It’s time to build your first website. Whether you’re building a site for a new stream of income, a genius business idea, or to finally create a website for your brick and mortar store, this post will give you all the website building tools you need to make the perfect site. Creating a website used to take some serious technical skills, but today with the advent of intuitive beginner-friendly website builders creating a website couldn’t be easier. You can literally go from nothing to a live website in a single afternoon, even if you’ve never built a website before.
Below you’ll learn how to build your very first website with a website builder—even if you have no idea, or have never touched a line of code before in your life. We cover things like generating a great idea for your site, choosing the right kind of builder, essential pages your site must have, and a lot more.
What If I Have No Idea How to Build a Website?
If you’re building a site for your existing business, or already have an idea for your site, then feel free to skip this section. For those still stuck on the idea generation phase, this section should inspire you and get you moving in the right direction.
The best websites exist for a certain purpose. Usually, to provide a specific need to a specific group of people. There are multiple styles of websites that exist, but the ones that succeed are very focused and provide value to their visitors.
Take a look at some of these examples:
- Greatist provides trust-worthy health content that’s backed by science.
- Nerd Fitness is a health-based site for nerds and everyday people.
- Wellness Mama is a health and wellness blog that focuses specifically on mothers.
- Fatherly is a parenting blog that focuses on fathers.
All of the sites above are incredibly successful and all focus on serving a very targeted audience. It’s much more difficult to make general sites a success. The best approach is to start with a small niche and expand outward in time. Once you’ve successfully served a niche then branch out into a related niche, do this time and time again and you’ll have a massive site that serves a very wide audience.
If you’re still unsure about what kind of site you want to create, then spend some time with the following questions:
- What topics do I deeply care about?
- What kind of sites do I find myself on all the time?
- What kind of problems would I like to solve for people?
- Are there any gaps in the market your website could kill?
- Are people actually spending money in this space?
The best websites have overlap between what you care about and what people are spending money on. This will ensure that you can not only generate traffic, but revenue to sustain you as well.
Why You Should Use a Site Builder to Create Your Site
When you decide to build out your site you’re going to have a lot of different options to explore. If you’re just starting out, then the best course of action is going to be using a website builder.
You can choose a CMS like WordPress, but the learning curve is going to be much steeper, and it’ll take a lot longer to build out your site. You will have more control over the end result, but you’ll either have to hire someone to build your site or invest the time to learn the ins and outs of the platform.
The other option is learning how to code yourself. This will take the most time of all, but it will give you the most creative freedom. However, unless you’re considering going into a web development career, this option isn’t recommended.
Leaving us with the best option for beginners, using a website builder. Website builders are incredibly popular today and they cater directly to those who have never built a site before.
Instead of dealing with a complex CMS, or learning how to code yourself, you just drag and drop your way towards your first website. Website builders also have the massive benefit of being designed and built by professionals, so the template you choose will be in alignment with the latest web standards.
How to Build Your Website: The Step-by-Step Guide
By now you should be equipped with a solid website idea. Whether you used the process above to determine what kind of site you’re going to create, or you already have a direction, you can use the process below to build your site in record time.
Website builders make creating your site simple, so the chances of you getting stuck during the design process is pretty low. But, if you do get stuck there are a variety of helpful tutorials you can consult that will help you move past any tough spots.
Here are the site building basics to follow when using a website builder:
1. Plan Your Site Before You Build
Before you start building out your website you’ll want to have a plan of attack. This will help to speed up the process of building your site and give you direction once you fire up your website builder.
You should already have a general idea of what kind of site you’re building per the section above. Think of the following questions like a compass, they’ll help to refine your vision and get you moving towards your end goal.
Spend some time with the following questions to help structure your website:
- Will you be selling any physical or digital products, and require eCommerce functionality?
- Will you be trying to convert visitors into clients for your service-business?
- Will the focus on your site be on content creation, or will a blog be secondary?
Next, we’ll be looking at a few questions that relate to your audience. The deeper you understand your audience the more likely your site will resonate with them.
Take a look a the following questions to dig deep into your audience:
- What problem is my website hoping to solve?
- How am I going to address this problem in a unique way?
- Where else does my audience hang out online? Blogs? Social media? Subreddits?
- What gender is my audience? Their income? Their work? Their habits and hobbies?
Equipped with answers to the questions above you’ll be well suited to start building your website.
2. Secure Your Domain Name and Host
Knowing what kind of site you’re going to build is great. But, in order to have a website that can actually be accessed by other people on the internet you’re going to need to register a domain name and a web host.
So, how do domain names work? A domain name is essentially the chosen website title that people will type into a browser’s address bar, while your web hosting is where you’ll actually store your website’s files. With these two elements working together you’re laying the foundation to create a beautiful and functional website.
There are multiple ways you can secure a domain name and website hosting package. In fact, there are at least dozens of different web hosts and domain name providers for you to choose from.
Some people might be enticed to use a free website builder and domain name provider. The most common of these is using something like WordPress.com, here you’ll get a domain name like “newsite.wordpress.com”, and you’ll have a selection of free themes and layout options to choose from. These are valuable for certain projects, but not if you’re taking your website and online success seriously.
Regarding hosting you’ll find not only a ton of different providers to choose from, but you’ll find a variety of hosting styles as well. For example, there is shared hosting, dedicated hosting, VPS hosting, WordPress hosting, and more.
