How to Start a Brand-new Website in 2021

Having an online presence is a must these days—whether you’re selling T-shirts or Teslas. 

But building a website can seem like such an enormous feat. Well, it doesn’t have to be. 

In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to start a website. Step-by-step, start-to-finish, and beginner-friendly! Let’s jump right in:

Step 1: Plan Your Website

With the right tools, you can start your own website in 20 minutes

But you don’t want just any website. You want something that fits your needs, doesn’t break the bank, and works for years to come

So, before I show you how to make a website, our first order of business is planning

Set Your Goals

Ask yourself: 

What do I need an online presence for?  

If you’re creating a website for your business, you might want to sell products online, establish yourself as an authority in your industry, or simply provide contact details

These are three very different things (duh.) 

A simple, small business website is good enough for some—for example, a bakery might only need a page that shows the address, phone, and email. This would be quick and cheap to make, plus it won’t require much maintenance. 

If you want to sell your products online, your website will also be a store. You’ll need ecommerce functions like products and inventory management, payment processing, and shipping options. 

Tools like WooCommerce (we’ll talk about it in a bit) help you create an online store and optimize the customer journey—with better checkout, data management, and even marketing extensions. 

Of course, that’s more work, both when making your website and for upkeep.  

Ultimately, “goal setting” just means to figure out exactly what you want

You can do tons of things with a website, but you don’t need them all. Starting with clear expectations will help you set up a website without getting overwhelmed with all the options or overspending on functions you won’t use. 

Think About Your Audience

Who is this website for? 

If you’re a business owner, this is an especially crucial question to ask yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in what you want or think is cool. 

But the question to ask before: 

How to make a business website? 

Is:

What do my customers need?

If they need a place to find you online, then that’s what you need too. 

Consider your potential visitors and tailor the website to give them the best experience. We’ll talk about getting Google to like your page later—for now, we’re building a website for the humans.

How do you make their stay on your website as useful and fun as possible?

Depending on your audience, the answer would be different.

A portfolio website expects a lot of potential employers, clients, or collaborators. You want to make it easy for them to see your work—this could include minimal design and large, scrollable project samples.

A hairdresser’s site, on the other hand, is a place where people set appointments

Some potential clients would like to check out your skills too. Make their journey simple—add a “Set appointment” button to the portfolio part and keep this menu item as eye-catching as possible on all pages. 

Consider Competitors  

This will help you see how you measure up to others.

When you’re first starting a website, “stalk” your competitors to get ideas. You might see something you missed (e.g., you’re a stylist, but you didn’t add an appointment setting function) or figure out what could be better

Think about what sets you apart—and makes you a better option compared to your competitors. What could your site offer that others don’t? Why does that matter to the target audience? 

Researching competitors early on gives you a huge advantage when you’re building websites. It helps you reverse engineer success, improve on what others already did, and hit the ground running from day one of the launch.

Step 2: Branding

Now that you’re clear on your website goals, target audience, and competitors, it’s time to talk about how to design a website. Let’s start with branding.

Branding is about getting recognized.

If you have a friend who always wears fedoras, you’ll think of them every time you see one. But the fedora itself also carries information. For instance, a lot of douchey, pickup artist-type guys tend to wear it. If you don’t know the person, that’s what you’d associate them with.

Approach branding in the same way. You want to be memorable (branding is “your thing”) but also recognized for the right reasons. Once you establish the brand’s visual elements, keep them consistent—just like the guy with the fedora.

All of this seems very abstract, right? Before you start thinking about how to make a website, you have to polish your image. So that’s a step you can’t miss.

One way to approach branding is through concepts. What ideas are you trying to communicate?

For example, a coffee brand wants to make it clear that, well, they sell coffee. But, they also want to be remembered for being ethical and environment-friendly. They might pick brand colors, fonts, and pictures to show that off.

Suppose you’re setting up a website for that company. In that case, you’d incorporate green hues for the organic sourcing or photos of the communities that produce the coffee to remind people it’s all ethical.

Get Your Logo

If you’re starting a business website, the logo is pretty much a must.

Do you have one already? Use that.

Make sure it’s a high-resolution image and get it in vector form too. Vector images can be scaled up and down without getting pixelated. 

Do you need a logo? There are plenty of inexpensive options

Freelance marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork have thousands of vetted designers ready to work on your project. Having a professional-looking logo is essential, especially if you want to start a business website.

Top-rated sellers on Fiverr will do the job for around $50 (you want the image and source files,) but the price goes up for extra revisions, mockups, social media kits, etc. You can get a cheaper logo with an up-and-coming freelancer—some will do it for as little as $5.

DIY design platforms like Canva also work. If you want to create a website for free, this is a great way to save money.

You can use Canva designs for commercial purposes, but the program doesn’t support vectors yet. The next best thing is making your logo as large as possible and exporting it as a print-quality PDF.

Be careful with the Canva logos, though. The platform is so popular these days that the best designs have been used and reused thousands of times. That’s the exact opposite of having a unique brand identity—so, use the templates as ideas, but always customize the final version.

Pick Your Name and Domain

Branding is about words, too. We’ve compiled a detailed guide to help you choose a good domain name. But we’ll cover the basics here too:

Pick a name that clearly says what your website is about—and try to focus it around niche-specific keywords. Not only will this help people remember you, but it also helps with Google ranking.

If you’re looking to create a business website, go with your company’s name—it’s a safe bet.

