A website is an absolute necessity for small and large businesses these days, and for anybody who wants to develop a brand. And, creating a website is easier now than it’s ever been. But many businesses struggle with the intimidation of building a website, including its production process and costs.
Fortunately, the whole process is quite accessible, cost-effective, and streamlined from start to finish, with many useful platforms available. In fact, some solutions are easy, drag-and-drop solutions that help you create a rudimentary but functional website in a day!
While these platforms are extremely convenient, it’s also worth knowing how to create a website from scratch. This knowledge will leave you with many advantages in the long term, advantages that the more packaged solutions don’t offer.
Our focus is to teach you how to make a website, share information about the skills you need to do so, and explain how the web works as a whole.
We’ll start with a primer on how to build a website with a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, and end with a tutorial on how to build a website from scratch using HTML.
There are Several Ways to Create a Website
Website development has evolved as a practice, enough for platforms to gift-wrap the whole process for you. WordPress, Wix, Squarespace — these are among the most well-known platforms, and they power a significant chunk of all the websites out there.
You can create everything from an e-commerce platform to a blog with ease using tools like WordPress, as they remove many of the pain points associated with website creation.
For example, you don’t have to allot time and energy to ensure your site is responsive for different devices, as WordPress, Square, and Wix all do that for you. You’ll have the liberty of adding useful third-party tools as well. The most attractive benefit is the price — these platforms are also cheaper than hiring a web developer.
But if you learn coding in popular markup and programming languages, you can do a great deal more than the above platforms. Coding will offer more customizability and control over your website, better SEO, and easier troubleshooting.
How Does the Web Work, Anyway?
If you’re going to learn how to create a website, then it’s important to know how the web works.
Two main entities characterize how computers interact with the web: clients and servers. The former could be your web browser or your phone, while the latter is just another computer that contains all the information that is presented on the website.
You might notice that websites can take some time to load — that’s because the server is working hard and pulling media and applications for your browser, the client.
Website addresses are also stored via internet protocol (IP) addresses — those long strings of numbers like 192.168.1.1. But just as you might remember contact names instead of numbers, the Domain Name System (DNS) makes it convenient to access websites. Hackr.io is our IP address’s name, a readable way of accessing our unique IP address.
HTTP and TCP/IP protocols are essentially the language that clients and servers use to communicate with each other. HTTP defines a communication standard between the client and server, while TCP/IP determines how data is transmitted across the internet.
To sum up, the DNS takes the name of the website you type in, which you access through a client, and looks up the real address of the website’s server. If the webpage is accessible, the client asks the server to send the stored information via HTTP and TCP/IP protocols. The website then begins to load on your browser (client).
What You Need to Build a Website
Regardless of whether you decide to use a platform for your website or build it from scratch, you’ll need certain resources that will incur some costs. However, the bare minimum cost required to run a website is affordable. At the lower end of the price spectrum, expect to pay as little as under $100 per year.
This tutorial focuses on building a simple website using WordPress. You’ll see all the steps below, and we’ll go into more detail for each one shortly.
Step 1: Choose a platform
Step 2: Choose a domain name
Step 3: Select a hosting service
Step 4: Install WordPress
Step 5: Customize your website
How to Create a Website: Step by Step
Now that you have all the tools in place to start, how do you create a website? We’ll use Bluehost here to walk you through the process, but you can use any hosting service and the steps will be the same. Follow these steps to create a website, and you’ll have your very own website within the next hour!
Step 1: Choose a Platform
We’ll use WordPress, but you can also choose Wix, Joomla, or Squarespace as well and experience a relatively similar creation process. WordPress is one of the most popular choices and has virtually endless customization options. Building your own website with any of these platforms makes it very simple, with no coding experience necessary.
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
Next, you’ll have to choose the name of your website AKA a domain name. You can buy domain names from several places, including NameCheap, Bluehost, GoDaddy, DreamHost, and Google Domains. You can create your own if it’s not already claimed. Try to make yours stand out!
You’ll have several different options for domain extensions, but stick to “.com” for now. In the next step, we’ll register your domain name and website files on Bluehost.
Step 3: Register on a Hosting Service
There are several web hosting services available, like Cloudways, Bluehost, HostGator, GoDaddy, DreamHost, and SiteGround. Some services offer multiple options for managed hosting. Cloudways, for example, allows you to choose from several managed hosting packages. These offer servers on Digital Ocean, AWS, Google Cloud, and other popular cloud servers. Below, we’ll continue the tutorial on Bluehost.
Head over to Bluehost and create an account by clicking “get started now.” You’ll then be asked to choose a plan, with the basic plan coming at $2.75 a month. This will be your first expense.
Next, you’ll be asked to set up your domain name. If you don’t have a domain yet, enter the domain name under the “Create a new domain” field. If you already have a domain name, enter it under “Use a domain you own.”
Step 4: Confirm the Purchase of Your Domain Name and Hosting Service
The next screen will ask you to confirm your purchase. Ignore the additional services that you can pay for, as you can always add them later. After you complete your purchase, it’s time to set up WordPress on your new domain name!
Step 5: Install WordPress and Log Into Your WordPress Site
The next step is to actually install WordPress onto your domain. On the Bluehost dashboard, click the “Create a WordPress Site” button. You’ll be asked to enter a site name (different from the domain name), the email address you would like to link to the site, and some information about credentials.
Now, select the domain name you purchased from the drop-down menu. You can uncheck any plugins that might be selected. Click “Next.”
That’s it! In a few seconds, you’ll have WordPress automatically installed on this particular domain.
Next, you can log into the website to customize it and add content.
There are two ways to access your WordPress website, either through Bluehost by clicking the login button or by going to “websitename.com/wp-admin” and entering the corresponding credentials.
Step 6: Customize Your Site with Themes, Plugins, and Content
Now it’s time to customize your website’s appearance and add plugins! Start by selecting “Themes” under the “Appearance” option on the left. It will show you the various themes available, and these can have an enormous impact on how your site looks.
You can also customize a theme after installing it by clicking customize under “Appearance.” You can change everything from color to layout, and so much more.
There’s a lot of flexibility here, and it’s worth playing around with the visual characteristics to see what works.
You can also install plugins by selecting “Plugins,” right under “Appearance,” on the left.
Lastly, you can create “posts” and “pages” with WordPress by clicking “Add new” on the left. This is where you add your basic content. A post is a single piece of content, like a blog post, while a page may contain a variety of content.
You can add pages by clicking “Pages” on the left-side panel, then “Add new.” You may have noticed that many websites have common pages like “About Us” and “Contact Us,” and you can create pages like these, too.
Congratulations! You’re all finished and have created your very first WordPress website. You can pretty much get started with content and design.
For the moment, just know that you can build the simplest of websites in under an hour with WordPress, and even add some handy plugins to enhance its capabilities.
You Can Create a Simple Website in Under an Hour
Think of a website as a work in progress. It starts with a fundamental idea of what the web page should represent (and bear in mind that web design and development are two fairly exclusive fields). For many businesses, like an e-commerce platform, many of these initial designs come on a platter, making the process even simpler.
Once you choose and pay for a domain name and web hosting, you can design and enhance your webpage with functionality. Here, we focused on WordPress, which streamlines appearance through themes and adds functionality through plugins.
The key takeaway? Many tools exist to easily create a website in less than an hour. Anything on top of that will either require some enhancements through plugins and themes, or coding.
Want to take your website to the next level? Look into an HTML certification to enhance your coding skills!