How to make a website – a beginner’s guide

For businesses and individuals, having an online presence is now more important than ever before. Luckily, creating your own website is easy thanks to website builders and expert services that help turn around even more challenging projects quickly. But what exactly are the most important steps in building your own website? What do you need to look out for and how do you go about registering a domain? We’ll show you in this step-by-step guide for beginners.

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How to build a website – what you need to get started

Most website projects can be summarized into six steps:

  1. Planning: Decide on the type of website project you’ll be creating. For example, if you want to make a website to show off your projects and allow consumers to purchase products directly from your site, you’ll want to focus on websites that offer integrated shopping systems like Shopify or Magento. If, on the other hand, you’re creating a website to show off your photography portfolio, the focus of your website project is likely going to be its design and a photo gallery.
     
  2. Domain choice and registration: Once you’ve come to a decision, it’s time to secure your preferred domain. Registering or buying a domain is relatively straightforward. It’s the choice of name that can be difficult. You may simply name your website according to your business (e.g., Starrestaurant.com) or your name. If your chosen domain name is already registered, you can try different domain endings (e.g., .org, .info, .net) to see if they’re still available or adapt the spelling of your preferred name (e.g., star-restaurant.com).
     
  3. Hosting: Web hosting is the next step toward creating your own website. A web host offers space to store and maintain the files to build your website. Some service providers offer dedicated hosting which means that a dedicated server manages the website traffic.
     
  4. Frameworks: How you go about building your website is another important question to ask yourself. If you’re only just getting started, website builders are a great choice because they’re easy to use and offer pre-designed templates to match the type of website you’re after – from corporate websites to blogs or online shops. More advanced users and developers with knowledge of web programming languages may want a little more freedom in designing their pages and use web frameworks like Django or Lift. However, the latter is only advisable if you understand program code.
     
  5. Search engine optimization: Whatever framework you choose, you’ll want to make sure your web content is optimized for search engines. Backlinks and quality content and even the appropriate SEO domain name are all part of the ranking factors search engines like Google consider. And the higher you rank for a certain keyword, the better your chances that a visitor clicks on your website or web shop.
     
  6. Website promotion: The web is full of content and well-designed web pages, online shops, and blogs. So, when you’ve spent considerable time and effort designing a beautiful website, you want to make sure that as many people as possible can find it. Not only will this drive new business to your web shop, but it also means that potential clients can more easily view your services and products. That’s where website marketing comes into play.
Note

Depending on the complexity of your web project, a website could cost next to nothing, incur a small regular fee, or even cost thousands of dollars. How much a website costs depends on your know-how and how much time and effort you can invest in the design and content creation. Generally, the more you can do yourself, the smaller the budget you need. If on the other hands your project requires expert skills or SEO content specialists to help you reach the top of search results, you may require a much larger budget.

Now that we have an overview of the basic steps involved in making your website, let’s take a closer look at each step.

How to register a domain

Before you get started designing your website, it’s important to decide on the right domain. What’s right in this context depends on your goals. Usually, it’s a good idea to select a domain that reflects what your business does. So if you own and operate a restaurant, you may want to choose a domain name like name-restaurant.com. Newer top level domains make it easy to incorporate the type of business you operate, e.g., name.restaurant.

Localized domain endings such as .nyc or .vegas are only recommended if you’re operating on a strictly local or national scale. This may work well for smaller hair salons or roofing businesses, etc. So how do you go about registering a domain?

  1. Find a suitable domain name.
  2. Check that it’s still available using the ICANN Lookup tool. You can also search for available domain names on a registration provider’s website as these will usually stop you from registering an already existing domain and recommend suitable alternatives.
  3. Register your domain name with a secure domain registrar that has been authorized by ICANN such as IONOS.
  4. Select your desired plan. Domains are usually purchased for at least one year or longer. Many providers now allow you to set up auto-renewal so that you can rest assured you’re keeping your domain name for longer. Expired registrations mean that the domain will become available again for anyone to purchase.
  5. Once you’ve chosen your package, pay and checkout.
Tip

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How to host a website

To set up a website you will need online storage space for your files and content. That’s where hosting providers come into play because they provide web space that can be rented from them for an annual fee. Technically, you don’t need web hosting in place to start designing your site, but once you want to publish your site it must be hosted.

