So, you want to know how to make a website. Well then, you clicked the right link! This won’t be the usual kind of article that will try to get you to sign up to services using an affiliate code, or a sales pitch to get you to hire me to build your website. This will be 100% honest information that will guide you to building your own website. Information given to you by an experienced WordPress developer.
When I meet with a client for a new website contract, the conversation always starts one of three ways:
Truth be told, you can make a fully functional website all on your own without breaking a sweat. So I think the most productive thing to teach you is how to build a WordPress website. Its low cost and required zero coding skill.
Just a note for all of you business owners. There are many agencies out there that aren’t transparent with the fact that they are actually using a theme to build your website and charging you thousands of dollars to do it. Its best to do proper research to find an honest agency, or, use this article to take care of things on your own. Be strong! Be independent!
So a little introduction about WordPress. WordPress is an open source CMS (content management system) platform that is great for running a blog or basically any type of website. It is the most popular CMS platform out there right now and the easiest to use for people of any background. The learning curve is rather low.
Hosted on your own server
Since WordPress is an open source CMS, it means that you can install its code on your server (hosting provider) at no additional cost. There is a way to manually do this but all hosting providers have a one-click install option that literally installs your WordPress website at the click of a button.
Here is an example below:
Once I finish giving you a brief introduction, I will go into more details on actually building your website.
The main benefits of hosting your own WordPress website is the lower cost and the infinite amount of customizations for the same cost. You can get reliable hosting for as low as $5/month. So in a nutshell, your basic yearly cost for a fully customizable, self-hosted WordPress website is roughly $70 CAD/year which includes your domain name registration. This cost is also valid if you’re planning on running an eCommerce business. WooCommerce, the eCommerce plugin for WordPress, is also free to use for all basic features.
Now the latter, building your website from wordpress.com means that WordPress will be hosting1 your website with their own servers. You have a free membership as well as paid memberships ranging from zero to $59 CAD/ month plus the cost of a domain2 which is usually $10-$15/ per year. Starting with a free WordPress.com plan, really means just bare bones. Only when you start paying for one of the business packages do you have control for more customizations.
In a nutshell, what you can do for $70 CAD/year on your self-hosted wordpress installation, you would need to pay $59 CAD/month (plus the yearly cost of a domain) on a WordPress.com hosted website.
Enough with the jibber-jabber, let’s get started on building your own WordPress Website.
I’ll be completely honest with you here, almost all hosting providers offer the exact same thing. What I look for in a hosting provider, is their customer service. I have been a customer of Hostgator, GoDaddy, Bluehost and a couple of local companies. Their prices are good, but the customer service wasn’t great. One service I swear by right now is SiteGround. Again, this is not an affiliate gimmick. Not only is their customer service impeccable, but they also offer great tools to improve your WordPress website. Their service also offers a free and simple integration of the CloudFlare CDN which is essential.
They have many other offers. At the end of the day, you go with what you feel more comfortable with.
Note: If you see an ad for free unlimited SHARED hosting, don’t bother. As long as you’re on a shared server, you’re sharing resources so in no way does that mean a better performing website.
I would recommend buying a domain name from your hosting provider so everything can be linked easily without having to change any settings. It’s good practice to choose a domain name that includes a keyword of what your website is about. Also, try to keep it short. You want people to remember your domain name without having to write it down.
This process will take you roughly 5 minutes, depending on your internet connection. The first thing we will be doing is accessing your Cpanel to install the WordPress script. Here are the instructions step by step.
2. If you clicked on the Softaculous link, it will then bring you to a page that has all kinds of different applications you can install. Since WordPress is the most popular, you will always find it on the first screen.
3. The first button you will want to click is the Install button. This will lead you to the next step to input more details. If this is your first time installing WordPress, consider taking the time to read all the information on the tabs to familiarize yourself a little more.
