If you're ready to get going, this guide will introduce you to the services and software that can get you started building your own website, even if you have no experience. Keep in mind, none of these tools will give you an idea for a winning website—that's on you. They also won't make you a web designer, a job that's distinct from building a site. Still, these services and software will ease some of the headaches that come from a lack of extensive expertise in CSS, FTP, HTML, and PHP.

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.

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
When your website is ready for public viewing, you'll have to upload your webpages to your web server. You can buy space on a server from various providers (see How much does it cost to do something on the web?). Once you settle on which provider to use, the provider will email you the access information, usually in the form of an SFTP URL, username, password, and other information needed to connect to their server. Bear in mind that (S)FTP is now somewhat old-fashioned, and other uploading systems are starting to become popular, such as RSync and Git/GitHub.
The cost of making a website depends on a lot of different factors. If you decide to build your site with WordPress, you can get a new site for less than $50. For example, hosting a WP site with Bluehost will cost you only $2.95 per month, and that includes the registration of a custom domain! You will definitely need to invest a few bucks extra on a premium theme (which will probably be something in a range of $40-120), maybe a few premium plugins (on average, a plugin will cost you about $70), but that’s pretty much it.

Click-to-call buttons are especially helpful if you want mobile visitors to dial your business. This is a button that – when clicked from a mobile phone – automatically populates your business’ phone number into the visitor’s dialpad. An embedded Google Maps widget is also key for customers who are browsing on-the-go, as they can quickly bring up navigation to your store.

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.

Top tip: Don’t just test your website yourself. You will be blind to some of its faults. Plus, you know how your site is supposed to work, so while you might find navigating it easy that’s not to say a stranger will. Get a fresh perspective. Ask family members and friends to test your site and give feedback. If they’re anything like our family and friends they won’t be afraid of offering criticism.
Content and discussion threads in forums are not organized in an easy to digest way like in paid courses. If you are good at piecing together scattered information, this may not be a problem for you. But for the vast majority of people, this can slow down your learning process since you’ll need to dig through a mountain of information to find the one that is useful to you.
Most of the products here can tell you about site traffic, though the amount of detail varies greatly among them, and it's often tied to premium account levels. For example, Weebly can not only show you page views and unique visitors for each day of the month, but also search terms used to get to the site, referring sites, and top-visited pages. Wix and uKit, at the other end, have nothing in the way of built-in site stats, instead requiring you to create your own Google Analytics account, and even that requires a paid account. Another drawback of that approach is that you can only see traffic from the preceding day and earlier; it's not up-to-the-minute, or even the hour.
Even if you outsource some parts of your business, you still have to keep a watchful eye on the business structure. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean that it’s run any different than a traditional business. In short, be prepared to spend a lot of time improving and adjusting your site. I would personally make a list of everything you should do and start checking off this list as they are completed.
If you're ready to get going, this guide will introduce you to the services and software that can get you started building your own website, even if you have no experience. Keep in mind, none of these tools will give you an idea for a winning website—that's on you. They also won't make you a web designer, a job that's distinct from building a site. Still, these services and software will ease some of the headaches that come from a lack of extensive expertise in CSS, FTP, HTML, and PHP.
WordPress is popular for novice builders and has a reputation for being easy to use. There are thousands of free templates and plugins available at WordPress.org to make a good-looking site and extend the features of your website. After deciding on a template, update the images and text through the WordPress dashboard to customize your site. To make working with WordPress even easier, consider using GoDaddy Managed WordPress.
In general, as far as I know, all commercial web hosts let you install SSL certificates for your site. The price varies, though, from company to company. Some give you a certificate for free. Others will install a free certificate for a one time charge. Some require you to buy a commercial certificate (which has a recurring charge). And there are those that not only require you to buy a certificate, but also impose a monthly fee for using it on your website (on top of the recurring charge for that certificate). A discussion on how to get SSL certificates (including the free ones) can be found in that article mentioned earlier.
Hey Xylvia, The website builders that we suggested above aren't built specifically to stream videos for a price (sort of like Netflix). However, that's not to say it's not possible with a few simple workarounds. What you can do is set up a membership access only area (Wix and Weebly has this feature). You'll have to manually insert a payment button of some sort (such as using PayPal). Once your customer pays you, you can then email them links to pages that are "locked" behind the membership gateway, so they can access the videos. It's a bit manual and not as smooth as multi-billion dollar companies like Netflix, but it will work in concept. Alternatively, take a look at Sentry Login, which is a membership widget that works with Wix, Squarespace and Weebly. With Sentry, I think you can unlock a membership area once your customer pays. So it connects the payment system with the membership access system for you, which streamlines the process so you don't have to manually grant access to pages. Another thing you should consider is how big are the videos you want to upload. While you can upload pretty large movie / video files into the website builders, there are certain reasonable limits. For instance, if you're going to have 1,000 people viewing your HD movie that's 3 GB large all at the same time, that might be problematic. A workaround might be to get your own hosting solution for such large videos, then embed the videos into your membership only pages. It goes without saying that make sure you have distribution rights for the movies! But I'm not a lawyer, so best to consult proper advice in that regards! Jeremy
Hi Leon, I think Wix, Squarespace or Weebly are potential candidates. I also heard that some affiliate marketing sites use WordPress. But with WordPress, it is much more technical challenging than drag and drop website builders. But WP does offer more flexibility, if you know how to use it proficiently (with a bit of coding knowledge). Give the ones I suggested a try. They're free to test, before you commit to upgrading to one of their paid plans. That's the best way to get a sense of what works well for you! Jeremy
Once you have an overview of your website plan/sitemap, you can drill down to the specifics of the content you need to create for a website launch. It will be important to create evergreen content (content that will not be changing much and will appear on the static pages) and also important to have fresh content appearing on your website on a regular basis.

