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How to Build a Website From Scratch

Follow along this FREE beginner-friendly step-by-step guide and you’ll have your website running in less than an hour.

Starting a business is hard already, but it doesn’t have to get any harder than it has to be. Whether you’re a business owner or want to become a blogger, we’ve written this free guide to help you get your business online. Let’s start so you can learn how to build a website from scratch.

We will cover everything needed for setup:

Step 1: Choose a platform
Step 2: Get a domain and Hosting
Step 3: Install WordPress & Select Your Theme

…and 4 extra steps for optimizing your new websites appearance and functionality.

What are the benefits of having a website?

More than 40,000 searches are conducted on Google per second (3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches worldwide). Facebook alone has over 2.23 billion active users who log in almost daily.

Your potential customers are all online. They’re all looking for you. They’ll make judgement calls based on how your website is built.

Building a website is essential today for a world full of people who’ll search for you on Google, read reviews online, read your blog posts regularly, follow your brand on social media, and stay subscribed to your email – all this to see if you can solve their problem or give them what they need. Therefore having a great online presence is almost crucial.

However, gone are the days when you’d want to look for a designer or developer to help you make a website.

It’s simple as long as you follow these steps down below.

Step 1: Choose a Platform

Website platforms illustration

As on 2018, this is the age of website platforms. You practically don’t need a web designer (unless you can’t do it yourself for some reason, don’t have the time, or just don’t want to deal with it).

Already know that you want to use WordPress to build a website? Skip straight to Step 2: Get a domain and Hosting

Today, we have:

  • Self-hosted and easy to use platforms (also known as CMS / Content Management Systems): WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
  • Specialist e-commerce website platforms: ShopifyBigCommerce, and Volusion
  • Do It Yourself, Drag-and-drop website builders: Wix , Weebly, & SquareSpace

Of all the different ways to help build your website, Wix, Weebly, and WordPress are the most popular. While Wix and Weebly are DIY website builders, WordPress is the most popular and open-source CMS (Content Management System) which eventually evolved into a full-fledged Website platform letting you build absolutely any kind of a website, portal or e-commerce site you’d like.

CMS is a platform that let’s you focus on content and design, while the system is automatically in charge of the “IT-stuff” like page structure, databases, buttons linking to right pages and so on.

WordPress Vs Website Builders

Consider this: Websites built on Wix, Weebly, or SquareSpace stay there. Permanently. They can never be yours. You can’t walk away from them. If any of these businesses go out of “business”, they take your business down with them. Also, website builders tend to be limited in functionality.

Do you really need to take on that kind of risk? WordPress, meanwhile, is open-source. It’s available for free, and it always will be. Everything you have about on your WordPress website is yours to keep.

WordPress is the Best Platform for Beginners

WordPress is the easiest, safest, and the fastest way to your website. Not only is it the best platform for beginners, it’s also widely used to power some of the biggest sites in the world. Here are a few stats about WordPress:

59.5% of the websites using CMS use WordPress.

That’s over 29 million websites.

Source

There’s over 56,500 plugins to use.

Unlikely that you’ll run out of functionality.

Source

Over 20,000 themes to choose from directory.

No design skills needed.

Source

It’s not surprising why WordPress is the platform of choice for everyone, really.

WordPress is easy to setup, install, run, and manage. There are numerous themes, plugins, and other products built for WordPress, and You have no shortage for help (which you’ll often need) from tons of “learn all about it yourself” self-help content on the WordPress official site, communities, blogs, and more. It would take weeks to build websites like these from scratch without all these convenient extras mentioned above.

Apart from that, you have forums and communities around WordPress, that can jump in and help provide support when you need it the most. You have freelancers all the way to well-known communities such as WPMU Dev.

All you need to get started with WordPress is:

  • A domain name
  • A web hosting account that allows you to install WorPpress in 3 clicks or less (almost all hosting companies do).
  • You have to choose a WordPress theme to start building your website.

Before you’re ready to choose your theme and learn how to build a website you need a domain and a hosting.

Step 2: Get a Domain and Hosting

A domain is the name with which your website will be identified with – it could be your own name, your business name, the name of your blog, etc. They usually end with something like “.com”, “.uk”, “.org”, or “.net”.

Pro tip! Today, there’s plenty of other options, like “.pizza” or “.social”, but we suggest to avoid these kinds of endings. They’re much harder to remember than the “old-timers” and can create confusion. Unless “.pizza” fits like a glove, look the other way. Finally, domains like “puppies.pizza” have no benefits other than being weird.

But wait…

Why Buy a domain at all? Aren’t there free options?

You can also get started with an absolutely free presence on platforms such as Blogger, Tumblr, Medium, and more. You could use any of those free services. However, it doesn’t look professional.

Plus, you have absolutely no control over various important things:

  • Create, experiment with, tweak, or change your design or layout.
  • You can’t monetize (or make money) from all the efforts you take.
  • You look unprofessional. Websites with an URL like mybusiness.blogger.com doesn’t look trustworthy.

With your own website on a web hosting service you own, you get to use the Self-hosted version of WordPress.org.

As a result you have complete control on your WordPress website including all aspects of marketing, managing, and controlling everything about your website.

We recommend using Bluehost. They even give you a FREE domain when using their hosting services, more on that below.

How to host your own website?

There are plenty of options when it comes to web hosting providers. If you are just starting out, the easiest, fastest, and the most cost-effective way to get started is to use a shared hosting provider.

Shared hosting means, that multiple websites use shared resources on a single server, which is more than enough for most of the websites in the world.

Bluehost is the leading shared hosting service provider.

  • They’ve been in business for a long time, powering over 2 million websites worldwide
  • The company has reliable servers to give you the best uptime (the total percentage of time that your website is live and active on the web).
  • Excellent support.
  • Fast website loading time compared to other web hosting companies therefore your web pages load faster and you rank better on Google. Plus, you provide a better browsing experience for your visitors.
  • They provide you with the popular cPanel dashboard to help manage your website(s) and domain(s).

Go to Bluehost.com and get started with Domain & Hosting Registration

Now you can start looking for a domain name that best fits your business.

Bluehost provides a free domain with any web hosting plan you pick. So, you don’t have to buy a domain name separately, which usually costs $10 to $12 per year.

Bluehost homepage

Click on “Get started now” to get to web hosting packages that you can select from. The basic package is more than enough for you to get started.

Bluehost hosting plans

Note: You also have the option of selecting the “Pro Version” which gives you website backup to obviate the need for you to manually backup your website regularly. Domain privacy is also a good thing, if you intend to keep the domain owners identity a secret.

Select the package you wish to go with, and select your domain:

Bluehost choose a domain

New domain Enter the domain name of your choice (along with the extension such as .com or .org or others) and wait for Bluehost to confirm availability.

I have a domain name If you already have a domain name (purchased elsewhere like Godaddy.com), use this option instead.

Don’t worry. If you can’t seem to decide on your domain name right away, you can also decide this later.

Tips to Choose Your Domain:

  • If you have a business or if you are starting a personal website, your domain should ideally be the name of your business or your own name (popular extensions are .com, .net, .org, .biz, .agency, .io, .co, etc.).
  • Domain names should be as short as possible, easy to remember, and without any fancy characters.

Bluehost choose domain later

On the next page, you’d have to fill up your details (along with name, address, and payment details) to complete your registration with Bluehost.

Bluehost fill your details

After you sign up, wait for bluehost to confirm your registration.

Bluehost will also send you helpful emails with all the details you need (such as domain, hosting plan details you picked, ftp addresses, important support links, etc.).

Step 3: Install WordPress & Select Your Theme

Login to Bluehost, and you’ll see your Hosting Dashboard

Bluehost dashboard screenshot

The first step is to install WordPress on your domain (you need a domain to install WordPress on. This means that if you haven’t decided on your free domain while signing up, you need to do this first).

On your dashboard Go to the section titled “website” and click on “Install WordPress”.

Bluehost install wordpress button screenshot

For installation to progress, you have to select the domain on which you want your website installed as shown below.

Leave the “directory” field empty.

Bluehost WordPress installation first step screenshot

In the next step, give your website a name (title), your primary email address, admin username, and an admin password. Write down your password and username or let your browser save them for you. Don’t worry, if you forgot or chose not to, you can always recover it with your email.

