Learning how to make a website can be a time-consuming process. If you don’t have any experience, how do you know where to start and if you’re choosing the best options?
My names Matt and I’m a front-end developer. I created this free five step tutorial to help people like you quickly create your small business, blog, portfolio or personal website.
In this tutorial, I’ll teach you how to quickly design your website, choose a platform like WIX or WordPress and where to get help if you need it.
I’ll also provide links to more in depth tutorials that will show you specifically how to build your website. Best of all, you’ll be able to make a website without knowing how to write any code.
If you have questions, feel free to send me a message. I’ll do my best to answer them. Otherwise, let’s start by designing your website.
Design Your Website
Designing your website up front is an important first step. It’ll help you refine your vision and save you a lot of time when you start to build your website.
If you use WIX or WordPress to create your website, you don’t have to address every aspect of web design when you design your website. The template or theme you choose will cover most of the design work for you.
All you need to do is create a high-level design called a site map. Grab a pen and piece of paper so you can write out your site map as we go through the following exercise.
This is an outline of what you’ll be creating:
Find Similar Websites
The first step to creating your design is to find similar websites to the one you want to create. This will get your creative juices flowing and give you sources to draw influence from.
To find similar websites you can:
- Use Google or your favorite search engine to find similar websites.
- Use tools like keywordtool.io to find a variety of search terms.
- Expand your list of websites by using Alexa’s Find Similar Sites tool to find similar websites.
Try to find around 5 – 10 websites that are similar to the one you want to create.
Define Your Web Pages and Posts
Pages and Posts are terms used to describe different content types in WordPress. But they can be used to describe the two most common web pages on any type of website.
Pages are the web pages on your website that rarely change. This can be the pages that make up your site structure like the homepage, contact or about pages. If you’re creating a business website they can also be your product, service or portfolio pages.
Post are the web pages that frequently change. Post is short for Blog Post. Blog Posts are frequently updated and may allow users to leave comments. Use Posts for the articles you write on your personal blog or business website.
Define Your Pages
Drawing influence from your list of similar websites, come up with a list of pages for your website.
The pages I came up with for justmakeawebsite.com are:
- 404 page
- Terms of Service
Add the pages to the sheet of paper you set aside for your site map.
Define Your Posts
Come up with a list of content ideas for your website. You can do this by looking at your similar websites and drawing influence of what kind of pages they have.
This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive list of content. Around 10 Posts will do. You can always add or subtract Posts later on.
This is the Post list I came up with for justmakeawebsite.com:
- Designing Your Website
- Registering a Domain Name
- WIX vs WordPress
- How to Make a WIX Website
- 10 Extremely Popular WIX Templates
- 15 Best WIX Apps
- How to Make a WordPress Website
- Free WordPress Themes
- Essential WordPress Plugins
- Top 5 Web Hosting Companies
Add the posts to the sheet of paper you set aside for your site map.
Define Your Site Navigation
Your site navigation links are the links at the top of your website that make it easy for visitors to find your content.
The site navigation is the list of links you see at the top of pretty much every website. Their purpose is to help guide users to important parts of the website.
Your site navigation should:
- Contain no more than 6 links.
- Use your logo to link to your homepage.
- Sum up the content on your website.
- Use keywords when possible.
Take the list of Posts you created and group them into similar categories. This will be your site navigation. Feel free to modify it as you see fit. For example, if you wanted to add the About page to your site navigation, you’re more than welcome to do so.
Your final sitemap should look similar to the one I came up with for justmakeawebsite.com:
This is just a brief overview of how to design your website. If you need more details feel free to read How to Design a Website with a Sitemap.
Register A Domain Name
Have you ever had an idea for a website and rushed out and purchased a domain name? If so, you’re not alone. Registering a domain name is one of the easiest tasks to do but it’s also one of the most important.
Your domain name is how people find you and it’s the first impression they get from your website so it’s important to put a little thought into it. Below are some best practices to follow when registering your next domain name.
How to Choose a Domain Name
Keep in mind, your domain name doesn’t have to be perfect. As you build your website, it’ll draw its identity more from how you brand it than the actual domain name.
