Step 1: Choose WordPress as your website platform
There are many website platforms that you can use when building a new site. There’s only one king on top of the mountain – and it’s WordPress. Every one in three websites that you visit is built on WordPress, according to data from StatuteWeb.
Step 2: Pick a name for your website, buy a domain & hosting
It’s a really good idea to construct your website’s name around either the name of your organization or a phrase associated with the niche you’re in, but with added words for better brandability.
Here’s a quick tool you can use to find out if the domain name you’re interested in is available:
Start by inputting a seed keyword that defines your website well.
A) Buying Your Domain Name And Hosting
There are tens if not hundreds of different companies that can register a new domain name for you. Then, there are also tons of companies that can sell you a hosting package.
B) Telling Hostinger To Install WordPress For You
While you technically can install WordPress manually, why would you if you can get other people to do it for you, and for free! Here’s how. Hostinger will show you an easy to use wizard that takes you through the process of installing WordPress on your hosting setup.
Step 3: Get familiar with the WordPress UI
You can log in to your WordPress user panel if you go to www.YOURDOMAIN.com/wp-admin/
After logging in successfully, you’ll see the main WordPress interface in all its glory:
(1) Welcome message – Some of the most important areas of the admin panel listed as quick
shortcuts links – these are usually your shortcuts to how to make a website.
(2) The current status of your site and what’s going on with it.
(3) Posts – go here to create blog posts.
(4) Media – upload/manage images and other media files here.
(5) Pages – go here to create sub-pages.
(6) Comments – this is where you can moderate comments.
(7) Appearance – change your site’s design here and/or customize how certain things are displayed on the current design.
(8) Plugins – install new plugins here.
(9) Users – manage user accounts that can access the admin panel of the website.
(10) Settings – the main settings.
At this stage, it’s good to take care of some basic getting-started WordPress settings that will improve your experience further down the road.
A) Set Permalinks
Permalinks define how individual web page addresses are structured within your site. The most optimized structure is to have the page’s title in the URL. To set your permalinks, go to Settings → Permalinks from the main sidebar in your WP dashboard.
B) Making Your Site Public
I guess you want Google to be able to find and index your website. To make sure that’s the case, go to Settings → Reading, and make sure that the box labeled “Discourage search engines …” is unchecked.
C) Set Your Website Title And Tagline
Some themes display the site title and tagline on the homepage and in the SEO description. The tagline is optional – you can leave it blank if you don’t have a tagline for the site. Google uses this information when listing your website on the search results pages.
D) Allow Or Disable Comments
Whether or not you want to accept comments on your website is up to you.
On the one hand, letting readers leave their opinions and questions under your articles/pages can be great for building a community around the website. But, on the other, you’ll also have your hands busy dealing with spam and making sure that there’s no trolling.
Whether you’ll end up allowing or disabling comments, it can be done in Settings → Discussion.
E) Disable Pingbacks And Trackbacks
I don’t know why this setting is even still in WordPress. It’s mostly a leftover from back in the day when pingbacks and trackbacks were a thing.
Though, if you want to learn how to make a website in this day and age, you can simply deactivate them by deselecting the following setting in Settings → Discussion.
F) Set Your Time Zone
You can set the time zone in Settings in General for your blog or website. This will make publishing new pages and posts more predictable.
Step 4: Pick a theme / design for your website
The great thing about WordPress is that it works with interchangeable designs – called themes.
Meaning, you can switch the way your WordPress website looks with just one click.
For example, this is what a WordPress website looks by default, right after the installation:
With just a couple of clicks, and with a popular free theme called Hestia, for example, we can get it to look like this:
A) Pick A Theme That You Like
WordPress themes are out-the-box design packages that define the way your website looks. They don’t change the contents of your site but only alter the presentation. For most users, free themes are a great option to start with and can be easily changed.
B) Install Your Theme
If the theme you’ve chosen is available in the official directory at WordPress.org then the only thing you need in order to install it is the theme’s name. Yep. That’s it.
Here’s how theme installation is done:
Go to Appearance → Themes from your WordPress dashboard and then click on “Add New.”
From there, input the name of the theme that you want to install, like so:
You’ll see it displayed on the list right side the search field. Just click on the Install button under your desired theme:
Hestia is one of those themes that offer some excellent onboarding for new users. To see what the theme has in store for you, click on the “Activate” button from the welcome prompt. After a second, the theme will be installed on your site.
You’ll see your main Hestia panel from which you can learn about the theme and extend its out-the-box features with some extras. Let’s do that now.
First, click on the “Recommended Actions” link to see what’s available.
Out of the options proposed there, let’s go with only “Orbit Fox Companion” for now. Just click the “Install and activate” button.
Orbit Fox Companion is a plugin for the popular Hestia theme. You can see it in action by going to YOURDOMAIN.com or yourdomain.com.
C) Customize The Theme
While the out-the-box look of your theme might be already quite nice, you should still do some basic customizations to make it fit your needs hand-in-glove.
To begin, go to Appearance → Customize. You’ll see the main WordPress Customizer interface.
From there, you can fine-tune a load of things. We’ll start with the homepage, since it’s the most representative.
Setting up your homepage.
Do the following:
(1) In the sidebar, go to “Homepage Settings.”
(2) Select the option, “A static page” under your homepage display setting.
(3) Click on “Add New,” to create a new page to act as your homepage.
(4) Input the name for the page – “HOME” seems like a good idea – and click on “Add.”
