HOW TO MAKE A WEBSITE
A detailed and complete step-by-step guide
STEP 1: Technology selection
Do you have the perfect website idea?
Your first step on the journey of creating a good-looking, interesting, and responsive website, is to decide which technology you should use.
There is one exception, if you have a great business idea and a great name in mind already, secure the domain name first, and then come back to this section.
Anyway, there are quite a few technology/tool options to choose from, but there is no option that is perfect for everyone in every case.
I could, of course, do a wild guess without knowing anything about what kind of website you want to make. If you want me to make that guess, I recommend that you try to create a website with WordPress, the most popular Content Management System in the world.
If you do want to decide on your own, I will go through the different options, their strengths, and weaknesses, so that you can make the best possible choice for your website.
I’ve divided the options into four groups:
I have sorted them by the amount of effort it would take to create a basic responsive website, where Website Builders would be the easiest and From ‘scratch’ the most time-consuming.
That doesn’t mean that Website builders are best, they have their drawbacks like the rest of them.
Let’s have a closer look.
STEP 2: Domain Name
The next thing you need to do is to get yourself a domain name.
Note that if you decided to go for Website builders, you will probably get a domain as part of the bundle. But the tips below on how to select a good domain name is still worth reading.
Domain name: A name that uniquely identifies your site (like thewebsiteroad.com)
Finding a good domain name is however not an easy task, here are some pointers to consider:
Keep it short and memorable – Keeping it short will reduce the risk of mistyping and misspelling. If you can find one that is catchy and easy to remember as well, then you have a winner!
Avoid hyphens – It doesn’t look good and will be harder to remember. It also takes away the uniqueness, so people that want to visit Your-Site.com ends up visiting YourSite.com, which is not your site…
Avoid numbers – Numbers are easily misunderstood. Especially if people hear your site name, they wouldn’t know if it’s numerical (2) or spelled out (Two)
Use a common extension (like .com) – People tend to trust sites with familiar extensions more. .com is by far the most popular one, but if your target audience is only within one country a local extension might very well be better suited (like .no for Norway)
Do you have a name in mind already? Check if it’s available
As you might experience coming up with a good name that is not already taken can prove to be a tricky task. However, don’t give up just yet, maybe one of these domain name generators can spark some ideas
LeanDomainSearch.com – My personal favorite when I need name ideas.
NameMesh.com – A good alternative.
Where to buy a domain?
Once you have found an available domain name suitable for your site, you need to buy it from a domain registrar.
Domain registrar: A company that manages the reservation of domain names
There are a lot of domain registrars to choose from but here are some factors to consider:
Customer support – You’ll want a friendly support team that is actually available when you need it. Give them a call or send a support request to check their response time.
Domain transfer – It should be free and easy to transfer domains to and from a registrar. A good registrar will not need fees and troublesome transfer procedures to keep their customers.
User friendliness – The domain management system should be easy to use and well documented, ensuring that everything from buying new domains to configuring DNS servers is a breeze.
Personally, I’m using NameCheap as my domain registrar.
They offer competitive prices and an intuitive user interface, but most importantly they provide great customer support – so it’s worth checking them out.
If you have read the article on separating domain from hosting, but still want to keep them with the same company for convenience, I recommend that you continue with the article on how to setup domain and hosting with Siteground.
If not, keep on reading.
Enter your preferred domain and click “Search”.
Click the shopping cart and choose View Cart.
Signing up for more than one year gives a very limited discount, so my recommendation is usually to start off with 1 year.
WhoisGuard is included for free for one year and is a privacy protection service that prevents people from seeing information such as your name and email when they do a Whois search on your domain
To create a new account, you just have to
- Create a username and password
- Provide your real name
- Provide your email address
- Click “Create Account and Continue”
Once you’ve created an account, you’ll be asked to provide some additional contact information.
You’ll need to add your first name, last name, street address, city, zip code, country, phone number, and email address
On the next page, you’ll have the chance to review the contact information and add additional contacts if required.
In order to complete the purchase, you just have to
- Enter your payment details
- Click “Continue”
- Review your order details
- Click “Pay Now”
That’s it, you now own your first domain.
But before you move on, remember to verify your contact details in the NameCheap Dashboard or Domain List
STEP 3: Website Hosting
Once you have secured yourself a domain name, it’s time to select a host.
Website host: A company that stores all the files related to your website and allows your website to be displayed to the public.
Here’s what to look for in a good web host:
Uptime – When you’ve first spent a lot of time and money on creating your website you’ll want a web host that actually keeps it online for people to see. Aim for a web host with uptime scores at 99,9% and above.
Loading speed – If your site spends ages on loading, people will just leave before they’ve seen the content. Another important part is that Google has a tendency to give sites with poor loading speed a bad ranking in their search results, leaving you with even fewer visitors.
Cost – Don’t get blinded by a small startup cost, some hosts bump up their prices quite significantly when it’s time for the renewal of your hosting plan.
