How to launch a website in 30min
TheWebsiteRoad.com was created to give everyone an easy way to launch their own website.
There are many ways to develop a website. This guide will show you the most popular option, which is also the option I recommend for most beginners.
If you’re curious about which other options that exist, I suggest that you check out my detailed guide.
Ready to launch your first website?
Let’s get started!
STEP 1 – Technology selection
There’s an endless amount of web development technologies out there.
You have website builders like Wix, Squarespace and Weebly.
You have Content Management Systems like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
And then you have all the options that require coding (Which would take a lot more time than 30 min).
All these options can feel a bit overwhelming, even for experienced developers. Hopefully, I can make that choice a bit easier.
What’s popular today?
If we look at the statistics at BuiltWith, you’ll quickly see that there is one platform that stands out.
As you can see from the illustration above, 53% of all the websites built with Content Management Systems/Website builders are using WordPress.
Let’s have a look at why.
Why is WordPress so popular?
The main benefit of a Content Management System like WordPress is the ease of updating website content. That makes it a popular choice for sites that require frequent content updates like blogs, e-commerce stores, portfolios, and news sites.
With WordPress you can create a good-looking website without knowing anything about coding. That makes it a popular choice among beginners.
More advanced users that knows how to code still have a lot of flexibility if required.
Personally, I believe the main reason for its popularity is the balance between usability and flexibility.
If you want to read more about how WordPress compares to other Content Management Systems, you can read my comparison of WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
If you want to understand how Content Management Systems compare to other development options, you can read my technology selection article.
STEP 2 - Domain name and hosting
Before you can start building your website, you will need a domain name and a website host.
A domain name is what uniquely identifies your site, like thewebsiteroad.com.
It will become your brand on the internet. So, it’s worth spending some time on finding a good domain name.
It typically costs around $15 per year.
A website host is then a company that allows you to store your website on their servers for a small fee. In return, they will display your website to the public when someone types in your domain name.
Where do I get a domain name and a website host?
Personally, I use SiteGround for almost all my websites.
Yes, it’s possible to find cheaper hosts out there. But in my opinion, it’s worth spending a few $ extra on a host with good uptime, good performance, and great support.
The introduction price starts at €3,95/mo, which is actually pretty good. So, it’s worth checking them out.
Want more information about hosting? Check out my detailed hosting guide.
Already have a domain name and host? Skip to step 3.
How to get a domain name and set up hosting with SiteGround?
I selected the StartUp package, which is 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.
If you don’t have a domain name yet, check the Register a New Domain and enter the domain name of your choice.
Some of you will notice that it can be quite difficult to find a good domain name that is still available. Check out my detailed guide on how to choose a domain if you need some help.
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.
Most of you should be fine without any of the extra services. They can be added later if you change your mind.
Once done, click “Pay Now”.
STEP 3: Install WordPress
Once your domain and hosting are in place, it’s time for installing WordPress.
There are two possible ways to install WordPress
Most well-established hosting companies provide one-click installations for popular Content Management Systems like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.
So, if you signed up with SiteGround or any similar company, there should be a one-click installation button in your control panel.
All you have to do is to follow these steps:
- Log into your hosting account
- Go to your control panel
- Find the WordPress button under Autoinstallers.
- Click the Install tab
- Scroll down to the Site Settings and give your site a name and description (Can be changed later)
- Add username and password
- Click Install
That’s it, the installation is now complete.
If your host for some reason does not have a one-click installation, check out my guide on how to manually install WordPress.
STEP 4: Customize your website
If you now visit YourDomain.com you’ll see that your site is up and running.
Now it’s time to start modifying it
Log in to WordPress admin panel
First, you’ll have to log in to the admin panel. That’s done by typing YourDomain.com/wp-admin
In the login window that appears you should enter the username and password, you created during the installation.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll see an admin panel that looks like this
If this looks a bit overwhelming, don’t worry, I’ll guide you through the next steps.
A theme is basically a design template for your site that will provide your site with a unique and good-looking design.
The good thing about WordPress is that it offers you thousands of these themes for FREE.
Find and install a new theme
Navigate to Appearance->Themes->Add New
Spend some time and browse through some of the different options, there’s a lot of great themes out there.
If you need some additional guidance, you can check out Colorlib’s list of 50+ beautiful & free responsive WordPress themes.
If you’re still not able to find any theme that you really like, you might want to consider checking out some premium themes. ThemeForest offers a wide range of professional themes at a varying cost and might be worth checking out.
Once you’ve found your preferred theme, just click “Install” followed by “Activate”.
Add content and create new pages/posts
Now that you’ve added a good-looking theme, let’s have a look at how to add content.
Adding and editing pages
Maybe you want to add a “Products” page or an “About us” page?