If not, prioritize incorporating keywords—a great place to start is Google or Pinterest. Both of them are search engines with autocomplete, so you can start with your topic and see what are the common search terms around it.

When you come up with a list of keywords, spend some time brainstorming website name ideas. Name generators like DomainWheel, Wordoid, and Panabee can help a lot here—and they’re completely free.

What TLD to Choose?

When you’re setting up your own website, you’ll have to buy your own domain too. 

Once you get into that, you’ll realize you have a lot more extension options than you thought.

Should you get the “.com,” the country code extension, or a more exotic option like “.shop” or “.accountant”?

Whenever possible, get the “.com” name. It’s clean, reputable, and makes you look professional. 

Depending on your website, “.net,” “.org,” or “.io” are also solid options. If it’s a local business, picking a country extension adds some credibility.

Here’s a little tip that doesn’t come up often when you’re learning how to build a website. You can also use extensions as part of your website name.

For instance, “.ly” is the country code for Libya, but it’s also the suffix of most English adverbs. Cue the rise of sites like Bit.ly or Embed.ly.

But there’s a downside to using country-code extensions like this—you can’t always trust the country. When war broke out in Libya, US/UN sanctions shut down one of the leading domain registrars.

.ly sites have also been sanctioned for breaking Libyan law, e.g., by showing adult materials.

At the end of the day, picking the domain extension is up to you—but “.com” won’t let you down and it’s the best option in 99% of the cases.

Before we start setting up your website, there’s one more step.

Buy Your Domain

Now that you have a name, it’s time to make it officially yours

You have two options: 

  • Go to a domain registrar like NameCheap (it’s our #1 choice), Domain.com, or GoDaddy (virtually any one of the best domain hosting companies will do the trick)
  • Get a hosting plan that includes a domain name

If you go the registrar route, I highly recommend NameCheap.

Most .com’s start at $8.88 plus the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) registration fee—that one is just $0.18. 

To get your domain, just go to the NameCheap website, enter the name you want, and click “Add to cart.”

Domain registration requires some personal details like your home address and phone number, so don’t be alarmed about that. It’s not unusual—you’ll come across it regardless of which hosting company you use when building websites. But NameCheap includes WhoisGuard protection, which keeps that information off public records.

You can also get hosting and an SSL certificate with your domain, but hold off buying it for now. There are cheaper and better hosting options out there and your provider might offer the SSL for free.

In this tutorial, we’ll mostly be using Hostinger’s WordPress hosting—a low-cost and high-quality service. If you go with that option, you don’t need to buy your domain name just yet—the hosting plan includes it. Of course, you can choose another cheap hosting provider—there are plenty of great options on the market.

Add a Catchy Description

Whether you’re setting up a business website or a personal page, the website description is essential for getting discovered.

It usually appears in search results. Its primary function is to tell users what your website is about.

Write your description to be as simple and informative as possible. Try to incorporate unique perks and features, too—they’re what sets you apart (branding, remember?). It’s the 101 of creating a business website.

For example, “Rough Guides” is a guide book publisher and their site description reads: 

“Find a destination, look for inspiration, read features and get great travel advice, from Rough Guides—the leading publisher of travel and reference guides.”

It’s concise and compelling—you see what you can do on the website (“find a destination, look for inspiration, read features” and “get travel advice”) and who are the people behind it (“the leading publisher of travel and reference guides.”)

Step 3: Choose a Platform 

Now that you know what your site should do and how it would look, it’s time to start setting it up.

How to Start a Website for Free? (And Should You)

There are plenty of free website builders these days—Wix, Weebly, the Google website builder. And they’re getting easier to use and better at making beautiful sites.

So, should you build a website for free and call it a day? 

Probably not.

Using a free website builder means you won’t control your URL. Your domain name will be something like username.wixsite.com/sitename with the Wix website builder or sitename.weebly.com for Weebly.

Needless to say, this doesn’t exactly inspire trust—your visitors will instantly know you didn’t even invest in a domain name. And if you decide to get a custom domain after all, connecting it to one of these sites can be way pricier than the other options.

But what if the name doesn’t bother you?

Free websites still have a ton of limitations.

For example, a Wix free website only gets 500MB of file storage and doesn’t allow you to set up an online store. Ecommerce plans start at $23/month, which is way more expensive than using Woocommerce + WordPress (both are open-source and free.)

Plus, your visitors will see Wix-selected ads whenever they go to your website. Not only does this limit your monetization options even further, but it’s also annoying for visitors and looks very unprofessional.

Free websites are great for playing around with options—for example, if you’re doing a class project or trying out different designs. Otherwise, they’re simply not functional enough and ultimately, they’re bad for your business.

What About Google My Business?

Google My Business creates a free business website for your company—essentially, an extension of your business listing. It generates a simple, one-page site that looks equally well on desktop and mobile

And yes, generate is the right word. The Google website creator pre-populates your site with details from your business listing, like your contact information.

You can customize the end product, though you don’t get a whole lot of design options. 

The domain will look something like yourcompanyname.business.site. You can purchase a domain name through Google’s own registrar—Google Domains, which will link automatically. 

.com domains cost $12/year flat on Google Domains, and the price doesn’t rise for renewals. While this isn’t the cheapest option, it’s still a decently priced one. 

A free Google website is an easy way for small businesses to get an online presence—but if you need anything more sophisticated (including an online store), WordPress is still a better choice.

Hosted or Self-Hosted?

Hosted sites are created with a website builder like Wix and they live on the builder’s servers.