Refund policy – You should choose a host that would refund your money if you change your mind and would like to cancel the hosting
Support – As always, having a friendly support team that is actually available when you need it is worth quite a bit.
When searching for the right hosting provider you also have to consider which hosting option that suits you the best. For most of you, shared hosting will be more than sufficient enough in the beginning.
Shared hosting is the most popular hosting option by far, and usually also the cheapest one.
Shared hosting is exactly what it sounds like, your website will be sharing the same server and the same resources like CPU and RAM with quite a few other websites. Basically, that means that if another website on your shared server is using a lot of resources, this might affect the performance of your website and the other way around.
But since you’re sharing resources, you’re also sharing the cost which usually makes this option very affordable. And the truth is, a lot of us don’t actually need that much resources.
This option is well suited for your website if:
- You’re new to web hosting and want to get started with your first website
- You expect less than ~100,000 visitors per month
- You’re looking for the cheapest hosting option
- You need a hosting plan that requires no technical knowledge
If you would like a more detailed look at the other hosting options that exist, check out the more detailed web hosting article.
Where to buy hosting?
I’m currently running this site on the cheapest shared hosting option Siteground has to offer, and Siteground is my preferred host.
Not only do they offer good speed and uptime, their customer support really stands out, which is something I value highly.
Lastly, they provide a free SSL-certificate for your domain, which is a huge bonus!
I selected the StartUp package when i first started out, it’s a great choice for anyone starting a new website.
The GrowBig and GoGeek plans are great as well, but they become more relevant once your visitor count grows, or you want to host several websites on the same hosting plan.
Select “I already have a Domain” and enter the domain you purchased in Step 2 Domain Name.
To create an account and complete the purchase, just enter your personal information and credit card details in the “Review & Complete” section.
You’ll have to add email, a new account password, First Name, Last Name, Country, City, Street Address, Zip Code, Phone Number and your payment information.
The last part you have to go through before the account creation is complete is to review the selected plan and sign-up period.
Note that the 1-month trial setup has a rather expensive setup cost. Besides that, the monthly hosting cost is the same regardless of which duration you choose.
Once done, click “Pay Now”.
Great, the hosting account is set up, but we are not done just yet.
You will get a setup wizard right away, giving you a few options:
Start a new website: If you decided on Content Management Systems in the technology selection section, this option will take you through the necessary installation steps for the CMS of your choice.
Transfer a website: Choose this option if you already have a website, but you need help to transfer it to Siteground for free.
Don’t need help now: Select this option if you know how to proceed on your own (Don’t worry, I have guides telling you what to do)
I do not want to set up now. Remind me next time I log in: This option is at the very bottom and if you select this, you will get this same setup wizard the next time you log in.
With a domain name and hosting in place, there’s one last thing you have to do to make this work. You will have to connect the domain you bought at NameCheap with your new hosting account on SiteGround.
Ok, so how do we do that?
That’s done by pointing the domain to SiteGround’s DNS Servers.
Wait, what is DNS??
Domain Name System (DNS) is a system that translates easy-to-read web addresses (e.g. TheWebsiteRoad.com) into their respective IP addresses (e.g. 18.104.22.168).
I’ll attempt to briefly explain how it works, by using my website as an example
- When you type in TheWebsiteRoad.com, the DNS Server will send 22.214.171.124 back to your browser.
- The browser then asks the hosting server, “Show me the site with address 126.96.36.199”
- The hosting server will then respond by sending the website-files to your browser so that you can see the website you asked for.
How to point your domain from NameCheap to SiteGround
First, you should login to both your NameCheap and SiteGround account
1. Log into your SiteGround account
Under the My Accounts tab, click “Manage Account” and go to the “Information & Settings” tab.
In the “Account DNS” section you’ll find two nameservers and their corresponding IP.
Copy the two nameservers.
2. Log into your NameCheap account
Click the “Domain List” tab, and you will see all your domains. Choose the domain you want to point to SiteGround and click “Manage”.
Here you should find a section called “Nameservers”, click the dropdown and select “Custom DNS”.
Paste in the nameservers you copied from SiteGround and click the green check-mark.
That’s it, you’re done with your domain and hosting setup.
The only minor downside is that you now have to wait for a few hours for the DNS settings to get updated so that your site becomes visible (This could take up to 48 hours)
That being said, waiting a few hours to get started on your website is truly worth all the benefits of keeping hosting and separate.
Optional steps while waiting
While you’re waiting for the DNS to update, there’s still plenty of things you could do.
First, you could start getting familiar with Siteground and go through the steps described in my Siteground guide. It will cover things like how to access cPanel, setting up SSL-certificate and e-mail.
If you decided that Content Management Systems was the right choice, you could already start the installation. I explain how in the following articles
Alternatively, you could just set up Content Management Systems locally on your computer and play around with the different systems while waiting.