work better when it comes to remembrance and are easy to type as well.
- Brandable – Remember your domain also runs to your brand, make sure it isn’t memorable for all the wrong reasons.
- Memorable – People forget easily, come up with a name that first time visitors to your site are likely to remember.
- Catchy – You want a domain name that rolls off the tongue and describes what you do.
- Easy to type.
- Includes keyword (optional) – Identify the right keywords or combination of keywords. The closer your domain name is to your site’s niche, the better for search engine optimization (SEO)
- Niche specific (optional) – If you are writing a website about a specific niche check if there are popular abbreviations that you can use. For example, in WordPress there are many highly ranked websites with “wp” as part of their name. WPEngine.com, a managed hosting service for WordPress.
Remember, the name is important, but your website won’t succeed or fail simply based on a name alone. Pick the best available and then keep going.
These days, you can add funny extensions to your name, like “.pizza” and “.ninja”. In rare cases, these may be appropriate for your business, like if you sell pizza or train ninjas.
But most of the time, go with the standard “.com”, “.net”, or “.org”. It looks more professional.
Use GoDaddy to register your domain name.
Choosing the best web hosting
A website is nothing more than a collection of files, and these files need to be stored somewhere. Every blog post is a file. Every image is a file. Everything associated with your website is a file of sorts, and they all need to be organized properly and stored in a safe location so other people can access them.
You will be storing (or hosting) your files on a server, so that people can access them through the Internet. When someone types in “www.YourWebsiteAddress.com” into their browser, they will be taken to the server hosting your files.
I’ve mostly used Bluehost for web hosting and domain registration, both for myself and my web development clients (I even wrote an in-depth guide on how to sign up with Bluehost).
There are literally hundreds of web hosting options available, all claiming to be the best.
Out of all of the hosting providers, I’d recommend Bluehost. They’re really affordable, have good customer service, and are perfect for both beginners and enterprises alike, but as you can see, there are many companies that offer hosting plans for relatively low costs.
Pick Your Hosting Package
Below I walk through the Bluehost hosting package, but most web hosts will follow a similar process.
Generally speaking, unless you know that you’ll need more functionality, you can choose a relatively simple hosting package. For example, on Bluehost, you probably don’t need the pro version of “Site Backup”, the “Search Engine Jumpstart”, and the “Comodo Positive SSL Bundle”. The standard package will be fine.
If your needs grow, you can add those in later. For now, just select the basic package. If you want to save some money, you can choose to be billed on an annual basis rather than a monthly basis.
Dedicated WordPress Hosting
If you’re going to use the WordPress platform, you should pick a host that has dedicated WordPress hosting. This allows you to easily install WordPress (usually with 1-click) and to manage your files.
If the host doesn’t have dedicated WordPress hosting, you’ll have to manually install the platform, which can be difficult if you’re not particularly tech savvy.
How to install WordPress
Assuming you’ve chosen the WordPress platform, it’s time to install it. Thankfully, this is really easy with 1-click installation. And really, if they don’t have 1-click installation, you may want to choose a different host. After all, you want things to be as simple and painless as possible. No sense making extra work for yourself.
- To create a website with WordPress (or Joomla and Drupal), using One Click Installation:
- Log in to your hosting account. So, if you signed up with BlueHost, go to their site and login. Easy, right?
- Go to your “Control Panel”.
- Look for the WordPress or “Website” icon.
- Choose the domain where you want to install your website. For example, if you purchased the domain “www.AwesomeCompany.com”, select that domain. If you purchased two domains, select the one you want to install your website.
That’s it. See how easy that is? No need to mess around with uploading files or anything like that.
Complete the installation.
Now you can login on your website by clicking link that says YourWebsitName.com/wp-admin.
Installing a template to change your site’s design
Go to yourwebsitename.com/wp-admin.
Type in the username and password you previously entered during the WordPress installation process.
Your WordPress admin menu is available on the left side of the screen. Allowing your cursor to linger over them will open sub menus.
That is a lot of stuff which you deal with. But I’ve promised to get your site up and running. So for the purposes of this post I will not be talking about Settings, Tools, Users or Your Dashboard.
I will talk about the rest of the menu options which are part of your WordPress menu. Let’s get started.
Open Appearances > Themes. From here on have a look at the heading of each subsection if you have doubts with regards to accessing a particular part of the WordPress menu from the admin screen.
And click on the “Add New” button on the top. And choose from one of the themes displayed or search for a specific theme.
