If you already have your WordPress site set up skip to Part 2 here »
What We Will Be Building: We will be putting together a basic, fully-finished, business website starting from scratch. I chose a fake company, Paulina’s Pet Grooming for this example. Which means, in this course I’ll show you how to:
- Pick and purchase a domain
- Set up hosting
- Install WordPress and a Theme
- Add content and set up your site (part2)
Who This Is For: This course is for the ultra-lean startup or small business who needs a basic website but cannot afford, and/or doesn’t have a lot of time to build a website.
There are some small costs involved with having any website. In order to have a domain like the one you’re currently visiting: tylerherman.com you have to pay a small yearly fee. There is also a fee for hosting your website. If you are on a budget you can get hosting and a domain for as little as $120 for a year. $120 for a website isn’t too bad in my opinion.
We won’t be building a website full of every bell and whistle you can think of and it might not be an award winning design, but it will be presentable, professional, and most importantly, have the content you want to make available for your customers.
I chose WordPress for this course because it was the easiest CMS I found that non-web savvy people could get installed and work with. There is lots of free web-site-o-matic software out there that let people build a website using their system. The problem being 1) it only works on their hosting so you don’t really have control of your own site and 2) when it comes time for you to have a designer come in and add to or improve the site, they won’t be able to use that software, and likely ask you to start over.
WordPress is one of the most widely used applications for building website and it isn’t difficult finding a developer/design comfortable working with it. So if you need help expanding or improving your site you can find it. Plus, WordPress has tons of Themes and Plugins available so you can customize your site quite a bit without having to mess around with the code.
What Are the Requirements: You won’t need any coding or design skills for this. If you are able to make a purchase online or use an online app like Facebook or Flickr, you should have enough knowledge to finish this course.
You will also need access to an email address and be required to remember several user names and passwords, you will be creating during this process. Even if you have an email account already, I recommend creating a Gmail account with Google. It will come in handy.
A nice tool for storing passwords, which I use is LastPass. It is a cloud based services that stores your usernames and passwords securely and gives you easy access to them when you are online.
This video goes over the step I’ve outlined below. You can use one or both, whatever helps you learn easier.
Selecting a Domain
The first step in the process is choosing a domain. I’m sure you are pretty familiar with seeing these already. Some examples: amazon.com, whitehouse.gov, craigslist.org and so on. To obtain a domain name you have to purchase it from a domain registrar. You will essentially be leasing the domain for one or multiple years for a small fee ($4-$20 per year).
There are many Domain Registrars available. You may have seen the commercials for Godaddy.com. Feel free to register your domain with whatever company you wish but for this demonstration I’m going to register with Name.com. I like them because they make the process simple, and don’t try to upsell you with a bunch of additional products you don’t need.
Step 1: Create an Account
Start by heading to Name.com and create an account. Keep your username and password somewhere you won’t lose it as you will definitely need it later.
Step 2: Select a Domain Name
Now use their search feature to locate the domain name you wish to purchase. You can purchase multiple if you’d like but only one is necessary. A general rule is to try to get a .com domain for your business but they are getting harder to come by. Some other popular suffixes for business sites are: .net, .co, and .biz.
What if the domain name I want isn’t available? I wrote a quick guide to choosing a domain name which should help out.
Step 3: Purchase
Now that you have your domain name selected you just have to make the purchase. That was easy right?
Before leaving the site you may want to bookmark this page, or leave it open in a browser tab, as we will be coming back here shortly.
Setting up Hosting
Now that you have your domain you need to find a host for your website. A host is a company you pay to store your website on a server that is made available to the world. When someone types in your domain name into their browser, it will send a request to the host server and allows you to download the site to view on your desktop or smartphone or whatever you happen to be using.
There are literally thousands of hosting providers. For these sites I recommend Bluehost. They offer decent hosting at low prices and are one of the largest hosting providers around. They also have a pretty clean and simple website to navigate, making the process easier for you to set up your first website. And of course they have a 1 Click WordPress Install, which we’ll be using.
