Select the Best Building Platform for your Website
First, you have to select the platform you will create your website with even before thinking of color plans, domain names and such stuff.
What, exactly, is a “platform”?
When I began in 2004, websites were created using HTML (code), CSS and Flash. Learning all these needed so much time to know. Trying to master them was difficult.
Most people, even up to now, believe that building a website from the ground up is quite hard and complicated. They think you need to know so much about coding and designing abilities. Of course, that’s not true anymore!
In 2015, WordPress, a content management system made it possible for anyone to build a website.
A content management system (CMS) is a platform for creating websites while managing at the same time the content of your own site. This is a much easier system in place of the old bunch of loose HTML pages.
Three most popular website building platforms in 2015:
As you may have noticed, more than half of all the Internet’s websites operate on WordPress platform.
It is simply AMAZING! More important, though…
– It is completely FREE, and loaded with so many layouts to select from
You don’t spend anything to download or install WordPress. What’s more, a whole community designed all its beautiful themes and templates to make it easy for anyone to move on fast.
– It is particularly friendly to beginner users
If you are already familiar with Microsoft Word, you already understand how to add content to your site. WordPress is expandable with plugins to deal with any other site imaginable, all the way from business pages to sites on social networking.
– It is powerful
WordPress has the power to adjust to just about any other type of website – from blogs all the way to attractive business sites and online stores. What’s more, it has many plugins to increase its capabilities.
– It is easy on mobile devices
Your finished website will look great and is quick to respond on every smart phone, tablets and other mobile devices.
– It is supported by a huge community
With the number of people using the platform, finding help when you want it is easy. There are so many other free resources around that you can also use.
Actually, this particular site you are with now is built with WordPress. There are reasons why it is popular. Take a look at the following article if you want to check how popular WordPress is: 14 facts about WordPress.)
There are other CMS platforms, of course.
Drupal is another powerful platform popular among web developers and experienced coders. However, for beginners, it needs a steep and long learning curve to master first.
Joomla is somewhat similar to WordPress and it’s perfect for online stores. However, you will have to learn some bits of technical coding so you can make it work as you would want it.
In case you need additional details, I have assembled quite a comprehensive comparison on Joomla, Drupal and WordPress.
If you want to create your site other than with WordPress, I have my Drupal, Joomla, and HTML guides to check out. All are also FREE to use.
For beginners, my strongest suggestion is WordPress.
For me, it was the easiest platform I have ever worked with. It is also very flexible as well. It suits anyone from business owners, creative artists, bloggers, to freelancers.
Right now, there is nothing to install or set up.
In Step 2, I’ll have you go through the process of choosing a domain name as well as looking for a very good hosting plan for your website.
In Step 3, you will see everything you need to know in installing and customizing your website with WordPress. You need not worry because we will go through the process with many images to use as references.
Don’t forget: I am here to help you.
Right now, I am offering help via email for free. I may not be able to actually set up your site but I CAN provide you with specific instructions – just in case you are stuck during the set up. Simply use my contact form.
Choosing Your Website’s Domain Name And Web Hosting
You will need two things when getting a new website online.
- – Domain name (a web address – example: yoursitename.com)
- – Hosting (a service to connect your site to the internet)
Your WordPress platform is free. Domain names and hosting can cost around $3 to $4 a month. (No problem – it is lower than the price of your coffee.)
One advantage of owning your own domain name is getting a more professional touch to your site than having it sit on someone else’s domain (yoursitename.freewebsite.com) The cost is almost negligible, too.
What’s more, you are sure that hosting your own website loads more quickly. In free hosting sites, your site can go down for hours on end (which could be important losses to your visitors), confusing everyone and your visitors.
Where will I acquire a domain name and hosting?
Mostly, I have used www.Bluehost.com as my domain and web hosting registrar.
It’s worth taking a look at them because they are really affordable, their customer service is good and, presently, they are throwing in a domain name for free.
Getting a domain name also means getting a personal email account(s). This is far more professional (email@example.com) than the common generic Gmail or Yahoo addresses.
Do you have a domain name and hosting? Go straight up to Step 3. I will walk you through the process of setting up your website.
What kind of domain name should I pick?
Here are some easy starting points:
– If you’re building a business website, your domain name should match your company name. An example is: YourCompanyName.com
– If you’re simply setting up a website for your own self, then YourName.com is a good option.
Traditionally, domain names usually end with .com, .org or.net. Recently, however, there had been many domain extensions (the “.com” part) that came out, including such extensions as .pizza or .agency.
My advice on these extensions? Unless they perfectly describe what you offer, you might as well stick with .com, .org or .net.