Install a new theme that you fancy and activate it.
The next part involves customization of a theme. You can access this under from Appearance > Customize. You can do a number of things to your site’s appearance from here. But that’s not the crux of this post, a theme is sufficient to start a website.
Creating pages in WordPress
Pages on a website help divide your website into a requisite number of pieces to present the different sections of your site’s content. Pages are to themes like widgets are to plugins. With pages you can create specific template styles that can be called on command for different purposes that require the same or similar design. Pages are more than posts and are used for specific purposes on your site. You can create pages specifically to cater to the requirements of a Contact Us Page or perhaps create landing page.
And you are greeted by a New Page, which you can now fill up. From this new screen, you can create a new page and assign page attributes.
If you either need to create a template that you’re likely to use often or need to recreate a section of your site for a specific purpose, creating a page is the way to go.
So how do you publish your content on WordPress? What are the formats available to you apart from just plain ol’ text?
Posts (Posts > Add New)
The beating heart of your site or most sites anyway. At the end of this tutorial when all’s said and done, you’ll be here to populate your site with posts. WordPress has a very easy to use posting mechanism and this one of the reasons, it is so popular.
You have two ways in which you can write your posts: one is the visual editor and the other is HTML editor. You can opt to use the visual editor to begin with, but you should know the HTML editor (referred to as text editor) is a very powerful tool to help you create the right formatting for your posts. The sooner you are comfortable with the text editor, the better of you will be. You may notice I am using the visual editor and truth be told, once I’ve added all the necessary formatting I prefer the visual editor.
The visual editor is very much similar to most text editors and permits you to add bold / italic effects to your text, change its font, add bulleted lists and numbered lists, align content differently and add hyperlinks. There is also a distraction free writing mode which gives you a fullscreen version of the editor.
Categories (Posts > Categories)
Categories are a means to divide your content. Categories are important when your site publishes content on a number of issues. You can add categories from your Post editor or you can access it under Posts > Categories.
Now you can name the category to create one and then you can add a slug which is basically a URL add on of sorts for all your site’s posts on that specific category. For example, if I know that Colorlib produces a lot of theme collection content, I can Google search Colorlib + collections and the first search result link is – https://colorlib.com/wp/category/collections/ . With this I can view only the posts that have been published under the category, “Collections”.
So it is a very effective way to divide your site’s content and make finding stuff on your site much easier for a visitor.
Customizing WordPress with addons and extensions
Widgets are preset modules or pieces of code that add to a certain function which will prove useful for your website in some capacity or the other. Your sidebars, footers and headers can be loaded with widgets.
As you can see in the above screenshot, there 6 widgets in the sidebar. These widgets include a search bar, a recent posts widget, recent comments, archives, categories and meta. Then you can see 4 footer areas where you can add widgets just the same. The number of footer, header and sidebar areas available to you depends on the theme you are using.
Widgets are not plugins, but they are small chunks of code that add a bit of function. Sometimes it may help with navigation, sometimes with social media, you can even use to add HTML to a text widget which will function as coded to do so. So widgets are a very useful tool but you need to learn a bit about them before you can use them to the fullest.
WordPress Plugins are like apps for your WordPress site. They allow you to add features to your WordPress site. Think contact form, photo galleries, etc.
Here is our list of essential plugins that you should install on your site right away. All of them are free.
WPForms Lite – Allows you to add a contact form to your WordPress site.
Envira Gallery Lite – Add beautiful image galleries to your WordPress site
MonsterInsights – Connect your website with Google Analytics and see how visitors find and use your website, so you can keep them coming back.
Yoast SEO – Improve your WordPress SEO and get more traffic from Google
WP Super Cache – Improves your website speed by serving cached pages
Updraft Plus – Create automatic scheduled backups of your website
Sucuri – Website security audit and malware scanner
Then search for the type of plugin you want. For example, if you want to add a floating social media share bar.
Once you’ve found your plugin, click “Install Now”. Finally, click “Activate Plugin”.
There are thousands of great plugins, but try not to overdo it.
Loading up on too many useless features and plugins usually offers little to no value to your target users. Not only will these elements disrupt user experience, but they’ll also slow your site down and put off visitors.
Promote Your Website
Once you’ve created your website and created some fantastic content, you’ll need to begin promoting your site. After all, you probably want to earn money and want people to see what you’ve created. If they don’t, what’s the point?
Read these guides to increase website traffic.