I hear your pain. I know creating a website can be daunting, especially to someone who has never ventured into the online world, but let me assure you that its really quite simple. If you don’t want to head down the road of building your own self hosted WordPress site, then I would suggest signing up to WordPress.com. This is the free version of WordPress where you can get your site up and running in no time and with no costs whatsoever. Sounds like you just need a no frills, no bells, no whistles type of website. If that’s the case then WordPress.com could be the option for you.

Designing and creating your website (especially your first one) is not a simple task. If you're a designer like me, then you're already way ahead of the game. But what if you're one of the 99% of business owners who are not technical or creative? I want to share my website design expertise with you to help you build a professional looking website to grow your business.


You have a lot of custom requirements for your website that are unlikely to be accommodated by the website builders mentioned below.  Whilst a very basic website is easy to create on WordPress, you should be striving for more than ‘basic’ when building your business’s online presence. It is likely you would need a developer and a designer to customize the features, functionality and design of the site- additional resources that you will need to budget for if you choose to build your website with a CMS.
If you don't have a design already in place and think templates are too limited, consider Adobe Muse CC. This unique little program concentrates on letting you design. Templates are handy, embeddable web fonts are great, and the sitemap view may be the best way to get an overall feel for what your site will have. Export it to HTML and you're ready for upload. It's part of the Creative Cloud bundle and also available individually for $14.99 a month with a yearly plan.

There is a lot of information to digest, and because of this, I suggest you read these tutorials over a number of days. To help you, I've separated them into different steps in the following table. Although some of the tutorials are quite short, you may need to spend several days on others. That's fine, in fact, I recommend you take your time so that you really understand each technology.
When you sign up you get immediate access to your own virtual classroom where you can take lessons at your own pace, ask us questions, and chat live with other students. Along the way you will learn all you need to know about HTML, CSS, SEO, hosting your site, building beautiful sites fast, Bootstrap, adding social sharing, and other bonus goodies to test your business ideas. You’ll be an HTML and CSS ninja.
With all that being said, I want to share some things you can do to improve your website’s SEO. To keep things simple, we’ll take an 80/20 approach here – as in 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. Yes, there are lots of tiny little tweaks you can make to marginally improve SEO – and if you’re curious about them, you might want to check out this set of tutorials.
Modern website are more complex than websites in the past. They aren't just HTML, CSS and Javascript being passed from a server. Those assets are optimized, cached and accessed through special content delivery networks (among other things) to ensure performance. The reality of disentangling all of this from the website builder and moving into a third party host is that it's messy and would require a level of technical competence that most users of website builders don't have.

Hello Mart, I don't think WYSIWIG website builders have any built in searchable databases - at least not the ones I've used before anyway. I "think" I've seen an external widget that you can use and plug it into a website. Have you tried searching for one? If there isn't any, I'd imagine you'd have to have one custom built to work the way you want it to. One "hack" you might want to consider is to use the website builder's search bar tool. So you would insert all your data into your website as pages, and let people use the sitewide search bar to find what they're looking for. It's not an elegant solution, but worth considering or testing. Jeremy


Hey Jeremy, Awesome article. I especially like the flow and the logical approach that you took to educate people. This is the article I point clients to, to get them up to speed before starting projects. I think it's important for them to know how their products work. While they aren't making their own sites, it definitely still fits the bill. Also, I'm curious as to what you think about WooCommerce these days. I didn't seem them on the list in the other article you wrote "Best Ecommerce Software". Anyways, I've been sending my clients here for a while now and just want to give you a shout out at a job well done! If you are able to send me an email, I do have a question I'd like to ask if you have the time.
Of course, another great way to learn web development is to simply look at code. If you’re using Google Chrome, you can hit CTRL+U (or if you’re on a Mac, just go to View -> Developer -> Source) to see the HTML for the page you’re on. You can also use the Web Developer extension to dig in even deeper. This method won’t work for viewing server-side code like PHP, but it’s great for digging into HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
Hi Jeremy, It's a fantastic article. I admire you the way you articulated this. I am planning to build a website. It would be more like, subscribers can post a question and the reply to this question feed will comprise an attachment that needs to send to a specific mail id. Could you please suggest me which website builder suits most for this use case? Thanks, Sri
Great Article jeremy! VERY informative!! I'm working on making a job-board type of site. Where users can post jobs and and possible create profiles to frequently post job vacancies. The applicants should be able to filter through and search for jobs, so some sort of filteration system would be useful. If possible, I'd like for the job posters and the people searching for jobs to be able to create a profile on the website. What web-builder would you suggest? So far word press with cetains plug-ins seems to be the best bet but I'd appreciate your advice on this. Thank You

Eric narrowly averted a career in food service when he began in tech publishing at Ziff-Davis over 25 years ago. He was on the founding staff of Windows Sources, FamilyPC, and Access Internet Magazine (all defunct, and it's not his fault). He's the author of two novels, BETA TEST ("an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale"--Publishers' Weekly) an... See Full Bio
GoCentral Website Builder lets you quickly build a customized site and get it out there for the world to see. It’s all done through components that we call sections. What're those? They're features that you can slide into your website to provide added functionality instead of being limited by a template. Just pick an industry or interest, and we drop you into a customizable design.

