Building a website in 4 easy steps – Guide for beginners

Building a website is something I recommend everyone tries at least once in their lifetime. There’s something about creating and uploading content to the world wide web that’s incredibly fulfilling.

Despite a lot of people having the enthusiasm to do it, many are put off for a number of reasons. Here are a few of the popular excuses people come up with:

  • I don’t have enough time
  • I haven’t got enough money
  • I’m not sure how to build a website

In the past, these may have been very acceptable excuses, although we wouldn’t be where we are today if Jeff Bezos or Larry Page had said the same thing…

However, nowadays you really can’t use the excuses above. There are so many tools and systems you can use to build a website very easily.

By following our simple 4 step guide to building a website, you’ll be able to get your new site up and running in no time.

And trust me, it’s a lot easier than you first thought.

Step 1 – Picking a business name

The first step of creating any new business or website is picking your name.

This is an incredibly important step as you’re likely to stick with it for a long time.

There are cases when it’s acceptable to change business name and some of the worlds biggest and most innovative companies have done just that.

BackRub changes to Google

You may not know but Google was originally called BackRub.

When Larry Page and Sergey Brin started their search engine at Stanford they initially called it BackRub. A year later, in 1997, they registered the domain name google.com.

Naming your business - Google changes from Backrub to Google

Apple Computers to Apple, Inc

Apple Computers was the brainchild of Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne and Steve Wozniak. However, in 2007 Apple announced they were dropping Computers from their name.

Apple wanted to venture into new territories and didn’t want their name to restrict them. One year later, Apple released the iPhone 3, the first breakthrough smartphone with a touchscreen.

Getting your website name right first time

Having said all that, it’s usually best and much easier if you can get your name right when you’re building your website first time round.

Picking your business name is the part when you can get creative – if you’re not that way inclined, summon the help of family and friends who are, but ensure you make the ultimate decision.

Here are some things to consider whilst brainstorming your new business name.

  • What kind of feel you’d like your business name to have. Does it want to be playful or more formal? For example, law firms and large accounting companies typically go for a more formal approach.
  • Unique – In today’s world it’s challenging to come up with a unique name that’s not been used before. However, this is an important step if you want your website to stand out from the crowd. This leads on to our next point.
  • Easy to remember – The more catchy your website name is, the easier it will be to remember. If you’re discussing your new website with someone in person and they have trouble remembering the name of your company, you probably won’t convert them into site traffic.

Everyone hits mental blocks at some stage, so if you get stuck at any point there are a number of tools you can use to help with some inspiration.

Using Shopify’s name generator

Shopify have a brilliant, free tool available to help you name your new website and it’s incredibly easy to use.

Simply enter your desired name or keywords related to your market and click generate names.

Building a website - Shopify name generator

Shopify will display the most relevant names associated with your keyword.

Whilst the tool is unlikely to give you the exact name you’re after, it’s great for giving you some inspiration or new ideas.

Checking if your domain name is available

Another vital part of building a website is checking if the domain name is available.

For those of you who aren’t sure, a domain name is the web address where people will access your website. Our domain name is www.hashtagonemarketing.com.

These days, this is just as important for a non-internet based business as it is for an online business. Every business, no matter what category it’s in needs an online presence.

Your domain name doesn’t need to be an exact match to your business name, but the closer it is, the better.

As you may or may not know, there are different top-level domains or TLDs available. This is the last part of the URL you see.

The most common TLDs are:

  • .com
  • .net
  • .gov
  • .org

The .com domain was one of the original TLDs available in 1985 and it’s now the largest and most popular top-level domain out there. Securing your most preferred .com domain name is getting increasingly difficult.

Here’s a look at the most popular TLDs and what percentage of sites use them. (Data from Statista)

Worldwide share of TLDs - November 2017

As more and more websites were created and business names started overlapping, there was an increasing need for more ‘strings’.

In 2015, ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) announced there would be over 500 new TLDs to cope with the increased demand.

Which TLD should I use?

With so many top-level domains now available, it can be tricky to know which one to use.

However, it generally comes down to what market you’re after.

If you’re looking to set up a website specifically targeted at a UK demographic then a .co.uk or .uk domain would be the best option.

As .uk domains are relatively new, there are still restrictions in place until 10 June 2019. Check out this article for more information.

