Building a personal website offers a variety of benefits – including improving your personal brand and teaching you new skills.
Many may believe the process is too technical or complicated for them to build their own website, but this is not the case.
Between online resources and intuitive products, building a website is surprisingly achievable.
There are three core elements you need for your first website: a content management system (CMS), hosting, and a domain name.
The tools for creating a website
Unless you build a custom website, which is not recommended for a beginner, you will need a Content Management System (CMS).
While there are several options, the most popular by far is WordPress, which boasts 60.4% of all CMS market share.
It is important to note that there are two WordPress “products” – its free blogging product, WordPress.com, and its CMS product, WordPress.org. When starting your first website, you should use the latter.
While the WordPress.org software is free, you will need to pay for hosting and a domain name.
Hosting refers to the process of having your website situated on a server so that Internet users can access it. All websites must be hosted if they are to be accessible to Internet users.
Your domain name is the address at which your hosted website can be found – for example, MyBroadband’s domain name is “https://mybroadband.co.za”.
Hosting providers often include a domain name as part of their packages, so it is worth investigating this before purchasing a domain name separately.
Guide to creating your website
WordPress has published a step-by-step plan for getting started with your website.
These steps are summarised as follows:
- Read – WordPress suggests the following resources: Introduction to Blogging, What is WordPress, WordPress Features, and Before you Install WordPress.
- Make a Plan – Create a list of the things you need to have and do, and plan how you want to use WordPress on your website.
- Install WordPress – Many web hosts allow for one-click installation of WordPress from within the hosting control panel.
- Set up WordPress – There are various things to consider, including setting up users, choosing your theme, deciding on the plugins that your website needs, and adding pages.
Keep it simple
Vander Host’s Eugene van der Merwe told MyBroadband that anyone building their first personal website should keep things as simple as possible.
He said that you should keep in mind that you will want to update your website, and should therefore not add features that are too hard to update.
“Cast yourself forward six or twelve months from now and envision where you want to be with the website, but don’t overdo it so that maintenance becomes a burden,” said van der Merwe.
He also highlighted that you should prioritise a reliable hosting solution – but thankfully the market is very competitive.
“When searching for a host in Google, check the ratings and reviews. Also bear in mind that you might migrate or change hosts as your demands change, so be flexible.”
Van der Merwe added that if you want to progress to ecommerce, an entry-level WordPress standalone hosting package combined with WooCommerce and Payfast will be very cost-effective.
What to avoid
Van der Merwe told MyBroadband that there are several things to avoid when starting a personal website:
- Don’t put incomplete items on the website – “Under construction” gives the impression of an incomplete website and is unprofessional.
- Don’t try to do too much – Stick with fonts that are easy to read, and don’t go with “wild” graphics.
- Don’t use low-quality photos – When choosing between low-quality photos or nothing, rather choose nothing or some subtle text. Low-quality photos will harm your personal brand.
- Don’t use large photos – A 4MB photo, for example, is way too big and will slow your website down.
Be patient when blogging
Van der Merwe highlighted that many people are disheartened at the beginning of the blogging process because of how few reads they get.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day. People who blog have put a lot of practice into it, and with enough practice you can do it too,” said van der Merwe.
“Unfortunately with Google it can take a while to get listed, so be patient.”
He also recommended that prospective personal website owners learn about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) because this will mean their website ranks even higher.