Build Your Own Website In 2020: The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

Would you like to create your own website or a simple homepage? And you don’t know where to start?

Then you are right here!

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know to set up a website.

No matter whether for you privately, for your company, your organisation or your club. And regardless of your budget:

I will show you both free and paid methods of creating a website or homepage. And the paid methods won’t tear a deep hole in your budget (and will cost you far less each month than a gym membership).

Promised.

And don’t worry:

I take you by the hand and guide you through the entire process in 5 easy steps. From the selection of the right provider to the registration of a domain to the design!

Ready?

Let’s start with what you actually think of for a website:

Step# 1: Choose The Type Of Your Website

It is important that you first understand what type of website you want to create.

Because that determines the selection of the right website system in step #2 .

A general distinction is made between 4 different website types:

The simple homepage

A simple homepage (also called a one-page website) consists of only one page (the homepage or homepage) on which all information is bundled. In addition, there may be pages with mandatory legal information, such as Data protection declaration, Policies etc.

Due to its simple structure, it is particularly suitable for private individuals who only want to present themselves in short form (e.g. as a digital business card).

Can’t imagine anything?

No problem!


The simple website

A simple website includes not only the homepage but also some other subpages. These are used to present your company, you as a person or your organization on the Internet. B .:

  • Customer testimonials and references
  • Picture gallery
  • offered services
  • contact form
  • Directions
  • Company history, philosophy or values
  • Job offers

A simple website is especially suitable for you if you want to win customers online, but you offer products or services offline. So for local companies, associations or non-profit organizations.


The complex website

A complex website differs from a simple website in three ways:

It is usually larger, more sophisticated, and offers visitors more advanced features that often require a database, such as B .:

  • A comment system
  • Forum
  • A classifieds or job portal
  • A member or customer area
  • An online shop with a payment function
  • Newsletter functions (possibly with interfaces to Email marketing tools )
  • Integrations and interfaces to other services or apps
  • Advanced SEO functions
  • Multilingualism

Such a website is particularly suitable for you if you want to win customers online or if you want to make money with your website yourself. 


The blog

In the past, blogs (also called weblogs) only served as online diaries. Many blogs are now also more complex websites (such as this one).

Blogs can be powerful marketing tools that help you draw attention to your products or services.

Keyword: content marketing!

The peculiarity of a blog is that posts are usually displayed in chronological order on the homepage.

You can read about how to set up your own blog in my tutorial: Create your own blog in 2020: The ultimate guide for beginners


Step# 2: Decide How You Want To Create It

Nowadays, websites are mainly created using these 3 methods:

  1. With a website kit (such as Wix )
  2. With WordPress (or another content management system)
  3. Program a website yourself

Since the 3rd method is not suitable for beginners, it is not part of this article.

Programming a website yourself requires in-depth knowledge of HTML and CSS, possibly even in complex programming languages ​​such as JavaScript or PHP.

Methods 1 and 2 are also suitable for beginners, but differ in a few essential points:

2.1 Homepage kit

wix

Setting up your own website is by far the easiest and fastest with a website builder.

You have everything from a single source, thanks to the modular principle, you need little training and no programming knowledge.

The website itself is created directly in the browser. You can add or remove elements to the individual pages simply by drag & drop (i.e. by dragging with the mouse):

wix editor

There are various templates (also called templates or themes ) available for designing your site, which greatly simplifies the design process.

In addition, many kit providers such as Wix offer an assistant to help you get started with the creation of the homepage:

It’s that easy!

I recommend you to take Wix as a modular supplier.

Wix offers significantly more design options and is easier to use than many other modular systems. In addition, you can add useful functions to your own websites with many apps.

The best thing about it:

The basic version of Wix is ​​free. This means that you can try out Wix in peace and put your website online without having to take out an annual subscription (the free version is permanently free ).

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Start now with Wix for free.

Steps required to start a kit website:

  1. Register with Wix
  2. Book a premium tariff (optional)
  3. Activate a domain (optional, not available in the free version)
  4. Plan website
  5. Create sides 
  6. Design website

advantages

  • free version with a wide range of functions
  • All from a single source
  • Pre-made templates as a design template
  • Change the individual website elements using drag & drag
  • easy to handle
  • short training period
  • does not require programming skills
  • Comprehensive support for your website (in the premium version)

disadvantage

  • ugly URL in the free version (https://yourwebsite.wixsite.com/yourwebsite)
  • Not suitable for more complex websites
  • Dependence on a provider
  • lack of portability (you cannot simply export your website and then import it into another system such as WordPress)

2.2 Create a WordPress website

wordpress

WordPress (.org) is free open source software that you can use to create a blog or website.

Meanwhile, 33% of all websites worldwide are operated with WordPress, making it by far the most used platform.