If you’re website is targeting a global market, then I recommend a .com domain is still the one to go for if it’s available.

As we mentioned above, there are also plenty of new top-level domains which are worth considering. You can even own a .pizza domain…

Google has confirmed new TLDs have no direct impact on your rankings, but selecting the right one can potentially indirectly help your SEO.

Let me explain why.

Some domain extensions are considered spammy by users, in which case they’re more likely to click on a result with a domain they trust like .com or .org for example.

If your site has a less popular TLD which could be considered spammy and your competitors are using a .com extension, you’re likely to receive less traffic.

What image does that portray to Google?

Overall it’s best to stick with the more popular extensions.

Register multiple domain extensions

Some experts in the domain registration industry suggest it’s best practice to register as many top-level domains as possible.

Whilst this can get expensive when you’re first starting out, it can save you any headaches later on if you’re looking to expand your business.

All in all, the ultimate decision is up to you, however, don’t get too bogged down in the nitty gritty of choosing your TLD – this isn’t going to be the success or failure of building a website.

Where to buy your domain name

Once you’ve found your preferred domain name, it’s time to go ahead and buy it.

All domain names are bought through Domain Registrars – companies that manage internet domain names.

Over time, I’ve used a number of different registrars and I’ve added some of the most popular and well regarded companies below:

All of these registrars offer a similar service and make the management of your domain name very easy.

You’re going to incur a small cost when your purchase your new domain name. But as the old saying goes, you can’t make money without spending money

The cost of your domain name will vary depending on which TLD and registrar you choose to go for, however, you should expect to pay about £10 – £15 per year.

Step 2 – Hosting your new website

Now you’ve got your business name and domain name all sorted, it’s time to host your website and all of it’s content somewhere.

For this you’ll need a hosting provider.

There are hundreds of companies out there offering hosting services but they’re not all created equal.

The quality of your hosting has significant impacts on your SEO and ultimately your website rankings.

As we shift into mobile-first indexing, Google’s most recent algorithm update, it’s been announced that page speed will play a more significant part in rankings.

The quality of your hosting is a big factor when it comes to how quickly a page loads.

Shared, VPS and dedicated hosting

As we’ve already mentioned, hosting plays a huge role in how quickly your website loads.

The main reason for this is due to how many websites are located on the server.

Shared hosting does what it says on the tin…

You share the server with a number of other websites.

The more sites that are hosted on one server, the slower the sites are to load.

This is where dedicated hosting comes in – only one website is located on the server.

There’s obviously a gap in the middle that’s occupied by VPS hosting (virtual private server). VPS hosting is effectively a mixture of both shared and dedicated hosting.

Which hosting package to choose when building a website?

Whilst you’re unlikely to need dedicated hosting when you first start out, it’s important to consider the quality of your hosting package.

It’s important to understand, your hosting package is one of the main expenses when you’re building a website. However, you really do get what you pay for.

I would stay away from using shared hosting unless you’re on a tight budget and go for a middle ground package.

In terms of cost you should expect to pay about £5 a month for a cheap shared hosting package, about £30 a month for a decent VPS package and dedicated hosting starts at about £50 a month.

Here are some of the most highly rated hosting companies

The best advice I can give you is to sign up for the highest quality hosting package your budget can stretch to.

Pointing domains to your hosting provider

Once your hosting package is up and running, the next step is to point your domain in the right direction.

This can sometimes get a little techy but if you pick a quality hosting and domain company they’ll be more than happy to help you out.

In some circumstances you may buy your domain and hosting from the same company. In this scenario, the company will likely complete the setup process for you.

If that’s not the case you can follow the process below.

The first step is to find the DNS (domain name servers) located in your hosting account. You likely received these in an email when you signed up for your hosting package.

They generally look something like this:

ns1.example.com & ns2.example.com

If you’re using Siteground you can find your DNS in My Accounts then Information & Settings.

DNS settings in Siteground hosting

Now you need to point your domain to these name servers.

Simply log into your domain registrar and find DNS Settings or Domain Name Server Setup.

From there, you can enter your custom name servers.

Hit update and you’re all done. These changes can sometimes take quite a while (up to 72 hours), however, most of the time they should update in a few hours.

Awesome, now the techy stuff is done, it’s time to get creating some brilliant content – nowadays this is incredibly easy with CMS platforms.