Self-hosted means building a website from scratch and hiring a service to host the files. This means more flexibility in both costs and customization. You get to choose how to make the website—which software to use, how to set up the theme, etc.—and where to put it.

Hosting is a highly saturated industry where companies are always trying to outdo one another. This is excellent news for you—you have plenty of low-cost, high-quality options to choose from. There are even some free web hosting providers, but, of course, these come with several limitations.

Before you learn how to build a website, let’s see the pros and cons of hosted and self-hosted websites:

Ultimately, self-hosted websites are easier to customize and monetize. Plus, they’re often cheaper to build and maintain.

Aren’t they harder to make?

Not anymore.

Creating a WordPress website and hosting it with a user-friendly provider barely requires any tech skills—you definitely won’t need coding.

But using a hosted solution still has one major perk:

It keeps everything in one place.

There’s no need to log into multiple platforms, deal with theme downloads and installation, or setup ecommerce yourself. It’s the most foolproof way to build your own website, which is why so many people are using it.

Still, I’d recommend self-hosted over hosted any day—especially since WordPress is getting easier and easier by the minute.

But before I tell you exactly how to set up a website with WordPress and a hosting provider of your choice, let’s cover one common query:

WordPress.org Vs. WordPress.com

One is hosted, one is self-hosted. Here’s how to tell them apart: 

WordPress is a content management system (CMS)—software for creating, publishing, and managing content on the Internet. It’s an open-source project, maintained by the WordPress Foundation—and it’s forever free to use.

WordPress is created mainly by its community—with open source and the GNU General Public License, anyone can view and modify the software. The WordPress Foundation exists to keep things organized and to ensure WordPress stays free.

So, WordPress.org is the “original WordPress”—this the place to download the software. And it’s a .org because it’s the website for the WordPress Foundation.

WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a website creator and publishing platform based around WordPress. It’s a hosted solution—a website builder just like Wix or Squarespace. 

It comes with the same perks and downsides—it’s easier to start but offers fewer customization options (and it’s often more expensive.)

Step 4: Host Your Website on Hostinger

If you’re not using a website builder and hosted solution duo, you’ll need a hosting provider. This is where your website files will live—a sort of rented-out storage space for everything on your website.

I highly recommend WordPress for making a website and Hostinger for hosting it. While there are other reliable providers like BlueHost and Scalahosting (check out our full 2021 hosting rating for more info,) Hostinger is our #1.

With plans as cheap as $0.99/month plus impressive speed and uptime, it’s the best deal for 2021. And it’s user-friendly and easy to set up—even a complete beginner could make it work. 

In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through the process of creating a website and hosting it with Hostinger.

Let’s start by setting up your hosting:

Go to Hostinger.com

Go to Hostinger.com to learn more about their offer and pick your plan.

Depending on the size of your website, you might need shared or dedicated hosting. When you’re first opening a website, a shared plan is more than enough.

Hostinger does offer Virtual Private Server (VPS) and cloud solutions, too—check these out if you expect more visitors or think your site might require more resources.

Since we’re making a WordPress site for this tutorial, I recommend one of the WordPress-optimized shared plans. To see them, go to Hosting > WordPress Hosting and check out the features.

You can choose between Single, Starter, Business, and Pro. For most businesses, the WordPress Starter is just enough—you can set up 100 different websites and receive a free domain, SSL, and unlimited bandwidth to ensure all your visitors get the best speeds possible.

Consider Your Budget

Although you can create a free website, these come with tons of limitations.

With the WordPress Starter, you get great value-for-money. It will set you back:

  • $14.99/month billed monthly
  • $5.99/month in a single $71.88 yearly payment
  • $3.99/month in a $95.76 bi-yearly payment
  • $2.99/month in a $143.52 four-yearly payment 

The longer your subscription period, the better the deal. With a 48-month plan, you save 80% on the original monthly price—and you don’t have to worry about hosting for a long, long time.

Since Hostinger offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, I recommend getting the longest plan—it saves you money, and it’s risk-free.

If you need a website for an even lower price, the Single WordPress Hosting Plan costs only $7.99/month. But keep in mind it doesn’t include a domain name and you can make just one website.

Check Out

Now that you picked your plan, it’s time to buy it. 

Click Checkout Now and pay for your subscription with either a card, PayPal, or cryptocurrency.

Congratulations, you have hosting space for your site.

Now, you can finally start building your website:

Step 5: Get Started With WordPress

Whether you’re a large company or a mom-and-pop shop, I highly recommend making a website with WordPress over any other CMS.

Here’s why: 

  • WordPress powers over 1/3 of the internet!
  • It’s an open-source project with a large community of developers—this means it constantly improves (and there’s always someone to ask if you have a problem.)
  • WordPress is entirely free to download and use—you only pay for third-party services like hosting or premium themes. 
  • It has an ever-expanding library of 7,700+ themes and 57,000+ plugins—you can use them to create a beautiful and responsive design.
  • With plugins like Elementor, creating your own website and customizing it is fully drag-and-drop and beginner-friendly.

But we have to admit, WordPress isn’t the only CMS in the world. One pretty good alternative is Joomla.

It has some perks like advanced user management out of the box, different templates for different content, and flexibility for non-traditional content types.

Still, in the WordPress vs Joomla debate, I stand firmly behind WordPress—it’s the easier and cheaper option. Plus, with a large ecosystem and 38% of the internet made on WordPress, it’s the obvious choice.