Superb article! Don't know if you can help here; My dad is a vegetable farmer and he sells his products to a small group of organic customers. I wonder if you could recommend a website builder so his customers can view the veggies available, rate them and even purchase online. Only thing I think it would be best if they would have to log in to get their individual pricing. Any idea? Thanks already. BTW I don't necessarily need the easiest builder, I do some tech work; just a professional looking, free solution with our own domain cause my Dad won't spend a dime on this until I make him see the benefits.
Of course the design of your website should be visually appealing, you don’t want people to leave your site screaming in horror, but it’s not everything. On top of having a website that’s easy on the eyes, it needs to convey the message you’re trying to present, such as your business objective, plan of action for visitors and the quality content that you’ve been busy creating.
A Blog. WordPress is set up for blogging by default, but you’re going to set your homepage as a static About Me page. Therefore, you’ll need to set up your blog manually, which is still really easy. You can also choose to leave the blog out if you want, but I think having one is a great way to show off your knowledge and thoughts. Here’s how I’ve implemented a blog on my personal site.
Whether you’re providing a product, service, portfolio for your work or launching an ecommerce storefront, your website not only should reflect you and/or your brand, it also needs to be the central location for your business. There’s simply no other way around it. All of your marketing efforts lead back to your website. Which is why it’s of the utmost importance to set up your website correctly.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with BigCommerce with us! That's awesome and I'm glad you're having a great time and getting great support from their team! I also heard that they are working on their own native Point of Sale system. I'm not entirely sure when it will be released, but hopefully soon. Shopify has their own POS system, which integrates smoothly with an online store built with their software. For those who are curious about BigCommerce, take a look at this discussion here. Thanks again for sharing and adding to this discussion! Jeremy
In my feature comparison table I show which website builders you let design a website from scratch— and there are a handful. Of those I would recommend Wix. Wix is an excellent, highly customizable website builder. It can be a bit overwhelming with the amount of options it provides— but that's exactly what you want if you're designing a theme from scratch.
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.
In terms of absolute design and development freedom, I recommend using MODX which is more a CMS and framework combined. It likes to market itself as a CMF. I used to use Wordpress for basic sites and MODX for anything more complex but over time clients come back asking for added functionality to their websites and I came to realise I could save more time overall just using MODX for everything. There are some other promising CMS options that have appeared too that are quite customisable such as Processwire, October CMS and Craft CMS (although the last one is paid).

Great Article and the only one that gives a step by step guide. This might be a silly question but I keep reading about buying a hosting space on the internet and you haven't mentioned that at all. Is that same as buying a domain? Does it mean that if i get one of the website builder plans with the domain included, then I dont need to go anywhere else?
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