The 4 Steps I Took to Build My First Website

These days, every respectable business venture has its own website. Social media is an important tool, but the giants are always shifting. You need a stable base. This article offers guidance on making a completely customisable website with WordPress (free software). 

  1. Learning HTML & CSS

There are plenty of options available for someone who wants a quick and easy website without having to learn to code. These sites often offer some customisation options, but if you invest the time in building your own website, your options are endless.

For me, I wanted to create something personal as my online home. I opted to learn the basics of coding so I’d have more control over the final product.

Codecademy was my teacher. The site offers surprisingly intuitive tutorials in the two languages you’ll need to grasp for a basic understanding of web-design: HTML and CSS. Even better: they do it for free!

Codecademy - see your code's effect as you type it!
Codecademy – see your code’s effect as you type it.

Sign up and you gain access to the various tutorials. You’ll want to just take the HTML and CSS courses to begin with. These languages allow you to build rudimentary sites on your own, but for something more complex, you can use them to customise a WordPress site – more on that later.

  1. Finding a Domain Name and a Host

Before you can build your own site, you’ll need to procure web hosting and a domain name. The host stores all the information that forms your website and then serves it to users, while the domain name acts as a unique identifier for your site (like www.ben-harley.com).

Both of these services can be purchased from various companies. I got my domain name from Just-The-Name, while my good friend Lee Marshall provided the hosting.

  1. Installing WordPress

Next, I installed WordPress software on the host server. WordPress acts as a simplified command centre for your site, while also giving you access to huge numbers of useful tools (or plugins). The software is open-source and massively popular, so many people have worked with it, expanding its functionality. You can find free, simple-to-use tools to accomplish practically anything.

These video tutorials helped me with the installation: https://www.wp101.com/course/intro-wordpress/

 

  1. Using WordPress to Build a Site

In the end of the beginning, you’ll have your own online space and the WordPress Dashboard. It’ll look something like this:

Wordpress dashboard after a fresh install.
The WordPress Dashboard.

From here, you can install themes (layouts for the site), plugins, whip up pages and blog posts, customise menus or dive into the Editor to work directly with the site’s HTML and CSS. You’ve got complete control.

If you’re new to this, like me, you’re going to get stuck… a lot. It can feel like you’re taking your first steps while everyone around you is pole-vaulting. But there’s no better feeling than finally cracking the coding issue that’s held you down for days. Keep expanding your understanding and not only will you  have made your dream site, but you’ll know how to do it again!  

 

Bonus tip (wish someone told this to me)!

Right click on any element of any website and choose ‘Inspect’ to examine and play around with its HTML & CSS. Great for figuring out why your coding hasn’t worked right!

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