Want to learn how to make a website? Great! While we offer a wide range of web design, development and ongoing support & services, we understand that some people have the time, creativity and desire to build their own website. This post should help you understand the key elements of building a website, so you can do informed research on each component.
Step 1: Buying a domain name
A domain name is your unique address on the internet. Ours is mcwebdesign.com.au.
Domain names are typically registered for 12 or 24 months at a cost of about $15 per year. We register all our domains through Crazy Domains because they’re cheap and have a great management system with features that other domain registrars charge extra for.
Remember, a domain name is your unique slice of the internet. So many short domain names that use common words are already taken, so you might need to spend a while trying alternatives until you find one that isn’t taken. Don’t get sucked into the “Backorder” trap, clients often come to us thinking they’ve purchased a domain name, but really, they’ve just paid the registrar to try to buy the domain if the current owner ceases to renew it. This rarely happens, so it’s not worth your time.
The holy grail of domain names are those that end in “.com” and they’re really hard to get. Literally every five letter combination has already been bought (including the ones that don’t make any sense). In addition, all combinations of 2 English words have been taken for the “.com” top level domain (“TLD”). Given how unlikely it is you’ll be able to register a good one of these, you can definitely settle for a “.com.au” or a “.net.au”. There’s likely to be very little detriment to you as a result of choosing something other than “.com”, due to the fact most internet users just search for businesses via Google, not by guessing their domain name. There’s certainly some prestige that comes with owning a “.com” domain name though. In a future post, we’ll talk about the risks of buy an old domain name.
Step 2: Sign up with a hosting company
The hosting company stores the files and database of your website. Think of hosting like a computer that’s always on and connected to the internet. An internet user’s web browser will ask this computer for the files it needs to render the website, and the computer replies with those files.
There are so many hosting options out there that we won’t bother reviewing them. If you’re looking for a super cheap option, you can’t go past DreamHost. They provide decent support for about US$100 per year.
If you’re looking for Australian hosting, we recommend VentraIP. These guys have servers in Melbourne and Sydney, provide great support and have fast servers.
Step 3: Link your domain to your hosting
When you set up your hosting, they will have asked you to tell them the domain name that you’re planning to host. They will then email you the settings you’ll need to add to your domain registrar. You’re looking for the “Nameserver” settings. These usually look like this: “ns1.dreamhost.com”, “ns2.dreamhost.com” and “ns3.dreamhost.com” – there are almost always 3 of these.
Now you need to log in to your domain registrar, which we bought our domain from in Step 1, and update the “DNS settings” or “Nameservers” to reflect each of the “ns1.dreamhost.com”, “ns2.dreamhost.com” and “ns3.dreamhost.com”. Once saved, your domain will be linked to the hosting company. Note: it might take a few hours before the domain settings propagate across the internet, so be patient if it doesn’t work immediately.
You can test whether this worked by typing your domain name into your browser’s address bar. If it worked, you’ll be greeted by a blank page or perhaps some content that identifies itself as your hosting company. If you still see a page with your domain registrar’s name on it, such as “Crazy Domains” then the domain settings have either not yet propagated, or the settings are wrong.
Step 4: Setting up a content management system
Step 5: Choosing a theme
Step 6: Filling your website with content
Step 7: Adding important plugins (security, spam and social sharing)
Step 8: Launch!
Step 9: Get traffic
How to make a website: Conclusion