These extensions are easily remembered by people, and the present fashion of weird site name extensions has not gone popular as yet. People might get lost looking for your site if you are using a really different extension.
Any pointers in choosing my domain name?
A) Is the name brandable? If, for instance, you want to create a site about poetry, “best-poetry-website.net” may not be a very good choice. “poetryacademy.com” or “poetryfall.com” sound much better.
B) Is the name memorable? It is much easier to remember short, clear and punchy domain names. If it is too long, fuzzy, with strange spelling, your visitors can forget it.
C) Is the name catchy? It’s tough to think up of a cool name with around 150 million active domain names right now. But you can be lucky. To be catchy and cool, you would want something that describes what you do exactly and will stick in your visitor’s mind afterwards.
One rule that frequently applies in looking for domain names: If you like it, go for it.
Your WordPress Website set up
You are on your way now that you had bought your domain name and had set up your hosting.
It’s time now to have your website up and working. Of course, the first thing you have to do is install WordPress to your domain.
You have two possible methods in installing WordPress, one is easier to do than the other.
Installing WordPress had been easy and fast because most reliable and well-established hosting companies has integrated the 1-click installation.
Look for the “1-click-installation” in your account control panel if you had signed up with Bluehost or some other hosting companies with similar features.
The following are the steps you need to do (most of which are similar or the same on all the major hosting companies).
First, log in to your hosting account.
Proceed to your control panel.
Search for the “WordPress” icon.
Select the domain where you wish to install your website.
Get to your NEW WordPress website by clicking the “Install Now” button.
Check out this in-depth guide if you need some more help in installing WordPress.
- Manual installation
If for some strange reasons your hosting company doesn’t have the one-click-install for WordPress, then you can’t automatically install WordPress. The manual guide we have below will help you install your WordPress.
Installing WordPress Manually
(Tip: if they don’t have the 1-click-installation, maybe that hosting company is not for you.)
Selecting a Theme or Template for your site
You will see at once a basic and clean site after you’ve successfully installed WordPress.
Once you have successfully installed WordPress to your domain, you’ll see a very basic yet clean site:
Of course, you would not want to look like anyone, would you? This is where a theme is needed – a design template that shows WordPress how you want your site to look like.
The fun part now begins. There are literally thousands of gorgeous-looking themes designed by professionals for your choice and customize it accordingly to your very own site.
Here’s how to look for a theme that’ll suit you:
1) Log into the dashboard of your WordPress.
If you’re unsure, simply input the following: http://yoursite.com/wp-admin . (Change “yoursite” with your domain.)
The WordPress dashboard would look like this:
Everything is in their places and properly labeled. Are you overwhelmed? Not to worry – I’m here to show you where to go next.
2) See all the FREE themes
In the dashboard, you have the chance to get access to more than 1500 free themes. Check the side bar for “Appearance”, and then select “Themes”.
If you wish to have something more professional or elegant-looking themes than what you see here, simply go to ThemeForest.net to see the vast library of themes to choose from. (Each is priced accordingly.)
My suggestion, of course, is to try and spend first more time in looking into the free themes. Many are really designed as professionally as any, and they are all well-made. You might regret ignoring them.
You might have noticed at this time that installing your website’s new theme is so easy.
Search by specific keywords or use filters in looking for the perfect theme that fits your style. It may take a while, but it’s well worth the effort.
Try looking for “responsive” themes. They also look good on any mobile device.
Simply enter it as one of the keywords you’re using, and you’re set to go!
3. Installing your own theme
After you have the theme that suits you, installing it is like A-B-C. Simply click “Install” and then click “Activate”. That’s it.
IMPORTANT: When you change themes, you will not delete the posts, pages, and content that you have entered and saved. Do not worry that changing themes as frequently as you like will erase anything you have built.
Adding content and creating new pages
After you have installed your theme, you can begin to build content. Let me walk you through the basic moves.
Adding pages and editing them
Constructing a new page
Would you like a “Services” page or “About Me” like my own on this site?
- See the sidebar in your WordPress dashboard for “Pages” -> “Add New”.
- After clicking, you’ll see a screen that looks similar to that of Microsoft Word. You can then add your texts, images and others in building your page. Of course, you need to save it after you’re finished.
Adding the menu pages
Here’s how to have your new page linked to in the navigation bar:
- First save the changes you’ve made to the page by clicking “Update”.
- Then, click “Appearance” -> “Menus” in the sidebar of the dashboard of the WordPress.
- Find the page you’ve made, click the checkbox next to it to add it to the list, and then “Add to Menu”.
Adding / editing posts
Go to “Posts” if you blog on your website. You are free to use different categories when grouping posts that are alike or related.
