There are two ways to make a website:
- Creating it from scratch – if you have coding experience, you can utilize those skills to code a custom website. Of course, you can always hire a professional to do it for you.
- Using a content management system (CMS) – with a CMS, many of the technical parts of website creation is already taken care of. It’s much more beginner friendly and doesn’t require extensive technical skills.
Both options have pros and cons. For example, custom sites are impossible to create if you never learned about programming languages. But manually coding a website enables you to give features that CMSs may not have.
On the other hand, using CMS is much easier. However, it might not be as flexible compared to custom sites.
In terms of cost, though, using a CMS saves a lot of money. For example, WordPress is a free, open source CMS. While you can purchase additional features, it’s possible to create a website for free.
If you have no coding skills and want a custom website, you’ll have to hire a web developer. This will come at a price, so you need to know what your budget is and how much you can pay a developer.
With this in mind, using a CMS is what I recommend doing. It’s easier and much more affordable.
In this article, I will cover the basics of creating a website using a CMS Let’s get to it!
We Recommend WordPress as a CMS
When looking for a CMS, you’ll stumble on a couple of options. WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are the most popular choices.
While Drupal and Joomla are great choices, I always recommend using WordPress. How so?
First of all, WordPress is the easiest to set up and to use among other CMSs. Compared to it, Drupal and Joomla have a much steeper learning curve.
With that in mind, the CMS enables you to control all aspects of your website without knowing how to code. It’s easy to set up, customize and manage, regardless of what type of website you’re aiming to create.
WordPress is open source and free. This means that everyone can modify its source code how they wish. What is more, the core of WordPress is free, all you need is web hosting.
Getting to Know the Essentials
To set up a website, first, you need to get a domain name and hosting services. Below I will explain what they are and the available choices.
What Is a Domain Name?
Every website has an IP address. However, the long digits of numbers are hard to remember. Imagine if you always need to enter 220.127.116.11 instead of facebook.com to visit the social media platform.
To solve this problem, we use domain names. That is why getting one of them is an important step in website creation. But before you do that, let’s take a look at the types of domain names and their differences:
- Top Level Domain (TLD)
As implied in the name, TLDs are on the top of the domain name system hierarchy. The common examples are .com and .org.
- Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)
Top Level Domains that use country codes, such as .uk or .de.
- Second Level Domain
The second level domain is the word that comes before the TLD. So, if the domain name is www.facebook.com, Facebook is the second level domain.
Subdomains come before the second level domains. For example, store.example.com, has a “store” subdomain.
Apart from that, some blogging platforms or hosting providers that offer free services, allow you to get a domain name for free, however, you will have their subdomain. For example blogger.example.com.
No matter what your choice is, you need to buy domain names through a registrar. For this guide, I use Hostinger’s domain checker to buy one.
Hostinger is a trusted registrar which offers affordable prices. While .com domains can be up to above $15 per year in some other registrars, Hostinger’s domain checker sells them at $8.99. Even better, the renewal fee is only $10.99.
What Is a Web Hosting?
To paint a picture, imagine that a domain name is an address, while web hosting is the house. Hosting providers essentially rent out server space for you to store your website data. Without it, you can’t launch your website.
There are multiple types of web hosting:
As the name implies, with this type of hosting, you’ll share server resources with other users, including storage and bandwidth. Consequently, heavy traffic on another site in the server will affect yours.
Shared hosting is good for small websites and beginners, especially since the server maintenance is taken care of by the provider.
VPS hosting is similar to the previous one, but it gives you a dedicated space of the server. In other words, you get more resources than in shared hosting. Others’ server usage will not affect your site performance as much either.
Apart from that, VPS hosting also enables root access to the server.
Thus, this type of hosting fits more advanced users and websites that expect more traffic.
Cloud hosting is a great option if you want more recourses and high scalability.
To put it simply, your data will be stored in a cluster of servers. If one of them facing issues, your website will use recourses from another server.
Even though a high degree of technical knowledge is not required, cloud hosting can be expensive.
As the name says, this type hosts your website on a dedicated server – meaning that you get all the recourses.
Nevertheless, dedicated hosting requires technical knowledge and costs a lot more compared to other web hosting types.
But the flexibility it offers makes dedicated hosting suitable for resource-demanding websites.
Preparing for Your Website (Phase One)
Now that you know what a domain name and web hosting are, it’s time to learn the steps of creating a website.
