The ultimate guide to making your own website!
Its 2017, the internet has advanced and come a very long way. Freely available technologies now make it possible for anybody to easily build their own website. With these technologies you no longer need to employ a web designer or developer to make a website for you. You can do it yourself and that is exactly what this tutorial will teach you how to do.
On completing this tutorial you will be up and running with a new website that you made yourself. How cool is that?
- Find and setup a domain name like yourname.com
- Setup an email address for this domain like email@example.com
- Setup a Wordpress website with your new domain name
- Choose a template for your website
- Add content to your site
- Learn how to turn your site in to an online shop if required
- Learn how to manage and run your site
I have written this tutorial to be as detailed as possible but not overwhelming. I have explained everything without using jargon and hopefully provided enough of an insight without boring you as you are here to make a website not read a lecture.
Free email support.
In the top right of the menu above you will find a contact link in case you are stuck and need to ask me anything via email.
Wordpress and the technologies we will be using.
Many moons ago in 2002 I made my first website. Back in those days to make a website you had to create it by writing code. For this you had to learn the code and that is exactly what I did. Then once I had mastered the basics and I wanted to build more advanced websites (like shops) I had to go to college to learn how to program and become a developer.
Things are different in this day and age, now anybody can make a simple or advanced website using Wordpress without having to know or write any code.
Wordpress also started out in the early 00's as nothing more than a platform for a new trend called blogging. Over the years Wordpress evolved from being a blog to a powerful system that can be used to create and run full websites. This kind of system is called a CMS (content management system). Wordpress is not the only CMS out there but it is by far the most superior, and the most popular of them all.
With Wordpress you get a technology that has thousands of developers working on it full time. It is very quick to set up, really user friendly and best of all it's free! Does that sound like a better option than paying a web designer to make you a site on their own?
I presume you have guessed by this stage that you are going to be using Wordpress to build your own site. So that’s the introduction out of the way, let’s move on a start creating.
For the first part of this tutorial we will cover everything you need to get your website started. You will learn in an easy to understand way, the basics of web hosting and domain names. You will set up your own domain name like yoursite.com and you will also set up your new email address firstname.lastname@example.org. On completion of these quick tasks your new site will be set up like a blank canvas ready for the next steps. To start building your site you need two things, hosting and a domain name. We will begin with an overview of what exactly these things are and then I will walk you through how to get them.
What is hosting?
Hosting is simply space on a computer (web server) it’s the place where your website is physically located. To make this easy to understand for the sake of this tutorial just think of hosting as your websites home. Your website is a collection of files that are stored in a folder on a computer and accessed (served) over the internet. This folder is your home on the internet.
To own a home on the internet you rent it just like you would in the real world. The cost of rent however is very low. It will cost you less than ($10, €10, £10) per month. You would probably spend more on a couple of coffees. A hosting company is a company that rents out this space. Think of them as the landlords. Also just like in the real world there is good and bad landlords. So by using a very good hosting company like the one I am recommending and using in this tutorial siteground.com your home is being well looked after by a professional landlord.
What is a domain name?
A domain name such as yourname.com is simply your websites address. So your websites home is space on the computer where it is hosted and your domain name is the address of this space.
To receive mail at this address we will set up a mail box and let the email postman know where we are with a new mail address such as email@example.com.
Get and set up your hosting and domain name.
So let’s put this theory in to practice and set everything up. For this part we will do 3 things.
- Purchase hosting (rent a home).
- Find and secure your own domain name (your new address).
- Set up an email address for your domain name.
Choosing your domain name.
If you have not yet decided on a name then try to keep it relevant to your site. For example this sites domain name is makeyourownwebsite.info. This domain serves a purpose and contains the keywords and description relating to this site but it would maybe be a bit long for printing on a business card or for people to remember.
Domain names, especially of the .com variety are becoming harder to acquire over the years as they have all been taken up. When trying to find an available domain then .com should be your preferred extension but there is also plenty of other options. If you’re chosen .com name is taken then try to stick to the well know extensions such as .net or .org etc. If your site is country specific you could also try the extension for that country such as .co.uk for the UK or .ie for Ireland.
For this tutorial we will be using siteground.com as a hosting and domain provider. They are one of the top and best hosts out there. They provide a quick and easy way to set everything up plus they have excellent customer support. You can off-course use any hosting and domain provider you like.
Buying your domain name and hosting package.
When you order your hosting package with Siteground you also get a domain name with it. You can order your hosting package here. The cheapest package named "StartUp" is the best package to purchase for starting off and making your own website. Go ahead and click on "Get started" under the "StartUp" plan on this page and you will be taken to step 2 of their sign up process to choose your domain name, as show in the image below. Once you have successfully chosen a domain name and followed the rest of the steps to sign up we will move on to the next part of this tutorial and set everything up on your new hosting package. Ready for you to make your own website.
On successful sign up you will receive an email with a link to log in to your new hosting account. You may first be presented with an option using the site setup wizard so click on skip or "no thanks" to that option and move on to the next step below to set everything up.
Setting up custom email addresses
In this section you will learn how to set up your own email addresses with your new domain name such as firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don’t want to do this or want to save it for later and build your website then you can skip to the next section.
Setting up your custom email addresses is really straight forward and can also be done in your hosting cPanel. There is no point in me re-inventing the wheel here so to speak as SitePoint already have a really good tutorial on this subject so head over to here and come back to finish off the next steps one you have your custom email addresses set up.
Now you have hosting and a domain name set up it’s time to make your website. In this section you will learn how to install Wordpress and set up a theme (the design and structure) for your site.
How to install Wordpress.