Bluehost wordpress install second step screenshot

Check all the boxes as shown above, and click on next.

Congratulations! Your domain now has WordPress running on it.

Your WordPress will live on an URL like: https://yourdomain.com (replace “yourdomain” with your actual domain name).

Go to https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin to login to your new WordPress site.

When you click on your own link, you’ll see a login screen:

Wordpress login screen screenshot

Enter the username you’ve created at the time of installation and password to enter your WordPress dashboard.

Step 4: How to Find & How to Install WordPress Themes

WordPress design depends on themes. Think of themes like completely built design kits that you can customize for your brand. Most themes that you get today are responsive (meaning that they look good on desktops, tablets, and mobile phones).

With both free and paid themes in the market, you’ll never be short of inspiring designs that you can use for your business.

After installing WordPress on Your domain, you have several ways to decide the theme for your Website.

Option 1: Use WordPress’s own Gallery

By default, WordPress will be installed on your domain with the WordPress’s default Twenty Eighteen theme. While proceeding with the completion of the installation, you’ll be asked to select a theme from right there, inside Bluehost.

You could select a theme right there, but it’s only optional.

After installation and logging into the back end of your WordPress, you have the option to go to Appearance > Themes

Once you’re there, click on “Add new”

Wordpress appearance themes add new button

Choose from “featured”, “popular”, “latest”, or search for a particular free theme if you have something on your mind.

Wordpress choose a theme screenshot

Find the theme of your choice, hover on the theme and you’ll see options to “Install” or “Preview”.

Wordpress theme install button screenshot

Preview your theme first, and if you are good to go, click on install.

You’ll get a notification that your theme has been installed. Next, click on “Activate”.

After you activate your theme, go back to your customize settings or theme options or both (depending on your theme) to make necessary changes and to customize your theme according to your brand.

Option 2: Third-party marketplaces

There are various marketplaces that sell WordPress themes while also letting you use Free WordPress themes, freemium themes, and paid themes.

Some of the most popular free WordPress themes for blogs are:

And the top 3 free WordPress themes for a business website:

Best Places to Find Paid Themes

There are way too many popular paid themes to mention, but there are a few businesses that develop fantastic themes such as:

Elegant Themes

Powering more than 500,000 websites,Elegant Themes is also the company behind the popular Divi theme, the Divi Builder, and other plugins such as Monarch. Divi and Extra are the most popular themes with Elegant themes along with the popular Divi Builder

YooThemes

With easily the most beautiful WordPress themes in the market today, Yoothemes should be an easy choice to make. YooThemes also has other products such as YooThemes Pro and frameworks such as Warp, UIKit, WidgetKit, and more.

aThemes

As theme developers, athemes is as passionate as they get. With more than 250,000+ customers, aThemes has several free and paid themes (over 32 of them) that you can choose from.

Further, could go to any of the marketplaces such as Envato, Studiopress, and CreativeMarket to purchase paid themes.

Uploading Your Custom Theme To WordPress Backend

Once you select a theme, you’ll be able to download the theme to your computer in a .zip file. From within your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Themes.

Then click on “Add New”.

Wordpress appearance themes add new button

Now click on “Upload themes”.

Wordpress Add New theme screenshot

In the opened panel, upload your .zip theme file.

Once your theme is uploaded, activate it and your website will wear a new look, thanks to your theme.

You can also quickly customize your theme by using WordPress Customizer (Appearance > Customize) and Theme Options (if your particular theme allows it).

Wordpress Customizer screenshot

Step 5: How to Customize, Edit, and Add Content

Before you start adding pages and posts, there are a few basic steps you need to do.

  1. Add a title and tagline for your WordPress website.
  2. Change Permalinks

On the left side panel, go to settings, and click on “General”

Wordpress general settings menu

At the top of the options list on the “General” settings page, add a title for your website (usually the name of your brand or business) and add a tagline for your business. If nothing creative came to mind, don’t worry, you can change these any time you want.

Wordpress site title and tagline screenshot

Next, click on “settings again” and click on “Permalinks”.