Just go to Pages and click “Add New”
If you want to edit an existing page, just hover your mouse over the page and you’ll see an “Edit” button.
That will take you to a screen where you can add page title and content like text and images.
Once you’re done, click “Publish” to make it available to the public.
Adding pages to the menu
Once you’ve created your first site, you might want to add it to your homepage menu.
That’s done by going to Appearance->Menus
Select the pages you want to add and click “Add to Menu” and the “Create Menu”.
When the menu is created, just ensure that “Display location” is checked for “Primary Menu”.
Adding and editing posts
If you’re creating a blog, you’ll also need to know how to create and edit posts.
It’s actually quite similar to adding a page, you go to Posts and click Add New.
The difference, however, is the presence of Categories and Tags.
Categories are used to create groups of posts that are related to the same topic.
Tags are meant to describe the content of a specific post.
The intention of both Categories and tags are simply to assist your visitors in finding the content they’re interested in reading.
If you want to read more on the topic, you can check out the categories vs tags post written by wpbeginner.
You can create new Categories by going to Posts->Categories, type in your new category and click Create New Category.
Similarly, you can create new Tags by going to Posts->Tags, type in a new tag and click Create New Tag.
Adding categories to the menu
With posts and categories in place, it’s even possible to make post categories available from a drop-down menu. That will create a page displaying any posts you have added to that given category.
That’s done the same way as for pages, by going to Appearance->Menus and selecting Categories.
The trick here is that once you’ve added the category to the menu, you drag it underneath the menu item that should get the drop-down. In this case, I’m placing the “WordPress” category under the “My Blog” page.
More WordPress configurations
Let’s have a look at some more WordPress configurations that might be handy to know about.
Disabling/enabling comments for specific pages
Depending on what kind of site you’re creating, you might want to control whether or not visitors are allowed to leave comments.
This is done by when creating a new page/post, by clicking the Screen Options and checking the Discussions box.
This will make a Discussion box appear at the very bottom of the page, where you can check/uncheck “Allow comments”.
Disable comments by default for all new post and pages
This is done by going to Settings->Discussion and uncheck the option that says “Allow people to post comments on new articles”.
Set static front page
By now, some of you might have noticed that your front page looks like a blog post. The reason is simply that WordPress has been set up to display your latest blog post on the homepage.
This can be solved by setting a static homepage, a page you have decided should be the main landing page.
Changing to static site is easily done by
Going to Settings->Reading
Select “A static page” and choose the page you would like as your homepage.
Set permalink structure
A permalink is the link/URL to a specific page or post on your website.
So, if you wanted to share a specific blog post on Facebook, you would share the permalink.
Permalink structure can be set by going to Settings->Permalinks
As you can see, Post Name is by far the easiest one to read, and the one I recommend.
Aim for descriptive URL’s that makes it easy for your visitors to understand what the page is about.
NOTE: It’s also possible to manually edit permalinks directly in the post/page sections.
Extending WordPress functionality with Plugins
We’re getting close to the end now, but we have yet to talk about one of the most important things WordPress has to offer, plugins.
What is a plugin?
A plugin is a small program that can be installed on your WordPress to add extra functionality.
They can range from something as simple as social media sharing buttons to a whole e-commerce plugin.
They’ve been created so that you don’t have to write code from scratch, and WordPress has thousands of them.
Installing a plugin
As with most other things in WordPress, installing a plugin is fairly easy.
You go to Plugins->Add New, and start searching.
When you’ve found what you were looking for, just click “Install Now” and “Activate”.
Pretty simple, right?
I would like to warn you though, plugins can also have a negative impact on your site, especially if you forget to keep them up to date.
So, before you go ahead installing all these awesome plugins, I suggest that you read through these 10 things you should know about using WordPress plugins.
5 recommended plugins
UpdraftPlus – A free backup plugin that stores a backup of your files and databases directly in the cloud. Don’t rely on the backups done by your host.
Yoast SEO – A free SEO plugin that helps you do the right tweaks to your website in order to make your site more user-friendly and more likely to rank well in Google searches.
Contact Form 7 – A free contact form plugin. Any website owners who would like to stay in touch with their visitors should have a contact form.
All in One WP Security & Firewall – A free security plugin that will improve your overall WordPress security. Due to its popularity, WordPress is a popular target for hackers, a security plugin will make things a bit harder.
Google Analytics Dashboard – A Google analytics plugin that allows you to track the number of visitors to your site and their behavior. Perfect for analyzing the effectiveness of different advertisement strategies.
If you followed this guide, you now have a really great basis for a good website. There’s still quite a bit to go, and a good website will need to continuously evolve and improve, but this is a great start!
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.