We really love our website. One of the big secrets of the web development community is that building a website is a really easy thing to do. If you follow our guide, you can set up your own website with a custom yourname.com domain name in under 30 minutes. Yes, even if you are a complete beginner at this.
When we started TheHungryGeek.com, we spent hundreds of hours researching the best methods and options involved in the website building process. We learnt a lot from many experts and administrators around the web development world. Now, we would like to give a little back by compiling everything that we have learned into a very simple guide that anyone can use.
We offer free support to all our readers on this! If you have any questions about making your own website, simply leave a message on the comments or drop us a line using our Contact Us page.
Step One: Choose the Software to Run your Website
Modern websites are run by software called Content Management Systems (CMS). Just as your computer is run by Windows or OS X, 87% of modern websites in 2016 are run by either WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. These are the most popular CMS right now, and you won’t go wrong with any of them.
The website CMS software will allow you to easily create and edit every aspect of your website including making posts or uploading images.
We recommend WordPress as it is totally FREE and very easy to use. It is the best CMS for blogging and any website that has regularly updated content. There are more than 75 million sites that use WordPress, and as you can imagine there is an extraordinarily large and active WordPress support community that will be able to help you with your website. Your website may be large or small, it could be a blog or a company website, WordPress will be able to handle everything.
On the other hand, Joomla allows for greater customizations but it requires more technical knowledge to use. Drupal is the hardest to use but it is also the most powerful. That said, we use WordPress for TheHungryGeek.com and we make a boatload of customizations. If you choose the correct WordPress theme (we will talk more about that later), you will have a very easy to customize website that is also very easy to use.
Now that you have chosen your CMS, the next step is to choose your domain name and web hosting service.
Step Two: Choose your Domain Name and Web Hosting for your Website
You will be able to easily install your chosen CMS on any reputable web host. These days, domain names are often bundled together with web hosting plans. Another big secret of web development is that web hosting is really super cheap! In 2016 you can get your own yourname.com domain plus web hosting of your website with a reputable provider for as little as $3 per month for a basic plan with many gigabytes of storage and unlimited bandwidth.
How do I pick my domain name?
Picking your domain name requires a lot of thought. First, we suggest sticking to the conventional domains such as .com, .net or .org as these are the most recognisable and your future readers will be more comfortable with them. Also, the conventional domains are often bundled free with web hosts and are much cheaper to maintain – a .sg domain costs S$50 per year while a .com domain costs as little as US$1 per year. Second, your domain name will also allow you to have your own custom email address, such as [email protected]. Therefore it has to fit with your email address as well. Third, a lot of the more common names would have been taken, so try to be a bit more creative by thinking of a unique and catchy brand name. A good and unique brand name would usually be available for a domain registration.
Where do I get web hosting and a domain name?
We recommend Bluehost for your basic web hosting and domain registration needs. You get a free domain name with their basic plan for one website, as well as 50GB of space and unmetered bandwidth, for only US$3.49 per month.
If you need a bit more juice, there is an enhanced plan from DreamHost. You also get a free domain, but in addition you can install unlimited websites, with unlimited space and bandwidth for US$7.86 per month.
We have thoroughly vetted both Bluehost and DreamHost and these are amongst the best web hosts in the industry. They have the fastest servers as well as the best customer service and technical support. Additionally, both web hosts offer one-click installation of WordPress, Joomla or Drupal.
Do I need to get a web host that is located near to me?
In this day and age of fibre broadband, websites from all over the world will load lightning fast as long as you are using a good broadband service. US-based web hosts tend to have economies of scale, and they present much greater value than the web hosts based elsewhere. You would have to pay double or triple the price for a similar web hosting service in Asia. TheHungryGeek.com is completely hosted in the United States, despite most of our audience being from Asia. Yet, as you would have probably noticed, our website still loads blazingly fast from Asia.
Step Three: Install and Activate your WordPress Website
This is the most exciting step! You should have already setup your web hosting with either Bluehost, DreamHost or some other reputable web host. Follow the instructions in your welcome email to access your control panel. In your control panel, find the WordPress logo and it should say something like ‘Install WordPress’ or ‘Get Started with WordPress Today’. If you’re using DreamHost, look for the ‘One-Click Installs’ tab on the left.
Follow the simple instructions and viola, you will have WordPress installed on your brand new website! Up until this step you should have spent less than 30 minutes.
Introducing the WordPress Admin Panel
Welcome to WordPress! The WordPress admin panel is easy and intuitive to use. The Dashboard contains a quick summary or everything going on with your site. Under Updates, you can manage one-click updates to your WordPress installation. Posts is where you will spend most of your time, you can add new posts or articles in this section. Media is where you can access all your uploaded images. Pages is where you will create your ‘About Us’ or ‘Contact Us’ pages – these are timeless articles and as such they are distinct from posts. Comments is where you will be able to manage user comments for your posts.
The customization magic happens at Appearance, where you will be able to choose a theme for your website and change the menu and widget displays. Plugins are 3rd-party installations that add functionality to your website. Users and Tools are self-explanatory and you don’t really have to bother about those now.
Settings is the most important place that you should look at now. Have a look through every setting in that page and make sure you fill up boxes such as the site title and tagline.
Choose a Theme for your Website
The WordPress theme selection is located at Appearance -> Themes -> Add New. This is the most important decision for you to make right now. You will be able to switch themes anytime but a lot of customisations and work that you do on your website will be specific to your selected theme. Have a look at the ‘popular’ themes, skipping those that begin with ‘Twenty’ as those are the WordPress default themes that aren’t really that great. You will not go wrong with a theme that has >20,000 installs and an average 5 out of 5 star rating. Choose wisely.
Add Widgets and Plugins
This is where WordPress customisation starts to get fun! Remember when we said that WordPress has a large and active support community? If you want to add some kind of functionality to your website, chances are there is a widget or plugin that will do it. Widgets are small blocks that perform a specific function – these are usually added to sidebars or other widget-ready areas. You can find these under Appearance -> Widgets. On the other hand, Plugins are extensions to your WordPress installation that adds functionality. With plugins, the sky’s the limit. Add a currency converter to your posts, add a reCaptcha to your login page or add a page caching plugin to speed up your website.
…. and you’re done!
Welcome to the beginning of your web development journey. Remember, the top rated WordPress themes and plugins will provide free and excellent support if you have any questions. If you’re using a reputable web host like Bluehost or DreamHost, they will be able to assist you with any technical questions that you may have. There is also Google and 99% of all your web development questions will have a very good solution available on Google.
Lastly, we’re here to help! If you have any web development questions, drop us a comment below or use the Contact Us page.