Professional firms charge several $100 or even several $1000 (swap $ for £ if you are in the UK, or for whatever currency you use) for a website. The good news is that you can set up a professional standard website yourself relatively easily for a fraction of the cost.
There are some terms and standard steps that you need to understand before you can start building your website.
Lessons#1 will cover Domain Names, Web Hosting, and Content Management Systems.
1. Domain Name Registration
The first thing you need to do is get a website name (AKA a domain name). Your domain name is what people type into a website address bar (URL) to get to your website, and it is therefore important that it is something you like and that other people can easily remember and spell.
It can be tricky to find a domain name because a lot of the common words and phrases are already in use. When I was looking for a domain name for my website (NeilCurtis.me) I first started thinking of relevant words of phrases about web design or setting up websites etc., but unfortunately all of the good names were taken.
Be warned, you can spend a long time trying to get the perfect domain name. Add to the mix the top level domains or TLD’s, which are the .com, .net, .co.uk etc. and it can become a difficult choice. I ended up going with my name after exhausting all other options, and it made sense too because my website is about me sharing what I am passionate about. I originally wanted .com because this is still seen as the most common and recognisable TLD, but that was already taken. I then wanted .co.uk because I am from the UK, but still no joy. I finally chose www.neilcurtis.me.
The best places to search for a domain name are the domain name registrars. I have a video where I show you how I register a domain name with Dreamhost, the web host I use for a lot of my websites:
There are many domain name registrars, just type ‘buy domain names’ into Google and you’ll see lots of choices. Once on a domain name registration website you just type in a domain name you want and it lets you know if it’s available. The video at the top of the page shows you how to register a domain name.
2. Web Hosting
After you have your domain name you need to choose a web host. This is just a company who has lots of super reliable servers (specialist computers) where you upload all your website files too. Quite often these hosting companies are the same companies who register domain names, and again the video shows the web host Dreamhost who I use for my websites.
There are several web hosting packages on offer, but when you are starting out you want to choose Shared Web Hosting. This is the cheapest option and all it means is that you share a server with other websites rather than having your own personal server. This is absolutely fine and many of my websites are on shared servers.
3. Content Management System (CMS)
Once you have registered a domain name and signed up for web hosting you are ready to set up your website. You need a solid content management system (CMS) to build your website on and really there is only one choice, WordPress. Why? It’s free, it’s open source and continuously updated, it’s very easy to use, it’s powerful and versatile, and perhaps its most striking seal of approval is that it is used by many huge international companies. I’m talking about the likes of Coca Cola, Sony, the New York Times, and I hope this does not put you off, Justin Bieber’s website. I also use WordPress for every single one of my websites, and you should too.
This wraps up lesson #1. You now know the first steps in creating a website. The video at the top of the page goes through all steps necessary to get your first website live on the internet and I recommend you watch it if you are just starting out.
In lesson #2 you’ll learn about installing WordPress on to your web hosts servers and getting your website live on the internet.
For more details on some of the subjects covered in Lesson#1 visit the ‘How to make a website’ page.