1. Get a Hosting Plan
As mentioned before, I use Hostinger for this tutorial. To begin, visit its website and click Products -> Shared Web Hosting. Choose the plan you wish and go to Cart.
You will be redirected to the checkout page. Here, you can choose the time period you want to purchase hosting for. Also, you can choose additional features, such as daily backups and SEO toolkit.
If you do not have an account yet, you’ll be prompted to Sign Up to complete the checkout process.
2. Get a Domain Name
When getting a domain name, you should think of one that reflects your niche and brand. Apart from that, a domain name should be concise and catchy, so that people can remember it easily.
Another important part of planning for a domain name is the TLD. Each domain extension has a different purpose. However, the most popular TLD is .com, so you might want to consider it too.
All you need to do for buying a domain name from Hostinger is to visit its domain checker page, check the availability of your domain name and pick out the TLD.
Select the one that you like by clicking on Add to Cart and go to the checkout page. There, you can choose the period length of the domain name and additional options (if you want to). Once done, click Checkout Now to proceed to payment.
Building the Foundation for Your Website (Phase Two)
Now that you have a domain name and web hosting, it’s time to build your website.
1. Choosing Your CMS
Before deciding on a CMS, it is recommended that you research the possible options thoroughly.
Every CMS has its pros and cons, so you need to weight on your website needs, your technical skills and your budget.
For example, Drupal and Joomla have a steeper learning curve when compared to WordPress. If you have coding skills, this won’t be a problem, however, if you are a newbie, it can be a challenge.
I always recommend using WordPress. While it’s easier to use than Drupal or Joomla, it still has a steep learning curve. However, it makes up for it with its extensive customization options and functionality.
Regardless of your technical proficiency, WordPress will allow you to create robust, powerful websites.
2. Installing Your CMS
For this tutorial, I’ll be using Hostinger’s services and WordPress.
There are a couple of ways to install WordPress, but most hosting providers have a one-click installer.
The following are the steps to install WordPress on Hostinger with its one-click installer:
Login to your Hostinger account to access the hPanel.
Click Manage on your hosting account.
Scroll down to find the website section and select Auto Installer.
Find the WordPress installer. If you wish to use any other CMSs, Hostinger also has the one-click installer for some of them.
At this point, you need to enter information such as your website URL, administrator username and password, website title and tagline, and language.
Once you finished the steps above, your website is ready, and you can start configuring it.
Designing Your Website (Phase Three)
Your website is already online, but it will not be fully ready before you configure the design. Now is the time to let your creativity shine.
1. Choosing the Design
You can customize your WordPress website’s appearance using themes. The platform offers more than seven thousand free options, so you don’t have to spend any money while picking the perfect design.
What is more, there are plenty of premium themes. You can either look them up in WordPress or choose a third party website.
When choosing a theme for your site, make sure it fits your website’s niche, looks good and is easy to navigate. After all, user experience is one of the most important aspects of every site.
To browse for themes inside WordPress, log into your dashboard, and click Appearance -> Themes.
Then, look for the Add New button on the top of the screen and click on it.
To quickly look for a specific type of theme, you can type your niche on the search bar on the upper right corner of the page.
2. Applying the Theme
To install a theme, hover on it and click Install. Then, click Activate when the installation is finished.
Whenever you want to edit your site’s looks, click Appearance in the WordPress dashboard, and select Customize. The theme customization page will look like the screenshot below.
WordPress lets you preview and manage how your website looks like across desktop, tablet, and phone displays. Having a responsive website is important for both SEO and user experience.
To switch between each display, click on the icons next to the Hide Controls button on the bottom left corner of the page.
However, this function is only available for responsive themes. This type of themes allows you to adapt your website’s design to fit any display.
Today, many people browse the internet from their phone – which means that you should accommodate for mobile devices.
If you already get a non-responsive theme, I suggest that you change to one that can be optimized for different sizes of display.
Editor’s note: changing themes does not delete your content and posts.
Taking Care of Content (Phase Four)
Congratulations for making it this far! After this last phase, you are more than ready to run a WordPress website.
Creating a Proper Home Page
No matter what theme you use, the homepage in WordPress is always dynamic. This means that older content will be replaced by the new ones, like in a blog.
If you do not intend to show updated posts, though, it is possible to make the homepage static. Follow these steps:
From your dashboard, click Appearance -> Customize. Find Homepage Settings and open it.
Click on the Static Page checkbox. If you already created some pages, you can set one of them as the homepage.