From your hosting account you will find a link to login to your cPanel. With SiteGround click on the "My Accounts" tab and you will see a red button at the top that says "Go to Cpanel".
Once you are logged in to your cPanel then scroll down to find the section called "Autoinstallers" and click on the Wordpress icon. As show in the image below.
Note: If you are using another host and cannot find the Wordpress install icon like in the image below in your cPanel then look for an icon named Softaculous and find Wordpress under the blogs menu on the Softaculous page.
Once you are on the Softaculous page you will see an install button as shown in the next image. Click this button and you will be given a list of options.
Here are the settings to fill in on this page.
- Choose Protocol: You can leave this as http.
- Choose Domain: This is self-explanatory.
- In Directory: Make sure you leave this field blank, deleting anything that maybe in there such as wp. The only exception to this would be if you want your site to be in a subfolder such as yoursite.com/folder, for this you can choose a name. If you want your website address to be yoursite.com then make sure this option is left empty!
- Site name: Enter a name for your site here, you can change this again later.
- Site Description: Enter a short description for your site.
The rest is self-explanatory such as choosing your desired username and password and selecting a language. One big tip here is to choose a secure password!
Now click on the install link at the bottom of the page and congratulations. You have just made your own website. How easy was that :)
Choosing a theme for the site you have just created.
Now go ahead and take a look at your new site. As you can see it looks pretty plain? Think of this as a blank canvas. From here you can choose your design by selecting a theme.
To select a theme login to your Wordpress admin area, you do this by going to yoursite.com/wp-admin. This is where you manage your website, I will explain all this in more detail later but for now we will choose a theme. From your Wordpress admin on the menu to the left, select Appearance and then Themes like the number one arrow in the image below.
Here you can select a theme. If you click the add new button (the number 2 arrow above) you will be taken to a hugh selection of themes to search. There are literally thousands of free themes to choose from here. To install a theme from here click install. To activate a theme and make it live then click activate.
How to choose the right theme.
You need a theme that suits your requirements as well as one you like the looks of. For example if you’re planning on running a blog then choose a blog theme. Although the free themes are more than good enough they can also be limited in functionality so for a very little investment I would recommend buying a professional theme from themeforest. By choosing a professionally developed premium theme you get many more customisation options and support options. Unlike most free themes these themes also come with detailed user manuals. There is also a much better chance of finding a theme to suit your exact requirements, $50 can almost buy you a ready made site! So at least take a good look at the Wordpress themes on offer from themeforest and make your own decision.
Now you know how to make your own website it's time to make it personal. By this stage you should have had a good look around for a theme and chosen one that suits your exact requirements. Installed it and be ready to add all your own content to it. Here is an overview of how to do exactly that and find your way around.
Pages and Blog posts.
On the Wordpress menu you will see two links posts (Arrow 1) and pages (Arrow 2). A page is exactly what it says on the tin, for example an about us page or a contact us page. A post is a blog post. These links are where you manage, add and edit Blog post and pages. Take a look around, play about, and familiarise yourself with them. It would be impossible for me to write a tutorial on exactly how to add content as it varies so much from one theme to another but it is easy enough to get to grips with so jump in.
You can add items to your themes menus and edit menu items by selecting Appearance then Menus, the arrow in the image below. On the menu editor page you can add items to the menu from the section on the left, number 1 in the image below. Here you can add pages, posts, links and categories. You can manage your menu structure on the right hand section, number 2 on the image below. Here you can drag and drop items to reorder them.
Try it out by adding a new page then going to menus and add that new page to your themes menu.
Almost all Wordpress themes will come with at least one widget area. Widgets are blocks of content, It could be a calendar, a contact form, a block of text, the possibilities are endless. Let’s say for example you’re theme has a Widget enabled sidebar. You can add your own widgets to this hence choosing what you want to put in it. You will see what widgets are available in your theme from the left sections, number 1 in the image below. And what widget areas are available in the right side, number 2 in the image below. This page is all about drag and drop. Take a look and familiarise yourself with them.
The rest of the standard Wordpress menu options.
A plugin is an add on to Wordpress to extend it's functionality. It could be anything from a contact form to a booking system, there is even plugins to make a website run faster and literally millions of other options. You can have a look at the different types of plugins available for building your own website with here
The media library is where all your sites images and videos etc. are stored and where you can organise and edit them.
If you are running a blog then this is where you manage comments that have been left by people on your blog posts.
Here you can add extra users to give them access to your Wordpress admin. You can assign roles to each user which determine how much access they have to the admin area. You can read more about user roles here.
Have a look around and familiarise yourself with all the available settings. They are pretty much self-explanatory. For further reading on the general settings I recommend reading this short summary.
And one final thing to note that is important to your sites structure is permalinks!
Permalinks are exactly as they sound, they are the permanent link to you sites pages. Here is the simplest way I can describe them. You write a new post and call it "My new post". Without the correct permalink settings your url could look something like this mysite.com?p=123. Which does not look pretty at all does it? By changing your permalink settings you can make your url look like this. mysite.com/my-new-post which is much better and prettier in every possible way!
To make sure you have the correct permalink settings (In my opinion) go to settings then permalinks, arrow 1 in the below image. Make sure the "Post name" button is checked, arrow 2 in the image below then click the save changes button.
Now you have made your site or at least learned how to make a website it’s time for me to leave you to play with your new toy :) I have added a few follow on how to guides teaching you how to turn your new site in to an online store and tutorials on running your site. Be sure to check them out too. For further reading and education Google and Youtube are your biggest friends. You might find this site wpbeginner.com helpful and comprehensive also.