Are you looking to build a webpage but do not know how to?
Fret not! Creating a website has become easier nowadays; thanks to all the existing page-building platforms, tools, and software today that made the task less daunting. In fact, amateur web enthusiasts and non-techy folks with zero knowledge about website creation can effortlessly build one.
It does not, however, necessarily mean that you can create one without a guide.
So, to help you launch your very first webpage, I created an in-depth guide on how to develop a free website. My article covers the whole process—from selecting the appropriate website platform to uploading contents into the page—but chopped into seven steps.
Step 1: Pick a Website Platform
The first step in building a web page is to choose a website platform. Veterans in the industry, on the one hand, do not recommend opting not just any type of platform. But one that can meet your digital requirements and help you maintain and grow your webpage.
But before we further delve into it, let us talk about what a website platform is.
What Is a Website Platform?
A website platform—also known as the Content Management System (CMS)—is a user-oriented, affordable, and easy-to-use page building platform developed specifically to make web creation accessible for web enthusiasts with zero knowledge on how to “code.” It is also a tool used to manage online content (which I will discuss elaborately in the next sections) as well.
But how did it make site building more accessible?
In the past, web developers and designers created websites using CSS, HTML, and PHP coding. These are computer languages that are taught in schools. And, if you want to build a site, you would either need to (a) learn it and (b) hire a professional website developer and designer.
Both options require money, time, and effort which ultimately makes webpage creation a challenging task.
But thanks to free website platforms that is not the case now. Interested individuals with least to zero knowledge about coding and other technical aspects use to build a webpage can now create one easily.
What platform should I use?
Having that said, here a some of the popular and free website platforms in the industry today:
The most widely used website platform today, WordPress is an open-source and user-friendly software trusted by millions of web enthusiasts. You can use it for free (or with pay if you want to get more perks), design the site easily, and install plugins without any additional payment.
Although I do not find it a great platform to utilize for eCommerce pages like online stores, its features and technologies suit well for personal and professional pages. WordPress ensures that all sites created under its name are responsive as well. It means all websites are fully accessible on all devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.
Unlike WordPress, Squarespace is a not-so-popular website platform known for its visually pleasing website templates. It is user-oriented, intuitive, and is excellent for both professional and eCommerce pages.
In fact, it sells itself as an eCommerce web platform.
However, Squarespace monthly subscription is a little bit more expensive compared to other website platforms available today. It does not even have a feature called site migration wherein you can transfer an existing site’s data under them.
Just like Squarespace, Wix is a beginner-friendly site-building platform that offers a drag-and-drop system instead of manual coding. It sells itself as a tool to build eCommerce pages as well and is packed with basic to advanced tools needed to create and maintain an online store.
Overall, Wix is a handy website platform. The only catch is that it does not offer a site migration feature. Subscription plans are quite pricey as well.
Drupal is a website building software created primarily for seasoned web developers and coders. Although it is perfect for non-standard websites with unique and specific requirements, the learning curve is quite high.
So, if you are a beginner and a busy person, I suggest you skip this one and try WordPress or Joomla instead.
Joomla is a website platform that is sort of like WordPress. It is, on the one hand, slightly trickier as users need to apply a few basic coding techniques.
How to choose the right platform
Now that you know what a website platform is, let us talk about the things you should check when choosing one.
- Value for money. As a beginner, you must not burn a hole in your pocket while trying to launch a website. Thus, balance out the cost and the features of the software you are eyeing.
I recommend low-cost site-building platforms since they usually come with a pack of basic tools one needs to create and maintain a webpage/
- Ease of use. Not all website platforms are easy to use. So, make sure to choose something that is simple and has a slow learning curve.
- Free theme and template. Websites must be professional-looking, if not visually pleasing. It is best to opt for site themes and templates that are responsive and can work on different devices.
- Tools and features. For web enthusiasts, it is best to opt for a set of tools and features that matches your digital needs. It is important to know how capable these tools are as well, as some are not as efficient as they should be.
- Customer support. Last but not least is customer support. As an aspiring online entrepreneur, the first thing you need to be wary of are technical issues that could cause down time on your sites.
Hence, it is critical to choose a website platform with responsive, informative, and friendly customer support to help you with.
Step 2: Choose a Web Hosting
After choosing a website platform, the next thing you should do is find a web host. But then again, you should not just simply pick one. It must, at least, meet your website needs and can keep your site up and running 24/7.
But first, what is web hosting?
