How To Create a Website
An Easy, Step 1 to Done Tutorial for Beginners
Want to learn how to create a website so professional your friends will think you hired a fancy web designer? If you have no experience and no programming knowledge it’s no problem in 2021.
Hi I’m David. I’m a web designer and top rated user experience consultant. I’ve helped thousands of people create a website for all sorts of different purposes. From blogging and online business to personal websites and online portfolios.
With the right tools and guidance, you can get started yourself without needing to pay for freelancers or expensive design agencies. Creating a website is now easier than ever and I’ll show you how from step 1 to step done.
What do you need to make a website?
You need only three things primarily to build and own a website:
- Domain name (the web address, example.com)
- Web hosting (to host your website so it’s live on the internet)
- Content management system (CMS for short, this helps manage the publishing of your content)
These three things work together to create your website. The first thing I suggest doing is getting your domain name at a domain name registrar. A domain registrar is an online business that is ICANN certified to register domains.
ICANN is the non-profit organization that manages the DNS system, as such you can’t register directly through them and must go through a business that is ICANN certified. I suggest going to a registrar like Namecheap and getting your domain name there. You will have to pay to renew your domain name every year.
Next up you will need to get a web host. A web host is a company that provides industrial strength computers that are on 24/7 so your website is live 24/7. You can get started with a low cost shared hosting account and as your website grows you can upgrade your hosting.
Last, is the content management system or CMS. To publish content online, you need an easy way to create pages, add images, videos as well as links. One of the best and most popular CMS’s is WordPress, a free and open source CMS. Not to be confused with WordPress.com which is a website builder, WordPress is also a script you can install in when you have a web host.
Create a Website in 7 Easy Steps
Creating a website requires you to get a domain name, a hosting plan, then you need to point the domain to your hosting and last is to install a content management system.
- Get your domain name
- Purchase a shared hosting account
- Setup nameservers in under 5 minutes
- Install a content management system (WordPress)
- Add essential pages
- Design your website
- Create content for your website
Step 1: Get Your Domain Name at Namecheap
It takes time figuring out what to actually name your blog or website. BEFORE you get a hosting account, get your domain name over at Namecheap.
Domain names are the web address of your website. They are made up of two parts, the actual name and the extension.
Extensions are the .com, .net, .org, .co part of a domain name. These are top level domain extensions and are treated equally by search engines so a .com is not “better” than a .net for example.
Get a .com if possible.
Extensions are broken into two groups. Top level domain extensions like .com, .net, .org, .co and everything else. We strongly suggest getting a .com if possible as it is the legacy domain extension. However, if your .com is registered but not in use then it’s fine to go with an alternative.
Free domain name?
Free is not free. While you will see many web hosts including Bluehost offer a free domain name, it’s only free for the first year. After the first year every you’re paying an inflated price because the web host will tack on a small fee in order make a profit.
It also complicates things if you ever want to change web hosts in the future.
Instead we’re going to save money and use a domain name registrar and get a domain name at the lowest cost. My preferred registrar is Namecheap.
You may be more familiar with GoDaddy due to their aggressive advertising, but Namecheap really does have the better price for domain registration.
Please note you have to renew your domain name every year so these saving really add up over time!
Not only is Namecheap cheaper than GoDaddy upfront, their renewal prices are lower too. GoDaddy is great for a lot of things, just not domain registration.
Head over to Namecheap.
Step 1: Search for your domain name using the search box on the Namecheap homepage. If the domain name you want is taken, you have to think of a different combination.
Step 2: Once you find a domain that is available, add it to your cart and proceed to checkout.
Step 3: Once you’ve finished creating an account, it’s time to confirm your order. Here you can choose how many years you want to register the domain name for:
- Register your domain for a year or two.
- Whois guard protects your privacy and is included with your purchase.
- Get a .com is possible. Good alternatives are .co, .org and .net.
- Build a brand. FinanceNinja.com for example.
- Make it something easy and memorable.
- Don’t stress and agonize over this too much.
The best domain name registration and renewal prices. Get your domains here.
