How To Build A Website
in Six Easy Steps
Do you want to learn how to build a website?
Whether you’re looking to build a website for a side-hustle, your first business, a hobby, or just to have a presence on the internet, this article is for you.
Read on and you’ll learn a simple way to build a website without any coding and without having to hire a professional web design agency.
If you’re not sure what a domain is or where to start, read on and we’ll cover that.
Step 1: Choose Your Platform
The platform is the base on which your website will stand. Page builders like Wix and Squarespace are easy to get started with and don’t require any technical knowledge. But, you’re tied to that platform and limited to what your website can do.
If you want to build a website with endless possibilities and with future growth in mind, go for a Content Management System (CMS). WordPress is the most popular choice of platform amongst professionals and complete beginners. It’s what we use to build all of our websites and it’s what we’ll focus on in this article.
For this article it’s important to point out that when referring to WordPress we’re talking about WordPress.org and not WordPress.com.
WordPress.org is the software. It’s free, open source, versatile, widely supported, and has a huge community of professional web designers, web developers, agency owners, marketers, and other enthusiasts. You’ll have access to tens of thousands of free and premium themes and plugins too.
What do The New York Times, Spotify, TechCrunch, The White House website, BBC America, and even the Facebook Newsroom have in common? They all use WordPress!
The WordPress space is a wonderful thing to be part of, with regular events held all around the world, hosted by users. No matter where you live, you’ll probably find a local WordPress meetup somewhere not too far away, and you’ll always be welcome to go along no matter what your level of experience is.
WordPress is easy to use and most of the work has been done for you by a host of developers and web designers. Other CMS options include Joomla, Drupal, and Magento. For the beginner, though, and for many web professionals, WordPress.org is the recommended choice.
Step 2: Choosing Your Domain Name
What will your site be called? What is your niche? What are you focusing on? Use these answers to come up with a name for your website. Write down several and then check online to see if the one you want is available. NameCheckr is my go-to tool for quickly checking what social media handles are available too, to make sure everything is on brand. The only downside is that it only checks if the .com is available but it takes two minutes to check Crazy Domains for the .co.uk and more while checking on NameCheckr at the same time. It may take a few tries to find one you like that no one has taken. Keep your domain as short as possible and also easy to associate with your business.
Buying a domain name isn’t expensive, just be sure it makes sense. We use Crazy Domains to register all of our domains because they’re fast and one of the best priced.
Avoid trends (like dropping letters from common words or adding ‘ly’ to the end of your name) and pick the right TLD (top level domain) for your site. If you’re in the UK and want to serve a global audience look at choosing a .com domain. But, if you’re in the UK and only want to focus on local customers, .co.uk makes sense. Charities and NGOs tend to use .org or .org.uk domains while tech companies seem to like using .io domains.
Step 3: Find Your Web Hosting Service
Now that your domain is sorted you’ll need a host. You can’t have a website without a host. The hosting service is where your data will be stored, on their servers. Depending on how much space you need now and in the future, it’s worth choosing a hosting provider that can easily upgrade your service when needed, and that won’t kill off your website if it suddenly gets busy.
You can still find some free web hosting services around but they’ll stick nasty looking ads over your website and they don’t provide enough bandwidth for a business website. After building websites for nearly twenty years I’ve tried several hosting companies with mixed results. I now only recommend three hosting providers to clients and friends, depending on their needs, budget, and experience.
For low cost hosting I recommend SiteGround. I’ve set several clients up with SiteGround over the years and know that they’re in good hands. Prices start from as little as £2-£3 ($3-$4) per month, and they usually have various offers throughout the year to make it even cheaper. Get started with SiteGround.com using my affiliate link for the best prices.
If budget isn’t an issue and you want a fully managed WordPress host, I recommend using FlyWheel. They’ll take care of managing your WordPress install and keeping your website secure, running fast, and backed up. Prices start at $15 per month for their Tiny plan.