The same goes for other content management solutions—for the general user, there’s simply no better option than WordPress. 

Install WordPress on Hostinger

Hostinger makes it easy to set up WordPress:

  • Get your hosting plan and login with your credentials. 
  • Click “Auto Installer” and choose WordPress.
  • Enter your website URL. 
  • To access your website, create an administrator account with a username, password, and email address. 
  • Pick your admin panel language.
  • Enter your website name and click Install.

The auto-installer does all the work for you. Now you have WordPress on your site—configured and ready to go.

Go to Your Admin Panel 

The administrator panel is your home base. This is where you’ll create and edit pages, design your site, and manage the content.

To log in, type your website URL and add “/wp-admin” at the end. You’ll see the WordPress login page. Enter with your username or email address and the password you just set up.

You’re in!

Now, let’s start setting up the website.

Pick Your Theme

WordPress themes make it easy to design your website without writing a single line of code. 

A theme is a set of files like templates, images, and scripts that detail a website’s design. Instead of creating a website from scratch, you can pick a beautiful, ready-made theme and customize the details.

Right now, your website has the default Twenty Twenty-One theme. While there’s nothing wrong with this one, it is very basic and far from professional.

When you’re choosing a design, think back to your vision for the website

Who is it for and what is it supposed to do? Pick a theme that reflects that—a law firm’s website will look very different from an online sneaker store.

Here are some places you can find a premium theme without breaking the bank:

  • The official WordPress Library has an ever-expanding list of 8,000+ free and premium themes. You can sort them by layout, features, and subject. Some of my favorite free website themes are Deep, Bravada, and Shapely.
  • ThemeForest is one of the largest theme marketplaces, with prices ranging between $50 and $70. You can also subscribe to Envato Elements for as little as $16.50/month and access unlimited graphic element downloads (not all marketplace themes are included.) Bestsellers like Avada and Enfold are always a good place to start your search for the perfect design.
  • Creative Market also has tons of beautiful, polished designs for $50-$70 and some budget-friendly options under $20. It tends to have more lifestyle-focused designs, so you should definitely check it out if that’s your niche.

Elementor is another place for website designs—it’s a drag-and-drop plugin for customizing your pages, but it also has full website kits. It’s beginner-friendly, so it’s a great option if you’re learning how to make a website.

With a free profile, you get 30+ templates and 40+ basic widgets. 

The premium subscription costs only $49/year and it includes 300+ premium templates plus ten full website kits. You could easily skip buying a theme if you pick this option—and it makes editing and tailoring it way easier.

Theme Setup 

Before I explain how to build a web page, you have to set up the theme you chose. Go ahead and download it.

To install the theme on your website:

  • Go to your WordPress admin panel
  • Open Appearance > Themes
  • Click Add New

This sends you to the WordPress theme library. You can choose one directly from here or upload a third-party design from Upload Themes.

To set it up, upload the theme file you downloaded and click Install Now. Once that’s done, choose Live Preview to see how your new layout looks. If you like it, click Activate to put the new theme online.

Congratulations! You’re already creating your own website—just a few more steps to go.

If you followed the instructions, you now have your own domain, a website with WordPress, and a neat, professional theme for it. 

Let’s start making the web pages and customizing the design.

Step 6: Create Pages

Once you have the basic layout, it’s time to make the website pages and fill them in with content.

How to Make a Web Page in WordPress

To create a web page:

  • Go to your admin panel and then Pages > Add New.
  • You’ll see the visual page editor with a similar interface to MS word and absolutely no code. If you want to see the HTML, open the Text tab on the editor instead.
  • Enter the page title and text content here.
  • You can either save the page as a draft or preview and publish it. There is also a scheduling function if you want your page to appear later on.
  • In the Discussion section, you can decide if you want to allow comments, trackbacks, and pingbacks.

And voila—this is how you make a web page. You’ll see your published pages in the Pages menu—you can edit, delete, or archive them from here.

Even if you’re not editing the code, there is one crucial HTML concept to remember—tags. They’re essentially headings and subheadings to organize your content.

There are six h-tags in WordPress—heading 1 (H1), heading (H2), and so on. H1 is the most important, H6 is the least important.

Google uses headings for ranking—that’s why it’s so important to organize content and to include target keywords in your h-tags. Keep this in mind when you’re creating posts for your website and reap the SEO benefits.

Now that you know how to create a web page, here are the ones you need:

Legal Must-Haves

These are the bare necessities—the ones you need to operate your website legally and avoid potential trouble.

Privacy Policy

The privacy policy tells visitors how you collect their data and what you use it for. It builds trust between you and your visitors—and it’s a legal requirement in lots of countries around the world.

In the European Union, you have to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and ePrivacy Directive (Cookie Law). These regulations apply if: 

  • You’re based in the EU
  • You sell to EU customers
  • You have EU visitors and track their behavior (e.g., through cookies)

Breaking GDPR rules can lead to steep fines—so, make sure you sort it out before opening a website to the public.

Using a privacy policy generator is the cheapest way to sort out this document.

There are also WordPress plugins that help you cover the legal requirements. I highly recommend WP AutoTerms or WPLegalPages, both of which cover a wide range of legal frameworks—GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA,) DMCA policies, and more.

Terms & Conditions

The terms and conditions are like a contract between you and website visitors. They include general instructions like not infringing copyright and respectful commenting, but you can add other rules too.

If you’re running an online store, you can include the refund policy in your general T&C or make it a separate page.