*Checkout our dedicated guide on the best domain name registrars.
Step 2 – Get a Shared Hosting Account at Bluehost.
Bluehost is the #1 recommended web host by WordPress and for good reason. They have an easy to use interface for beginners, good customer support, good hosting speeds for your new website, a low introduction price and a low renewal rate.
Bluehost Pricing Plans
Each plan comes with a great introduction rate that you can lock in for up to 3 years. After your first contract the prices are:
- Basic: $7.99 a month. Expensive and can only have 1 website on the account.
- Plus: $10.99 a month. Good for a 1000 visitor a day website, 30k pageviews.
- Choice Plus: $14.99 a month. This is the one I suggest getting. It’s perfect for growing a medium sized website.
- Pro: $23.99 a month.
I suggest getting the plus plan or the choice plus plan. On the next page you’ll have to set your primary domain name for your hosting account:
On the next page simply fill out your billing detail and select a hosting plan for 12, 24 or 36 months. I suggest 24 months as this is enough time to grow your website.
You’ll also be given an on-boarding process, you can simple skip this. Next you will be in your Bluehost dashboard:
The #1 recommended shared web host for WordPress powered websites and blogs.
We have also created a helpful Bluehost review.
Why Do You Need A Web Host?
A web host is what makes your website live for everyone to visit. Without a web host you can’t have a website.
Back in the early days of the internet, people would actually host their websites on their own personal computer. If your computer was turned off, then your website would be unavailable. This is why web hosts came to be a thing, to meet a market demand for fast, secure computers that are on 24/7.
This is what a web host is. You’re renting space a high power server that can handle web traffic from all around the world.
Step 3 – Setup Nameservers in 5 Minutes
You have your hosting account, you have your domain name. Now it’s time to connect the two by editing your nameservers at Namecheap to that of your web host. It takes just a few minutes
What you need to do is map your domain name to your hosting account. You do this by changing the nameservers for your domain name at Name Cheap to that of your web host. It’s a simple copy paste job.
*Side note: If you bought your domain through the web host you can skip this step.
Find Your Nameservers From Your Web Host
Check your email. All web hosts send a “welcome” email. In this email will be your nameservers. For Bluehost it looks like this:
For Bluehost, your nameservers are ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com.
These are your Nameservers for your account. What you need to do is simple. Change the name servers for your domain name to that of your hosting account. Very simple. Let’s do it.
Log into your domain name registrar
Log into your domain name registrar. In this tutorial we’re using Namcheap so log into your Namecheap account. In your domain name list click on “manage” for the domain name you want to edit.
Find where it says Nameservers and change it to “custom DNS.” Input your web hosts name servers and click the green check mark to save.
Done! Name servers are setup, now it’s time to install WordPress.
What are Name servers?
Name servers, map an IP address to a more logical and memorable name. Much the same way your phone maps names to numbers so when you want to call Mike, you just select “Mike” in your phone.
Imagine having to type into your web browser 126.96.36.199 every time you wanted to visit Google!
When anyone visits your site, all that is going on is that a request is being sent to your web hosting server via the IP address and name servers for the corresponding information and data.
Step 4 – Install a Content Management System, WordPress
Now you need to have some sort of content management system powering the back end of your website so it’s easy for you to create content, add pictures, links and videos to your website. You’ll also want something that allows for ease of use and is highly supported and simple to customize.
There are quite a few options out there:
- Wix – Paid Website Builder (7%)
- Squarespace – Paid Website Builder (4%)
- Joomla – Free Software (4%)
- Weebly – Paid Website Builder (2%)
- Progress Sitefinity – Free (4%)
- WordPress – Free Software (52%)
WordPress is ideal for beginners and advanced users a like:
Very easy to setup. WordPress is the leader in the CMS space by a huge margin. So much so that all web hosts now come with simple 1-click install of WordPress. You can install WordPress and in 5 minutes be creating content for your website in the time it takes to make coffee.
Easy to use. Creating content, adding products, pages, images, videos, email forms and links to your website is so easy with WordPress. Unlike other platforms where you would have to know HTML and CSS, WordPress is user friendly.
Total control over your blog. Unlike Squarespace, Wix and Weebly where you’re limited on how your website looks and operates. With WordPress you have complete control over the look and feel of your website. Essential for anyone serious about internet marketing and making money with a website.
Excellent support community. WordPress has a thriving community so you can always get help and advice for any aspect of your blog.
WordPress is secure. It’s constantly updated and supported so you never have to worry about running software that is out of date.
Create a new site with Bluehost
Installing WordPress with Bluehost is very easy. In your dashboard simple click on “my sites” and click on “create site.”
Now it’s time to set some administrative settings for your website:
Site name should match the URL of your website. For example, our websites name is “Website Creative Pro.” Add a tagline if you like. Both the site name and tagline can be changed or deleted within WordPress.
Also click on the “advanced” tab where you can enter an email address which will be your recovery email as well as an admin user name and password of your choosing.
Choose domain name
Next you will be able to choose your domain name. You should only have one domain name but with your hosting account you can add multiple domain names. Install WordPress on the root domain. You do that by leaving the directory option blank.
When you’re ready go ahead and click on “next” which will begin the WordPress installation process. Upon completion you’ll be presented with:
You have now created a website! Congrats.
How To Log Into WordPress
You can log into WordPress from your Bluehost dashboard or you can log in via your WordPress installation.
To log into your WordPress powered website all you need to do is visit example.com/wp-admin
To log into your website now, all you have to do is go to website.com/wp-admin and put in the user name and password you made when installing WordPress.
This is how you will log into your website from here on out.
Welcome to WordPress.
Check to make sure your SSL certificate is working
With your Bluehost account you get a free SSL certificate installed on your website. That means you should see a little “lock” icon in your web browser. If not, contact Bluehost support and they will fix it quickly and easily.
In order to check your SSL certificate:
- Log in to your Bluehost portal.
- Click on the “my sites” tab.
- Find your website and click on “Manage Site.”
- Go to the “Security” tab.
- Under “security certificate,” you will find your “free SSL certificate” status.
If everything is setup correctly you should have a secure website. It sometimes takes an hour or two for everything to get working correctly. But you can still edit and design your website.
Step 5 – Create your essential pages
Your website is going to need some basic, core pages. Let’s talk about how to set them up. To create a new page go to page >> add new when in the WordPress dashboard.
About Page – This page is designed to tell why the website exists and why you are qualified to create it.
Contact Page – This page is what people will use to reach out to you.
Blog – This is the blog section on your website.
Homepage– While you can forego having a dedicated homepage and instead just use your latest blog posts, it’s not ideal. Learn how to make a homepage.
Blog Post Permalinks:
Permalinks are the URL structure of your pages and blog posts on your website. WordPress by default has a really weird default structure: example.com/?p=123.
Let’s change this. Here are your different options:
/Post-Name – Perfect for smaller sites that are never going to have more than 50 pages of content.
/Category/Post-Name – Perfect for large websites that will have 1000+ pages of content and multiple categories.
/Date/Post-Name – Perfect for time sensitive content like news.
/blog/Post-Name – Best URL structure for most websites. Go with this one in most instances.
To change it go to “Settings” in your WordPress dashboard and click on “permalinks.” Select the permalink structure ideal for your website. Below, “custom structure” is selected and “blog” is added to the URL.
This structure is great because your pages will still be example.com/page-title but your blog posts will be organized nicely as example.com/blog/post-title. The most popular websites in the world use this structure because it gives your website a nice structure that search engines love.
Step 6: Design Your Website
SEO, content creation and good design are essential for building a profitable website that gets traffic. we will cover:
- What will my website look like
- How to install a WordPress theme
- Important WordPress plugins
What will my website look like?
You website can be designed using various themes. Some themes have a pre-built look where you can’t change much, others are designed with a drag and drop editor making creating any sort of website easy.