About.me and Flavors.me are examples of nameplate services. You simply upload one big photograph as the background for your personal webpage, then artfully overlay information and links to create your digital nameplate. These free sites help you pull images from your social networks or from a hard drive, then provide the tools to make the text and links work unobtrusively, though it really behooves you to check out other personal pages for an idea of what works.
I am using wix for building my e-commerce site in India, but after spending so much time building it i realized that it doesn't support Indian Rupee. So i am just stuck at this and don't know what else to do. My question is that, is there any other payment option that can be added to my site so that my customers can choose different payment options ( even if that means a third party payment gateway).??
When you sign up you get immediate access to your own virtual classroom where you can take lessons at your own pace, ask us questions, and chat live with other students. Along the way you will learn all you need to know about HTML, CSS, SEO, hosting your site, building beautiful sites fast, Bootstrap, adding social sharing, and other bonus goodies to test your business ideas. You’ll be an HTML and CSS ninja.
Another advantage of CSS (of separating the content from the layout and look) is that it is easier to make changes in the future. Without CSS, coming back from a 3 month vacation can be a nightmare. Navigating through content mixed together with layout HTML can be more vexing then deciphering hieroglyphics, more tangled then last years Christmas tree lights. But with CSS, content is separated from layout, it is much easier to make changes to your website even if your cruise vacation is unexpectedly extended a couple years due to Somali pirates.
Kevin, With website builders like Wix or Weebly, you can use them for free and there isn't a time limit. However, with the free plans, you won't be able to connect your own domain name to the website, and you will be limited to certain functions. But you can definitely publish a website. Further, all hosting services are provided by the website builders listed above. So you don't have to get your own hosting services. Jeremy
Hi Chris, We actually used WordPress to build this website. Our website is focused on blogging and so we used the best, most flexible platform for this purchase. Having said that, we've heavily customized this websites since we're now proficient with coding. If it was 6 years ago, we wouldn't be able to do what we are doing now. We started making websites in 6 - 7 years ago and didn't know anything about coding. It took us a few years to become more proficient with coding, with a lot of practice. So during the first few years, we relied on code-free, drag and drop website builders for all of our projects. They were great since we didn't need to be technical at all, and we were able to build businesses. So if you want to build something similar to our website, I'd suggest you learn how to code and practice a lot. Eventually you'll get there! Hope this explains things a bit! Jeremy

Hi A S, Picking and purchasing a domain name and start building your website go hand in hand. What usually happens is that you test out a few different website builders to see which one you enjoy working with and has the tools that you are looking for. During that time, you can also start your search for your domain name. This is usually your business' name or brand name. We have a domain name guide here. Once you settle with a website builder and decide to upgrade to a paid plan, you can then connect your domain name to the website. Each website builder will have tutorials on how to do that. Hope this helps! Jeremy
There’s a huge library of goodies for you to use at Envato Elements, which range from ready to use stock images for your blog posts (250,000+ fully licensed stock photos), web templates, fonts, backgrounds and much much more.  Elements like these can save you so much time and are all ready for you to use for a single monthly subscription by signing up to Envato Elements.
For most users, free themes are the best place to start. When you install a new theme, it doesn’t change the content on your site, only the layout. This means you can download and install a number of different themes to see which theme suits you best. If you feel like you need something more advanced than a free theme, you can always install a paid theme at a later date.
I’m pretty new to the whole web development/design aspect of things. I’ve tinkered before with free things but more specifically with forum design. I’m very interested in building a website but aside from having a main traditional website feel I’m looking to incorporate a forum to it. Would it be possible to do this with this WordPress/BlueHost tutorial here? Or would there be something you recommend for that sort of thing?
While the the best of them offer surprising amounts of flexibility, they also impose stringent enough restrictions to page design that you shouldn't be able to create a really bad looking site using one of these services. Typically you can get a Mysite.servicename.com style-url with no commerce abilities for free from one of these services; you have to pay extra for a better URL and the ability to sell. One issue to consider is that if you eventually outgrow one of these services, it can be hard to export your site to a full scale advanced web hosting like Dreamhost or Hostgator. If you know that's where you are eventually going, it may be better to skip the sitebuilder step.
Ah, now it makes sense. Totally understand how that doesn't fit now. I also like how you phrased "mental bandwidth". That definitely seems to be the case with most businesses that I work with, especially startups. The other thing you mentioned that I really like is "typical" businesses. I think that all too often when people think businesses corporate America comes to mind. Most businesses are normal people running shops and trying to stay afloat in a digital sea. So, I wrote something on a similar topic, and I don't want to spam you with a link or anything like that. I was actually looking for feedback on it. If you're interested at all, shoot me an email. GREAT job on this site. It's obvious that you all dropped a lot of time and effort into your site and articles. Bravo!
Written Content: There is no denying that ‘Content Is King’. Without high quality, relevant content, your website is less likely to be found by your target users. And without the right messaging within your website, those users that do visit your site may not make the desired actions you wish them to make (such as leaving their details or purchasing your top products).

The best place to find themes is through WordPress’s own Theme Directory. Search for the types of themes you’d be interested in. If you’re setting up a newspaper search ‘newspaper’, if you need a site for your café search ‘cafe’. There’ll be dozens, if not hundreds, of contenders. Clicking on a theme takes you to its own page where you can see user reviews and preview the theme in action.
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