How To Build a Website from Scratch (Beginners Guide)
Scratch is Actually Easy!
Once you have chosen your website creation tool of choice, you then need to figure out how to use the thing. In this article, we’ll explore how to create a website from scratch.
This is designed as a step by step guide for someone just starting out in the online space. I’ll cover everything so that all you need to do is follow the guide.
As a complete beginner using a website builder is advisable. This will make the whole process of creating a website so much easier. For this example I have chosen Wix and WordPress, however in the end I decided that WordPress was a little bit complex for complete beginners, and would advise Wix. I’ll explain why…
Ok I’ll have to admit, after owning and creating websites for years I was a bit of a WordPress snob. Wix just seemed to be a bit naff. But I have completely changed my mind today, sorry WordPress! Wix is so easy for beginners to get up and running inside just a few minutes. The whole process is completely streamlined – I’m now a Wix fan.
Before You Get Started
It’s a good idea to own a domain name or buy one for your new website. This will be your online presence. I never made this a step in the process; because you don’t actually need a domain name to get started with Wix, which is awesome.
Both Wix and WordPress.com guide you to purchase a domain name, however if you are feeling adventurous then you could even snag a completely free domain name and point it to your WordPress or Wix website.
One great thing about Wix.com is that you can sign up in seconds with your Facebook or Google accounts. Alternatively you can input your details to create your account (which takes a few seconds longer). Wix is one of the best free website builders out there if you’re on a budget.
You’ll then be taken to a fill in the blanks style questionnaire
If you’re a complete beginner then the “Let Wix ADI Create a Website for You” is free and makes life so much easier. Simply hit the “Start Now” button (on the left) to be guided through the process from creation to publishing your website in minutes (literally).
You’ll then be asked a few questions about your blog or website. I chose a “Health Food Blog”, however you can fill in a few keywords and select the type of website that best suits your project or organisation.
Decide what features you want on your website. If you are not sure you can skip this part for now. However, I’d advise selecting a few features that you think that you might use from the available options which are as follows:
Online Store (eCommerce solution)
- Bandsintown (display upcoming bands in your area)
I chose the following features for my blog – subscribe form, paid plans, Instagram feed and bookings. However, if you want to display videos or sell tickets to an event then you might choose the features “Video” and “Events”. You can even sell online plans and programs, which is pretty neat.
The intuitive questionnaire will populate your website with some relevant content and you can select the right template to fit your needs. All you have to do is select the type of theme you want and select from the displayed choices (my options are shown below).
The theme options are fairly limited with Wix.
You can easily edit the theme by hovering over areas and pressing the “edit” button (shown in the image below)
When editing your website design, you’ll see a panel appear on the left hand side of the page that will allow you to change the text and images.
✔ You get a FREE Wix domain name
✔ There is an option to use your own domain
✔ Creating and publishing a site is free and easy
✔ Questionnaire style web creation makes the process fun
✔ Set up a feature rich website in minutes (seriously, it’s that easy!)
✔ Great features like live chat, bookings etc…
✘ Limited scope for customizing templates
✘ Wix advert displayed on free options
✘ Bandwidth is limited
Setting up a website on WordPress.com
BEST FOR – More competent website owners or small businesses
Creating a website with WordPress is not as straightforward as Wix. You’ll require a domain name to get started. You can get one from WordPress.com easily; however bear in mind that you’ll need to pay for the DNS service. Even if you have your own domain name, WordPress.com wants paid for you to have the privilege of using your own domain host.
Transferring your domain to WordPress.com or purchasing a domain name from them seems to be their preference. If you are happy to host your domain name with WordPress.com then the process is straight forward.
Creating a WordPress website is a great option if you want to scale your business up in the future. There are unlimited options and additional plugins that you can get to upgrade your WordPress website. I’d suggest going for a .com domain name extension and taking the time to learn WordPress (or employing someone to upgrade your theme) if you are serious about your online presence.
Go over to WordPress.com and hit the pink “Get Started” Button.
Create your account using your email address, create a new username and a secure password. Unfortunately you can’t sign up with Facebook or Google like you can with Wix.
Pick the type of website that you want to create from the following 4 options:
I decided to choose a food blog as I want to write about raw living foods and share recipes. However, you might want to choose a professional portfolio site, if for example you are a Graphic Designer or Photographer.
This is where your domain name comes in. You have three options, you can either choose to buy a new domain name, transfer your domain name to WordPress.com or map your domain to your WordPress.com (which costs $14.50)
Choose a theme by clicking on “Themes” down the left hand side menu. There are a great number of themes to choose from. To find a theme that suits you then use the search bar (where it says “business”) and enter keywords relevant to your theme to narrow the search.
There are both free and premium themes to choose from and you can toggle between both (depending on your preferences). Your theme will decide the look and feel for your business, and can be changed at a later date with ease.
Customize your theme by hitting the customize button on the top of the page. Here you can change the title of the page down the left hand side menu. You can also many other aspects of your website appearance.
By default your website homepage will show your latest blog post, to change the website to a static homepage instead (With content of your choosing).
To create a static homepage create a new page (from the menu on the left).
Then call this page “home” and set to a “static” page type
The entire website can be customized further for example you can change the colors of the site by choosing colors and backgrounds on the menu.
Then you can choose a color scheme that matches your brand
Your WordPress website can be tweaked over time, keeping the blog content intact.
✔ Easy to upgrade to a feature rich professional WordPress website on your own hosting if you should choose to at a later date
✔ Great for adding in blog content in the WordPress CMS area
✔ Lots of plugins
✔ Content can be downloaded at any point
✔ Lots of templates to choose from
✔ More customizable website options
✘ No completely free option
✘ You’ll need to buy or own a domain name
✘ The interface is hard to use for a beginner
✘ If you use a domain name you own you’ll still be charged an extra $14.15 per year to keep your domain name on your current DNS/ domain name hosting provider.
✘ Time consuming & confusing
✘ No Facebook or Google signup option
If you are looking for a TRULY simple way to get up and running then Wix is your best option. The whole process is streamlined and perfect for beginners. However if you want to get more indepth and are not baffled and bewildered by the huge amount of customizable features, then WordPress is the best option. To get WordPress looking like you want can take days or weeks. However, Wix can be up and running within a few minutes – so defintetly the more convenient option.