Websites tend to be over complicated from a design perspective. From a practical standpoint there are only a handful of winning layouts you should consider for your website:
- Niche Website
- Influencer Pro
The Blogroll Layout
The blogroll layout shows a website’s blog posts on the homepage in chronological order (instead of a dedicated homepage).
This layout is ideal for brand new websites with minimal content or websites where the main focus is to keep readers engaged through publishing new work week over week.
You should start your website as a blog roll and focus on creating content, but over time you’re going to want to transition to a dedicated homepage.
The niche website is how you should design any sort of resource oriented blog. The homepage should be a visual menu for the website with a strong call to action at the top and links to great content.
If you’re building a brand around a topic this is the sort of layout you’re going to want for your website. It quickly introduces what you websites topic is all about and it directs traffic to specific pages or an email list.
The last type is an expert website. Maybe you know a lot about real estate, investing, freelance etc and want to create a website. This type of layout focuses on getting people to subscribe to an email list first and foremost with a homepage that has only one goal, to get you to subscribe.
This sort of layout is ideal if you’re an expert in your subject matter and want to leverage email marketing and associate your website’s brand with your own personal brand.
How to Install a WordPress theme
You just created your own WordPress powered website and we just went through a few design layouts. The first thing you’re going to want to do is design your website so it looks the way you want. For that we will need to install a WordPress theme.
For themes, you have two options, free and paid.
How To Install a Free Theme
To install a free theme please navigate to the appearance tab in your WordPress dashboard. Here you can select any theme you like. It’s best to sort by popularity as the most popular free themes are usually some of the best.
To install a theme simply click on the theme of your choice and click install. Our favorite free themes are the default WordPress themes due to their reliability and code as well as the Neve theme for it’s ability to be customized and the Blocksy theme.
Paid WordPress Themes
Paid themes are designed and coded by theme developers. They range in price from $30 to $80. Some themes are a one time purchase, others require a yearly payment to continue getting support and updates.
What’s the difference between paid themes and free themes? Paid themes have a lot more features and functions than a free theme. They tend to be coded better and you also get support for how to use the theme which is great if you’re just starting out.
As such, you’ll want to be using a premium theme after you out grow your free theme.
The Best Premium Themes:
Ultra Theme – The theme Website Creative Pro uses. Get your copy today and use coupon code ULTRAPRO for a discount.
Astra – A theme with both a free and paid version. This theme is the most download theme for WordPress. It works well with the default WordPress block editor in order to create and design a website to your liking.
Avada Theme – This is the best selling theme on Theme Forest for the last few years. It’s a theme that comes with the ability to customize various aspects of your theme however you want as well as coming with different templates you can download and use.
DIVI – The Divi theme comes with a front end visual editor where you can move different element blocks around to design your website however you want.
Elementor with the Hello Theme – The Hello Theme is completely free, however it’s designed to work with the Elementor page building plugin. The free version of Elementor is good, but in order to design your blog posts you’ll need the pro version.
How To Install A Paid Theme:
Installing a paid theme is a bit different. As they are purchased from a developer, they must be uploaded directly to your WordPress installation as they are not going to be found in the free WordPress directory.
To begin the installation process just navigate back to appearance, click on “themes” and then click on add new and click where it says “upload theme.” When you purchase a theme, you will be able to download it to your computer as a ZIP file. This ZIP file is what you will be uploading.
After you click install, your theme will be installed. The next step is to “activate” the theme and you’re all set. You’ve just install a premium theme. Now it’s time to read up on the documentation for your premium theme to learn how to design it or to watch one of my tutorial videos for how to use your theme.
Install WordPress Plugins
A plugin is a a piece of software that acts as an extension for WordPress, giving it new features and functions. There are thousands of plugins you can install.
What plugins you install is dependent upon what you need for your website. One key thing to remember is that plugins can slow down your website so keep your plugins to a minimum.