Good domain names:
- Summarize the theme of your site.
- Use .com whenever possible.
- Use keywords and search phrases.
- Help create a brand.
Mistakes you’ll want to avoid:
- Including others brand names or trademarks.
- Using hyphens and numbers.
- Making it difficult to spell.
- Waiting too long to register your domain name.
You’ll want as many ideas as possible when looking for a domain name. Tools like Namemesh generate variations of words. Just enter a keyword and it’ll display a variety of different domain names for you to choose from.
To learn more about how to choose a great domain name, read How to Find and Register a Domain Name.
Where to Register a Domain Name
There is no shortage of places to register a domain name. Currently, there are over 900 ICANN accredited domain registrars. This can make it difficult to know which one to choose.
When signing up for a web hosting account, you might be offered a free domain name for a year. While its ok to take this option, I’d recommend keeping your domain name separate from your hosting account.
If you cancel your hosting plan during the trial period, the web hosting company will not refund you for the domain name. They’ll charge you their full rate which is generally more than a third party would charge.
Namecheap is one of the best places to register a domain name. They have reasonable introductory rates and excellent renewal rates. Their domain names come with free domain privacy (WhoisGuard) if you choose to use it.
WhoisGuard masks your registration information. Whenever anyone does a whois search on your domain name, your information will be masked with information from Namecheap so your personal information isn’t freely available online.
In addition to cheap prices, they have a simple user interface and customer service responds in less than 5 minutes through their text chat. I’d highly recommend Namecheap to anyone who wants to register a domain name.
If you’d like to shop around before going with Namecheap, take a look at 11 of the Best Domain Registrars for other popular options.
WIX or WordPress?
Have you researched which platform and web host is best for your website? If so, you were probably overwhelmed with information.
Anyone creating a personal, portfolio, blog, small business or similar website can save time by researching the two most popular platforms first – WIX and WordPress.
Both WIX and WordPress:
- Have a variety of prebuilt designs and apps.
- Are optimized for desktop and mobile websites.
- Allow you to create a website without writing any code.
Both of these are really great platforms to use for your website, so you might be wondering – which ones the best? I’ve used WIX and WordPress for different projects and my conclusion is – they’re both good under different circumstances.
Let’s look at some advantages and challenges of WIX and WordPress then determine when to use one or the other.
What is WIX? WIX is a website builder with a drag and drop interface that focuses on making the website building process as easy as possible.
They take care of all the technical details such as web hosting, security updates and site backups so you can focus on building your website.
WIX also comes with a lot of free tools like templates, apps, images and icons you can use to make your site look great.
Best of all, they make it really easy to get started. They have a free plan that lets you create as many sites as you want and a well-documented Help Center to help you along the way.
You might be thinking this sounds like Shangri-la – some mystical paradise where no one ages and you’re shielded from all the tech talk that strains your brain.
The truth is, WIX is a great platform to start your website on, but there’s two sides to every story so let’s take a closer look at some advantages and challenges of using WIX.
- You get your site up and running quickly.
- Has over 500 templates and 300 apps that are mostly free.
- It’s considered all inclusive. Many extra features are included in your monthly plan.
- When it comes to making a website, WIX is about as easy as it gets.
- Easily Integrate Marketing Tools (Google Analytics, Mail Chimp, Hotjar etc.)
- Drag and drop interface (for images, text, contact forms etc.)
- Excellent documentation and support.
- WIX doesn’t provide free email. They suggest you create a Google G-Suite account.
- You can’t move your website to another web host. It only works on the WIX platform.
- You’re limited to the Apps that WIX provides for you.
- Minimal amount of hosting features to optimize your website.
When to Choose WIX:
- You want to use one of the easiest website building platforms around.
- You want everything in one place, templates, a logo maker, images, apps etc.
- You don’t mind paying extra for email addresses that end in your domain name.
- You don’t mind being stuck on the WIX platform.
Want to see what kind of website you can design with WIX? Take a look at The Best WIX Templates You Can Use for Free.
