This is the most frequent question I hear, and often with the word “simple” included within the question. Whether you are creating your own site or hiring a designer to create one for you, the first thing you must do remains the same: purchase your own domain and hosting.
Domains are around $10/year and economic hosting is about $5/month. It isn’t expensive to own your own site, and you DO want to own it and be in control. Some designers will offer to get your domain and host your site for you, but understand that it also means that they own your site and have full control. It usually also means they will charge you a lot more for the service. If your site is your business, you may find your hands tied behind your back if you want to update or make any changes. There is also the risk of the designer holding your site hostage from you. Whether your site is for personal or business purposes, there is no reason not to own it.
Once you buy your domain and hosting, you need to have the two connect and work together. The “domain” is the actual url address of your site. The “hosting” is what brings it to life and allows others see your content. You add hosting to your domain in order for your content to become visible on your domain. Most services like DomainsPricedRight.com or GoDaddy.com have an excellent customer service that will even guide you through these tasks and more if you find yourself in need of assistance.
You have your own url with activated hosting. Now what?
The best recommendation I have is to install WordPress to create and manage your site. WordPress.org is a free software that is extremely user friendly and offers endless design possibilities. Updating your site is as simple as writing an email or a word document thanks to their visual editor. You don’t have to know a line of code to use it (of course knowing code gives you even more freedom). Many domain and hosting services even have a button to click and install it for you.
The other benefit to WordPress is the many wonderful plugins available to let you do just about anything you can imagine. And there are constantly more being created! You can have a fancy slide show, manage your images easily, and update without any knowledge of code. There are also plenty of support forums to assist you if you want to learn how to do more.
If you find yourself lost while attempting to install WordPress, just call your hosting company’s customer service for guidance. (You can even mention you want to install WordPress when and if you first call to have your domain and hosting connected.) There is also plenty of documentation available on WordPress.org to make your installation a smooth one. You can have it installed into the “root” instead of the default www.yoursite.com/wordpress in order to have a complete wordpress site you can easily update and control. If you already have an existing site and want to add a blog page, then you would install wordpress into a folder such as “www.yoursite.com/blog” to separate the two. WordPress doesn’t have to be a blog, it is all in the theme you use and how you display your content. The “root” just means www.yoursite.com.
Okay, WordPress is installed and when you go to your site you see the “Hello World!” message up on your site.
Now it’s time to have fun and get creative!
If you want to do this all on your own, you can search for free themes on wordpress.org or do a Google search for free WordPress themes. You’ll soon discover that there are a lot out there, and it is a matter of finding one that meets your needs. You can even search within the “Themes” section of the Dashboard within your site. If you don’t know code and you find you want a custom made theme, then it’s time to hire a designer. The more you know what you want, the easier it is to convey to a designer and save time and money.
If you decide you still want to do this on your own completely and you can’t find a satisfactory theme online, then it’s time to learn some code. There are plenty of support forums and sites with basics, tricks, and all kinds of design inspirations with instructions. If this is for a personal site, then you could spend the time to learn the techniques you need. But if it is for a business site, then time is valuable and most likely can be used to better your business.