Knowing how to build a website is the most important skill for small business owners and professionals.
At the end of this guide, you’ll have a completely operational high-performance website with your own custom domain.
We also help you avoid some mistakes that we did when we started out.
How Other People Build Sites?
There are tons of website building platforms in the market which can help you build a website.
WordPress, Joomla, Wix, Drupal… Just to name a few.
You can also build you website from scratch, but we wouldn’t recommend it mainly because it takes a lot more time, skills and money to go this route.
How We Will Build The Site?
We will be using WordPress (self-hosted version) to build our website. There are many reasons for this choice.
- It is free and open source.
- It does not require any coding knowledge.
- It’s extra versatile – can run any type of website.
- It allows you to expand your website capabilities with plugins.
Now again, please note that we are talking about self-hosted version of WordPress here, which you can find here WordPress.org.
There is also a different flavor of WordPress which offers a pre-hosted solution, which you can find if you go to WordPress.com.
For now, though, let’s just remember that what we want is at WordPress.org, since it’s a more versatile and cheaper-to-use version of the platform.
Step # 1 Get Web Hosting and Register a Domain Name
In order to setup you site you need at-least two things:
- Domain Name (a human-readable address for your website)
- Web Hosting (a server to host your website content)
Having a custom domain makes you look more professional (like
yourbusiness.com), instead of using a free domain. It is also super affordable. There are many services available with which you can register you domain.
We also need a hosting plan to rent an online server where we will be hosting our website files. So visitors around the globe can access our site even if we are offline.
In a nutshell – without a domain name and a hosting plan your website will NOT exist.
1 Where Do I Get Web Hosting?
While registering a domain or buying a hosting plan seem intimidating at first, but we will be simplifying the process for you so you don’t need to be worried.
We personally are using a cloud-based hosting solution, which would be complicated for most, therefore for our clients or beginners we recommend Kinsta as web hosting solution.
Why Choose Kinsta?
The introductory price for Kinsta plans starts from $30/mo which allows 1 WordPress Site, and 20,000 unique visitors (per month), which should be more than enough if you are starting out.
In addition to that, each Kinsta plan comes with Free SSL certificate (i.e. https://) and Free CDN.
Although, Kinsta plans seems a bit pricier compared to shared hosting services but there is a reason that Kinsta enjoys a whooping 4.8/5 rating on TrustPilot, which totally outclass the competition.
In short, Kinsta is a managed WordPress hosting solution, which means you don’t have to worry about nitty-gritty of server management and they will take care of it for you.
Here’s how to sign up with the web hosting provider.
a) Goto Web Hosting Provider Website
In our case go to https://kinsta.com (or any other web host of your choice) where you will be welcomed with a screen like this:
Click on the “View Plans” button to proceed further.
b) Choose Your Website Hosting Plan
Once you click the “Pricing” page link it will take you the available hosting packages (you’ve to scroll down a bit to see them).
You will be offered different hosting packages that starts from $30/mo and goes above to $60/mo, $100/mo…, but since you are starting out the $30/mo plan should do absolutely fine for your needs.
However, if you are expecting more than 20,000 unique monthly visitors initially you might wanna checkout their more pricier plans which comes with more server resources.
When you decide upon a hosting plan, click on the “Choose” button for that plan.
Whichever package you choose, you can later upgrade or downgrade as per your site requirements.
c) Fill In Your Account Details
Once you choose your hosting plan it’ll take you to your account creation screen, where it’ll ask for some personal information. Fill out this form.
Once done, click the blue “Continue” button to proceed further.
d) Enter Your “Payment Information”
At last, it will ask you to provide your payment information so it can charge you for their services.
At this stage, you can click on “Finish Up” and finalize your purchase.
e) Login to your Kinsta Dashboard
You’ve purchased the web hosting subscription, now you can login to your Kinsta dashboard via https://my.kinsta.com/ using the credentials you’ve provided while registering the account.
Once logged-in you’ll see a screen like this.
We’ll leave it here as it is for now and will proceed to our next step.
2 Where Do I Register a Domain Name?
Now that we have taken care of web hosting, it’s time to register a domain name. For this, we’ll be using a Google Domains for this purpose.
Here’s how to sign up with the domain name registrar.
a) Goto Domain Registrar Website
In our case go to https://domains.google/ (or any other domain registrar of your choice) where you will be welcomed with a screen like this:
Enter your desire domain name in the field displayed above and click “Get It” button to proceed further.
b) Choose Your Domain Name
Google will then show you a list of domain extensions that are available. If all goes well, you should see a green checkmark next to your desired domain name, which means it’s available. Click the shopping cart icon to add it to your cart:
If your domain name isn’t available, you might need to use a different domain name or pick a different domain extension.
c) Check Out and Purchase Your Domain Name
Once you’ve added your domain name to your cart, open your cart to check out.
Google Domains will show you a summary of your cart, along with two options, both of which are enabled by default:
- Privacy protection: this 100% free service keeps your personal information private. We recommend leaving this on.
- Auto-renew: auto-renew ensures you don’t accidentally forget to renew and lose your domain. This is totally up to you, but we recommend leaving it on if you have long-term plans for your domain name.
Once you’ve made your choices, click the Check out button:
On the checkout page, you’ll need to enter your contact information. But remember: as long as you left the free privacy protection feature enabled, this information won’t be public.
Atlast, enter your payment information to finalize your purchase:
Why Domain Privacy Protection?
This will help you hide your domain name registration information from general public (which would otherwise will be available to them). Once enabled, nobody can know that who owns this domain name.
