DIY WordPress Web Design

How to Build a Website

Design & Build your own website, the easy way to get professional results

Can't afford a Web Designer or Agency? No problem!

Here you’ll find details of how this site was built and is maintained and edited. This is a responsive website meaning it will automatically adapt to any screen size or resolution.

Total cost per annum? £55

You don’t need to use Wix, Squarespace etc at an inflated price or be tied in to any costly contracts. A website such as this consisting of a dozen pages in 2020 would cost approximately £400 with a reputable designer.

Maybe that’s okay for you, this article is mainly aimed at start-ups with more time than money to invest. So if you’re on a low or zero budget you can save yourself a lot of money. You will have full control and ownership of your new website too.

There’s no secret to it, no coding skills necessary, just 20+ years of experience that I want to share with you to guide you through this process.

What do I need to have my own website?

  1. A Web Hosting account. This is where the files that make up your website will be securely stored, they will also be your domain name registrar and email provider. This article, and this site are hosted with Krystal.uk web hosting. I strongly recommend them for a UK based web site, whatever your budget (for £10 off use code DDF65CFE at checkout). This “How to” will be based on using their services but is applicable to most web hosting companies.
  2. WordPress! Free open source software (with some added free plugins) in which you’ll be visually designing your website. WordPress Official Site.
  3. Site Content. ‘Content is King’, original content will engage visitors and get your rank in Google up. Text and media that will appear on your new site needs preparing, and categorising under headings as they will be on your site navigation menu.

How much will it cost me?

This website and my website withnature.uk are both hosted on one account with Krystal, I also have a domain name for each site, email, and a website security certificate. The hosting itself is £45 pa approx and the domain names £10 pa each. It is the entry package which can be upgraded if need be at some point in the future.

Brief step-by-step guide

There are many official and unofficial documents, guides and tutorials for WordPress online, so here I will just explain the steps to take, and link you to the official documentation to learn more about the software.

  1. Think of a short descriptive, catchy domain name or use the name of your brand if it’s available. At this stage, depending on your marketing strategy, you may want to consider using one of the keywords that your target audience will search for.
  2. Register the name at Krystal.uk adding on the Amethyst shared cloud hosting package (for £10 off use code DDF65CFE at checkout).
  3. Now your account is open you will have been sent details about how to login to your account at Krystal where you want to visit your services and then the control panel (cpanel). Here you have all the options to do tasks such as creating email addresses as well as installing WordPress, which is what you need to do, you’ll find that near the bottom of the cpanel. An important security note – on the installation page change the admin username which by default is ‘admin’ to something less easy for robots to guess, you can always change your display name later but you cannot change the admin login username. The installation will suggest a secure password, record this securely rather than using a weaker password.
  4. Now you need to login to your website or wordpress installation (detailed in an email upon installation) this will take you to your wordpress website dashboard where you first need to check everything in your installation is up to date (indicated by a number beside the ‘Plugins’ on your dashboard menu).
  5. WordPress comes with a few plugins pre-installed. For this website I have deleted one or two plugins and added a few more. Plugins are added functionality for your website and the ones you need will vary but for this and any brochure-like website I stick to the following plugins…


    All In One SEO Pack or Yoast SEO

    Either of these plugins gives you easy control over the title and description meta tags of every page on your website. Both have other functions in their free versions which are worth looking at to see which one will cover more functions you need, or just to see which you find more intuitive.
    All In One SEO Pack
    Yoast SEO

    Cookie Notice by dFactory

    Necessary to comply with privacy laws.
    Cookie Notice

    Elementor

    This is where you will be spending most time, creating and editing your web pages.
    Elementor Page Builder

    Elementor – Header, Footer & Blocks

    An add-on to Elementor that enables you to create or edit the header and footer of every page across your website, as well as adding some free blocks that you can put in your pages layout to present content in a more professional looking manner.
    Elementor Header, Footer & Blocks

    Essential Addons for Elementor

    Adds numerous free, pre-designed blocks to display your data in a professional, attractive way.
    Essential Addons for Elementor

    LiteSpeed Cache

    Helps deliver your content to visitors faster. Can be installed through your control panel at Krystal.uk.
    LiteSpeed Cache

    Site Kit by Google

    Analyse your website traffic, get pagespeed insights and connect your google search console, all from your wordpress dashboard. This one is not essential, it just saves time being able to see the data in one place rather than 2 or 3.
    Google SiteKit

    UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore

    If you’re not with Krystal you may need your own backup solution, and this is the go-to plugin. Krystal run their own automated backups on your site.
    UpdraftPlus

    WP Cerber or Wordfence Security plugin

    I’m undecided on the best of these two, though I believe in the ‘free’ market they are the best.
    WP Cerber
    Wordfence

    WPForms Lite

    Contact form.
    WP Forms

    All the plugins are widely used and supported with easy to use settings and their own documentation. They’re also free!

  6. Having set up any custom WordPress settings and installed the plugins above you are ready to get designing using the Elementor plugin. All the “How to” guides on Elementor’s website are the best resource for learning how to use their plugin.

All the documentation and support forums, if you need them, for the plugins and WordPress are linked to above, far better you learn from the developers themselves than I try to rehash it.

I am working on making this guide more comprehensive, breaking the steps down from initial concept and keyword research to launch and promotion. In the meantime you can request support at the bottom of this page if you are struggling.

Essential Tips for Choosing Plugins

Be very careful what plugins you install and always keep them to the minimum number possible. When choosing a plugin you want it to provide the functionality you require, be as futureproof as possible, be well supported and established, have a high number of installs, 4 to 5 star reviews and be actively updated. This way you are giving your site the best chance of being secure from hacking, coding errors etc and the plugin, having a wide user base, will be picked up by another company if the current developers move on, thus ensuring the longevity of your site.

Maintaining Your Website

For website security, improved functionality, and to evolve with the nature of modern media your website will need regular updating. It used to be you would have to login to your site and in a few clicks everything would be updated. As of 2020 everything can be set to update automatically. I’d recommend doing this, unless you are in your websites admin regularly.

When your site has been set up you will receive an email when wordpress or a plugin has been updated. With careful choosing of plugins I have never had a problem with updates, however I do always click on the link to my site in the email to check all is working fine. This way if I do ever have a website error I will know what update has caused the problem and be able to roll it back to the previous version.

Plugins for Shops

There are many great plugins on the WordPress Plugins Directory. If I was looking to build an online shop, I would use WooCommerce.

Promote, Promote, Promote!

You can have the best website in the world but if no-one knows it’s there you won’t get the rewards for your enterprise. Learn about Search Engine Optimisation for your website, create pages and channels in social media and invite your friends to share. Above all, create ORIGINAL content and the search engines will love it.

Support

Having difficulty? Please feel welcome to leave a reply below and I will do my best to get you on track.

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