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is an internet service that enables individuals and companies to make their site accessible to the World Wide Web. It is usually a company that provides a variety of digital functions and tools such as:
- Data space on a server that users can rent or own
- It makes sure that a site is up and running 24/7
- It makes your site loads quickly
- Keeps your page protected from malicious attacks
- Stores your site’s data in a secure virtual container
Apart from that, there are also web hosting solutions with tools and features that cater to entrepreneurs particularly. Some are optimized for WordPress, while others are made with built-for-speed infrastructure.
To sum it up, there is a web hosting provider for whatever it is you need. Thus, it is crucial to choose and consider every aspect carefully before you purchase one.
How to pick the right web host
The most practical—and perhaps, the best—web hosting solution for beginners is one that is simple, intuitive, and low-cost. Hostinger, for example, is an excellent web host for beginners due to its user-friendly interface and easy-to-learn tools. Its hosting plans are affordable as well, making it easier to launch a site.
But do take note that Hostinger is not the only web host that could cater to beginners like you. There are other web hosting providers such HostGator and BlueHost too. And it still depends on your budget and your digital requirements.
That said, here are a few things you should consider when selecting a web host:
• Speed and uptime performance. The first two traits you should look for a web host is its uptime and speed performance. And to ensure your online biz’s success, these two must come hand in hand.
A page’s uptime score determines its availability. And the higher the score is, the better. But do keep in mind that the standard uptime score that can keep your website up 24/7 is around 99.99%. Otherwise, your site may experience downtime often.
Speed, on the flip side, is about how fast your webpage loads. A study shows that customers tend to leave a page when it loads more than three seconds. As such, make sure you pick a web host that can give you a lightning speed loading time.
• Security features. A website, specifically eCommerce pages, must be 100% secured. Malicious attacks like phishing are widespread these days, and your customers’ data is vulnerable to such activities if you do not use plugins or tools that can prevent it.
As such, it is critical to look into a web host’s suite of security tools first. Google’s algorithm favors sites that are secured too, specifically those that are using SSL certificates.
• Customer support. A web host with reliable customer support is crucial to your online biz, especially if you are a beginner or a non-techy person. It is because these people are the ones responsible for fixing and handling your page when it experiences technical issues.
Thus, make sure to pick a web hosting solution with a team of responsive and knowledgeable technical support.
• Data storage. Your data storage’s capacity plays a significant role in creating a useful website. Such an aspect is particularly crucial if you are planning to launch a big site, which also requires a huge amount of disk space.
There are web hosts that offer unlimited disk space, on a good note. Still, it is wise to get a plan that matches your needs.
• Scalability. Another aspect to look into is the web host plan scalability. Essentially, a scalable plan means it can handle a sudden surge of traffic, which typically can cause downtime if the server’s capacity is limited.
Step 3: Think of a relevant domain name
The next step after choosing a web host is to think of a domain name that is, of course, related to your brand.
But what is a domain name?
A domain name is a slice of a URL that identifies your webpage. It serves to represent both your website and your brand. A domain name is typically dependent on the page’s purpose as well. Company websites, for example, are often named after the company. Personal websites, on the one hand, are typically named after the owner.
Moreover, website addresses typically end with domain extensions like .com, .net, and .org. And web enthusiasts strongly recommend using them unless there is an available domain name that represents your page.
How to Create a Unique Domain Name?
Coming up with a strong domain name for beginners like you is, understandably, not simple. To help you make a unique name, below are a few tips you could follow:
- Memorable. Your domain name should be easy to remember. So, as much as possible, keep it concise, punchy, and straight to the point. It is best to avoid using strange word spelling too, as it may confuse customers and eventually forget it.
- Catchy. A good domain name is not only memorable but is also catchy. In fact, these two come hand in hand. So, try to come up with a domain name that is cool and will prompt a potential customer’s interest.
- Relevant to your brand. Last but not least is it should be relevant to your brand. I believe this one is self-explanatory and obvious. Do not use a domain name that does not describe your business.
Step 4: Website Setup and Designing
Once you are done creating a unique domain name, the next step is to set up and design your website. These two are separate yet overlapping tasks. And that is why I chose to merge them into one step.
The difficulty level of setting up a website varies and is dependent on the website platform. Some are simple and fast, while others are a bit too technical for noobs. For my article, however, I will use WordPress as an example since many aspiring business owner and web enthusiasts prefer it.