Much like the privacy policy, you can use a generator for this one—just make sure you have it before opening a website for public use.

Depending on your legislation, you might also need a cookies policy page, as well as a Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) policy that clearly states children need parental consent to visit your website. 

Homepage

The homepage at the core of your website—both search engines and users will start here. So make it clear what your site is about—include target keywords for your niche, optimize the title and images, link all essential pages for easy access.

When you’re creating a website, you can choose between a static and a dynamic homepage.

Unless you’re running a large and frequently updated blog, I recommend starting with a static page. This way, it’s easier to get the content and optimization right.

Here’s how to build a website homepage that boosts your Google rankings:

  • Title: keep it around 60 characters, have your domain name in the beginning, add your most important keywords.
  • Content: make sure you have text content; add keywords and links.
  • Headings: use headings to organize your content; make sure there is only one H1; include keywords in the headings.
  • Images: choose clear, professional-looking pictures that represent your brand; compress them for fast loading.

About Page

The about page tells visitors about your business. Here’s how to build a powerful web page:

Take this opportunity to talk about your values, vision, and mission, as well as your company history

If it’s a personal site, this is a great place to connect with your visitors. It doesn’t have to be “all work, no play,” either—adding a few fun facts is a great idea. 

Contact Page

The contact page is a must when you’re starting a business website. You want people to know how to find you—so, add your company address, email, and phone number

Consider adding a contact form or formatting your email like company [at] companysite [dot] com to avoid getting on spam lists.

Services/Shop

Another essential page if you want to create a business website

Tell visitors what products or services you’re offering. We’ll cover setting up an ecommerce store in a little bit. Even if you’re not making an online shop, it’s a good idea to include some details about your business—e.g., portfolio pictures of your past work. 

Blog

Blogging is a great way to market yourself as an authority in your industry, helping you build trust and attract new clients. Plus, it’s a great way to get discovered on search engines. 

When you provide value through useful content, people will come to you (instead of you seeking them out.) That’s how inbound marketing works and blogging is one of the best ways to do it. 

Here’s how to get a website with a separate blog section on WordPress: 

  • Go to Pages > Add New and create an empty new page
  • Set the title to “Blog” for easy identification. Make sure the homepage is called “Home.”
  • From your dashboard, go to Settings > Reading
  • In the “Your homepage displays” section, find the “Your homepage displays” option and click “A static page.”
  • In the menu below, set your homepage to “Home” and the posts page to “Blog.”

Now your homepage will be static, but when somebody goes to the blog section in your navigation, they’ll see your newest posts there.

Blog posts won’t be pages, though. Instead, you’ll go to Posts > Add new and publish them through that section.

Good-to-Haves 

These pages aren’t must-haves, but they’re useful and important, yet people tend to forget them.

Sitemap

First, make a web page with your sitemap. This helps search engine crawlers navigate your website more efficiently. They’re a vital element of SEO—and since you want to be found on search engines, better make one already.

You can make a basic XML sitemap with the Yoast plugin (a free SEO tool we’ll cover in a bit.)

It’s also a good idea to add an HTML sitemap that helps visitors orient themselves in your website. Simply go to Pages > Add New. This will be your sitemap page. Go to the Text editor (that’s where you can edit the actual HTML code) and paste the [wp_sitemap_page] shortcode. Then, click Publish and you’re good to go.

404 Error Page

Another key yet often forgotten page is the 404 error.

Here’s how to customize the message with something more helpful to your visitors: 

If your theme has a pre-made 404 error template, find the theme documents—the folder you downloaded when you first got the theme. 

Open the 404.php file in a text editor and edit the message. Don’t worry about the rest of the code; simply find the “Oops, page not found” text and replace it with your own.

All themes have the 404.php page, but not all of them have the template. You can copy the 404 error template from another theme like the WordPress Twenty Thirteen. WordPress prepared a detailed guide on how to create a 404 web page this way.

FAQ 

If you’re creating a business website, don’t skip the FAQ. It builds trust in you and your expertise and relieves purchasing anxieties a client might have.

Here’s how to create an effective FAQ page

  • Find the questions by digging through support tickets and your inbox, as well as competitor websites, Quora, Reddit, and other social media. 
  • Consider potential objections and address them proactively. This is perhaps the most important step in your website FAQ page development. For example, customers might wonder why your product is pricier than others in that category—help them understand its advantages to justify the pricing.
  • Answer directly rather than pasting links to other pages. The FAQ is a place to make a quick reference (not a roadmap) to other content. 
  • Keep it short and sweet—no need to go into detail; stick to the essentials. 

The FAQ page is the first point of contact for customers who need answers. Nailing it saves customer support time and builds trust between you and your clients.  

Testimonials 

This is another crucial page when you’re starting a business website

Customer testimonials relieve buyer anxiety by reassuring your potential client that others have made that purchase before them—and they loved it. It taps into herd mentality and adds legitimacy to your site. 

In short—testimonials are the word-of-mouth of the Internet. 

It can be tempting to write fake reviews, especially when you’re first starting out. How would they know? 

They would know. 

Having multiple 5-star reviews with perfect grammar, absolutely zero complaints, and the same points of praise recycled over and over doesn’t inspire trust—it screams “Fake!” 

How to start a website that successfully promotes your brand? Definitely not with fake reviews. Focus on delivering a great customer experience and gathering real reviews by real people instead.

There are multiple WordPress plugins you can use to set up your testimonials page. Strong Testimonials is one of my personal favorites—it includes both review import and custom collection and allows for multiple ways to display the results. 