Step 3 – Different CMS platforms

Once you’re new website is up and running you’ll need to consider which content management system or CMS you’re going to use.

What is a CMS?

A content management system is a way of controlling what content you add to your website for your visitors to see without needing any technical ability.

Before CMS’s were invented, it was very difficult for everyday website owners like you and me to create new content – it all had to be coded by someone who knew about HTML and CSS etc.

Thankfully those days are long gone and literally anyone can build their own website.

There are over 2 billion websites on the internet and nearly 30% of these are using the WordPress CMS

That’s a ridiculous figure that just goes to show how popular content management systems are.

The website you’re reading now runs on WordPress.

So we know about WordPress but there are other CMSs out there. Here are a few more popular choices:

  • Drupal
  • Joomla
  • ExpressionEngine

And many many more.

Each CMS has their own pros and cons, however, I would advise you setup your website using WordPress.

Due to the huge number of people running WordPress websites, there are hundreds of plugins you can add to your site. What’s more, there’s loads of support out there.

Setting up WordPress on your new website

In this article I’m going to show you how to setup your website using WordPress.

The first step is to install and activate WordPress on your hosting account. You can usually do this by logging in to your cPanel.

If you’re unsure about this or you get stuck at any point, most hosting companies will help you with this step.

Once WordPress is setup you can access your website by typing in your domain name – you should see something like this. This is the 2018 default WordPress theme (more on this later)

Building a website - WordPress 2018

This is what everyone will see when they visit your website.

Obviously we’ve got a lot to do to make your new website more exciting.

This is where WordPress comes into its own.

Setting up your WordPress theme

The next step is to install your preferred theme. A WordPress theme is a group of pre-built files that gives your site a basic layout and design.

There are hundreds of themes available for loads of different categories. From e-zines to e-commerce stores to more basic blog style websites.

You can either use a free theme, which will have basic features and functions or you can buy a more developed theme which will have more comprehensive functions and will look more sophisticated.

Again it comes down to budget but I recommend you start off with a free theme and then migrate your website to a premium theme once the time is right.

There’s nothing stopping you changing your theme on a daily basis as it’s incredibly easy to do within WordPress.

To install a new theme, log in to the backend of your WordPress site and click on Appearance then Themes then Add New.

For those of you who aren’t sure how to log in to the backend of your website type in your domain name and then /wp-admin/

So www.example.com/wp-admin

From there you can browse through and find your favourite theme.

If you’re looking to buy a premium theme, I recommend you check out Themeforest or aThemes. They have a huge range of different themes along with reviews to help you get the most for your money.

Most premium WordPress themes cost around £50.

Step 4 – Adding your first content

Now you’re website is up and running and you’ve installed your preferred theme, it’s time to get creative and add your first piece of content to your new website.

Thanks to our WordPress CMS, this is incredibly easy.

Once you’ve logged in to the back end of your website, simply head to New in the top navigation bar and select whether you want to add a new Post or Page.

Posts and pages – What’s the difference?

There really isn’t a lot of difference between the two, however, posts form the basis of your blog. They appear in reverse chronological order (newest at the top) on the blog section of your website.

Your pages don’t have direct links to them. It’s therefore important to add links to your pages from the navigation bar or other pieces of content on your blog.

Once you’ve decided which format your new content will best suit, it’s time to start writing.

Writing for a purpose

Quality content is the number one way of attracting visitors to your site through organic traffic.

Unfortunately, not enough people write content worthy of the top results on Google’s SERPs (search engine results page).

There’s no point in writing content for the sake of it, the aim is to produce outstanding, thorough content that answers a users search query.

Remember, with SEO and organic traffic, you’re unlikely to see results immediately. This is a long term strategy that will pay dividends 6-12 months down the line.

Keep producing quality content as consistently as you can and you’ll soon start seeing results.

Building a website – conclusion

Overall, building a website is an incredibly rewarding yet, challenging experience.

There’ll be times when you start getting annoyed and frustrated – I know because I did when I first started building a website.

But take a deep breath and push through those annoying spells – you’ll be better for it.

One of the most important things I’ve learnt – The more consistent you are, the more likely you are to succeed.

In that vein, make it a challenge to do something everyday on your website.

Don’t expect immediate results – patience is key.

It’s really that simple.

If you have any questions about building a website for the first time, let me know in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you.

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