What is WordPress? WordPress is one of the most popular website building platforms in the world. Beginners can create a website without writing code while seasoned programmers can create almost anything imaginable. One-third of all websites on the internet are created using WordPress.
WordPress is open-source software. That means it’s free to use and modify any way you want. As a result, programmers have created thousands of free and paid themes (designs) and plugins (programs) that you can download and use to enhance your website.
If you’ve done any research on WordPress, you might have noticed there are two versions: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. While they’re both WordPress, they function quite differently. The main difference is where you host your website and the extent to which you can modify it.
WordPress.com is a monthly service and you host your website on WordPress.com servers. They use their own version of WordPress and many of the features are locked down. If you want to install third-party plugins, you’ll have to upgrade to a more expensive plan.
With WordPress.org, the software is free, but you’ll have to find a third-party to host your website. The upside to using a third-party web host is that your monthly costs will be lower, you’ll have full access to WordPress, and more hosting features to manage your website.
To find a web host to host your website with, check out The 12 Best Web Hosting Services. If you’re new to web hosting and want to learn more about web hosting read about the 6 Different Types of Web Hosting before selecting a hosting plan.
I’d recommend you create your website with WordPress.org because of its flexibility and low hosting costs but if you choose to go with WordPress.com, make sure to start with their free plan. With the free plan, you can have a website up and running in 5 minutes and you can completely build out your website before paying for any services.
For the rest of this section, we’ll be focusing on WordPress.org, which most people just call WordPress. If you’d like to know more about the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, read my post on WordPress.com vs WordPress.org.
If you want to see some websites you can create with wordpress, take a look at the themes in The Best Free WordPress Themes. The best themes have free starter sites to help you quickly make a great looking website. Click on the link to the themes website to view their starter sites.
- Flexible enough to custom code a fortune 500 website or create one without writing any code.
- Thousands of themes and plug-ins to customize WordPress to your needs.
- Very few restrictions on how you can design the look and feel of your website.
- You can install WordPress on most if not all Shared Hosting plans.
- Most shared hosting plans include anywhere from one to unlimited email accounts.
- WordPress is a do-it-yourself application. Be prepared to spend time learning how to use it.
- You’re responsible for creating backups and installing security updates.
- Themes and plug-ins might contain bugs or no support from the developer.
- You’ll have to find a third-party web host for your WordPress website.
- You’ll have to pay extra for WordPress technical support.
When to Choose WordPress:
- You want to own your website and have full control over its configuration and design.
- You don’t mind doing some research to learn how to configure your site.
- You plan to continually expand and improve your website.
- If you’re a small business that depends on your website.
Build Your Website
Before you can build your website, you’ll need to decide which platform to use. In this section, you’ll choose a platform, create an account, and begin building your website. Step by step instructions are included in the “Getting Started With” links under each section.
How To Make A Website With WIX
With WIX you don’t need to purchase a separate web hosting account. Your website will be hosted on their webservers and they’ll take care of all the server-side maintenance.
WIX allows you to create as many websites as you wish for free. The free accounts have limited resources but they’re a great way to get started without risking your hard-earned money.
The premium plans offer more services than the free accounts. With a premium plan, you’ll be able to use your own custom domain name and remove WIX ads. They also come with a 14- day money back guarantee.
For instructions on how to make a website with WIX go to:
How To Make A Website With WordPress
If you want to make a WordPress website, first you need to decide if you want to create it with WordPress.com or WordPress.org.
I’d highly recommend you use WordPress.org, simply referred to as WordPress, to create your website. In the long term, it’s cheaper and you have more control over which themes and plugins you can install.
To get started with WordPress, you need to find a web hosting provider. I’d recommend you start with a shared hosting plan. They’re fairly cheap and provide plenty of resources to power a new WordPress website.
My favorite web hosting provider is A2 Hosting. They have a good reputation for providing:
- Fast Web Hosting for a Great Price
- 24/7/365 Phone Chat Email Support
- 100’s of Free Applications
- Anytime Money Back Guarantee
A2 hosting makes it easy to setup a WordPress website. When you create an account, you can choose to have them install WordPress for you. They also have an A2 Optimized version of WordPress that offers speed advantages over standard installs of WordPress.
