In another post, I answered the question “Do I need a website for my business?”. In this post I will tell you the best way to build a website for your business, should you choose to tackle this on your own. Getting to a finished website is most likely going to be time consuming and have a learning curve. Getting set up however, actually isn’t too bad.
I am not going to give you a ton of options here and make you think too much. I am just going to lay out the steps for you and provide you with some links.
My “best way to build a website” may differ from someone else’s best way. This is my opinion and how I would instruct a friend to do accomplish it. I have not personally tried every single available option out there but I have been building websites for around 8 years now and know how I like to do it.
Step 1. Get a host and a domain
Sign up for Bluehost. (Disclaimer, I am an affiliate with Bluehost and I do get a commission if you sign up.) I recommend them for beginners for a few different reasons.
- You get a free domain name when you sign up
- they are very affordable, you do need to pay a year in advance however
- the support is very good and you can get all of your questions answered quickly
- one click WordPress installs
- free backups of your site
The included domain eliminates the step of going to a registrar and buying a domain name and messing with nameservers. However if you want to buy your domain from a separate registrar and not have it tied to a hosting provider (which is what I do) then I highly recommend Namecheap. Not that registering a domain elsewhere is difficult, but it adds another step. If you are starting from scratch and have never done this before then the fewer steps the better.
Using the link above, and go to Bluehost. Click the large get started button. Just choose the choice plus plan, it’s very affordable and includes everything you need. They want you to pay for a minimum of 1 year in advance, the more you pay for the cheaper it gets. There is a 30 day money back guarantee.
Choose new domain and search for the domain name you want. Get a .com. If your business is Discount Boot Warehouse then choose discountbootwarehouse.com or some variation of that. If it isn’t available then get creative but try and keep your business name in the domain and do not make the domain too long.
You shouldn’t need any extras. Just choose your domain, fill out your info, and pay for your hosting package. You will receive an email with instructions on how to log into your control panel. Once you do, log into your website’s control panel and get a feel for things. It may look intimidating with all of the options,most of them you will never touch.
Step 2. Install WordPress
After you have logged in to your cPanel, find the website section. Click on install WordPress. Make sure the domain you bought is selected. Underneath that you can enter what folder to install it in, make sure this field is blank if you want people to go to yourdomain.com and see your site. If it has “wp” or “blog” in that field then people will have to go to yourdomain.com/blog to get to your site. In which case you will most likely have to reinstall.
On the WordPress install page make sure it has your correct email address, it doesn’t have to be your new domain. Make sure that you create a username and password for yourself, do not leave in admin. Then write down this login somewhere safe or make a note of it somewhere.
Read through the license and service agreements and click the checkbox, then click install. Your website is now being installed and when it is done you will be able to go to yourdomain.com and see it. It is going to be a default site you will now have to do all of the work to brand it to your business.
Step 3. Get a theme
WordPress runs on themes. A theme is how your site looks and functions. There are many free themes you cn get that may work fine, but you want a premium theme. This isn’t the time to cut corners, you are already saving a ton of money by doing this yourself and a theme is going to be under $100.
If you are dead set on getting a free theme then log into your WordPress site by following the link you got in your WordPress site install email. The WordPress login url is yourdomain.com/wp-login.php or yourdomain.com/wp-admin.php will get you there as well. Once you have entered in the username and password you wrote down earlier and logged in, you’ll want to go to Appearance > Themes.
This will show you the current themes that are installed on your site. At the top you will see the button to add a new theme. Click on this button and you can browse through all of the free themes that WordPress is offering. Click the install button and once installed click activate. Your new theme is now active.
If you followed my advice and chose to pay for a premium theme, then you will purchase this on a third party site off of WordPress. There are many options for theme marketplaces but in the interest of making this easy, I advise you to visit Theme Forest or Elegant Themes. Both are great theme marketplaces. Theme Forest will have infinitely more choices, with Elegant Themes you basically want to choose Divi, a great all purpose theme. For the remainder of this tutorial I will be proceeding as if you were purchasing from Theme Forest, however many steps would remain the same for Elegant Themes.
You will need to create an account, then browse the seemingly unlimited choices. Just go to WordPress in the menu bar and popular items. To narrow it down choose one of the top ten themes. Currently the top 4 selling themes are Avada, BeTheme, The7, and Enfold. I have used all of these themes and they are all very feature rich and pre-built with many cool features. Do some research here before making your purchase including asking pre-sales questions in the comments if you want. Once you have decided, make your purchase by adding funds to your Themeforest account.
The theme will appear under downloads when you click on or hover over your profile icon in the top right corner. Download all files and documentation. Extract the zip file you downloaded and look for a single zip file that looks like “themename.zip”. This is the actual theme that you will install on your site.
Go back to your WordPress site and return to Appearance > Themes. Click add new again, then you will click upload theme. Click on this and then choose the zip file of the theme you purchased. Click install theme and activate. You are now done installing your purchased theme. If you encountered any errors referring to max upload size reached then there are ways around this as well. I may write another post on this subject in the future.
Step 4. Setting up your new theme
Setting up your new theme and branding it to your business is the time consuming part and can get frustrating. There is a lot involved even though much has been done for you with the premium theme. Each theme is different and has a different way of doing things. Many have demo imports and you can utilize these to make your website to look finished and professional. After this is done you will strip away the pages, posts, images, and other elements that do not apply to your business.
Changing the color scheme, swapping out the logo, and adding your own writing to the pages are just a few of the things you will want to do. You will have to customize your navigation menu and site hierarchy, and write your content with SEO in mind. There are many things to consider. Customizing the theme itself is another very long post in itself and will vary depending on the theme you chose. Customizing the theme itself is another very long post in itself and will vary depending on the theme you chose.
In my opinion, if you have the budget you should hire a professional. Practice setting up your first website with a personal blog maybe. Something that is going to be representing your business should probably be done by someone with experience. However, it is a good learning experience and if you are dead set on doing it yourself then following the steps above will get you on the right path.