Adding new pages in WordPress is easy. Below are the steps:
Click Pages -> Add new on the dashboard.
Now you can create the content of the page. When you are done, click Publish. Since the release of WordPress 5, Gutenberg is the default page and post editor. It allows you to create your pages easily with content boxes and drag-and-drop function. What is more, the WYSIWYG editor shows the changes you make in real time.
You can redo the steps above to build important pages, such as blog, products, about, and contacts.
After that is done, let’s try creating a post on the blog page.
Before you open the post editor, though, go to Appearance -> Customize -> Homepage Settings.
Since the website already has a few pages, you can choose where posts will appear. Select the blog page and save your settings. This way, your posts will only show up on the assigned page.
As you can see on the previous screenshot, there is a sidebar widget that shows recent posts. You can also disable it through the homepage settings by clicking on the pencil icon next to the widgets. You will then see the list of your active widgets. Click on the recent posts widget, then click Delete.
After those steps are done, let’s create your first post by clicking on Posts -> Add new. The next procedures are the same as when you make a new page.
It is worth noting that WordPress enables comments on posts by default. Should you need to turn them off, follow these simple steps:
Inside the post editor, take a look at the settings on the right side of the screen. Click on the Document tab, then click Discussion.
Uncheck the Allow Comments box.
However, you can also do it this way:
Click Settings -> Discussion. Uncheck the “allow people to post comments on new articles” box.
Adding Pages to Your Navigation Bar
Since your website already has a few pages, let’s add their link to the navigation bar.
Click Appearance -> Menus.
To add a page to the menu, check the box next to it. After that, you can reorder the menu by dragging each item. Pulling an item to the right will make it a sub-menu.
Once done, click Create Menu. Click on the Manage Locations tab next to Edit Menus, and select the menu that you created. Then, click Save Changes.
This is how the menu looks like on my website.
Adding Taglines and the Title
Your website tagline is on the frontline of your homepage. It’s important for SEO as it accompanies the site’s title on SERPs and browser tabs.
There are two ways to change your title and tagline. By going to Settings -> General or Appearance -> Site identity
Plugins are add-ons that you can install to get specific features, including registration forms, ecommerce functionality, and many more.
With more than 55 thousand plugins, you can use the CMS to build any kind of website.
Setting up a plugin is simple. Here are the steps:
Click Plugins -> Add new. As when you want to install a theme, click Install, then Activate on a plugin that you want.
Cover Your Site’s SEO
Some of us may have wondered how certain websites show up on the first page of search results while others do not.
Search engines like Google use several criteria to rank websites. The higher the rank is, the more chance that the site will be on the first page. This, consequently, will increase your website’s discoverability, which can also improve web traffic.
Previously, I mentioned that website design and tagline affects SEO. Another aspect that you can do to improve your site’s ranking is through blog content.
To write better content for search engines, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin. The add-on analyzes multiple aspects of your blog articles, including keyword distribution, meta title, and readability.
Yoast SEO has a free and premium version. By paying $89 per year, you can get more benefits such as distribution analysis of up to five keywords and internal linking suggestion.
If you do not want to use the premium Yoast SEO, though, its free version is more than enough to optimize your articles.
Follow the steps below to set up Yoast SEO:
- Repeat the steps for installing plugins.
- Look for Yoast SEO on your dashboard sidebar.
- Click Configuration Wizard and follow the steps.
- Now you can access Yoast SEO at the bottom of the post editor.
- Remember to check your site’s reading settings. To do so, click Settings -> Reading. Then, take a look at the Search Engine Visibility. If the option is turned on, click the checkbox to uncheck it.
If you want to open an online store, Yoast SEO is not enough. There are other tools to build an ecommerce website, but I recommend WooCommerce.
I chose this plugin over the others because it serves as an all-in-one online store solution. Here are the key features that I like from WooCommerce:
- Easy store management, including products, shipment, and payment options.
- Built-in analytics tool.
- MailChimp integration for creating subscription forms and automated marketing email.
- Automatic tax calculation.
There’s No End!
Since WordPress is constantly being updated and improved, there’s virtually no end to the learning process. However, this tutorial should be more than enough for you to cover the basics.
As you can see, creating a WordPress website isn’t that hard.
If you want to master WordPress development, you can make use of the thousands of free tutorials, courses, and forums. With time and effort, you’ll be a master developer in no time!
I hope this article was helpful! Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions.