Whether you’re considering building a brand new website or want to redo your current website, you’re faced with some basic, but important, decisions.
In this guide, we are going to help you with these decisions by showing your choices and explaining how specific options will fit your unique needs. We’ll cover everything from understanding what type of website you need and choosing a domain name, to the finishing touches that will help you launch your website successfully, no matter what your goals are.
Also, we’ll show you how to use specific tools or systems to create your site. As an example, we’ll explain how you can make a website step-by-step with one of the most popular content management system (CMS) WordPress.org.
The essential steps to launch a website:
- Understand what type of site you need
- Pick a domain name and hosting provider
- Install and setup WordPress CMS
- Design your site and make it look great
- Write and prepare your content
- Test before and after launch
We hope that you are excited at the prospect of having your website. Now, let’s look at what are the steps you need to take to get it right.
Understand what type of site you need
There are different types of websites. The type, or combination types, you choose, will depend on what you want to achieve with your site and the functionality you’ll need to accomplish this.
Following are the main types of websites:
Blog or website with a blog. A blog can be an extra feature for any website, or it can be a separate kind of site on its own. Blogs are usually arranged in chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top of the main page and older entries toward the bottom.
Recommended reading: How to Start a Blog in 2018
Business card site. For some small businesses, a simple one-page website with the name, description, contact info and maybe a logo may be all that’s needed. You can also include some product information, but the basic concept is a one-page website that represents your company or yourself.
Portfolio site. A portfolio site is similar to business card website, except you’ll have a section on the web page where you showcase your work and give people options for contacting you. Photography studios commonly use this type of website, so do design firms and other creative endeavors.
Product brochure site. This kind of website is an extension of your company’s sales and marketing efforts. You’ll be able to include goods and services your business offers for visitors to browse through. This website may include some pricing guidelines but doesn’t enable customers to make purchases online.
E-commerce site. With an e-commerce site, you’ll be able to showcase your products or services and allow visitors to buy them online. At first, the setup process for an ecommerce site may seem daunting, but there are many simplified methods and tools on the internet today that will enable you to sell online.
Select the right tool to build a website
With so many options available today, it can be difficult to choose the best instruments for the job. Choosing the platform upon which you build your site will be one of the most important decisions you make. This choice is critical because you’ll be tied to that platform for some time and it’s never easy (or possible) to move your website from one platform to another.
Website building solutions can be divided into two groups: self-hosted content management systems and hosted web builder platforms.
The best and most popular tool for making a website is WordPress content management systems (CMS). It’s recommended by 90 percent of experts we’ve surveyed.
You can make any website with WordPress, be it one-page business card website, a site with a blog, and even an e-commerce website.
Pick a domain name and hosting provider
To create your new website with the recommended WordPress platform, you’ll need a domain name and web hosting provider.
Once you’ve selected the right platform for your site, you need to start thinking of a domain name. This domain will be yourname.com, yourbusiness.com or something similar.
If you’re marketing yourself, you’ll want to use your first and last name. Think johnsmith.com. Even if you aren’t promoting yourself, it’s not a bad idea to get your name as a domain now, in case you want to use it in the future. If you are marketing your business, you will want to use your company name. Think “yourbusiness.com.”
For most websites, the first goal when choosing a domain name is to get the .com top-level domain whenever possible. Here is a useful guide to help you learn the details and secrets to selecting a valid domain name.
Recommended reading: How to choose a domain name
Web hosting provider
After choosing a domain name, selecting reliable hosting services will be one of the most important decisions you make. To a large degree, the functionality and performance of your website will depend on your hosting provider. The host makes sure your site is available to potential readers 24/7, and it’s where your files are stored online.
The wrong web host can cause many problems with your website. Just imagine choosing a mobile company that has no reception. Your web host is a major piece of the puzzle to maintaining a successful internet site. Therefore, it’s crucial that you choose a reliable provider.
Most hosting companies also offer domain registration services. Some people keep their domain name with the registrar company, separate from the hosting account. We recommend keeping it all in your hosting account for hassle-free management and maintenance.
We highly recommend Bluehost, which powers over 2 million websites worldwide. And for our visitors only, they offer an exclusive deal that includes a FREE domain name.
Install and setup WordPress CMS
There are two ways to install WordPress: one-click install (recommended) and manual install (advanced)
While each host has slightly different control panels, the installation process will be similar. If you signed up with Bluehost, our recommended hosting provider, you’d find it very easy to setup a WordPress site. You’ll see an icon on the host’s control panel that says “Install WordPress.” It’s as simple as clicking that icon and following the step-by-step instructions to install the latest version of WordPress.
This section provides detailed information to help you signup for web hosting account. We also included screenshots of the pages that you need to go through.
Use this link to get the special deal from Bluehost. Then click the “Get Started Now” button.
You should start by selecting your plan. If this is your very first one, you should go with the basic one – at
least until you explore your options. The one called plus should be able to cover all your needs once you get your
blog going, and you should consider the pro version once your popularity skyrockets.
Your domain name has an important say when it comes to the future success of your blog, so you should take your time to come up with something new. Just type in a desired domain in this “new domain” box and BlueHost will show you whether it’s available or not. If not, it will provide you with a list of similar names for you to choose from.
After you pick out your domain name, BlueHost will take you to the registration page where it will be required from you to fill in your personal info including the billing data. A couple of minutes is all you need.
Pay additional attention to your hosting options. Obviously, the 12 month package has the lowest price, but the other two are great when you want to make a long term investment. You can feel free to uncheck the rest of the boxes – you can always get them later when you find them necessary.
After you enter your payment information, you’re ready to set your password which will be used for account verification purposes.
After successfully creating your new password you will be able to login to your account.
When you enter your new account, you will be given the option to choose a WordPress theme which can make your website look better. If you don’t like any of the themes provided by Bluehost, simply go to the WordPress.org repository and find one that you like. .
Once you’ve chosen a theme, everything will be ready to create your website. Do this by logging in to your WordPress dashboard.
When you login, you will be greeted by a “Welcome” message and offered help with creating your site by Bluehost. You can accept the offered help or continue alone, the choice is yours.
In the upper left corner, you can find the Bluehost button. When you click on it, you will be given many tools that you can use to create your website. Once you are done with the customization and changes, simply click on the “Launch” button to get your site online.
But before your site is up and running, you will be asked to give a title to your website and name it, as well as include description about it so that your potential visitors might see what it’s about.
As simply as that, your new website will now be live and you can start working on it immediately!
Success! You will be able to start posting your new pages immediately.
If you don’t have time to do it by yourself and would like us to set up your new website for only $59.99, then click here for more details!
If your host doesn’t have one-click installation, WordPress has full instructions on how to install it manually at wordpress.org (for advanced users). Keep in mind that a host that doesn’t offer one-click WordPress installation may not be your best choice.
Recommended reading: How to install WordPress CMS
Setting up WordPress and managing your website
WordPress has two zones: the front-end and the back-end.
The front end is what your visitors will see when they come to your website. Many of the tasks performed on the back-end will be visible on the front end, such as theme customizations, plugin functionality enhancements, and content publication. Actions can also be performed by you and your visitors directly from the front-end of the website, including commenting and social sharing.
The back end, also known as the WordPress dashboard, allows you to fully manage your site’s content, community, functionality, and design. It’s accessible only by users who have an account on your site. To access your WordPress dashboard, you need to type yourwebsite.com/wp-admin in the address bar of your browser and login using your WordPress username and password.
The Dashboard is the center of website administration. It consists of three main parts left-side menu, top toolbar and middle section. The left-hand column of your WordPress dashboard is where you’ll find all of your admin options and where most of your creative effort will be focused.
The left-side menu items include the following:
- Home takes you to your dashboard.
- Updates show you any themes or plugins that need to be updated because a new version has been released. If WordPress itself is updated, you’ll see a number in a red circle next to this menu item.
- Media shows every photo, video, and file you’ve uploaded as part of a post or page. You can also upload files directly to the media section.
- Pages are usually evergreen, static web pages. Examples include the “About Us” section on a company website or the “Services” page.
- Comments are what visitors comment on in response to one of your posts or pages. If you have comments, a number inside a red circle will appear next to this menu item.
- Appearance contains themes, design, and features related to the appearance of your site.
- Plugins are extra mini programs that help increase the functionality of your site. You can use plugins to turn your website into a membership site, add social media sharing, eliminate comment spam or just to do something cool or fancy with your graphics.
- Settings are used for just about anything. It’s the first place you want to go when setting up a new site.
To learn more about how to customize your website, make design and layout changes, create your first post or page and much more, check our in-depth guide on How to use WordPress.
Design your site and make it look great
The design of your website is essential, and people will form an opinion about your business based on the look and feel of it. Visitors will make an instant decision (in 3 seconds or less) whether to stay on your site or move on. To make an impact, it’s important to have great design.
Depending on the type of the website and the way you choose to build it, you will have some options as far as selecting a design for your site. If you decide to use CMS or web builder, you will be dealing with the pre-made theme and templates. Key things to keep in mind about your website design are the following:
- Use clean design
- Make sure it’s mobile optimized
- Fit your site’s niche and goals
- One or two columns layout is the best option
- Use unique design elements
- Make it easy to navigate
If you are looking for customized options using some of the platforms mentioned above or creating a website from scratch, you can turn to professional web designer/developer.