Note: The WordPress.com service is also based on WordPress, with the difference that you cannot intervene in the source code, and it offers fewer functions, which is why I advise against it.

The big advantage of this:

With a WordPress website, you are significantly more flexible than with a website builder. First, you have a huge selection of different themes (i.e. design templates) available:

The WordPress theme directory alone currently contains over 7,200 free themes. There are also thousands of premium themes that are subject to charges.

Second, WordPress offers the option of expanding your website with various functions using plugins. There are now over 55,000 of them in the WordPress plugin directory :

Third, you have complete access to the code of your WordPress installation, including all plugins and themes and your database. That means, provided you have the appropriate programming knowledge, you have (almost) unlimited design options for your website.

The only drawback:

Learning WordPress and administering it yourself takes time, and the willingness to deal with technical issues. If this is not a problem for you, the first step is to find a suitable WordPress host for you:

Find a WordPress host now🔥

Steps required to start a WordPress website:

  1. Find the right WordPress hosting
  2. Choose a domain
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Plan website
  5. Find a good WordPress theme
  6. Install WordPress plugins
  7. Create pages
  8. Design website

advantages

  • High flexibility and range of functions
  • Full control over your own data
  • Many available themes (design templates) and plugins (extensions)
  • Very large community
  • Problems with WordPress can be googled very well since there are numerous tutorials on various topics

disadvantage

  • possible additional costs for premium plugins or themes
  • No modular system inherently, additional plugins are required for this
  • more training time than with website kits
  • The higher effort for administration (e.g. plugins, themes and WordPress itself must always be kept up to date)

2.3 WordPress or website builder?

I tell you honestly:

I am an absolute WordPress fan (DigitalGarg is also based on it) and haven’t thought of website building sets for a long time.

However, my attitude towards this has changed in the past two years.

Firstly, because website building kits have gotten better and better over the years (previously Wix websites were based on Flash, which was really scary), secondly, because I keep getting feedback from readers and customers that WordPress is too complicated for beginners.

The fact is:

With a website builder, you can build a website faster and easier than with WordPress.

I would always advise you not to use Wix and Co. for more complex web projects or if you plan to expand your website at some point.

You are also better advised with WordPress if you want to make money with your website. For example, if you want to build a niche site, a commercial blog or an online magazine.

However, setting up a simple homepage or website with WordPress would be like shooting cannons at sparrows:

Simple
homepage
Simple
website
Complex
website
Blog
Website builder Yes Yes No Yes, if purely private
WordPress No Maybe (if expansion is planned) Yes Yes, if commercial

Step# 3: Find A Suitable Domain

The domain is the address at which your website can be reached on the Internet.

The part of the URL that represents the domain is highlighted in purple in the following example :

https://yourhomepage.com

With a free tariff for a website kit, you only have one subdomain that runs under the domain of the provider. With Jimdo this look like this:

https://your homepage.jimdo.com

And even worse with Wix, because your chosen website name repeats itself again at the end:

https://yourhomepage.wixsite.com/your homepage

And, don’t get me wrong:

This is perfectly okay for a private homepage.

However, if you want to use your website for professional purposes (e.g. as a company homepage), you should always take a fee-based tariff with a domain that can be activated for website kits.

Everything else seems unprofessional.


3.1 What needs to be considered when choosing a domain?

When choosing the right domain, you can go wrong.

To help you choose a domain that you are happy with years later, here is a short checklist of important things to watch out for:

  1. The shorter the name, the better (preferably under 16 characters)
  2. It is best to avoid umlauts (ä, ü, ö) because the rendering in the domain name is unattractive 
  3. The spelling of the name should be clear to most people
  4. Your domain name should indicate what your site is about.
  5. You shouldn’t violate any trademark rights with your domain name.

Indeed:

Don’t worry about choosing a domain!

You can change your domain at any time afterwards (which, however, can be a bit of an effort and entails additional costs of 5-15 € for a new order).


3.2 Which domain extension? (.com, .org, .net etc.)

If you are targeting Worldwide visitors, I would always advise you to use a .com domain.

If .com are not available, you could also choose a .net – or, if you are a non-profit organization, a .org domain. But that should always be the second choice.

You should rather stay away from the new top-level domains (New gTLDs) introduced in 2014 , e.g. .web.blog, .discount and so on. Although they have been on the market for 5 years, they are not yet very widespread.


3.3 Your own name as a domain?

In some cases, it may make sense to choose your own name as the domain.

Especially if you are in the foreground as an expert or person, e.g. as a coach, consultant, freelancer, artist, model or author.

Choosing your own name as a domain can help you build a personal brand. This also has the advantage that you do not restrict yourself thematically.

Of course, even if you want to create a private homepage, using your own name makes sense.

