In a world dominated by social media, personal websites may appear far less important than they used to be. Why worry about a website when you can make a Facebook account, right? However, while social media gives you a platform to spread your message, it is also overrun by huge businesses, lots of competition, and generally provides very little space for personalization.
For online stores, personal portfolios, independent businesses or groups of great people, there's nothing more useful than a great website you can make yourself. So here we will have a look at how to make a website from scratch and stand out.
The idea of building your own website may appear to be quite intimidating - so in this neat tutorial, I will guide you along the way and help you go online in no time! Let's start. ?
#1: Get Web Hosting And A Domain Name
Let's get a couple of technical things out of the way. In order to even start, you will need two things - some server space and a domain name.
What is hosting? Essentially, it can be compared to a house where all of your information (your website!) can be stored. You may own a lot of furniture and have a lot of great posters to hang up - but you need a house first. You can buy that house from companies known as hosting providers. Essentially, they own a lot of servers where they store loads of websites and provide server space for whoever buys it.
What is a domain? It's the address of your home, the one people will type in order to find your website. There is a common misconception among some people that a domain name is essentially what you can store a website in. Not really! It's a brand name, which can be attached to any website in the world.
Now, once that is cleared up, let's have a look at the best ways to obtain the services. Not all providers are made equal. Some are expensive, some - relatively cheap. There are hosts which have servers all over the world, others stay in one location. At Hosting.Review, we test dozens of service providers - you can check the list of our hosting reviews to find the best option for you. In this tutorial, I chose one of you highest-ranked companies - Hostinger - which manages to combine low prices, useful tutorials and superb worldwide performance.
In nearly every case, you'll get multiple options to choose from. A classical web hosting will do and then, the specific plan should be selected depending on your preference.
The cheapest plan here is only suited for 1 website - so I went with "Premium Web Hosting", a bestseller with unlimited numbers of websites and a free domain name.
So that's server space sorted out. Where should you buy a domain?
Unlike a server, a domain name isn't something that has different stats or performance - if you have it and it's registered, you're fine. The things you should be looking for in your domain registrar are price and enough TLDs (Top Level Domains eg: .com, .eu, .net, etc.).
In terms of price, many providers tend to offer a free domain for a certain time period when purchasing hosting - like Hostinger does. So when buying hosting, you may as well save money and bundle a domain name together.
Of course, domain names have been around for several decades, which means that many good ones are taken. Luckily, companies also provide tools which may offer you some good options that haven't been taken by everyone just yet.
(happycats.net is still available! ?)
One of the better options to pick is a .xyz domain. They may not be as popular as .com or .net TLDs, but that may also work to your advantage. There are many great names still available, and those names only cost $0.99 a piece!
Still keeping up? If you followed me, now you should be increasingly close to having some server space and a personal domain - key parts on how to make a website!
#2: Setting Up The Information
Once the purchase is made, you will have to do some boring stuff, such as registration. We promise it won't hurt - mostly it includes just typing in some of your personal information, so you can be reached should any problems arise.
Make sure to activate both hosting and a domain name!
Then, when the information is put in, you will finally merge the two together - that means proudly attaching your address (domain name!) to your house (server!)
After the domain is freshly registered, it might take a little bit of time for it to activate - the process pretty much unavoidable, so just kick your feet up and relax. While the domain status page says "Activating", there's not much you can do. The process can take up to 24 hours but in our personal experience, it's usually a matter of minutes.
However, maybe you don't need to wait for a domain to activate. Maybe you had it purchased ages ago! In that case, you will simply be picking from one of these two options:
- Transfer the domain. By transferring the domain to your hosting company, you will have to deal with one less bill. This will mean you will change your pricing plans as well - a transfer may either save or lose you money.
- Point the domain. Keep your domain with the company you purchased it from, just have it attached to your own server.
If you choose to transfer a domain, a hosting provider will gladly help you with that. Hostinger gives you the option to do it just before you start building a website. So do many other providers.
If you choose to simply point a domain to your shiny new server, just login to the account of the company you purchased the domain from. There, you'll be granted an opportunity to change the nameservers - switch them to the ones of your hosting provider and connect your domain without transferring it!
At this point, you should have a working server space and a domain connected to it. In the next step, you will have a chance to see whether all of that really happened. If not - contact your service provider and demand answers. Hey, you're a paying customer - you deserve it! (we checked - Hostinger has 24/7 support and their people really know how to make a website, so don't worry about that).
#3: Choose A Platform
Now it's decision time. What kind of a platform would you like to build a website on?
The selection is vast. Hostinger, for example, offers more than 100 applications straight out of the box, dozens of them being content management systems (later - CMS), ripe for blogs, business, and personal websites. Other providers, such as SiteGround offer even more.
In terms of easily-accessible and simple to use CMS'es, you will keep hearing the main 3 names. Here's what they are:
WordPress - by far the most popular CMS in the world, used by Forbes, CNN and only the other 30% of the Internet. Has plenty of applications and is easy for beginners to handle, especially if they don't yet know how to make a website!
Joomla - great for eCommerce but requiring some at least basic coding skills, this CMS may be challenging to master but it pays its dividends once you do.
Drupal - difficult to work with at first but incredibly customizable, this CMS often still remains a weapon of choice for many website developers. Recommended to take if you really plan to become a professional developer - but don't blame us for stressful days if you do.
For this particular tutorial on how to make a website from scratch, I used and recommend to use WordPress. As I mentioned just above, it is incredibly easy to master and the amount of applications/tutorials is way above any other platform available.
You may choose something else - and it's not a big problem if you do. There are plenty of tutorials showing how to use tools to, for example, migrate from Joomla to WordPress. So install whatever you see fit - either in the pop-up menu or your hosting dashboard.
Type in all of the crucial information, like your admin username and password, email, website title, the whole lot. Make sure to memorize the login information! Once you go, just click "Install" and you're en route.
Once everything is installed, the "Details" section (or something very similar in other providers) will show you how to access various areas, like the admin area. If you're using WordPress, it's actually very simple. Just type the URL:
And you'll get to see this:
If you do, your domain and server are all working in perfect unison. And now, the fun part starts - it's time to make your website pretty!
#4: Construct Your Website
Those of you who play along at home currently have a working server space, a neat domain name and a CMS of their choice installed in all the right places. Despite all of that, we still don't know how to make a website that people will love!
That means we can now get to the creative business. Specifically, using WordPress' amazing library of themes and applications. On WordPress, they can be easily located and installed in the "Appearance" and "Plugins" menus - on the left-hand side.
You need to start the browsing by answering a few questions:
- Do I plan to sell online? If so, consider using WooCommerce, which is a powerful tool that may turn your teeny blog into a dazzling online store. There are plenty of WooCommerce tutorials available, too.
- Do I plan to post regular content, or is it more of a static page? Not all templates are made equal, often they're suited for specific purposes.
- How reliant are you on specific types of media? Things like video header backgrounds, slideshows or auto-playing content can either be enabled in certain templates or require plug-ins.
WordPress has a lot of templates and plugins that may come to your aid. Make sure to do your research and choose the right ones. There is no one correct answer as to which options you must pick but there are plenty of lists of best WordPress plugins or templates that may help.
#5: Now You Know How To Make A Website!
Hey look, you're finished! If everything went well, you should have ended up with a beautiful working page. Something as minimal but charming as this, perhaps:
How are you going to improve is entirely up to you. Install beautiful templates, add useful plugins and create mesmerizing content. By now, you should be a proud owner of a great page - and fully know how to make a website from scratch.