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How to build a website from scratch with our step by step guide

Have you been looking how to how to build a website from scratch? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Online presence is critical in today’s’ business environment. It’s estimated that more than 95% of consumers search for products and services online. A great way of sharing your ideas and thoughts is by building a website. However, it can be a daunting task if you have no prior experience in the field. In this article, we have summarized for you the main steps to help you learn how to build a website from scratch.

How to build a website from scratch – Steps

Step1: Choose the right platform

When building a website, there are many platforms to choose from. The most popular one is WordPress. This software features beautiful designs and gives freedom to build anything. It can be used by freelancers, small business owners, bloggers, creative artists among others. It’s estimated that 1 out of every 5 websites is built on WordPress. The platform comes with powerful plugins and themes.

Why choose WordPress?

  • It’s user-friendly

This is the most preferred platform for beginners. If you know how to use Microsoft word, you’re ready to go. The free plugins can handle any website you may think of; from social networking pages to business pages. In addition, it allows the user to add subscription forms, contact forms, images etc. WordPress can handle any kind of website whether large or small.

  • It’s free

The good thing about WordPress is that you’ll never run out of uniqueness. It’s free to download and install. There are plenty of free resources on the support forums and YouTube.

Other common content management systems are Drupal and Joomla. Drupal is used by experienced coders and web developers. One needs a lot of experience to use making it the wrong choice for beginners. Similarly, Joomla requires technical coding knowledge. WordPress remains the easiest platform for beginners. It features high security, high performance, customizable designs, and is SEO friendly.

Step 2: Get your domain name

A domain name is a friendly Universal Resource Locator (URL) that users can type in their browser to access your website. Examples include; www.yourwebsite.com, www.wordpress.com e.t.c. Always remember the domain name is the pointer to the website. To get a domain name, you need to pay a fee to the registrar. Typically a domain name costs about $7 to $30 and can be registered in a number of sites online. This process is similar to registration of a business name.

Tips on choosing a good domain name

choosing a good domain name

  • Keep the domain name short and memorable

As you learn how to build a website from scratch, your domain name should be short and memorable. For instance, you can go for descriptive names that are meaningful to your target customers. Make sure the name relates to the content in your website and is easy to remember. People should easily find what you’re offering.

  • Be unique

Being unique is one of the key areas you should concentrate on. Customers like to associate themselves with a unique brand.

  • Pick the right extensions

The most commonly used extensions are .org, .net and .com. It’s recommended that you pick one to get the unique name.

  • Avoid using hyphens

There are two schools of thoughts when using hyphens in your domain name. First, users are likely to forget the hyphen when typing the name in the search bar. Other scholars believe hyphens make the name look ugly.

  • Test different name combinations

Take your time to check the name you wish to register to see if it’s available on other websites. Test the response from friends. Make sure the name you choose is not being used by your competitors or other embarrassing websites.

Step 3: Host your website

A web host allows your website to be seen on World Wide Web. To place your web pages on the host company, you must sign up for an account. For those who don’t have prior experience on how to build a website from scratch, they should carefully choose a web host. The main role of a web host is to provide data connectivity and data space. Your website files are connected to web servers on very fast network. Once you upload resources on your site, other people are able to access them.

Types of hosting

Most web hosting providers will offer more than one hosting plan. The plan you choose will solely depend on your hosting needs. As you learn how to build a website from scratch, you need to understand the main 3 hosting plans. They include;

  • Shared hosting

Here, many users are put on single server. Shared hosting is very cheap because the cost is shared among the many users. The plan shares resources like CPU time, data, disk space and memory. This makes it perfect if you’re operating on a tight budget. The only downside is performance and security. Remember, if your website is sharing a server with another high traffic website, it could slow down. If you’re looking for that extra performance this may not be the best hosting plan for you.

  • Dedicated hosting

This hosting plan gives full control over the server, hardware and the operating system. The cheapest dedicated hosting service ranges between $ 50 and $ 850. Dedicated hosting is perfect if you’re looking for performance and maximum control over your website. While it gives freedom, it’s up to you in case something goes wrong.

  • VPS hosting

Virtual private server is more powerful than shared hosting. You don’t have to pay the high cost of dedicated hosting. Only a few sites run on the server. Most VPS hosts will offer servers that run on Linux OS. Your site operates on apportioned server area. You’ll have your own RAM, storage and data transfer limits. This gives a smooth, stable performance.

If you’re planning to build a huge website, you can go for dedicated hosting plan. However, if you’re just starting a small website, VPS or shared hosting is perfect.