You’ve also purchase the domain name now, but this domain currently has no link to your web hosting account (where your site will be served).
However, we’ll leave it here and proceed to the next step. We’ll resume this once our site has been setup and we’ve our site IP address in hand to point to.
Step # 2 Setup Your Website
Now you have purchased the web hosting subscription as well as the domain name, it is now time to create your first website.
Here’s how to setup your WordPress website.
a) Install WordPress
Once logged in go to the “Sites” menu link located in the dashboard menu (at left-hand side). When you are on this screen click the blue “Add Site” button.
This will open a popup asking for some information to setup your site.
Following is a quick description of each field from this popup.
- Locations – choose a region that is closest to your target audience.
- Site Name – provide a unique identification name for your site.
- Custom Domain – choose “I’ll use my own domain” and provide the custom domain you’ve registered above with Gooogle Domains.
- Install Mode – select “Add a brand new WordPress install”.
Once you select the Install Mode, a few more fields would appear
- Site Title – similar to site name, but will be used by WordPress internally.
- Admin Username – the username for WordPress admin panel.
- Admin Password – the passphrase for WordPress admin panel.
- Admin Email – the default email for WordPress administrator.
When you’re ready, click on “Add Site” button.
Creating the new site will take a few moments, your site name will appear when it is finished installation.
b) Configuring Your Custom Domain
You can click the site name to go to the site control panel, where you can click the “Domains” tab where it’ll show you your site domain name under “Primary domain” section.
You would, however, not be able to open your site when clicking the “Open URL” link. That’s because we have not yet directed our domain registrar DNS to Kinsta hosting.
That’s what we are going to do next, but before that click the “Info” tab in the site control panel and make a note of “Site IP address“.
Now, go back to your domain registrar and click the “DNS” tab in the left menu.
Scroll down this page and look for a section name “Custom resource records“.
Here you’ll add a few records that will make it possible to link your custom domain with your hosting solution.
Creating the “A” record: First and foremost add an “A” record using the following format where “IPv4 address” would be the same IP address which we have noted above in previous step and “Site IP address”.
Creating the “CNAME” record: Now create another record with following format where domain name will be replaced with your own custom domain.
Make sure to click the blue “Add” button to create both records. Once done, it’ll look something like this.
That’s it! It’ll take some time (10m-1h) for the DNS records to take effect (i.e. DNS propagation) but once DNS propagation is done you can access your site with your custom domain name.
c) Installing Free SSL Certificate
You Kinsta webhosting subscription comes with a Free SSL certificate.
To install it head over to the “Tools” tab in your site control panel, scroll down a bit and there you’ll see a section name “SSL Certificate”. Click on “Enable HTTPS” and then “Generate free SSL certificate“.
Once SSL certificate is installed successfully, make sure to force all your traffic to
https:// version of you site by clicking the “Enable” button under “Force HTTPS” section.
Now that initial setup of your website is complete, you can checkout your website at the domain you registered above.
Step # 3 Design Your Website
You’ve installed WordPress on your domain and you can see a basic yet clean looking site by visiting your domain.
However, we don’t want just another WordPress website, we want to make it look unique and special.
The good thing about WordPress is that you can change visual appearance of your site via changing “Themes” and without losing any of your data.
Here’s how you can find a perfect WordPress theme for your site.
a) Finding a Theme
There are tons of WordPress themes available on the internet, which are either free or paid. You can look at official WordPress theme repository for free themes.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot more free themes on the web on third-party sites (like ThemeBeans), and there’s also a whole other world of paid themes that are distributed by independent theme stores (like ThemeIsle or aThemes) and even theme marketplaces (like ThemeForest).
However, for the purpose of this tutorial we will be considering a very popular and customizable theme named Astra.
This theme comes in two versions “Free” and “Paid”. We’ll be using the free version of the theme for this tutorials but if you want advance functionality you can buy the paid version, otherwise you can simply download the free version.
b) Installing the Theme
Once you’ve downloaded the astra theme, you’ll have a .zip file. Now to install this theme .zip file you have to go to “Appearance -> Themes” and then click on “Add New” button at the top.
This will take you to the “Add Themes” page, where you have to click “Upload Theme” button at top of the page.
This will expose an interface to upload your theme .zip file. Click the “Browse” button and select the .zip file and then click “Install Now” button to install the theme.
Once installed, click on “Activate” button to activate the astra theme.
Once activate, it’ll show a banner at top like this.
Click the “Get Started” button and it’ll take you to another screen where you’ve to select a page builder of your choice. We recommend choosing “Elementor“. Once chosen, click “Next“.
On the next screen it’ll represent you 100+ ready-made templates for you to deploy on your site, some of them are paid templates but some of them are free.
To checkout only the free templates click the “Free” tab on the navigation bar above.
It’ll show you around 50 free templates which you can deploy to your site with only a few clicks. You can preview any template by clicking on it.
For the sake of this example, we’ve chosen a template named “Digital Agency”, once previewed we have to click the “Import Site” button to deploy this template to our domain name.
It’ll take a few seconds/minutes to install required plugins and demo data, once done it’ll show a notification like this.
Click the “View Site” button to checkout your newly deployed template.
b) Customizing the Theme
Step # 4 Add Content To Your Website
a) Adding Basic Pages
b) Adding Blog Posts
Step # 5 Extend Your Website Functionality
a) What is a Plugin?
b) How to Install a Plugin?
c) Recommended Plugins