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Learning how to make a website can be intimidating and appear overwhelming at first glance. I break it down for you in 3 easy-to-follow steps that beginners can follow (with pictures and all). You'll be able to use this guide to set your website up today, if you're feeling eager!
Here's what you'll learn:
By the end of this guide (shouldn't take you more than a few minutes to read through) you should know the basics steps for how to make a website that you can launch easily today. Let me know how it goes and be sure to reach out to me if you have any questions along the way! Here to help.
So let's get started!
Choose a Platform
Shop for Domain/Web Host
Setup & Design
Choose WordPress – if you’re reading this, chances are you’re not a web developer and don’t have tons of experience within the space. If that sounds like you, WordPress is your best option. Here’s why:
Once you’ve decided on WordPress (and against things like Drupal and Joomla, which are great, but not ideal for beginners with no programming experience), you’re prepared to move onto step two.
Choose whatever domain you want. Honestly, there are tons of people out there who have opinions on what sort of domain name you should invest in. Sure, there are a few hard and fast rules you should abide by, but if you have an idea in mind and it’s not terribly long and hard to spell, go for it.
Advice about domain names: act now. If you have something in mind and it’s available, your best bet is to secure it before someone else does. People are in the business of purchasing domain names and reselling them later to eager buyers at high-ticket prices. If you happen to come across a catchy domain name (even you don’t plan to do anything with it) it’s best to snag it now and resell it later.
Next step is finding a host. For web hosting reviews, click here. If you want to skip the reviews and go with one of my two recommendations below, awesome, check them out (links open in new window)
What to look for in your web host?
Like mentioned earlier, if you choose one of the above hosts, your bases are covered. But, here’s a summary of top items to look into when web host shopping.
Now that you’ve secured web hosting, you’re prepared to move onto step three.
All web hosts should have an easy install feature for WordPress that allows you to place it on your site literally with the click of a button. It shouldn’t take you more than 30 seconds honestly.
Follow these steps:
Here’s what will happen next:
WordPress will have auto generated a long and complex password. It’s recommended to keep that long and complex password to avoid hacks or breaches. If you do decide to change it though, don’t use a silky, hackable password for your site. That wouldn’t be a good situation at all. Here’s how you change your password.
Click on "users" on the left hand side of the dashboard. Then scroll down until you reach "Account Management". Click "Generate Password" to change your password.
WordPress is your platform, but the theme you choose to install on your WordPress website will dictate how your site will visually appear to visitors. When you first login to your WordPress site, you'll have the auto theme twenty sixteen. It's a clean, crisp, blogging theme. But the great thing about WordPress is that there are a TON of themes for you to choose from. The options are literally endless.
For one, you get to choose between free themes and premium themes (paid themes). I’m not a huge fan of free themes (read why here) but the decision is up to you.
If you’re creating a small blog just for yourself, a free theme is probably fine. If you’re trying to expand your site, scale and monetize it, you’re probably going to want a premium theme.
Premium themes are helpful because instead of stocking up on a tun of plugins, your premium theme already has tons of functionality built right into their code.
If you do choose to go with a free theme, there are a ton of great options out there for you. Whichever way you go, make sure you meet the following criteria:
Here’s how to shop for a theme (warning: it’s fun):
Navigate to your WordPress dashboard. On the left hand side you’ll see all sorts of different tabs. Find the one that says “appearance” and click on it.
Then look to the top left of your screen where it says “Themes”. Right next to that, to the immediate right, you’ll see where it says “Add new”. Click on that.
This will take you to a new screen with a search bar. You can use the search bar to browse through thousands of WordPress themes. Have fun!
If you want to go with a premium reputable theme, you’re safe with one of the themes from elegant themes or theme forest. Check them out to find what suits you best.
If you purchase a theme or membership to a theme library, you're going to need to upload your theme.
When learning how to make a website in WordPress, many people get confused between a page and a post. A page is a static page on your site (like the home page, or the contact page). Pages are used for content that won’t change very often. A post is more like a blog post. You’ll likely be adding posts more frequently than you’ll be adding pages (if you’re writing blogs/articles) so it’s important to know up front how to use them and create them. They are typically sorted in chronological order and are sorted into categories to make it easy for your readers to find the relevant content.
How to add a Post:
On the left panel of your dashboard, you’ll see “Post”. Click on that. Then click on “Add New”. Next, write the name of your page. Whenever you finished editing your page, click “save”. If you want to preview your page, click “preview”.
How to add a page:
Same deal as adding a post. On the left panel of your dashboard, find and click on where it says “page”. Then click “Add New”, write the name of your page, edit it, and save/preview.
Plugins literally “plug-in” the gaps that your theme doesn’t take care of. They expand the basic functionality of your site without you ever having to write a single line of code.
Here are 3 top plugins you can’t get away without having
Adding a plugin is simple, and follows the same process as adding anything else (like a page, post, theme, etc). You can choose to browse through the plugins right on WordPress, or you can download a file from elsewhere, and upload it to WordPress.
2. Click on Add New at the top of the screen
3. Either click on Upload Plugin at the top of the screen or search plugins to add by using the search bar on the top right of the screen
Additional tools (not plugins) that I recommend (you would use these outside of WordPress):
1) Canva – again, not a plugin, but this is for all those people who aren’t graphic design genies. It’s a free tool for you to make beautifully designed and perfectly sized graphics and images for your site.
2) Trello – keep yourself organized with this free tool. I use it to keep a backlog of my blog ideas, but you can pretty much use it for anything and everything. Check it out!
You've now created pages and posts so you can customize your own menu! Here's how you do it.
3. Now you're able to add Pages and Posts (along with categories, tags, etc) to your menu. Simply check the pages/posts that you want added to the menu and click "Add to Menu" (see red arrow below). When you're all set, click "Save Menu" to the right. Note that if you want to change the order, just use your cursor to move around the menu items (they are drag and drop - note how "Contact Me" is floating in the image - that's because I was moving it while this image was taken). Always save the menu when you're finished. When you go to view your website, your changes will be reflected!