However, you should not choose your own name as a domain name if …

  • You don’t want your website to be found under your name
  • You operate as a team, e.g. the site should be for a company, organisation or association (should be clear, right?)
  • You later plan to sell your domain (and possibly the associated website) once

3.4 How do I register my own domain?

Perhaps you have already asked yourself:

“Finn, it is all well and good with the selection of the domain, but how do I get my domain?”

And the answer is relatively simple:

The provider where you created your website. You can theoretically register your domain with a third party. But for starters, it’s easier if you have both from one source.

Wix domain, you can register directly in the Web site map, adding to your domain join click:

Then go to Buy New Domain :

You can then check the availability of your domain for different endings:

Every premium package at Wix includes a domain for 1 year free of charge, which applies to common extensions such as .com.net.org, .info.biz and also some new top-level domains.


Step#4: Plan Your Own Website

Once you’ve found and registered a website provider and domain, it’s time to start planning.

Of course, there will be some design and structuring issues in the practical implementation, but it doesn’t hurt to have an approximate plan before you get started.

4.1 Create a customer avatar

Especially if you want your website to attract customers, it is essential to look at who your customers are.

A tried and tested means of doing this is a customer avatar (also called a buyer persona ). This serves to concretize the image of your desired customer in your head and thus better tailor the content on your online presence to him.

To create a customer avatar for your desired customer, you can, eg: ask the following questions:

  • What are the demographic characteristics? (Age, gender, marital status, occupation, income, educational level)
  • What prior knowledge does he have?
  • What goals does it have? What does he want to achieve?
  • What fears and problems does he have? What questions keep him awake at night?
  • Which sources of information does he use? (Magazines, social media channels, websites, forums, Facebook etc.)

4.2 Define website structure

The next step is to plan your website structure.

That means you think about which subpages (also called websites) your website should contain and how they are structured hierarchically.

You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • What helpful content do I want to provide to be found online?
  • What services, products or offers do I want to offer for sale on my website?
  • What content do I need so that visitors can get to know me better and build trust in me?
  • How important is individual content for visitors? What content should stand out?

I also recommend that you let other websites inspire you (e.g. those of your competition or websites with a similar theme or purpose in general) and see how they are structured.

To visualize your entire website with all of its web pages, it can help to visualize them using a mind map.

You can do this with note and pen or use software such as SimpleMind.

4.4 Which pages does my website need?

There are some pages that are essential for any website. This includes:

Home page

Your homepage (also called home, index or homepage) is the basis of your website.

Here visitors get a first overview of the content of your website, about yourself or your Organization. It serves to instil trust in visitors and to encourage them to find out more about you or your organization.

Common elements for your homepage are:

  • A brief summary of what you or your organization stands for and what you or you offer
  • An overview of the most important content of your site
  • Testimonials (customer testimonials) or a list of customers
  • Certificates, memberships in industry associations, awards, customer reviews, seals etc.
  • Postal address, email address, telephone number and/or opening hours (for local companies)
  • A form for registration in your newsletter (if available)
  • Your latest blog posts (if you have a blog)

In the navigation, the home page is often called the start or home. The link in your logo should also lead back to the home page.

Contact page

Potential customers or interested readers will find ways to contact you on the contact page.

Depending on the website, the contact page may contain the following data:

  • address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Messenger (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Skype etc.)

To make contact easier, it also makes sense to include a contact form.

In the navigation, the contact page is often called contactmessage to me/us.

Over-page

On the About page you can introduce yourself or your organization in more detail.

This can include the following points:

  • an idea of ​​you or your team
  • your values, vision and mission
  • you’re why
  • your story

Of course, you can also split these points into different subpages. The following subpages are also conceivable:

  • Press
  • Jobs
  • partner
  • Customer testimonials

In the navigation, the About page is often titled About meAbout usTeam or Company.

Data protection

A data protection declaration is mandatory for every website as part of the information obligation in the GDPR. 

The GDPR does not affect “natural persons for the sole purpose of performing personal or family activities”. However, it is not clear how far this restriction extends. A single advertising banner or the public provision of your content could be enough to ensure that your website is no longer included.

So even if you run a purely private homepage, you should definitely have a privacy policy on your website.


Step#5: Design Your Website

The design of a website is as important as its content!

Your content can be so valuable and interesting:

If your website is old-fashioned and looks like 10 years ago, many visitors will jump off again.

The first impression counts!

