If you have never created a website before today, then you’ve come to the right place. As someone who has built a variety of websites throughout the years, I can assure you that the process is actually quite easy and a lot of fun. You simply need to know what you are doing.
The following is a step-by-step guide detailing everything that goes into creating a quality website. And yes, I mean everything. This is the guide you will want to follow if you are serious about building a website that you can be proud of.
So, where do you begin?
Have an idea
Before doing anything, you will need to have an idea — something interesting enough that you’re able to create an entire website about. This can be anything that comes to mind.
Perhaps you’re looking to sell products in an online store, or maybe you would rather publish a daily blog. Whatever you choose, be sure it’s something that you feel can grab the attention of others. After all, you will want to build traffic as your website grows and matures. We can talk about that more in a bit.
Choose a reliable web host
At first, trying to find a web host that’s perfect for your needs can seem a little overwhelming. And you know what? I don’t blame you, because there are literally thousands to choose from. There is no exact count, but apparently the total is well above 17,000.
Because your time is valuable, I’m going to recommend going with HostPapa, which ties in well with everything explained herein. HostPapa is the perfect choice if you are looking to build a website powered by any of the Internet’s most popular content management systems (CMS). This includes Joomla, Drupal and especially WordPress.
For pretty much 99% of website ideas, I can almost always recommend going the WordPress route. WordPress is not only open source (meaning it’s constantly being updated), but best of all, it’s completely free to use!
Of course, you’ll still have to pay for web hosting, but prices are very affordable. Signing up for HostPapa using my link costs just $2.95/month for 36 months. Going this route includes WordPress and Elementor pre-installed, as well as a free domain name of your choice. If you are not familiar with Elementor, you can learn more here.
As a dedicated HostPapa customer, I can definitely recommend their services with confidence. Sign up here to get started!
But what about WordPress?
Assuming you go the route of HostPapa, installing WordPress is extremely easy. Actually, using the link I provided above guarantees you that WordPress will be pre-installed and ready to use, allowing you more time to be creative and think about the next step — finding a WordPress theme.
Finding the perfect WordPress theme to use for your website can be one of the most frustrating things you’ll ever have to do in the creative process. There are simply too many themes to sort through, many of which are free and premium.
Elegant Themes allows you the convenience of paying an annual rate (only $69) and having the option of choosing any theme you desire. This means that you are able to pick and choose as time goes on. This is especially useful if you find yourself often changing your mind.
On the other hand, Theme Forest’s theme selection seems to be a little more on the premium side. However, you’re required to pay as you go, which can certainly add up rather quickly. Still though, it’s an excellent service with a ton of value to offer.
No matter which route you decide to take, you will want to take your time in finding a theme that accurately reflects what your website is about. It’s also important to remember that you can find the perfect theme that just happens to be free. But actually doing so is easier said than done.
Once you find a theme, you will want to install it by going to your WordPress Dashboard. This can be done in a variety of ways. Personally, I prefer to upload the .zip file and be done with it. That seems to work best.
Build your website
This is where the real fun begins. Building a WordPress website can be a lengthy process, depending on how much time you put into it. Of course, no website is ever truly complete, but it doesn’t hurt to get as much done as possible before launching to the public.
To make the building process easier, I like to begin by creating my website’s primary pages. This includes my homepage, an about page, and a contact page. These three pages are what you will want to focus most of your attention on — particularly the homepage.
Your website’s homepage can be the deciding factor on whether a new visitor chooses to stick around. Be sure it clearly explains what your website is about, as well as its overall focus. This can be achieved by designing a clean layout that is easy to navigate and understand.
If your website is on social media, then make it obvious. Include social media buttons wherever necessary. Common locations can be a website’s header, footer and sidebar. I have found that all three of these work quite well.
Building a new website can take a while, so don’t feel the need to rush through it all. And plus, there’s a lot more to the process than just building. You will want to properly set up your website for traffic analytics and search engine optimization.
Search engine what?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most critical things you will want to consider when building your website. SEO determines how your website is ranked on popular search engines like Google and Bing. In other words, if your website’s SEO is not properly optimized, then it might as well not exist.
