Would you love to create your own website, but you have no idea how to do it? The good news is that it’s now easier than ever to learn to make a website. You don’t need to be an expert in HTML coding or graphic design; you just need to be able to read, point and click. The following is a step-by-step guide for the complete novice who’s ready to finally make his or her presence known on the worldwide web.
STEP 1. GET A DOMAIN NAME
A domain name is the name you type into the address bar of a web browser in order to go to a specific website. An example would be www.nytimes.com or www.usa.gov. You need to figure out what your domain name is going to be; it will have to be something that hasn’t already been chosen by someone else.
You’ll also need to pay an annual fee for the right to use that name. Keep in mind that registering a domain name doesn’t automatically give you a website; it only allows you to use that domain name for your site.
STEP 2. CHOOSE WEB-BUILDING PLATFORM
Now that you’ve selected your domain name, you need a platform to help you construct your site. Don’t panic; no one expects you to build a site from scratch using HTML coding, CSS or Flash.
For people who want to learn to make a website, a content management system (CMS) is the best way to go. A CMS is a web design platform that makes website-building easy and accessible for the average Joe or Jane.
I recommend you choose WordPress as your CMS. It’s free, and there’s a large community of WordPress users that can help you learn the ropes and deal with complex troubleshooting issues. It’s also user-friendly for beginners; if you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress.
- CHOOSE A WEB HOST
Think of your website as a physical house. The domain name is the house’s address, and the CMS platform represents the tools you need to build the house. Before you can build the house, however, you need to purchase land to build the house on. This is also true of your website; you need to purchase the Internet’s version of real estate to build your website on.
A web hosting service will store your website on a powerful computer that is connected to the Internet. When someone types your domain name into their browser’s address bar, they’ll be taken to the server where your website is located, and that person will be able to see your site.
- SET UP YOUR SITE
After you’ve secured your domain name and created a web hosting account, you’re ready to build your site. The first thing you need to do is install WordPress to your domain.
Any web hosting service worth its salt will provide a 1-Click installation option for WordPress. Here’s what you need to do:
- Sign in to your hosting service account.
- Go to the control panel.
- Locate the WordPress icon.
- Choose the domain that you want to install your website on.
- Click the “Install Now” button
I’d be wary of any hosting service that doesn’t offer a One-Click installation. WordPress is the most popular CMS platform on the market; if your hosting service doesn’t make it easy to install WordPress, I’d see that as a sign that your service is behind the times and not worth your business.
- DESIGN YOUR SITE
When you’ve successfully installed WordPress, you’ll see a very clean and basic home page on your site. “Clean” and “basic” is probably not the look you’re going for, so you’ll need to design your own site from scratch, hire a web designer to do it for you, or explore WordPress’s library of free themes.
A theme is a design template which instructs WordPress how you want your site to appear. These themes usually have a customization option that allows you to personalize the theme according to your tastes, but the basic structure of the theme will remain the same. For someone who wants to learn to make a website, a pre-made WordPress theme is a great place to start.
You can find your theme by going to the sidebar of your WordPress dashboard and selecting “Appearances.” Next, click on “Themes.” WordPress has over 1500 free themes for you to choose from. You can narrow down the search by using keywords that describe the type of theme you want. I recommend choosing a theme that is “responsive,” meaning your site will be easy to read whether you’re looking at it on a computer, a smartphone or a tablet. Once you’ve chosen a theme, all you have to do is press “Install” and “Activate,” and you’ll be all set.
From there, using WordPress is fairly intuitive. The WordPress dashboard is easy to navigate and play around with, and there’s a host of tutorials that WordPress offers. As stated earlier, there’s also a community of WordPress users that can assist you if you run into problems.
Websites have become the new personal calling card, but they’re also a means of self-expression. Trust yourself, and be honest about what types of designs you do and don’t like. Don’t be afraid to change your theme if you get bored with it or don’t feel like it represents your site anymore. Above all, have fun.