Note

You don’t need to purchase your domain name and hosting together or even from the same provider. Once you register the domain name, you can transfer it to the hosting provider of your choice. Your providers will usually offer detailed instructions on how to transfer your domain.

The different types of hosting services

There are various types of hosting. Which one is the right one for you depends on your needs and the demands of your business and your website.

  1. Shared web hosting: This type of hosting is great for simple projects and beginners. Shared hosting plans also frequently include website builders and email clients. You can also launch a WordPress blog with shared hosting packages.
  2. Dedicated hosting: Here, servers are rented from a company by a website owner for added flexibility. This gives them full access to admin rights and even security. They are more expensive and are therefore mostly used by websites that have high levels of visitor traffic.
  3. Virtual private server hosting: Or VPS hosting in short, gives each website its own server space. It’s a good choice for website operators who want dedicated hosting but lack the technical know-how.
  4. Cloud hosting: Cloud-based hosting is a scalable solution to web hosting and usually owners only pay for the space they use.
  5. Managed hosting: Hosting that is managed may include the software and hardware management of a company’s website on a daily basis. This option is among the most expensive and important for large online retailers who cannot afford an outage or any issues like downtime with their websites.
Tip

Looking for a web hosting provider that’s reliable, offers plenty of security features including DDoS protection, and can be scaled once your project grows? With IONOS web hosting you can choose from three different packages to suit your project needs – from Essential to Expert.

Step-by-step to website hosting

Hosting a website is just as easy as registering your domain. Here’s a quick overview of the steps involved. Because hosting and domain registrars use different steps, it’s best to check their help pages and documentation.

  1. Once you know which type of hosting you need, you can select a plan from a trustworthy provider.
  2. After you’ve purchased hosting, you need to change the name servers of your domain to point it to your hosting package. This sounds more difficult than it is. Every good hosting and domain service will guide you through this quick and pain-free process using screenshots or videos.
  3. You can now upload your website by connecting it to the server. Again, this would be detailed by the hosting provider as the steps may differ from one to the other.

3 ways to be present and grow online

Get found with your own domain. Build trust with your own email address. Reach visitors with your own website.

Design a website from scratch

While domain registration and hosting are necessary first steps, the real fun begins once you get designing your web pages. Thanks to website builders and content management systems (CMS) that offer hundreds or thousands of templates, designing your website and updating its contents couldn’t be easier.

Note

A website builder is not the same as a CMS. You manage your website’s content like blog posts or photo galleries with a CMS. Website builders can be used to create and manage blogs, but they’re particularly suited to designing the visuals for a website.

Using a website builder to create your website

Website builders are easy-to-use online tools that turn any web project into child’s play. They’re a great choice for beginners. Prices start at around $5 per month and that usually includes the hosting and access to various templates. You won’t need any additional software or specialist knowledge to create your website. When selecting a website builder make sure it includes security features and predefined design templates. For example, with IONOS MyWebsite the process is really easy and goes like this:

  1. Select the template. It’s usually a good idea to go with a design that matches your industry. For example, a photographer’s blog will be all about showcasing images and therefore may adopt a design where the menu buttons are hidden, while a food business may put more emphasis on showcasing its menu and a map to encourage customers to order food or visit its location.
  1. Add photos, videos, and text to the design. You can also rearrange background images and adjust the color palette.
  1. Preview your web design and amend as necessary.
  1. Publish your finished website once you’re happy.
Tip

The MyWebsite builder from IONOS is fully customizable, reliable, and secure. Choose from a huge range of templates to match your business needs and access over 17,000 high quality photos to finish off your design. Want a little more input from the pros? Then the MyWebsite Design Service is the right choice for you. Consult design experts and get your website built the way you envisioned it.