Alternatively, you can collect reviews in-person and type them up yourself

This works just fine for some businesses—e.g., a consulting company that only works with a couple of big firms at a time probably doesn’t need Facebook reviews on their website. They can easily go to the clients and type up their answers.   

But again, don’t be tempted to fake the testimonials. Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.

Should your budget allow it, you can resort to professional reputation management services as well.

Step 7: Tailor Your Design

You’re almost done making your website. If you followed along, now you have: 

  • Domain and hosting
  • WordPress installed
  • A beautiful theme
  • The essential content

What is left is tailoring the design and making sure that people can find their way around your site by setting up navigation. 

In this section, we’ll learn to build a website with outstanding design and customizations: 

Fine Tune the Website 

Right now, you have the default page design—the one from your theme. Here’s how to customize the web pages and add new elements you might need: 

Customize Your Theme

You can make changes to your theme through the Appearance > Customize section. If you’re logged into your admin account, you can also open the website and click Customize on the top bar menu. 

This launches the WordPress Customizer, where you can change the font, colors, logo, etc. Depending on the theme, you might have just a few options or be able to fine-tune every detail. Premium ones tend to allow more customization. If you choose a free website theme, you’d probably have more limited options.

The Customizer shows you the changes in real-time and you can switch between desktop, mobile, and tablet view to make sure it looks good across platforms. When you’re happy with the result, hit Publish and you’re good to go. 

Customize Pages with Elementor

Elementor is a design plugin that helps you edit pages and create new ones in a fully drag-and-drop environment.

It comes pre-installed with some WordPress auto-installers. If you don’t have it, go to Plugins > Add New and find “Elementor” through the search bar. Click Install Now > Activate.

Now that you have the plugin installed, let’s see how to build a web page:

The Elementor menu will appear in your sidebar—go there to watch the introduction video (it’s just three minutes, check it out.) To customize your pages:

  • Go to Pages and open the one you want to edit.
  • Click “Edit with Elementor.” This will load the drag-and-drop designer.

In Elementor, you can drag widgets into the page—anything from simple text boxes to image galleries. Some of the elements are premium-user-only, but you’ll find the essentials in the free version. 

You can also edit the visual elements by clicking on them and customizing them from the right-hand menu. 

When you’re done with the edits, preview on different devices and click Update.

Images

You need images when you’re building your website—but you can’t just use any picture on the Internet.

First, here’s what not to do:

Don’t just go on Google Images, type up your keyword, and use the first photo that comes up. That is stealing.  

If the image isn’t yours or you’re not sure about the exact license, steer clear. Using somebody else’s photo is copyright infringement—just because others have done it doesn’t mean you can’t get in trouble. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to help you build a website for free. Here are a few examples of free, high-quality images you can use instead:

  • Unsplash is an online photography community with thousands of freely usable images. Giving credit is encouraged but not obligatory and all the pictures are clear for commercial use and edits.
  • Pexels is another free stock footage platform—you can find both photos and videos here. Again, attribution is not required and you’re free to modify the original images too.
  • Public domain images have had their copyright expired (typically 70 or 95 years after the author’s death) or have been released for free public use. Most classical art is in the public domain. You can find tons of free images on museum websites or check out specific directories—for example, I really love Old Book Illustrations

When you’re creating a website from scratch, you’ll need a big library of images at your disposal. I recommend downloading many at once and organizing them in folders. If you’re using Photoshop to compress the files (more on image compression in the next section,) do it in a batch—it saves so much time!

Step 7: Create the Navigation

How do you create a website that people actually want to use?

You make sure they can find their way around. WordPress makes it easy to create menus and sub-menus—and they’re essential for a functional, easy-to-use site. 

To add navigation menus

  • From your dashboard, go to Appearance > Menus. 
  • Under the Edit Menus tab, you’ll see the “Create your first menu below” message. 
  • In Menu structure, add a menu name and click Create Menu. 
  • From the Add menu items section on the left, pick what you want to add (pages, posts, etc.) 
  • Click Add to Menu. 
  • Under Menu settings > Display location, pick where you want the menu to appear. 
  • Click Save Menu.

And done! You now know how to set up a website that’s easy to navigate. To take it a step further, you can create drop-downs for your main menu items—simply select the elements from Add menu items and drag them under their parent element.  

You can even create multiple nested drop-downs—just drag each item under its respective parent topic. 

Step 8: Start Selling (Optional)

Setting up an online store is surprisingly simple (and cheap) with WordPress. Here is how to build a website for selling online:

For this tutorial, we’ll be using the free WooCommerce plugin—a popular choice among online sellers and one of the most reliable options. 

To set it up: 

  • Go to Plugins > Add New > Search Plugins.
  • Type “WooCommerce” in the search bar and click Install > Activate.
  • You’ll get a prompt for the Setup Wizard. Follow the steps.

In the last step, you’ll get asked to pick a theme—this is how your store will look. 

You can proceed with your current theme or choose a new one for the online shop.  Storefront is a well-liked free design with plenty of extensions. If it’s not right for you, there are tons of other options.

Next, WooCommerce will show you a list of the most important steps for setting up your own website shop. These include adding products and tax information, placing payments, etc.

Follow the steps to create your online store and start selling. 

Step 9: Optimizations

We already touched upon using plugins to extend your website functionality or add new features.

You can install any plugin on the WordPress directory by going to Dashboard > Plugins > Add New. Then just search for the plugin and click Install > Activate.