Step 1: Purchase a Plan
You will be both purchasing a hosting plan and creating an account in the step. The cheapest plan is all you will need to get started. You get a price break for purchasing multiple years of hosting up front. If you plan on the site being around take advantage of it.
Head to Bluehost and click on the green “Sign Up Now Button”.
Next under “I have a Domain” enter the domain name you registered earlier.
Enter your contact information. Make sure to enter a valid email address. Bluehost will send you important information you will need for later steps.
In the package information select one of the cheap packages for the amount of time you want which are 12, 24, and 36 months. Make sure to uncheck the two check boxes below that: SiteLock Domain Security and Site Backup Pro. You don’t need either of them.
Now just continue through until checkout.
Step 2: Point Your Domain at Your Host
It may take a little bit of time before your account is set up. You will receive a couple emails confirming your order and then later (2 to 24 hours), a new email will be sent to you with your Account information. This email will have all the information you’ll need to set up your site, including the name servers. So if you are at this step and waiting on your Account Email, you can take a break or start writing content for your site to kill time.
Pointing Your Site to Bluehost
Assuming you received your email from Bluehost, Open a new tab in your browser and head to Name.com.
Log in to your account and click on Accounts.
You will see the domain you registered earlier. Go ahead and click on it. In the top left corner you can see where you can enter the name server information. If you are hosting with Bluehost the names servers should be: NS1.BLUEHOST.COM and NS2.BLUEHOST.COM. You can double check this in your email.
Delete the current information and replace it with the name server information you received in your hosting email.
We are going to use the 1 Click WordPress Install to get you up and running with your new website. That same email from Bluehost has the url to your Control Panel and the username and password. When you log into the control panel you might be a little overwhelmed. Don’t worry you won’t have to deal with 95% of this.
Find the Site Builder heading and click on the WordPress icon.
Under: Where would you like WordPress installed?, select your domain name.
Ignore the other steps and just click Complete at the bottom of the page. It may take a minute or two to install. You now have a WordPress website installed! There will be a link to your new website, a link to your Control Panel where you will make changes to your site and most important, your Control Panel username and password. Make sure to keep this somewhere safe, as you’ll need it every time you log into your website.
Well let’s get to it. Click the link to your Control Panel and enter your username and password.
You can now visit your website by typing your domain name into your browser. It will look like this:
There are lots of places we could start, but we’ll get going with choosing a Theme first.
Selecting a Design (Theme)
A theme is basically the design or skin that will lay over top of your site. This is a very important step.
There are many themes to choose from in a variety of styles but not every one will be ideal for your business site. WordPress was originally created as a blogging platform and many of the Themes are more for blogs than business sites.
Here is a list of some free WordPress Themes that work well for business sites.
There are also some Premium WordPress Themes that work well too. The premium themes tend to have more features and most have a pretty nice looking design. The costs tend to be around $25-$100 per theme. You don’t have to use a premium theme but I thought I’d give some examples if you were interested in purchasing one.
You can watch the video of me going over the steps or keep reading. I go over the same steps in both places although in the video I select a different theme.
Selecting a Theme: The left hand side for your WordPress Control Panel has a navigation menu where your site is configured. Look under Appearance > Themes to select a Theme.
At the top of the page there will be a Current Theme (what the site is using) and Available Themes below (those installed but not being used currently).
To install a new theme just click the tab called Install Themes. Just below that there is a set of blue links. Click on Featured to see a list of some Themes to choose from.
If you find a theme you like, click Install. When it is installed, click Activate and it will now be the Theme your website is using.
For this example we are going to stick to the default theme, TwentyTen. If the video I choose the Responsive Theme. Both themes are slightly different, as will be any thing you select, but the basic setup should be the same.
Setting Up Your Website
In the next part we will be setting up your pages, the Setup for the Theme, installing Plugins and using Widgets, adding content and basically turning an empty shell into a website.
If you’ve found this tutorial helpful and know some other small business owners who need a website be sure to share it with them.
You can begin Part 2 here »