4. Here you will be asked a variety of questions such as which domain and directory you would like to install WordPress on. If your installation is to be your main website, then choose your main domain and leave the IN DIRECTORY section blank. Also, unless you have an SSL certificate installed, choose http:// instead of https:// in the CHOOSE PROTOCOL dropdown. Create your administrator login and make sure you write your information down in a safe place to remember. Please leave all other options at their default.
5. After entering all your information and clicking the INSTALL button at the bottom of the page, your website will be created. Once everything is set up, you will be directed to this screen:
6. From here, click on the administrative URL to access the backend of your website. You will be brought to this screen:
Here you will enter your username and password that you created in step number 4. This screen is how you login to the back end of your website to make edits to content. The link will always be:
7. Lastly when you successfully log in, you will see your dashboard. What you see below is the basic set up of all new installations. Some sidebar items may vary depending on which host you’re using since some have built in plugins that are automatically installed.
Congratulations! You have set up your first WordPress website. In the next section I will be guiding you on how you can choose your theme and install it.
I will be honest with you all, there was a time that I was against using themes to create websites because they used to be so poorly made and typically almost all good quality themes looked identical.
Fortunately, that is not the case at this present time. I will share a couple of theme marketplaces where you can purchase your new theme.
PLEASE do not try to search for free premium themes. What I mean by this is, do not try to steal a paid theme, or paid plugins for that matter. Apart from it being immoral, you will be leaving yourself vulnerable to hackers. You do not want your website to be hacked.
That being said, here are a couple of resources for you:
When you’re looking for the perfect theme for your business, make sure you choose the right category to have more relevant results. The example below is from Theme Forest
Try to avoid multipurpose themes. They look great but usually the weight of these themes are much heavier which would slow down your WordPress website.
One you find a theme you like, you will be directed to a page similar to this one where you can preview the theme and purchase it.
Always take a look at the live preview so you will know what your website will look like. I would also strongly suggest that you read through all the SPECS, even if you might not understand everything. It is always best to have a general knowledge of what you’re buying. Lastly, check out the themes Reviews and Comments tabs. You can look through people comments to see if others are having a good experience or if they’re constantly asking the support team for help.
When you buy a theme, 6 months of support is included. Although if a theme is poorly made or outdated, it will constantly cause problems. This has happened to me twice this year after using a theme that was purchased by a client, at that point I just suggest to buy a new and more reliable theme.
So you have chosen your theme, now you want to download and install it. So first off, go to your purchased items. Again, this example is based on Theme Forest since it is the most popular marketplace.
From here, you will download the installation file for your theme as shown below.
To make your life simpler, just choose the Installable WordPress file only link. This downloads only the theme file without the documentation. Once you click this, your browser will start downloading a ZIP file that contains your theme. You do not need to unzip this file. When your theme is downloaded, you will now want to go back to your WordPress dashboard to install the theme. The process will be as follows:
And just like that, your theme is installed. This will not automatically populate your website. You will have to install the demo data that comes with your theme. The way to install demo data really varies from theme to theme. Your best option would be to just browse your dashboard. If you’re having trouble finding it, please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment down below.
The amazing thing about demo content is that it fills your entire website at the click of a button. That being said, you should only treat demo content as placeholder information and not use it for your live website. You will be penalized for that of course.
If you want some free high resolution photos to replace the demo photos with, here are some references:
There are many more but if you want to save yourself from an Adobe Stock membership free, you can start with these resources. Just remember to always give credit when credit is due!
So there you have it, a straight forward and honest explanation of how to make a website. If you’re someone that has had a bad experience with an agency or freelancer, or you simply just want to do things yourself, this guide is a simple solution for that.
I highly recommend creating your own self-hosted WordPress website rather than using Wix, Squarespace or something similar. Reason being to avoid membership fees, lower overall costs and have more control.
This is your business and your brand, you need to have full control! If there are any questions you have or would like to learn more about the WordPress dashboard, recommended plugins or anything else, please dont hesitate to contact me or leave a comment down below.
Best of luck!