Advantages of using a website builder Disadvantages of using a website builder
Easy to use Not as customizable as other options
Makes designing and publishing a website faster May not suit all needs
Support and maintenance included Switching hosts is more challenging

Using a CMS to build your website

CMS like WordPress, Contao or Typo3 provide plenty of design templates for you to choose from.

The steps are fairly similar to those for using website builders. CMS are more complex which can make them seem a little more challenging to use, especially if it’s your very first time designing a website. But their advantage is that they offer thousands of plugins which you can use to add special features to your website. For example, you could integrate a WooCommerce plugin to a WordPress page to add a full online store to your website.

Tip

Not sure how to get started with WordPress? Check out our article on how to create a WordPress site for beginners.

Advantages of using a CMS Disadvantages of using a CMS
Lots of templates to design any type of website (e.g., shop or blog) More challenging to use for beginners
More customizable thanks to plugins Support and maintenance may not be guaranteed
Can design your own layouts Depending on complexity, it can take a lot longer to design a website
Note

Want to make it easier to use WordPress and similar CMSs? Getting started with HTML doesn’t need to be hard with our guide for beginners. Similarly, you can brush up on your knowledge of CSS.

How to make a website – quick tips and tricks

A good website requires some planning. That’s because it’s easy to get lost in the wide range of exciting templates and plugin options. It’s best to decide on what you want your design to accomplish before you even look at the options. Below are some basic things to consider:

  • Who’s it all for anyway? Are you trying to entice customers to purchase products? Are you showing off your photography or writing skills? Or perhaps you’re creating a website to navigate customers to your restaurant. Whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to jot down your objectives and do some research of competitor pages online.
  • Structure: The structure of your website should be considered up-front. If you run a graphic design business, you may want to direct your clients’ focus immediately toward your work and portfolio. A family business may have a more extensive About us page to draw attention to the fact that the company has been running for a long time, for example. Most websites will be structured to contain the following pages: About Us, Projects/Work/Menu/Shop (etc.), FAQs, Contact.
  • Select the right template: It’s important to select the template that matches your industry. Customers have certain expectations as to how a website should look. For example, a medical supplier should opt for a clear and straightforward design, while an artist may immerse a visitor in a more creative experience through their web design.
  • Color scheme and customizations: Just as important as the template itself is the color scheme and features you decide to add to your website. Often, less is more. Cluttered and overdesigned websites that use lots of colors can quickly tire the eye and confuse your visitors.
Tip

Creating a website in WordPress doesn’t need to be hard. With WordPress Hosting from IONOS, you can launch your WordPress easy and affordable. Set-up, domain, and support are all included.

Launch your website

After you’ve designed your website, it’s time to launch it. This is usually done by pressing the “Publish” (or similar) button in your website builder or CMS. But just because your website is now live and viewable online doesn’t mean that people will be able to find it. To ensure that your website turns up in the Google search results, you should register your website by submitting its URL to Google. You’ll need a Google account to get started.

Some website builders offer a checkbox that lets you show your website in search engine results. You can also hide your website from being viewed by anyone who doesn’t have the URL. This may be useful if, for example, you’ve created a temporary website for a special event like a wedding or birthday party to direct guests to the location etc.

How to promote a website

The final step in drawing visitors to your website is promotion and a good SEO content strategy. There are plenty of things you can do to promote your website including practicing good SEO with all of your content, using content marketing tools, banner ads, social media, and email marketing tactics.

Optimizing your SEO content is among the most important steps you can take and can address fairly quickly and also mostly free of charge. That’s because search engines rank websites in their search results based on SEO keywords. Usually, you’ll want to ensure that your keywords are relevant to your website’s content and internally linked. You can also incorporate multimedia elements and images that are optimized for SEO.

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A website is a company’s calling card. It communicates your offering to your customers in a neat and compact way and helps them find the information they’re looking for quickly and effortlessly. When you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into the best web design strategies, you may want to invest some of your resources into online marketing to help drive visitors to your site and grow your business.

Online marketing isn’t a quick strategy. It takes time and commitment and constant readjustment to find what works best for your business. You can read more about it in our article on the basics of online marketing.

If you can dream it, we can build it!

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