You could also get third-party extensions or even code them yourself and upload them to WordPress. Unless you really trust the developer, this isn’t such a great idea—the plugin could create security vulnerabilities or even be malware itself.

There are 60,000+ extensions on the official directory—you have everything you need right there.

Here are the essential plugins you need for setting up websites:

Caching

Caching makes websites blazing-fast—and that’s great news for users and the Google algorithm alike. 

If your page takes more than three seconds to load, 53% of users will abandon it. Google doesn’t like it when people leave your site quickly—so your ranking drops.

Speed is essential and caching is a Godsend to help you boost it. Without cache, users have to download all page files to view the website. Caching plugins create a lighter version that loads fast and keeps visitors on your page.

The caching plugin I recommend is LiteSpeed Cache—it’s free, well-liked, and highly functional. If you need a website speed boost, you simply have to:

  • Install and activate LiteSpeed Cache from the Plugins menu. 
  • Go to LiteSpeed Cache on your sidebar. 
  • Click Cache. 
  • Find Enable Cache and toggle to On. 

And there you have it. Now your users can enjoy much faster loading speeds with virtually zero effort on your side.

Image Compression

Building a website that loads fast means no large files. And images are some of the heaviest elements on a web page. That’s why image compression is essential—without it, the photos would take ages to appear.

The very best way to compress images is with Photoshop. If you’re going that route, it’s best to create a Photoshop Action and batch process all your pictures to save time.

But if you’re not comfortable with Photoshop or you’re not thrilled about the pricey license, there are plugins that do the job for you:

reSmush.it

reSmush.it is my personal favorite image compression extension. It’s free, beginner-friendly, and way faster than Photoshop.

To reduce image size when you’re making your website

  • Install reSmush.it from the plugin directory. 
  • Open the plugin and select Optimize Unsmushed Pictures > Optimize all pictures.
  • Find Optimize on upload and activate the option. 
  • Click Save changes.

reSmush.it will compress images under 5MB. If your files are larger, consider Photoshop alternatives like GIMP or the Pixlr Editor.

Caching and image compression aren’t the only ways to increase your page speed—check out our comprehensive guide on speeding up your website for more tips.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is anything you do to stand out on Google (and other search engines.) This helps you rank higher and get all that free organic traffic

How to start a website that Google likes? These are the main steps you should follow:

Optimize for popular search terms—the keywords that people type up in the search bar. Keep your content and website organized with proper h-tags, a sitemap, and easy-to-navigate menus. You also have to make sure it loads fast and works equally well on desktop and mobile.

It’s a lot, I know. But SEO plugins can help you with that. Here are two that you should definitely check out:

Yoast SEO
Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin on WordPress—and for a good reason. It helps you improve multiple rank-boosting aspects of your site and it’s intuitive and user-friendly even if you know little about SEO.

When you’re making your own website for the first time, the free version is more than enough. If you need more SEO features, you can always upgrade later down the line.

Once you install Yoast, click the icon in the top bar menu. Start the Configuration Wizard to quickly set up the key features.

Whenever you write a new post, Yoast will appear on the WordPress editor page and automatically read through your content. Set your target keyword and follow the tips to make sure your article ranks as high as possible.

Yoast also helps you create an XML sitemap for your website. To generate yours:

  • Go to your WordPress Dashboard > SEO.
  • Click General.
  • Select the Features tab.
  • Toggle the XML Sitemaps switch to on.
  • Click Save changes.

To learn more about SEO and how to make your own website rank higher through content marketing, check out our article on starting a blog.

RankMath

RankMath is a lighter, faster Yoast alternative that has been gaining traction recently. Like Yoast, it has a free and a premium version—and the free one is just enough for most website owners.

Other than the leaner code, RankMath has some additional perks over Yoast: 

  • Optimization for up to five words with the free version
  • Google Search Console integration to see your website performance within WordPress
  • Keyword suggestions based on the Google Autofill feature

It all sounds way better than Yoast, right?

Well, in reality, there’s not a massive difference in the Google web page ranking performance between the two plugins. Sure, RankMath might be “the next big thing,” but for now, it’s just another SEO tool with some nice-to-have features.

Whether you use Yoast or RankMath, both will show you how to make a website that ranks high. But SEO is a long game—so stay consistent with it, take advantage of whichever tool you choose, and you’ll see a difference.

Security

You didn’t just learn how to start a website only to have it hacked in a couple of days.

If you think it won’t happen to you, consider this: 

58% of malware attacks affect small businesses. With the growing rate of cybercrime, the odds are pretty much stacked against you—even if you’re not a large corporation or a banking institution.

You already know how to develop a website. Now it’s time to learn how to protect it.

Start by choosing a strong username and password combo, setting up SSL on your website (it’s free with a Hostinger subscription,) and updating WordPress and the plugins every time a new version comes out.

The Hostinger WordPress plan does the updates for you, which is excellent news—most of the hacked WordPress sites had been running an older version.

When it comes to creating a secure website, I personally love and recommend these two plugins: 

  • Jetpack by WordPress, which comes pre-installed with your Hostinger WordPress plan. The free version includes all the key features like brute force attack protection (the average site suffers 5,000+ brute force attacks through its lifespan, so that’s crucial.) Other functions include login authentication, basic activity logs, downtime monitoring, and automatic plugin updates.
  • WordFence is a full-featured security plugin that runs regular scans on your website and alerts you if any problems come up. It also includes a firewall, login authentication, malicious traffic blocks, and more. Some of the WordPress features are premium, but the free version still includes the essentials.