You can install plugins that add social share buttons, affiliate link management, contact forms and so much more. To add a plugin to your website is a simple process:
plugins >> add new
What plugins should you install you may be wondering – checkout our list of essential WordPress plugins. For this tutorial, there are two essential plugins every website needs:
- Yoast SEO (One page SEO plugin)
- Smush It (Image optimization)
Install Yoast SEO
An essential plugin for any website is the Yoast SEO plugin. At million+ downloads it may be the most popular WordPress plugin of all time. To get started with, go to plugins >> add new and the search for “yoast SEO.” Install it and activate it.
The key feature this plugin adds is the ability to control the title and meta description of your blog posts and pages:
This is important because if you were creating a blog post about “best headphones for teenagers” you would want that phrase in your title and in your meta description.
Additional helpful features of Yoast:
- Yoast SEO gives you a readability analysis of your content
- It creates a sitemap that you can submit to Google (more on this later)
- You can enables your website to have breadcrumbs*
Breadcrumbs help visitors to your website navigate easily they help and search engines crawl your website. Breadcrumbs are typically found above the post title or page tile:
Home >> Blog >> Category >> Blog Post Title
A lot of themes come with built in breadcrumbs but too many do not. With Yoast you can add breadcrumbs.
Install Smush It
Smush It is a WordPress plugin that compresses your images upon upload to your website. It reduces the file size and makes your website load faster. To add it just go to “add new” plugins and search for “smush it.”
Your website as it grows is going to have a lot of images, optimize them with Smush It
Step 7: Create Content for Your Website
Great work! Now let’s cover how to actually create search engine optimized content for your blog and website. That means creating content search engines like Google want as well as what your audience wants.
Blog Posts and Categories
Blog posts are organized by category and it’s where the majority of your content should be published. You’ll have to create categories so create 4-6 categories as they relate to your website as this helps with your one page SEO.
If you have a blog on travel for example, pick categories related to that. Travel tips, travel gear, destinations and so forth. Don’t create irrelevant categories like “random” or ” uncategorized.” Categories are important and are a small way to signal to Google what your website is about.
Tags vs categories
In WordPress you’ll notice you can also “tag” a blog post. The idea behind tags was to create a way to organize a piece of content in a very specific way. For example, if you have a category called “Europe” and write a few posts about France you could tag those handful of posts as “France.”
In general, tags are not particularly useful. Focus your efforts on putting your blog posts into one relevant category.
What to blog about?
Write content people want and are searching for in your niche. A good starting point is Google itself. Simply start typing in something related to your topic into Google.
Take this information as well as suggest search terms for content ideas. You can also take a look at other websites in your industry and take note of what content is popular for them.
This combination of doing keyword research, writing content on proven topics and understanding your niche topic will help you create content people actually want.
Interlink your content and link out to other websites
You can and should go through your older content and link it to new content as appropriate. You should also link out to other websites as needed. A good website structure helps your website from an on-page SEO perspective as well as your visitors.
Pages in WordPress exist as a way to help organize your content on the back end from blog posts. Pages are ideal for more static content that does not makes sense to organized into any category. For example, you about page and contact pages should be actual pages and not be blog posts.
Again, pages and posts are simply WordPress terminology and are structured to help you organize your content.
Your URL structure is important. Earlier we stated that example.com/blog/post-title was the best structure for most websites. But also strive to keep your URL’s short and concise by avoiding stop words and URL’s that are just way to long.
Google and people like shorter, cleaner URL’s. Search engines are sophisticated enough to figure out what your blog post is about, so it’s not something to worry too much about. But when possible use optimized URL’s.
Last are header tags, also know as H1, H2, H3 tags and so forth. For blog posts and pages your title will be H1. Sub headings should be H2. Sub heading for anything under H2 should be H3 and so forth.
Media – Pictures And Video
Use pictures and video in your blog posts. Each blog post should have a feature image to represent that post in search engines and on your website as a related post:
Apart from this, use images only to demonstrate something.
How to Create a Website Conclusion
So that’s it for Website Creative Pro’s guide to how to create a website from step 1 to done. You should now have the ability to create a well structured, well designed website with WordPress. You can now take this and create any type of website you want from a blog, online store or a personal website. For an advanced guide, checkout our premium course.