But, if this is your first site then keep an eye out for shared hosting. This is the most common form of hosting available and will be the best fit for a majority of new websites. Most website owners start with a shared hosting package and upgrade to more powerful forms of hosting in time.
Not only that, but shared hosting is one of the cheapest forms of hosting out there. With shared hosting, you’re effectively splitting the cost of the server resources with a ton of other users.
If you’re looking for the easiest way to pick up a rock solid host and your dream domain name at the same time, then check out HostGator.
Here’s how you can pick up a hosting package and get a domain name for free.
First, head over to the HostGator hosting page and select your hosting plan.
On the next screen, you’ll be able to register a new domain name. You might have to enter multiple domain names until you find one that is available.
Then, enter your payment information and you’re all set.
The best part about buying your domain name and hosting from the same provider is they are automatically linked, and you avoid the complex task of pointing your domain name towards your host.
3. Choose Your Website Building Platform
There are multiple ways for you to build your website. You can use one of many website builders, a CMS, or even build your site from scratch. If this is your first time building a website, then you’ll probably want to use a website builder.
These tools are built to be as beginner-friendly as possible. With a website builder, you can build an elegant website without having to touch a line of code.
Like your hosting and domain name choice above there are probably dozens of different website builders you can use. But, if you’re already a HostGator customer, then you can use the integrated website builder.
This tool is very beginner-friendly and equipped with hundreds of themes to help you build the perfect website. Plus, it’s a drag and drop builder, so you can literally just use your mouse or trackpad to build your entire website.
Here’s how you can fire up the HostGator website builder.
First, fire up your cPanel.
Once cPanel opens up look for an icon that says ‘Website Builder’, it should be right at the top under the ‘Popular Links’ section.
On the next screen, you’ll select the domain name you want to build on, then click ‘Start Building’.
Now, you’re ready to start building your site!
4. Select Your Website Template
The first thing you’ll need to do is select your website builder template. This will act as the foundation of your website. You can search by category, keyword, or just browse through the entire collection until you find a theme you like.
You’ll find a ton of different themes to choose from. Most are industry-specific, but you can technically customize any provided template to fit your niche. However, it can be easier to build your site with a template that’s at least related to your site in some fashion.
For the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to choose a theme in the Pet niche. Once you’ve found a theme that you like just hover over it and click ‘Select’.
Note that you can preview any template before you decide to start customizing your site.
5. Start Customizing Your Site
Once you’ve selected your template you’ll be taken to the template customizer. You might want to spend a few minutes clicking around the screen to get a feel for the tool. Overall, it’s pretty simple, when you click on an existing page element a window will pop-up with the available customization options.
For example, here’s the customization menu when we click on the existing header.
As you scroll down you’ll notice different page sections that you can customize as well. You’ll be able to edit things like the existing text, color, font, size, and a lot more.
You can even add additional sections to each page by clicking the ‘Sections’ tab on the left-hand side, then selecting ‘Add New Section’. Here you’ll find a wide array of different pre-built elements you can add to your site.
Beyond customizing the existing pages you’ll probably want to add more pages to your site.
Clicking on the ‘Pages’ menu on the left-hand side will show you which pages are already built. In this case, you’ll see that the Home, About, Services, and Contact pages are all already created.
If you want to add more pages click on ‘Manage Pages’ then ‘Add Page’.
Next, we’ll show you how to use a website builder for blogs, which is also pretty easy. Just click on the ‘Blog’ option on the left-hand menu, then select ‘Create a Blog’. Here you’ll be able to select the blog template you want to use by hovering over your choice and selecting ‘Create’.
This will add the blog page to your site and give you the option to create and publish your blog posts. Clicking the ‘Manage Posts’ option will allow you to manage any existing posts and create new blogs too.
Feel free to customize your site as much as you desire. When it comes to building your site, less is more. You don’t want to overwhelm your visitors when they land on your site. Think of your website like an oasis in the desert. Your visitor should be comfortable and cared for when they land on your website.
6. Launch Your New Website
Once you’re satisfied with how your site looks and functions it’s time for your launch! The last thing you want to do before you start sharing your site with the world is double-check everything.
It’s common to have links that don’t work, typos, and even pages that don’t quite look right. Go through every page on your site with a fine-toothed comb. Even though you’re probably excited to start showing off your new website you’ll want to create a good impression in the eyes of your visitors.
Once you’re finished, go through a checklist to review your website before launching it to the public.. Since you’re utilizing HostGator for your hosting and domain name, then your site should already be live.
Remember, that building a successful site is a marathon and not a sprint. It can be easy to get discouraged, especially once the initial excitement of building a website wears off. But, with consistent effort on the right activities your site’s traffic will grow.
With a website builder by your side, it couldn’t be easier to learn how to build a website, whether it’s for your small business or a personal endeavor. If you followed the steps above then you’re on your way towards having a website live on the internet! The cool thing about using the HostGator website builder is you can build your site quickly, and even change your template down the road if the need arises.
Remember to spend time planning out your site before you start building it. With direction about what you’re going to create, you’ll sail through the website building process, instead of getting stumped with questions.
The final thing to remember is that at some point you’ll need to launch your website. There are always endless things you can do to tweak your site or things you can perfect, but at a certain point, this becomes procrastination. Your site will evolve over time, so it’s always a good idea to just bite the bullet and launch.