Best of all, they have an anytime money back guarantee. That means, if you decide to cancel your account in the first 30 days you get a full refund. But if you cancel your account after 30 days, A2 Hosting will refund you for any unused services. Something you won’t find at other web hosting companies.
For instructions on how to setup and build a WordPress website go to:
After you spend some time building your website, you should have a good idea what it takes to write content, create a nice-looking design and how to customize your website.
Depending on the kind of website you want and the time frame you have to build it, you might need some help. If so, take a look at the next section, Hire A Freelancer.
Get Some Help
Hiring a freelancer is completely optional but can be helpful when you don’t have the time or skill to achieve the desired results for your website.
Who Can Help You Make a Website
There are several types of freelancers that can help you make a website, but you should start by looking at these three:
Web developers are programmers who create custom functionality for websites. Things you can hire a freelance web developer for:
- Initial Website Setup
- WordPress Page Layouts
- Customizing Applications
- Responsive Design
Graphic designers are responsible for creating visual concepts. Their goal is to use typography, images and illustrations to communicate a message that is memorable to their viewers. Things you can hire a freelance graphic designer for:
- Logo Design
- Header and Footer Design
- Product Images
- Social Media Images
Copywriters are writers who create text for print and online media. Some write persuasive content for advertisements while others use their technical skills to write how to guides. Things you can hire a freelance copywriter for:
- Blog Posts
- Product Reviews
- Social Media Posts
- Proof Reading and Editing
Where to Find Freelancers
Popular freelancing websites like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99designs have a vast selection of freelancers that can help you with your project. Each website allows you to:
- Browse reviews and freelancer ratings.
- Post jobs or contact individuals for quotes.
- Manage your project from a shared workspace.
- Easily exchange money for completed work.
Known For: The Best Freelance Platform to Start With
Fiverr helps you find freelancers by allowing you to browse:
- Available services
- The price of services
- How long it will take to complete the work
Freelancers advertise their services in packages that show what type of work they do and how much it will cost. Many of the packages are at pretty well priced. This is great if you want to test out a freelancer at a low price before moving on to more costly projects.
Known For: The Best Place to Find Top Rated Talent
Upwork is a good resource if you want to:
- Hire top rated talent on a project basis.
- Browse skill sets and past work in a resume format.
- Pay an hourly rate for your project.
Upwork operates similar to how the job market works. Freelancer profiles are setup in a resume type format, listing their skills, work history and an hourly rate. After looking through resumes, you can create a job posting and invite freelancers to it.
Known For: The Best Freelance Platform for Quality Design Work
99designs is a good resource if you want:
- Designers who have had their skills verified.
- Multiple designers competing for your project.
- Pretty much anything designed.
99designs specializes in connecting clients with highly qualified designers. They offer pretty much any design service you may need. If you need to design a logo, website, or even a t-shirt you can get the job done at 99designs.
Designs are created through contests. Contests have an initial round where designers submit work to your project. You pick the designs you like and provide feedback.
Over 4-6 days you choose the designs that move into the final round. If you don’t like the designs, you don’t have to commit to the project until the final round.
How to Hire Freelancers
Prepare Work for the Freelancer
Make sure you provide clear expectations. Freelancers won’t know what to do unless you can give them specific instructions detailing what you want. This might include creating a Project Plan and Scope that describes the boundaries of the project and what it should and should not include.
Create a Job Posting
Creating a job posting will help you reach as many candidates as possible. If you see a freelancer you like, invite them to the job posting. Finding as many qualified freelancers as possible will give you the best chance of finding the right person for the job.
Start with a Paid Test Project
Paid test projects are scaled down projects that let you see how well the freelancer does before making a larger investment in them. Not all projects can be scaled down into a paid test project but any project that’s going to require any kind of investment should start with a paid test project first. That way you know what you’re paying for.
To learn more about hiring freelancers, read How to Hire Someone To Build a Website For You.