Write and prepare your content
Content is information that will be presented on your site. It’s important to create and maintain useful, unique, and clear content so your visitors can easily understand your message. Poorly written and badly presented material can frustrate and discourage visitors from staying on your website or coming back.
There are two questions you have to consider when creating content:
- Is the content relevant and exciting to your audience?
- How should the content be presented to your target audience?
Today, search engines reward (by ranking them higher) websites that make an effort to create quality content to educate people in their niche. You will have to make sure your content is: unique, relevant, legit, and current.
Once you have an overview of your website plan/site map, you can drill down to the specifics of the content you need to create for a website launch. It will be important to create evergreen content (content that will not be changing much and will appear on the static pages) and also important to have fresh content appearing on your website on a regular basis.
Test before and after launch
Beta testing. Launching your website is an exciting process and people eager to get it live as soon as possible. With all the excitement, often people ignore the testing step. It’s critical you test your website before it goes live. The testing process can seem overwhelming, and you are not sure where to start. We are here to tell you that it’s not that complicated, you just have to check the following points carefully:
- Content related materials (spelling, punctuation, etc.)
- Design related elements (images, fonts, etc.)
- Web development items ( live URLs, broken links, etc.)
- Search engine optimization details ( title tags, meta data, etc.)
- Network administrator areas (hosting, backup system, etc.)
Post-launch. Once your website goes live, you need to have a strategy in place on what to do next and how to maintain your site. Here are some basic things to consider:
- Prepare your site for promotion.
- Prepare to measure website stats.
- Find maintenance if and when needed.
- Make sure you backup your site.
- Collect visitor’s feedback.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I create a website?
Creating a website is not as complicated as it was before. Today, you don't have to know much about technology to develop and successfully run your own site. That's because there are more than few popular content management systems that are designed for the users.
So, the first thing you should do is to choose a content management system. Although it depends on the site you want, we would strongly suggest self-hosted WordPress.
- Choose a reliable hosting for your site and register a domain
- Install and set up WordPress
- Choose a theme and customize it to your needs
- Find best plugins, install them and configure
How much does it cost to build a website?
The cost of making a website depends on a lot of different factors. If you decide to build your site with WordPress, you can get a new site for less than $50. For example, hosting a WP site with Bluehost will cost you only $2.95 per month, and that includes the registration of a custom domain! You will definitely need to invest a few bucks extra on a premium theme (which will probably be something in a range of $40-120), maybe a few premium plugins (on average, a plugin will cost you about $70), but that's pretty much it.
On the other hand, if you want a custom website, you should go much deeper in your pocket. For a quality custom design, you will have to pay something in a range of $1,000 – $3,000 when working with a freelancer, and don't be surprised if an agency asks more than $10,000 for a custom design. Custom e-stores might cost you up to $50,000.
How do I learn WordPress?
WordPress is the most popular content management system, and because of that, the internet is swamped with tutorials, articles, videos and different guides that will help you to learn WordPress. But you don't have to go far and dig deep to find what you need. We at First Site Guide have prepared everything you will need to learn WordPress.
Whether you are a complete beginner who's not sure what WordPress really is, an intermediate user or an expert, we have tried to bring WordPress guides for everyone.
What to do if your domain name is taken?
Majority of businesses today have gone online. Which means that a lot of domains are unavailable, especially those that end up in .com extension. So if you are trying to register a new domain, the chances are it is already taken. But don't worry, there are still ways to go around that:
- See If the Domain Is for Sale - although your preferred domain might be taken, you can still get it in some cases. You can go to Domaintools and check if the domain you want is open for sale.
- Set Up Domain Monitoring - if you set up a domain monitor, it can notify you when your desired name becomes available.
- Try different extensions - while yourdomain.com might be taken, try registering yourdomain.net, yourdomain.eu or yourdomain.io.
- Use a different keyword - if you can't get the business name for your domain, you can always use a different name or maybe a keyword. Try to think of a slogan or a catchphrase that would be a good fit.
Whatever you decide to do, don't rush because Bluehost allows you to skip the registration of the domain. So you can focus on building your website, while you can register the domain anytime later.
How do I switch from HTTP to HTTPS on Bluehost?
It's not a question of choice anymore - if you want to run a proper site, you just have to switch from HTTP to HTTPS and secure the blog. Luckily, Bluehost has made it easy for everyone to make the switch. After logging in, it takes just one click to secure your site with the SSL:
- Login to your Bluehost account
- Click on “My Sites” from the menu
- Choose “Manage Site” option (it shows on the main screen)
- Select the “Security” tab which is located on top of the page
- Toggle the "Free SSL Certificate" switch by clicking on it
Please note that it might take several hours before the SSL certificate becomes active on your site.
We hope this guide has given you a basic idea of what you will need to make and launch your website. There are more things to learn, so feel free to visit our Resources and Guides pages to improve your webmaster skills.