That said, setting up a site through WordPress can be done in two ways: first is (a) through a one-click installation and second (b) is through manual installation.
Almost all web hosting solutions available in the market today features a one-click installation for WordPress, making it easier for inexperienced folks like to set up a webpage.
Using Hostinger, for instance, the installation process takes for a few minutes only; thanks to its Auto Installer feature. Here’s how it works:
• Step 1: Log in into your Hostinger account and open Auto Installer.
To open the feature, simply select the Hosting button at the top of the menu and then click Manage. After that, go to the Website section and click Auto Installer to open it.
Once done, select WordPress in the menu.
• Step 2: Once you have opened the Auto Installer, Hostinger will ask you to fill out installation details. Simply answer all the information required.
• Step 3: Lastly, click the install button and wait until the action takes place. Once done, your site will automatically appear in the list of websites you are handling.
Manual installation of WordPress is quite taxing, especially for beginners. It is, however, still handy when, for some odd reasons, you cannot set up WordPress automatically.
Having that said, here is how you do it:
• Step 1: Download WordPress. You can use this link: http://wordpress.org/download
• Step 2: After that, you need to create a new folder. Using it, unzip WordPress.
• Step 3: Once you have unzipped WordPress, look for a file named ‘wp-config-sample.php’ then rename it to ‘wp-config.php.’
• Step 4: Next step is to open the renamed file through notepad and write the following codes:
a) define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘database_name_here’); – (reach out to your hosting’s customer support team if you don’t know the database name)
b) define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username_here’); – (insert your hosting username)
c) define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password_here’); – (insert your hosting password)
Then save the file.
• Step 5: Once done, log in into your hosting FTP through FileZilla. If you find a file named ‘index,’ simply delete it. You can now then upload all files from the WordPress folder you created earlier to your FTP server.
• Step 6: Lastly, go to ‘yourdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php.’ You will then see a form. All you need to do is fill it up and that’s it!
Website design and customization
Now that you have completed setting up the website, the next step is to design your page. Designing a website, however, is no easy feat for non-techy beginners. And that is despite the fact the website builders were developed to make the task less challenging.
But that does not mean it is difficult either!
That being said, I will use the easiest process as an example.
Web themes & Templates
The best option for beginners, as well as folks with least technical knowledge, is to use web themes and templates. These web templates are like drafts that you can simply polish or, if needed, tweak. Ultimately, it provides a framework for your site’s front end.
Take WordPress Themes, for example. It comes with a variety of templates ranging from minimalist to fancy web design. The directory is free to access even for non-paying customers as well, and contains more than 8, 000 designs that customers can use as-is without additional charges.
But not only that!
Web themes and templates are also customizable. In fact, it is what makes these themes unique and convenient compared to manual coding. It is much easier if your web hosting or website platforms come with a website builder.
Hostinger, for instance, features its very own website builder. And amateur customers like you can design your site using its drag-and-drop system. Essentially, it allows users to simply drag any website elements like buttons, photo holder, and widgets then drop or release it into the canvas.
There are also other functionalities that you can do when customizing your page. You can (a) add new pages, (b) link or embed social media links, (c) add widgets such as contact forms, and (d) edit photos.
As such, customizing and further polishing a template is a piece of cake.
On the one hand, if you feel like the theme or the website design is not the kind of style you want to use for your webpage, there are premium web theme collections you can purchase and use instead. Some examples are:
- Creative Market
- Elegant Themes
- MOJO Marketplace
Step 5: Create Website Contents
A website is useless without contents. And by contents, I do not simply talk about filling your page with random photos, articles, videos, any other types of media. It must be related to your brand and, most importantly, valuable to your readers.
Website contents are divided into a variety of categories, on the one hand. But since this is your first business website, let us start with the two most significant content in a webpage: landing pages and blogs.
A website page or a landing page is a standalone page that contains specific information. And depending on the page, it either describes the nature of the business or talks about the products or services. The most common examples are the home page, about us page, and contact page.
Adding pages is easy as well. Here’s how:
- Step 1: Click the “Pages” link on the WordPress dashboard.
- Step 2: Click the “Add New” button.
- Step 3: Write the title and paste the content.
- Step 4: Once you have placed your content, simply click the “Publish” button.
When it comes to customization, on the one hand, all pages that you will create will automatically follow the theme’s design your site is using; but that is if you are using a web template. If you are not satisfied with it or if you wish for other elements, you can also tweak it.