5.1 General design tips

Building a website (header, body, sidebar, footer)

Here are some general points to keep in mind when designing your website:

  • Readable on all devices: Look at your entire website (not just the start page, but also individual websites!) In different browsers and on different devices (desktop computer, smartphone, tablet). Ideally, your website should be legible on all devices.
  • Font size and line spacing: Use a font size of at least 16 px for the body text and a line spacing of at least 1.5 (that is, one and a half times the font size)
  • Sentence and paragraph length: Do not write box sentences that are too long and avoid paragraphs that are too long.
  • Loading time: Test your loading time with tools like Pingdom. Long loading times (over 3 seconds) ensure that more visitors jump off.
  • Lean navigation: Make sure you don’t have too many top items on your menu.
  • Images: Use images on every page and in every blog article. Especially when there is a lot of text on the page, however, make sure that these are not displayed distorted or loaded larger than they are displayed in the browser.
  • Left: Left should stand out clearly from the body text, e.g. by a different colour, underlining and/or bold. If you can’t or don’t want to make your links in your brand colors, make them blue.
  • Buttons: Use call-to-action buttons to direct visitors to the pages you want them to be on (e.g. to the contact form or online shop)
  • Logo: Use a logo in the head area (also called a header). This makes your website appear much more professional.
  • Search function: Provide a search function so that visitors can search your website
  • Social media channels: Link to your social media channels (e.g. Facebook fan page, Twitter profile, LinkedIn etc.)

5.2 Building a website

Every website consists of different elements:

Header

The header usually contains the menu (also called navigation) and your logo. The header is particularly important because it is the first thing visitors see from your website.

body

The body contains your actual content.

Footer

The footer of your website contains further links and information that visitors do not have to see immediately, such as:

  • Your latest blog articles
  • Links to the data protection declaration, terms and conditions or other legally relevant pages
  • Certificates, seals and awards
  • An overview of other pages on your website
  • Links to partners or other websites of yours
  • Links to your social media channels
  • Footnotes and disclaimer
  • Payment Methods
  • Links to support, customer service etc.

Sidebar

Like the footer, the sidebar is used to display further links and information. It can be placed on the right, left or both sides of a website.

Unlike the footer, however, the sidebar should contain information that is more important because it is more prominently visible:

These include, e.g. B .:

  • Links to your offers
  • Information about you or your organization (preferably with a picture!)
  • Newsletter form
  • Advertising banners
  • Search function
  • Links to your social media channels

FAQ

Here you can find frequently asked questions about setting up and building your own website:

1. Why start your own website?

There are numerous good reasons to start your own website.

Here are 15 of them:

  1. to present your own company on the Internet.
  2. To gain customers as a freelancer or photographer and to show your own portfolio.
  3. as a wedding, homepage to collect donations, to provide wedding photos, information about the daily routine, accommodation options etc.
  4. To provide information about your own private interests, hobbies or your own family
  5. to be booked more often as a musician, artist or comedian
  6. to present an association, association, church or organization
  7. to win customers as a coach or consultant
  8. to sell products or services online.
  9. as a diary or chronicle
  10. to get more guests as a hotel, hostel or holiday homeowner and to offer an online booking option
  11. to become a blogger or influencer.
  12. as a niche site with which you can earn a passive income thanks to SEO and affiliate marketing.
  13. To set up an online magazine, forum or job portal.
  14. to attract more customers as a local company (restaurant, café, hairdresser, nail salon, etc.)
  15. just for fun or to give it a try.

 

2. Should I have a website created or set it up myself?

Whether you let someone create a website or prefer to take it into your own hands depends on various factors.

On the one hand, there was time and on the other hand the costs:

Let’s say you have about 1 – 2 hours a day to set up your website.

It takes an estimated approximately a week to complete a simple website with 7 subpages with a website builder. For the complete construction of a WordPress website, I would even plan for two to four weeks for complete beginners.

Having the website made by a professional web designer would cost around € 800 to € 1,500.

On the other hand, of course, whether you enjoy dealing with technical issues.

3. How can I make money from a website?

There are numerous ways to make money with a website. The most popular include:

  1. Banner advertising (e.g. via Google AdSense )
  2. Affiliate links (e.g. via the Amazon partner program )
  3. Sponsored Posts (paid presentation or test report on a product, service or company)
  4. Sale of physical products (sent yourself or by drop shipping)
  5. Sales of digital products (e-books, online courses, etc.)
  6. Sale of services (e.g. as an agency or freelancer)
  7. Coaching and advice
  8. Members area
  9. donate
  10. Link sale or rental (e.g. via a portal such as SeedingUp )
  11. VG Wort (something like GEMA for online texts)

You can also combine different methods.

4. How can I create an HTML website?

First of all (so that we don’t get us wrong):

Each website is based on HTML (short for H yper t ext M arkup L anguage).

Websites created with WordPress or a website builder are also output in HTML. However, the HTML code is generated there automatically.

However, it is also possible to manually write a website in HTML. To make this appealing is CSS (so-called C ascading S tyle S heets) used.

You can imagine it in something like this: HTML is the shell of your house and CSS is the facade.

 

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