Learning about SEO and how to apply it to your website can certainly be complicated, as there is so much information to take in. Seriously, it’s huge.
Thankfully, you don’t need to worry about most of it, but that’s only if you keep one very important factor in mind: You need to create quality content.
Simply put, search engines crave good content. If your website has something valuable to offer, then it will organically work its way toward the first page of Google. Just don’t expect results overnight.
To learn more about SEO and how it works, click here. This is an in-depth guide that should help you better understand the incredibly huge topic.
Let’s talk email
Now that you have a better understanding of how SEO works and how it can benefit your website, let’s shift focus to email. Wait a minute… Email? Is it 1996 again?
This may come as a surprise to you, but email is still heavily used. According to Forrester (2014), “72% of U.S. online adults send or receive personal emails via smartphones at least weekly.”
Considering there are over 2.5 billion email users worldwide, 72% is a significant percentage and something that should not be ignored. And as someone who is creating a website, it’s important that you take action. But how?
Put simply, you need to build an email list. Doing so will allow you to directly contact your most important website visitors with exclusive content. And let’s face it, exclusivity sells. People naturally love the idea of receiving something exclusive, which is exactly what you need to offer.
Start an email list (I recommend MailChimp) and sell the idea of giving something away for free to anyone who signs up. This can be a nice incentive to not only grab attention, but it’s also a great way of building trust with your audience.
As your list grows, consider new ways of keeping your subscribers engaged over time. Ask questions and reply with answers. Direct communication can go a long way in benefiting the overall image of your brand.
Nowadays, it’s all about social media
There’s no arguing that email marketing can be very effective, but if there’s one thing that has taken the Internet by storm, it’s social media. Our daily routines rotate around platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Social media is simply huge, and that’s not going to change any time soon.
The instant gratification of reaching out to a particular person or brand is powerful, especially if you are working in customer service. Ask a question on Twitter and you will likely receive an answer within minutes, often faster than you would via email.
If you have any kind of online presence, then you need to be active on social media. Determining which platforms to get started with entirely depends on your website and its focus. For the kind of work that I do, I prefer to primarily interact on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Of course, everyone has their own way of doing things, so choose whichever platforms that you feel would work best with your brand. And don’t forget to cross promote your social media links with your email list. The more people you can reach, the better.
Advertising your website
When it comes time to advertise your website, you’ll be happy to know that you have plenty of options to choose from. The most obvious places to get started with are usually Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. Having used both, I can say from experience that each has its advantages.
Advertising via AdWords grants you what seems to be an endless amount of ways to customize your ad. From an in-depth keyword research tool to a real-time display of how your ad will appear in search results, AdWords is the service to use.
If you are new to advertising, that will not be a problem. AdWords makes the advertising process fairly seamless and easy to understand. And of course, there is plenty of support documentation to help you along the way.
Going the route of Facebook Ads isn’t a bad idea, either. Like AdWords, Facebook Ads provides a variety of tools to aid you in customizing an ad to your liking. You can even target specific demographics in local areas, which can help significantly with particular businesses.
And finally, it never hurts to advertise your website the old fashioned way. Sign up for VistaPrint and get 250 business cards ordered. Pricing is very affordable and the print quality is actually quite good. I’ve used VistaPrint a few times in the past and can definitely recommend them.
When your business cards arrive, do not hesitate to hand them out to friends and anyone else who could be interested. You can even consider stopping by at local businesses to introduce yourself and explain to others what you’re doing. After all, you never know what kinds of opportunities could turn up.
And now it’s your turn
Now that you have reached this point, you should feel comfortable enough to get started with creating your website. Remember, the process can be a lot of work, but I promise you that the end result is worth it.
Because I’m excited to see what you come up with, I encourage you to leave a comment below with a link to your website. Don’t worry if it’s not finished yet, as no website is ever truly complete. There will always be new ideas to implement and experiment with.
After all, this is your website we’re talking about. Make it your own.