I’ve been asked by several friends lately, “How do I create my own website?”. Instead of offering to do it for them, like I usually do, I thought I would write up a quick guide to point them to.
As someone who’s been doing web development for a quite a while, its easy to take the basics for granted. However, I remember what it was like trying to piece everything together to make my first website, circa 1995. The fundamentals haven’t changed much since then, but the tools (and connection speeds) have come a LONG way.
On with the guide…
Since you’re still reading, I’m assuming you know basically nothing, or very little, about how the internals of the world wide web work. It may seem a bit foreign at first, but its really very simple.
The first thing you will need to get started creating your own website is somewhere to host it. Websites reside on a web server. A web server is nothing more than a computer that runs a special piece of software that delivers the pages of your website over the web. There are many different companies who specialize in providing web hosting packages. An entire blog post could be spent on the different types of hosting packages, but for beginners, look for a cheap shared hosting package. You should be able to find a decent package with more than you’ll need for between $6 and $10 per month. Try SiteGround, BlueHost, or Site5 to get started.
The next thing you will need for your website is a domain name or URL. A domain name is basically your address on the internet. Examples of URL’s include www.google.com, www.joshhuckabee.com, etc. In order to obtain your domain name you must register it through a domain registrar. Before you can register your domain name, it must be available. Hop on over to GoDaddy and begin your search. Once you find a domain you like, you will be walked through the registration process.
Now that you have a place to host your website and a domain name, you need to tell the domain registrar where your website is hosted. This is done through name servers. Basically a name server connects a domain name to its web server. When you sign up for a web hosting package you will be given 2 or 3 different nameservers to use. Once you have these, log into your domain registrar account and edit the settings of your domain. You should see “nameserver” settings. For GoDaddy customers, go to the “Domain Control Center”, click on your domain name, and then click on the “Nameservers” button. Enter the nameservers from your webhost and then click ok. As GoDaddy will point out, it may take several days before this change is propagated throughout the web. I’ve seen it take as little as 5 minutes to update and as long as 2 days. Just be patient.
While you’re waiting for your nameserver changes to propagate, you can start creating the actual content of your site. In order to create a web page, you will need some basic understanding of HTML. W3Schools is a great place to start if you don’t know HTML.
Once you’ve got it figured out and you’re ready to publish your pages, you will need to move your web pages to the server where your site is being hosted. This can be accomplished using an FTP client. I use Transmit, but there are several different clients (some free) on the net. Your webhost will provide you with details on how to connect to your site using an FTP client. Simply connect to your site, copy up your pages, and you should be good to go.
These are the very basics of getting your website up and running and should get you started on the right path. Your website host should have a good Wiki or tutorial for newbies and the web is covered in resources if you want to explore any of the above topics in more depth.
Of course, I’m still available to answer any questions you might have.
Best of luck!