Wordpress permalink menu screenshot

On the permalinks page, we need to change the WordPress defaults. Select the permalink option “Post name” as shown below, which should be something like https://yourwebsite.com/post-name/ This URL structure is search engine friendly and should always be preferred.

Creating & Managing Pages

WordPress is all about pages (standalone web pages) and posts (blog posts). From the WordPress menu to the left, click on Pages.

Wordpress pages menu screenshot

When arrived, click on the button “Add New” to get started.

Wordpress add new page screenshot

Fill in the Title and write some Content for your blog. If you’re done, press “Publish” in the right side panel.

Wordpress add new page screenshot

You could start by creating a few simple pages as follows:

  • Home
  • About
  • Blog
  • Contact

Creating & Managing Blog Posts

Just as you’d add and manage pages, you can also add and manage blog posts. From the WordPress menu, click on Posts > Add New.

Wordpress posts menu screenshot

Just like with pages, fill in the Title and Content fields and click “Publish”.

Wordpress post editor WYSIWYG screenshot

You can use the WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor (soon to be replaced by Gutenberg) editor to create your blog posts.

Managing Menus

Your theme will allow you to display your main menu(and secondary menus) in various locations, depending on design. You can easily manage menus by going to Appearances > Menus

Click on “Menus”, and then add pages, links, and other elements to your menu. On the right side, you can also change the position of each block inside your menus by dragging and dropping it to right place. You can also add Sub-menu items by dragging on item on top of the other, so it nudges a bit to the right.

Wordpress menu items list screenshot

Step 6: Final Optimizations

Before you are done, there are a few final customizations you need to make for your website.    

How to change title and tagline

Your website title and tagline are the first things your visitors see (if you are on the default theme) and other themes, depending on how themes are designed. From the left side WordPress menu, click on settings and be sure to enter your website name (as title) and a tagline for your site.

How to set a static front page

WordPress started off as a blogging platform but has evolved to be a great platform for business websites too. As such, you have a way to specify what shows up as the home page for your WordPress site. If you have a blog, you’d want your visitors to see a list of your blog posts. If you have a business website, you’d want your visitors to see a home page (static page).

You can customize this by going to Appearance > Customize > Home Page Settings

Disabling comments

In some cases, you may not want comments to be enabled (for any of your pages, for example). Go to settings > Reading > Disable comments.

How to Edit Sidebar

Your sidebar shows up alongside your blog page and then alongside every single blog posts. This is usually a widgetized area and you can add widgets to show up on the blog.

To add Widgets, go to Appearance > Widgets> Select widgets to add. 

Several themes give you several options to manage your side bar (or choose not to display it at all).

Step 7: Plugins

There are literally thousands of plugins available that help extend the functionality of WordPress. Your website will depend on several plugins, depending on what you need done. Having too many plugins, of course,is not a good idea since it can slow your website down. Also, too many plugins is a management headache along with the risk of not being compatible with the latest versions of WordPress.

Be judicious in your choice of plugins. Keep only those plugins that you absolutely need. Always update your plugins when they’re made available.

Our Must Have Plugins:

Out of the several thousands of plugins available, there are a few plugins that you just have to upload to WordPress. Our chosen trio of plugins are as follows:

Yoast SEO

The Yoast SEO plugin helps you optimize your pages and posts for SEO. Truly, it’s the only SEO plugin you’ll ever need.

Google Analytics

You can’t grow if you can’t measure. Google Analytics is a fantastic tool that Google provides and you should integrate your website with Google Analytics. To make it easier for you, the Google Analytics plugin is a great choice.

Contact Form 7

You’ll inadvertently use contact forms to allow your website visitors to interact with you, reach out to you, etc. Contact Form 7 is a great plugin to help you setup working contact forms quickly and easily on your site.

Here you go! You’ve successfully created a website.

Want to learn more about WordPress and how to market your website?

Now that you know How to Build a Website from Scratch, you should spend some time on growing your site’s audience.

Read our 30-page WordPress for Dummies guide and learn how to:

  • optimize your new website with additional tasks and tips
  • create a basic marketing plan and choose you channels
  • supercharge your marketing with additional plugins and features
  • gain new visitors and therefore leads or readers

Just like this one, it’s completely free and is beginner friendly.