Analytics

You want to know how your website is doing, right? 

Analytics plugins will help you understand all the details. They’re must-haves, especially if you’re looking to start a website business.

Setting up analytics early on is a great idea. This way, you can track your progress from the very beginning—and you can improve based on what you learned.

MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights is a freemium, full-featured Google Analytics plugin that gives you in-depth information about your audience. And it has it all:

  • Detailed visitor demographics
  • Ecommerce integrations (WooCommerce and beyond)
  • Forms tracking and conversion analysis
  • Download tracking
  • Analytics across devices
  • GDPR compliance

Overall, it’s one of the most comprehensive analytics plugins you can get —and, yes, the free version is more than enough. Now you can create a website for free and monitor its performance—again for free!

Analytify 

Analytify is another popular analytics extension with both a free and a premium version. It’s super simple to install and use and boasts features like: 

  • Automated reporting to your email
  • Page and post tracking
  • Ecommerce analytics
  • Insight right in your WordPress dashboard

The Analytify premium version adds some handy functions, but, personally, I’m happy with the free analytics it provides.

Step 10: Publish

… and we’re done!

Now you know how to build a website from scratch and, hopefully, have set up yours. It’s finally time to publish—but first, let’s see how well it works.

Both Elementor and the WordPress Customizer support previews across devices

But you never know for sure until you try it yourself. When you first launch your website, test it out on at least three different devices—a desktop computer, a phone, and a tablet. 

Get your friends and family to drop a visit too. They might see issues or glitches that you never even noticed.

And there you have it!

You just started your first website—and it’s looking pretty good. Here’s what comes next:

Next Steps

Website building isn’t a “set it and forget it” sort of thing.

Even a simple site needs maintenance and development—here’s how to keep up:

Security Maintenance

Your first job here is to keep the website safe. If you get hacked, not only will you lose your audience’s trust (and possibly valuable personal details and money,) but your ranking will drop.

So make sure you go back at least once a month and check if WordPress and the plugins are updated. Hostinger’s WordPress plan does the work for you. But if you used another provider for building your website, that might not be the case.

Either way, you can’t be too safe.

Don’t ignore the Wordfence scans if you got the plugin. You can prevent a lot of trouble by just following simple measures. 

Finally, make sure your passwords aren’t compromised and the website works as expected. Just go back to your good old website; it’s not too much to ask.

Blogging and SEO

If you created a blog for SEO purposes, keep it updated with regular content. Deliver consistently high-quality content, optimize for keywords, and watch the traffic roll in. 

To learn more about growing traffic through content marketing, check out our article on how to start a blog.

Monetization

Starting a website can be profitable in more ways than one. You don’t have to be an ecommerce store owner to cash in on your traffic.

As your website grows, consider:

  • Ads—you can do this from day one through a platform like Google Adsense. You’ll get 68% of what advertisers pay per click. For some niches, that can quickly add up.
  • Membership sites—monetize your knowledge by offering exclusive content to subscribers.
  • Affiliate marketing—place affiliate links on your content and make money off the commission. Just remember always to disclose that these are affiliate links.
  • Marketing your other platforms—use your website to promote other paying gigs like an online course, webinar, or speaking at different events.

Final Thoughts

Building your own website seems daunting—there is just so much to do. But there’s only one way to eat an elephant—take it one bite at a time and suddenly, it won’t seem so impossible.

Use this article as a guide. Come back however many times you need—we’ll be here, showing you how to make your own website.

Ultimately, even the longest journey starts with a single step. You don’t need programming skills or a pro web designer holding your hand. All you need is some effort and patience. Good luck! I’m sure you’ll come up with something awesome.

FAQ

How Can I Build My Own Website?

You can set up a website on a platform like Wix, or you can make it yourself with self-hosted WordPress.

Website builders are handy, but they limit your control over the final product—and the monetization options.

Self-hosted is way better and you don’t need a tech background. Just get a hosting plan, install WordPress (with the auto-installer), pick a theme, and edit your pages with a drag-and-drop plugin like Elementor. It’s not hard—it’s way cheaper and high-quality.

How Do I Start a Website for Free?

You can make a free website on Wix or another similar website creator. But you won’t get a custom domain and the platform plasters ads all over your content. Sure, it’s free to publish, but your work and traffic will make money for somebody else.

But don’t worry, there is another way how to build a website for free—through the Google business website builder. The platform expands your business listing into a simple one-page site to add your contact details, photos, and more information about your company.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Website?

Starting a website will set you back around $200 if you go for the self-hosted WordPress option.

This is the price for a $143.52 two-year Hostinger WordPress Starter plan, plus a premium theme around $50 to $70. The hosting includes a domain name and all essential plugins have free versions.

The price can go way higher than this if you invest in different plugins, opt for a pricier hosting plan, or decide to hire a professional to help out.

But this is also not the cheapest option. You can start your own website for as little as $72.

What Is the Cheapest Way to Start a Website?

Creating your website can be as low-cost as $72. Here is how to start a website on the cheap:

  • Single Shared Hosting plan on Hostinger—$47.52 for a two-year plan
  • Domain name from Namecheap—around $9
  • Low-cost theme from the WordPress Theme marketplace—around $15

 

ABOUT AUTHOR

Denny is a content marketing enthusiast, writer, and occasional tech geek. She also studies Medicine, sometimes.

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