Have you always dreamed of learning how to create a website? Well, with today’s tools this reality is closer than you might think.
In the past, creating your website meant learning how to code, or hiring out the work to a web design professional. But today there are a myriad of tools and approaches you can take to build your very own website in record time.
Whether you want to build a site for your small business, create a simple eCommerce shop, or make a simple blog to share your thoughts with the world—this post is for you.
Below you’ll learn how to make a website of your very own. We’ll dive into the foundational steps you’ll need to take before you start building, which website building tools and platforms you should use, and finally walk you through two different approaches of building out your site.
What to Do Before You Start Building Your Website
Before you start building your site, there are specific foundational steps you’ll need to take.
Namely, choosing which website building route you’re going to take. We can probably rule out building out your site from scratch. This path takes too much time, and the end result will be lackluster at best.
Instead, it’s a better idea to use a Content Management System (CMS), or a website builder, like the one offered here at HostGator:
With a CMS or website builder behind you, you’ll be able to accelerate the process of building a website significantly, plus the end result will be a highly-functional and professional website.
Beyond choosing what tool you’re going to be using to make your website, you’ll also need to secure a domain name and hosting, but don’t worry, we’ll walk you through this step-by-step below.
Deciding on Your Website CMS
As mentioned above, you’re most likely going to be choosing between WordPress and a website builder to create a website.
Here’s a look at these two options in depth, so you can decide which option best suits your needs. You’ll also learn how to build a website using both of these approaches below, so we’ve got you covered no matter which one you choose.
Why Use WordPress?
WordPress currently powers over 30% of the entire internet. That alone should tell you about the power, flexibility, and usefulness of this tool.
There is a bit of a learning curve, but with the sheer amount of helpful tutorials out there online, it’s easy enough to teach yourself. WordPress is popular in large part due to its flexibility. It can be used to build small personal blogs, all the way up to massive online magazines and eCommerce sites.
Essentially, WordPress gives you the ability to build a highly custom professional site. All you have to do is install WordPress on your server, pick a theme, and add more features via their extensive library of popular plugins.
Getting your site exactly right will take some time as there are a lot more moving pieces at play. You can still get a basic site online rather quickly, but mastering WordPress, along with the ins-and-outs of your site will take some time.
Why Use a Website Builder?
WordPress can help you build a highly custom and robust site. But, some users might not need all that flexibility. When it comes to ease of use, website builders reign supreme.
There are dozens of different website builders to choose from, but the core focus remains the same: to help total beginners create a professional site in the shortest amount of time possible.
Typically, you won’t have access to the same level of features as you would using a platform like WordPress. But, some site builders won’t need that extensive of a feature set.
If you want to build a relatively basic website that still looks incredibly professional, then using a website builder is the way to go.
With a website builder, all you have to do is fire up your tool of choice, select a professionally designed template, customize your site and add content with the easy drag-and-drop builder, and you’re good to go.
Hopefully, by now, you feel more comfortable in choosing the right tool or platform to build your site. Now, it’s finally time to start building.
How to Make a Website
Below you’ll learn the process of creating a website completely from scratch. Even if you’ve never built a website before, just follow the steps below and you’ll be fine:
Step 1. Secure Hosting and a Domain Name
Before you can start building your website, you’re going to need a domain name and hosting.
Your host is where you’re going to be storing all of your website files, while your domain name is what your visitors will type into their browsers to access your website. Without these two elements, it’s impossible to have a website that’s accessible on the internet.
There are a myriad of different places you can purchase your hosting and domain name–one of them being right here at HostGator. You can purchase these separately or together, but it can be beneficial to buy them from the same place, as it’ll save you some technical steps you’ll have to do later.
To sign up for hosting head over to the HostGator hosting page and select your plan of choice.
On the next screen, you can even register a new domain while you complete the rest of your hosting account setup. Easy, right?
Or, you can register your domain the standard way by heading over to the HostGator Domains page and searching for and selecting a domain there.
Once these two things are wrapped up, you can start building your site!