And finally, if you’re technically minded and want to manage your own server with little to no support but blazing fast load speeds, take a look at Cloudways. You can find tutorial videos on YouTube to help you get Cloudways servers up and running. My friend Shane Rielly from Lonely Viking made this Cloudways setup and WordPress install tutorial video that shows you exactly how to get going.
Step 4: Create Your Site Map
Before you start building your website you need a plan. You can start with a pen and a piece of paper or use a super simple free visual sitemap tool like Gloomaps.
Start with an overview of your site and the journey you want visitors to go on when they visit. Where do you want them to start and where do you want them to end up? How many pages will you need and how do they link together?
You can sketch out a very basic design, adding headers, content, images and the layout. Having just a rough idea of how you want your website to look goes a long way to getting the finished product you want for your business.
Step 5: Install WordPress
WordPress is easy to install and get started. If you decide to go with SiteGround, FlyWheel, or Cloudways, you can use their easy one-click WordPress setup. Once installed you can log into the backend of your brand new WordPress site and look around to familiarise yourself with the WordPress dashboard. Play around and see how to set up pages, edit and upload content and more. You’ll also be able to head to the WordPress Plugin Repository where you can find tens of thousands of free tools that bolt-on to your WordPress website to add additional features and functions.
Step 6: Design Your Website
If you have some knowledge of coding, you can use HTML or CSS to change the pages to look like you want them to. HTML can be used in a simple text editor to get your content to show up the way that you want it. Don’t panic though, you don’t need to know how to write code to make a beautiful WordPress website.
The beauty of WordPress is its versatility and the availability of free themes and plugins. You can find no-end of WordPress themes online, but be careful to only download them from the WordPress repository or from trusted sites.
One trusted theme marketplace is ThemeForest. You’ll find thousands of WordPress themes pre-build for a number of uses. Sometimes you’ll be able to download these themes, add your logo, change a few details, and press publish. Many of the themes on ThemeForest come with bulky unnecessary plugins or the page builder hated by the professionals, WP Bakery. WP Bakery is awful and will slow your website down.
My recommendation for the best WordPress theme is WP Astra. The free version is good enough out of the box and the premium version unlocks additional features to make the most of your site.
And if you want to really make your website shine, or build pages from scratch, take a look at Elementor page builder.
WordPress page builders like Beaver Builder and Elementor give you complete control over how your website looks and feels, and both are compatible with WP Astra as well as many other themes.
My personal favourite way to build websites for clients is to use WP Astra as the framework for setting styling options like fonts and logos, and I use Elementor Pro to start build pages from a completely blank canvas.
If you need help installing WordPress and getting everything up and running, feel free to get in touch. We offer complete WordPress care and maintenance plans to keep your WordPress website safe, secure, and running smoothly. You’ll get access to our premium plugins plus a whole library of WordPress training videos to help you make your WordPress website even better.
Bonus: Step 7: Setting Up Emails
One thing many forget or miss out is email addresses. Now that you’ve purchased a domain name you can use that domain name for your emails. So, instead of having firstname.lastname@example.org you can have email@example.com instead.
But how do you setup your business email address? If you went with a hosting provider that gives you cPanel you could add email accounts through your own cPanel. Be warned though, if your website goes down, so will your emails. Plus, you can have issues with emails not coming through or not being delivered.
After spending way too long trying to fix email issues for clients for a couple of years, I decided to stop offering this from my agency, instead recommending all clients to use Google’s email service instead, GMail. GMail for business comes as part of G Suite and costs around $5 per user per month. We use this ourselves and would never go back.
Other options include Office 365 and Zoho Email but G Suite wins it for us. If you sign up with our G Suite referral link you can use our exclusive G Suite discount codes to get 20% off your plan for the year. Use the code N7PTVXNCGRKMTYM for 20% off the G Suite Basic Plan and use YCEYVYDLQ4QTU7W for 20% off the G Suite Business Plan.
Either way, it’s best to invest a small amount of money every month to make sure you’re receiving important emails and that your emails are being delivered.