For complete beginners, making a website or blog feels like trying to find a light switch in the dark. There is so much advise and information overload on the Internet which can lead to confusion.
In this article, I hope to take you through an easy step-by-step website setup guide. No complicated geek talk here and you don’t need to learn programming. Just three simple steps and your website or blog will be up and running within no time.
Step One – Choose a Content Management System (CMS)
In the simplest terms, think of a CMS as what you would find if you “popped the hood” of your website. It’s the nuts and bolts that holds your site together so that the rest of the world can view it. A CMS is installed on your host provider, usually via a one-click process. With a CMS in place, you need not worry about writing code and other complicated tech stuff. The CMS does all that for you, automatically, behind the scenes. All you need to worry about is writing and adding content to your website or blog.
So, let’s take a look at some popular free content management systems that come with most hosting accounts.
Over 80 million websites run on WordPress. It is extremely easy to use and has a large developer community that creates templates (website designs) and small programs known as plugins that extend the functionality of WordPress. It is for this reason that WordPress is my first choice for beginners looking to start a blog. The rest of this article will continue on the premise that you have decided to run with WordPress.
Joomla is also popular and has a large community of users though not as large as WordPress. It is more suited to social sites that require lots of user interaction and engagement.
Unlike WordPress and Joomla, Drupal is for the more advanced user. It is used mainly by large companies that have large websites with lots of traffic.
Step 2 – Choose a website name (domain) and host provider
If you want to make money with your site, you must select a niche carefully. A good niche is clearly defined by a keyword and doesn’t have high competition. If you are setting up a business website, it is a good idea to use your company name as the domain (if the domain name is available). The rules are not so hard and fast if it’s a personal blog or hobby site. Always go with a .com domain because this is what most people are familiar with. Also, make sure you adhere to the following rules when choosing a domain name:
- Make it short and catchy.
- Must be brand-able thus memorable and not for the wrong reasons.
- Must include your keyword.
- Must be niche specific.
When selecting hosting, you have the option of shared or dedicated hosting. With shared hosting, your blog or website runs on the same IP address and server with many other sites. With dedicated hosting, your site runs on its own IP address and server. For beginners, a shared host is good for a start. Later on, you can always move your site to a dedicated host once you are making enough money. However, it is possible to use a shared server but with a dedicated IP address. A good shared hosting starter package costs between $5 and $10 and an IP address will set you back about $15 a year.
Make sure your hosting provider offers one-click installation of WordPress and other CMS. Install WordPress and move on to step 3 below.
Step 3 – Configure your new website
Assuming you have installed WordPress, log into the admin dashboard using the credentials you created during the one-click install in step two above. Take note of the admin menu to the left of your screen. Hover your cursor to open the sub-menus. Go through each one and read the documentation to understand what each does.
Next, install a theme (a design) by navigating to the Appearance menu item and click on the Themes sub-menu. Browse the WordPress theme library for a theme of your choice then click Add New > Install and then Activate.
Next, go to the Posts section to create a new post if your site is a blog or Pages if it’s a regular site. Publish and that’s it! Your site is ready.
How to Speed Up Your Site
The first thing we have to look at is how to improve your website loading speed. The load speed of your site concern you for a number of reasons. First, search engines like Google have incorporated site speed into their ranking algorithm. Thus, the faster your site the better it ranks for related search terms. Secondly, research has established that 47% of people will bounce off your site if it doesn’t load within two seconds. Third, Internet audiences are an impatient bunch with fickle attention spans.
So, once you set up your site and upload initial content, the next thing you need to do is analyze the load time. To do so, there are many free tools such as Google’s PageSpeed insights. Simply enter the URL and click “analyze” to see the results with suggestions on how to fix any problems. Most beginners will notice that the main issues will have something to do with images being too large or ads using wrong formats. These can easily be fixed by optimizing images for the web and using asynchronous ad formats.
There you have it. Three simple steps to starting a website. If you have used WordPress to set up your website, just remember that there is much more you can do to extend the functionality of your website. There are plugins to help you do just about anything with WordPress. Keep experimenting as you go along and you will soon become a web guru.