Creating A Website, A Complete Guide For Beginners
Websites are becoming easier and easier to make, meaning that the age of people making them is getting younger and younger. Nowadays, you’ll find many blog owners are in their early teens, and you’d be surprised to know that in many cases, that teenager set the website up completely by themselves. It’s likely that these websites have been created on some type of content management system (CMS), most probably WordPress. With over 70 million websites running on the service, it’s estimated that roughly 25% of sites on the World Wide Web are made with WordPress, and that’s what I’ll try to walk you through today.
When I set up Geeks Have Landed late last year, it was the first time I had even attempted to set up a website with my own domain. Previous attempts at setting up a blog had been done with services like Yola, which is great for beginners, but not really for those who want to manage a website seriously. That’s why WordPress is an extremely useful thing to use, there are thousands of themes available for under $50 which look more professional than anything an expensive designer could have built for you a few years ago. This time last year, I had less than no idea how to even begin with WordPress, it all seemed very complicated and any tutorial I found seemed to assume that I already had some form of previous knowledge, which meant I had to use several different tutorials to finally set up the website you are on right now. Hopefully this tutorial will guide somebody with absolutely no experience through the many steps to creating a website, once you do it once you can do it a thousand times, like riding a bike.
Domain and Hosting
You can’t have a website without a domain. I doubt anybody with access to the internet is unaware of what a domain is, but just in case, it’s the address you type in to get to the website you desire. For example, geekshavelanded.com is our domain. If you are after a domain that has already been taken, things get complicated as you have to have direct contact with the owner of the domain, and it’s likely that you’ll have to pay quite a bit to take it off their hands. However, if you think of a domain that hasn’t been taken, you can get one for dirt cheap.
The thing is, you can’t run a website with only a domain, that’s just the name for your website. You’ll need a server host to run it on, and depending on what you want the website for, it can be very cheap. I recommend using One.com, but that’s the only service I have ever used. Geeks Have Landed has been using One for a year now, and it only costs me about £30 a year. For that price, it’s paid for itself very quickly, however if you thing your website needs a lot of storage or will be attracting a lot of attention, you might want to consider investing in extra hosting. For the benefit of this tutorial, I would advise using One.com.
Other Domain Registrars and Hosting Providers
Once you have registered a domain and hosting, you’ll probably have to wait for a while. If I remember correctly, it took a little under a day for One.com to send me an email confirming that everything had been registered correctly. This e-mail also provides the passwords and information necessary for the next steps.
Download an FTP Client
Once you have received this e-mail, you’ll need to connect to the server. You do this by using an FTP client, the most popular of which is FileZilla. It’s a method of communicating with the server you have just set up, and you can upload files from your computer to the hosting account. Websites are made up of thousands of different files containing HTML, so it’s easy to transfer these files from your computer to the server. Once again, although there are alternative FTP Clients, I would advise using FileZilla for this tutorial as it’s the most popular and is available on all platforms.
To connect to your hosting account, you need to enter the information that you should have received in the confirmation email to your account. If you didn’t, it’s extremely simple to gain access to that information as most of domain registrars and hosting services have brilliant live chat services, especially One.com. The details you need to enter into FileZilla are the Host, Username, Password and Port. In most cases, the host will be ‘ftp.yourdomain.com’, your username will be ‘yourdomain.com’, your password will be the password you used when setting up the account, and the port should be 21. You may be able to leave the port clear, however if you are at all unsure about the details, you should contact your service with live chat.
Downloading and Installing WordPress
So, you have created a domain, purchase hosting and have downloaded and set up FileZilla to connect to your account, now you need to install WordPress to run that site. Here’s how;
- Download The latest WordPress files from WordPress.org/download.
- Once downloaded, extract the files to somewhere you can find easily, I usually keep it on my Desktop.
Now it’s time to use FileZilla again. If you have lost connection to your host, you should be able to quickly connect again by clicking the ‘quick connect’ option to the right of the detail fields. Once connected, there are two small windows, one of which is your computer, the other is your website’s files. On the left hand side, find your WordPress folder and transfer all the files from inside the folder across to the other side. It will take a while to transfer everything across as there are a lot of folders and it is uploading all of them to the root of your soon-to-be website.
Final WordPress Setup
Once it has finished uploading, you’re not far off a functioning website. Visit the url you chose in set one, ‘www.yourdomain.com’. If the set up has been completed properly, you should be presented with a page asking you to configure your WordPress setup.
Username: Your MySQL Username, you should have this information in the hosting details.
Password: Your MySQL Password, you should have this information in the hosting details.
Table Prefix: wp_ (if you want subdomains like ‘subdomain.yourdomain.com’, add a number or word to this to make it unique)
Following these steps, you should be presented with the option to give your blog a title and enter your login details to gain access to the dashboard, which is the place you will be spending all your time any time you wish to change or add something to the website.
The Basics of WordPress
Earlier I mentioned that professional looking websites are often maintained by young people, and that’s because it’s extremely simple to set up a good design for under $50. This is done through web design marketplaces like ThemeForest, where developers can sell the files of a website design, ranging from portfolios to news blogs such as this one, each for an extremely reasonable price. Once you’ve picked a theme, you buy and download it and then upload the files to the ‘themes’ folder found in ‘wp-content’ in FileZilla.
Of course, you can download themes for free as well, however in most cases you get what you pay for, so free themes might lack support if something goes wrong, which can happen as WordPress and plugins update. That brings me onto my next point, Plugins.
Plugins is a fantastically simple way of running a website. Plugins can do a number of things, but below is the four main reasons that plugins can be useful.
Tracking visitors – where they are from, how long they visited for and where they came from
Some plugins cost, however it is completely achievable to run a successful website on nothing but free plugins.
How to download Plugins
Download from the internet, a good place for paid plugins is Theme Forest. Once they are downloaded, use FileZilla to upload the files to the ‘plugins’ folder found in ‘wp-content’. Then visit the ‘Plugins’ menu on the WordPress Dashboard and activate the plugin you just uploaded.
If it’s a free one you’re after, you can probably find it directly from the WordPress Dashboard by visiting ‘Plugins, Add New’. Then search for the name of the plugin you are after, install it and then click to activate it.
Up to you!
By now, you will hopefully have a fully functioning WordPress set up, which is accessible by typing in the domain you registered earlier into your browser. The rest is up to you, find a theme you like and fill it with the content you desire. Let me know if this guide was useful to you, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below!