For starters, let’s change the main headline on the page. It’s a good idea to put either the name of your business there or anything else that serves as the title for the entire site.
To make the changes, click on the pencil icon that’s next to the headline.
When you do so, a customization panel will appear on the left.
Through it, you can:
- Change the background image – Make it something related to your business
- Change the title
- Change the text under the title – You can remove this completely if you want to
- Change the button text – Usually leading to your products or most crucial pages (more on that in a minute)
Underneath that, you get to adjust any of the other available homepage blocks. By default, you get all of these (see this list by going to “Frontpage Sections” from the Customizer sidebar):
- The Features section is a great place to explain what your company has to offer or what the purpose of the website is – that “purpose” is probably the no.1 thing to keep in mind as you learn how to make a website.
- The About section is a great place to talk about your story.
- The Team section you can use if more people work in your business and you’d like to highlight them.
- The Ribbon is another place where you can mention your primary call to action.
- The Testimonials section is awesome when you want to showcase what your previous customers had to say about your business.
- The Contact section is where you can display your contact information and let people know how to best reach you.
There are also a handful of more sections available. It’s best to browse through those and pick the ones that make sense to use for your business and in your specific situation.
When you’re done adjusting the homepage, don’t forget to click on the main “Publish” button that’s at the top.
Adjusting The Typography
You can do that by going to Appearance Settings → Typography from the WordPress Customizer sidebar. In there, you will be able to pick a font and see it on your site immediately.
The Accent Color is usually the color used for buttons, links, and everything else that’s meant to stand out from the rest of the site’s design. You can change this setting in the WordPress Customizer. Just click on Colors in the main sidebar..
After doing the above, your website will start feeling like it’s truly yours. You will have made all the necessary tune-ups and customizations to make it fit with your brand.
Step 5: Get plugins to extend your website’s abilities
You can get some great features without knowing any coding with these plugins. They extend the standard functionality of your site by adding some much-needed features. Installing plugins is simple – all you need is the plugin’s name and a little bit of programming know-how.
Step 6: Create basic pages
There are some pages that all websites should have, regardless of their purpose or goal.
But first, how to even create a page in the first place:
To do that, simply go to your WordPress dashboard, and then Pages → Add New. You’ll see this screen:
(1) A place for the headline of the page.
(2) The body section – the main content of the page. The interface is very similar to MS Word. You get all the basic text formatting features (like bold, italics, aligning text to left/right/center, creating lists, etc.).
(3) You can add images by clicking this button.
(4) Switch between the Text and Visual editors. Use the former only if you’re at least vaguely familiar with HTML code.
(5) The Publish section. This is where the main Publish button is.
(6) Discussion. Decide whether or not you want to allow comments. The “trackbacks and pingbacks” setting you can leave unchecked.
(7) Featured image. Most WordPress themes take that featured image and display it somewhere in a prominent spot alongside your page. When you’re done editing the page’s content, click on “Publish.”
When you’re done editing the page’s content, click on “Publish.”
Now, with the how-to out of the way, here are the pages you should consider creating:
About – I’ve mentioned this a couple of times now since it’s really an important one. Your About page is where you get to tell the story of what your website is and why people should pay attention. This one page is basically a must-have for everyone who wants to learn how to make a website.
Contact – this is where you can display some contact info along with a nice contact form, through which people can reach you directly (you can get such a form via the aforementioned WPForms plugin).
Portfolio – a place for you to showcase your past work.
Store – a crucial thing if you want to sell anything from your site. To make this work, you also need a popular WooCommerce plugin – the best e-commerce solution for WordPress.
Step 7: Consider starting a blog
A blog is among the most effective ways to promote your website and products online. 55% of marketers say that blogging is their top inbound marketing priority. To create a blog post, all you need to do is go to Posts → Add New (from your WordPress dashboard).
Once you’re done working on a blog post, click on “Publish.”
To make your posts easily accessible, you should designate one of your pages to serve as the main blog listing for the posts.
- To do it, first, go to Pages → Add New and create a blank page. Call it “BLOG” – just to make things clear.
- Next, go to Settings → Reading, and select your newly created Blog page as the “Posts page” like so:
At this stage, you can navigate to that new page and see all your recent blog posts there.
Step 8: Adjust your site navigation
With all your key pages online (and perhaps your blog started as well), it’s now a good moment to adjust your site’s navigation and make it overall easier to consume for the visitors.
We’ll focus on two elements here:
Menus are the primary vehicle through which visitors navigate your site. Depending on your theme, you will have a couple of options to choose from regarding menu settings (on Hestia’s example, for example).
First, go to Appearance → Menus in your WordPress dashboard.
You’ll see this default panel:
To the right of the screen, you can see the menu structure and all its settings. To the left, there are all the pages you can choose to add to a menu. The great thing about this whole panel is that you can drag and drop the menu items to reorder them.
When you go to your site now, you’ll see the menu in place.
Widgets are an old-school feature in WordPress. A widget is a small block of content that can be displayed in various places around the website. To see what this might look like and to set your widgets, go to Appearance → Widgets in your WordPress dashboard.
The Hestia theme offers a number of widget areas apart from the sidebar or the footer, but let’s not focus on those additional placements for now.
To add any widget to a widget area, just grab it from the left-hand side and drag-and-drop it onto your chosen widget area on the right.
After you’re done with your widgets and navigation, your site is basically ready for the world to see!