Articles and Blog Posts
Unlike website pages, blog posts and articles are the types of content that lets you share valuable contents that are, of course, related to your brand or chosen niche. It is one of the oldest yet also the most practical way to generate web traffic and attract potential customers.
But how do you create it? It’s simple.
- Step 1: Click the ‘posts’ button on the WordPress dashboard, then click ‘add new.’
- Step 2: Once done, it will then take you to a page where you will see two boxes; one for the title and the second is the content’s body. Simply write the title of your content and paste the body.
- Step 3: If you wish to add other elements to make your content look more organized, click the ‘+’ button at the top left part of the page. You will find a variety of styled block there such as bullet points, images, and videos.
- Step 4: Once completed, simply click publish. And that’s it. You have a blog post now.
Quick Tips for Writing Effective Blog Posts
Written contents today are not just simply “contents.” Due to Google’s continuous improvisation of its algorithm, the search engine is now much smarter in identifying which content has value to readers.
As such, if you want your blog post to generate a good amount of web traffic, make sure to follow these tips:
• Make it valuable to your reader. In order to earn your readers’ trust, the first thing you must do is to write an article that is valuable and meaningful to them. If, say, your niche is about affiliate marketing, then write blog posts that explain the basics of the said subject.
You can, for instance, share in-depth how-to articles, news, listicles, guides, tips and tricks, or a simple commentary about your niche. What is important is that it has value to your audience.
• The article’s overall tone should be conversational. To keep your blog posts engaging, the tone of your articles should be conversational as much as possible. As such, use simple terms rather than technical jargons. Avoid writing hard-to-read sentences as well to clearly convey the message you want to deliver.
Apart from that, try to add photos too to make it more engaging.
• Make it unique. Lastly, try to make your blog posts unique. Use your own voice, for instance. Instead of just following everyone’s way of writing contents.
Step 6: Install plugins
Once you are done setting up the site and filling in all the needed contents, it is time to add some “plugins” to optimize your webpage. These are tools that add a new function—as well as augment—to your business website once it is installed.
There are thousands of plugins available to use for free as well as premium (or with pay). WordPress alone has approximately 60, 000 plugins in its directory. But there are also other marketplaces that you could check.
Having said that, here are a few popular and handy WordPress plugin for beginners like you.
- YoastSEO. Optimizing your content to fit into Google’s algorithm is one of the most important parts of launching a website. Thus, to make sure that your contents are up to par with the search engine’s standard, you should install YoastSEO.
It is the number of on-page optimization plugin website enthusiasts use today. Essentially, it scores your content and gives you tips on how to further optimize your content.
- Smush. Smush is an image-optimization tool that allows users to compress or minimize an image’s size. That way, you will save storage space and, at the same time, maintain a fast page loading speed.
- MonsterInsights. As its name suggests, it lets you add Google Analytics to your WordPress dashboard and oversee how your website is faring.
- Jetpack. It is an all-in-one plugin with functions that allows you to enhance your page’s speed, add social media links, and overall search engine optimization.
- WooCommerce. If you want to add an online store to your site, WooCommerce is the best choice. It is the most popular as well as one of the highly recommended online store builders for beginners.
How to Install Plugins?
Plugin integration is easy on WordPress. Simply follow the procedure below.
- Step 1: On your WordPress dashboard, click the “plugin” button. It will then show you three options. Among the three, click the “add new.”
- Step 2: Next, search the plugin you want to install. For free plugins, simply click the “Install” button. For premium ones, click “upload plugin” then upload the ZIP file.
- Step 3: Finally, click the “Activate” button once the installation is complete. Then that’s it! You have successfully added a new feature to your site.
Step 7: Launch Your Site!
Once you have completed all the steps above, the last thing to do is to launch your website. But before that, make a quick review first. Check your site’s setting ad other technical stuff.
If you think everything is on set, simply click the “Coming Soon Active” at the top part of your WordPress dashboard. It will take you to a new page wherein you will see a “Launch Your Site” button. Click it.
Then that is it! You have successfully launched your first webpage.
Building a Website Is Easy
Creating a website sure requires time, effort, and money. But that does not mean it is difficult, especially now that there is a lot of all-in-one website-building solutions today. These platforms—such as the ones I mentioned above—made the task easier, cheaper, yet more efficient. As such, beginners like you would not have to worry.
On the flip side, launching a webpage is not the end. It is, in fact, the start. So, continue learning how to manage a successful website.