Use different categories (and posts) if you intend to add blog to your site. For instance, you may want to make a category called “blog”. Simply include it into your menu, and you can immediately start creating your posts.
Here’s how to do it:
- Go to “Posts -> Categories” and create a new category.
- Go to “Posts -> Add New” and make your blog post. After you’ve finished making your blog post and it is ready, you have to add its right category.
After creating your category, just add it to your menu, and you’re into online business.
Customizations & Tweaks (Widgets, comments & “stuff” you should know)
This is where I need to show you the basic things everyone often asks me about. This will help you configure your website here and now.
Changing Titles and Taglines
Page titles show what exactly your site is to your searchers. In fact, they play a big role in how search engines resolve your online ranking. On your part, you need to be sure they have the keywords you want to target your actual audience and visitors.
For one, you need to use a distinctively unique title for every page of the site. This site’s title, for instance, is “How to Make a Website”.
(You don’t see it? Simply hover your mouse on the tab at the top of your browser.)
At the end of the titles, taglines are also added on every page. This site’s tagline is “Step by Step Guide”.
In changing your website’s title and tagline, proceed to “Settings -> General” and fill in the form below:
How to disable comments in Posts & Pages
There are websites (mostly businesses and organizations) that discourage visitors to comment on their pages.
Here are the steps in shutting off comments on your WordPress pages:
- During the writing in your site’s new page, find and click the “Screen Options” located in the top right corner.
- Then, click the “Discussion” box. This will show “Allow Comments” box at the bottom.
- Click off the check mark on the “Allow Comments” box.
By default, do you wish to disable comments on every new page?
- Untick “Allow people to post comments on new articles” on the check box located in “Settings -> Discussion”.
How to set up a Static Front Page
Some people do not want to have their home page looking like a blog post. Fix it by simply making your home page “static”.
This is a page that does not change. In blogs, the first new article shows up every time at the top. A “static” page shows the same content every time it is opened by someone who visits the site, looking like your personally-designed home page.
Setting up a static front page:
- Proceed to “Settings -> Reading”
2. Select a static page that you have created. Your home page is “Front Page”, and “Posts page” is the front page of your blog. (This is if your entire site isn’t a blog).
WordPress will select your latest posts and will show them on your homepage if your don’t choose a static page yourself.
How to edit the sidebar
Most themes of WordPress have sidebars on the right (or left, as the case maybe.)
Here is how to eliminate the sidebar or edit out the items you don’t actually need (“Categories”, “Meta”, and “Archives”).
- In the WordPress dashboard, proceed to “Appearance -> Widgets”.
- You can do two things: you can add (through drag and drop) different “boxes” to your sidebar. Or, you can remove items you think you don’t need.
There’s a text box where HTML code is used. You do not need to worry – simply drag and drop the elements you want into your sidebar.
Getting more out of WordPress by installing Plugins
What are plugins?
Basically, they are extensions that were created to expand the capabilities of your WordPress. They add functions and features to your site which were not built-in.
They act like shortcuts in making your site do the things you want to without creating the feature from the very beginning.
These plugins can do so much – from optimizing your website, adding photo galleries, creating forms, and even creating an online store.
Installing a new Plugin
To begin installing the plugins, you go to “Plugins -> Add New” and do your search. You have to remember that there are more than 25,000 different plugins (all are FREE). Choosing the one that you want can take time and effort.
Of course, it is easy to install a plugin. Once you find what you want, simply click “Install”.
HOWEVER, you can’t just go and install every one you want. I would advise that you read first the following article: Things you need to know about using WP plugins.
I had collected a list of the most popular and the most useful plugins many webmasters had found useful. It might save you some time reading it.
Contact form 7: Like what my website has, this contact form on my About Me page is such a useful feature for my visitors. People simply fill in the form and send me an email without going to their email provider to log in first. If you want your visitors to enjoy such a privilege, you can install it on your site.
Yoast SEO for WordPress: This free and amazing plugin will make your WordPress site SEO-friendly. You can edit your title tags and meta descriptions (and more) from within the page itself. You need not fuss with your WordPress settings anymore.
Forum: Do you want a forum on your site? The plugin “bbPress” can do that for you. Simply follow their tutorials.
All these are simply a few of the many plugins that you may be able to use on your site.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg! The following is a list of the top 100 plugins for WordPress by Tom Ewer. He is a renowned authority on plugins.
Congratulations – Are you ready to launch your website?
By this time, you now have a functional WordPress website ready for whatever you want it to be. If you had done the steps with me in this guide, you are ready.
I really hope this guide had been useful to you. Of course, should you have additional questions, or simply need some extra help on the procedures, I will be very happy to guide you some more.
Just use my contact/support page.
All the best, Tom.