Step 2. Lay Out Your Website Foundation
Before you start designing your website, you’ll want to have an idea of the type of site you’re going to build. Spend some time going through other websites in your niche to get an idea of the kind of design elements you like, and what you can improve on.
By taking note of different website elements you like, you’ll make it easier to find the right theme or website template.
Once you have an idea of the physical look you’re going for it’s time to plan out your content and site structure.
Think about the reason you’re building a website. These questions might help:
- Are you building a website for your physical storefront?
- Are you creating an online business?
- Do you need eCommerce capabilities?
- Are you building a simple blog?
By knowing the type of site you’re building, you’ll be able to choose the right template much faster. By going in blind, you’ll have to wade through hundreds or even thousands to find one that fits.
Now, it’s time to plan out the structure of your website. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be too complicated. Most sites all have the same general set of pages:
- Home page
- About page
- Contact page
- Services/Product page
Whether you’re using a website builder or WordPress, all of these pages will be easy to create.
Step 3. How to Design Your Website
As a beginner designing your site, the best approach is to rely upon the professionally created designs of others. Luckily, using both WordPress and a website builder will give you this option.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of the two different ways you can build a website: with WordPress or a website builder.
Option 1: Create Your Website With WordPress
With WordPress, the design of your site will be handled via your theme. Once you’ve installed WordPress on your host, navigate to the backend of your website, it should be a link that looks like the following: https://mysite.com/wp-admin.
Once you’re in your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Themes>Add New.
Here you can browse themes, search for a specific theme, or even search by keywords. Once you’ve found a theme you like hover over it and click ‘Install’, then ‘Activate’.
Depending on the theme you’ve chosen, you’ll have different customization options. You’ll either be given a settings page within your theme, or you’ll use the built-in customizer which you can access by navigating to Appearance>Customize.
No matter which method you choose you’ll find a ton of different options that’ll allow you to change things like, your background, sitewide colors, header options, menu display, site layout, and more.
Creating Website Pages with WordPress
Adding pages to your site is a pretty simple task. All you have to do is navigate to Pages>Add New.
Then, type in the name of your page and add your body text, images, and more.
Adding Website Features via WordPress Plugins
Finally, you’ll probably want to customize your site further. Plugins are how WordPress handles adding more features to your site.
These may run in the background, like SEO or security plugins. Or, they can be used to help customize your front-end functionality, like social media sharing.
This is just a brief rundown to provide you with enough information to build a solid site foundation. You’ll want to spend more time experimenting, customizing, and tweaking your site to perfection.
Option 2: Create Your Website With a Website Builder
If you decided to use a website builder to create your site, then this section is for you.
For the sake of the tutorial below, we’re going to be using the Gator website builder.
Our Gator website builder is equipped with dozens of potential themes across a range of different niches. Once you open up the builder, the design template selection is the first thing you’ll see.
The template you choose will act as the foundation for your entire site. So it’s worth spending time finding the perfect template for your needs. Although you can customize your template with the drag-and-drop builder, the final design will end up looking similar.
Once you’ve found the template you’d like to use hover over it and click ‘Select.’
On the next screen, you’ll be able to start customizing your template.
Once you click on any existing website element, you’ll be given a list of options for the customizations you can make. This can range from adding new content blocks, to changing fonts, text, and even adding new design elements.
The Gator website builder is definitely worth playing around with. Once you have all of your desired elements on the page, you can rearrange them by dragging and dropping them around the screen. It really couldn’t be easier.
Here’s more good news: adding new pages is just as easy. Just click “Add New” and then you can start writing your content.
Over to You: It’s Time to Create Your Website
As you can see, creating your own website is way easier than it has ever been before. With the power of WordPress or a website builder behind you, it’s dead simple to create your own website without the help of a web design professional.
If you’ve completed all of the steps above, then you now have a website that’s ready for the web! Congratulations!
No matter if you choose to take the WordPress approach, or create your website using a website builder, you’ll soon have a website ready to show the world – and HostGator can help you get there!
Remember, most websites are truly never finished. As you learn more about your audience, experiment with content, and test your results, your site will grow and evolve. The beauty of using the website building tools highlighted in this post is you can quickly make these changes yourself, learning more about how your website works in the process.