What to look for when choosing a web host

Choosing the perfect web host can be a daunting process. There are many companies that offer free or cheap hosting. Before deciding where to host your website, you should look for the following;

  • Technical support

This is arguably one of the important factors to consider when choosing a web host. You should be able to contact the customer service team 24/7. A good host company should offer multiple support services via live chat, toll free phone, email among others. If you want to handle the process on your own, you should use FAQ and other resources to solve your issues. The host should give customer support a priority.

  • Up-time and reliability

Although no web host can provide 100% up-time, they should guarantee more than 99% up-time. The host should be able to handle high and low traffic periods. It’s recommended that you check the customer reviews. Happy customers will always spread the word.

  • Specialties/focus areas

The hosting provider should be able to meet the needs of your website. As a beginner, you may not be well-informed on how to build a website from scratch. It’s your duty to explain to the provider your current needs and future plans before signing up for the plan. Make sure you do the SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and time bound) analysis.

  • Transition capabilities

Your business will definitely grow in future. It’s recommended that you choose a host provider that gives room for upgrade. Be sure the host can help you purchase a new domain, add more space and speed or run an entirely new website. All these plans should be available at scalable costs.

Step 4: Planning your web pages

You don’t have to hire a web designer even if you don’t know how to build a website from scratch. With the right information, you can design the web pages on your own. Look for editors that will allow you to build your site visually. If you are using windows as the operating system, you can use Microsoft Expression Web. It’s equipped with features both for new and experienced webmasters. You can go through the tutorial to get an idea how to design your web pages. If you are using Mac or Linux operating system, you can use Blue Griffon free editor.

The type of site will influence the design. For example; an E commerce shop and informational site cannot have the same design. The tutorials will explain how to develop a navigational structure, create a site map and plan out the pages. You can also try What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) web editor. Before you start designing the pages, have a clear plan of the content you need on those pages. Without proper content, your website will not reach your target audience no matter how good it looks.

Step 5: Building your website

This is the most complex part. As you move along, you’ll be fully informed on how to build a website from scratch. You need to learn the following;

  • Basics of a web design

Whether you’re an experienced webmaster or a beginner, you can still build your website like a professional. Focus your website on solving the problem.

  • Learn Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

There are hundreds of tutorials that show how to use HTML language. It’s basically a fancy structured content that gives visual formatting of content. Alternatively, you can take advantage of online platforms to help you code the content. You can do better if you learn the basics.

  • Learn Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

CSS will determine how your web page will look like. Once you are fully informed how CSS works, you will be able to change the appearance of your website.

  • Web page editing

Both CSS and HTML can be written on notepad or used on Adobe software. To power your website, use content management system.

Step 6: publishing your website

To publish your site, you need file transfer protocol (FTP) server name, username and the password you received from the host provider. The first step is to set up an account. Secondly, the host configuration wizard should ask for verification during the publication. It should also provide settings on how to publish the database. To start, click the drop menu, then publish and a dialog box will appear. You’ll observe the following;

  • Site name

This is the name you gave your website on `step2’ above.

  • HTTP address

This is the address of your home page. Make sure you enter the prefix `http’ first.

  • Publishing server

Use the file transfer protocol (FTP) to transfer web pages from your PC to the web host server. Based on the instruction from the web host, you can put your web pages on `www’ directory. Other hosts will require you put your web pages in a public directory.

  • Username/password field

Enter the username and the password the web host gave you. Click the `publish’ button and dialog box will pop up stating `uploading the page’. It will then disappear once the task is complete. Make sure the software you use comes from the hosting provider.

Step 7: promote your website

At this stage I’m sure you understand how to build a website from scratch. Many people will fail at this point since they are not sure where to begin. Now that your website is out there, the next step is to help visitors access it. The most effective ways of promoting a website include;

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

This involves the use of specific keywords to rank high on search engines. Different methodologies and tactics are used to direct more traffic on your site. The higher your website ranks, the higher the chances it will be viewed by the next visitor.

  • Social media

Today, social media has become a marketing tool. You can create awareness about your brand on social sites like Facebook, twitter, instagram, LinkedIn etc.

Step 8: maintain your website

To remain relevant in the competitive cyberspace, regular maintenance is required. Since technology is evolving at rapid rate, browsers will require regular update with new features. Some of the common benefits of regular maintenance include;

Improving your brand image

  • To keep customers well-informed on the latest information
  • To increase the chances of higher search engine ranking
  • Provides information who is viewing your site etc.

At this point in time, you are fully informed on how to build a website from scratch. Just like I highlighted at the beginning, you don’t need technical knowledge to create a website. These 8 steps will help guide you in building your website without professional help. You must keep the information accurate to generate leads and bring results in your business.