How to create your own web pages

In this article, we will have a look at the process of creating a new website or blog without any programming skills. The main goal of this tutorial is a basic overview of what you should do at the very beginning, then what to do when creating the page itself and finally we will have a look at interesting online tools and sometimes the overlooked advertisement of your pages. This article is dedicated to anyone who would like to understand what it takes to create web pages.

Goals

The first thing you should ask yourself is: “Why am I creating web pages?

  • What is the main purpose? – money, information, advertisement or something else?
  • Who is the page intended for? What sort of people?

I recommend defining measurable goals for these questions, such as the result, how much money is earned per month, the number of visitors, etc.

Analysis

A preliminary analysis should cover the topic on which your website will focus and check if people look for the key words on AdWords. Key-word analysis can relate to the product you want to sell as well as topics you want to write about. I also recommend analyzing your competition for a better understanding of the market.

Where to create and place your web page

wordpress-logoGenerally, there are two options for creating your website. First, you can build the page on an already created platform and deal with just a minimum of setting up and content. The two best known systems for this are blogger.com (from Google) and WordPress.com (from Automattic). Both systems work on the same principle – you can create a website for free without having to deal with hosting or security issues or settings, just the content. The alternative is the installation of your own editorial system (CMS), such as Drupal or WordPress. The huge advantage of this is the freedom to choose and adjust the settings. That is why you need to pay attention when installing an editorial system (WordPress) and make sure to install everything needed.  It is necessary to mention that if you want to use your own CMS, you will need webhosting and your own domain. This article will focus on the installation of your own WordPress editorial system, which is easy to use.

Choice of hosting company

The cost of webhosting and your own domain starts at 50 USD per year. Here I recommend using webhosting because you don’t need any technical knowledge compared to other types of hosting like VPS or cloud .Here in Europe, we have plenty of hosting companies, but unfortunately we still don’t have hosting with value added, where you don’t have to deal with things like caching, test versions of pages, CDN and regular malware control, and where you would have better security. The WP Engine  may be more expensive, but it takes care of everything mentioned above.

Installation of WordPress

General information

Most hosting companies offer one-click WordPress installation, and if they don‘t, you can just set up a database, download the latest version of WordPress and load it via FTP to the server and connect it to the database.

Template
To start, it is enough to activate the basic WordPress template Twenty Thirteen (2013), which is already included in the installation package. You can just change the picture in the header of the page and adjust the colors in the settings. If you want to use a different template, choose one which you believe will be updated by its author from time to time.

wordpress theme twenty thirteenIf you are looking for some free good-looking templates, you can the find official WordPress library, filled with templates created by many users, here: wordpress.org/themes. When choosing a template, always pay attention to the number of downloads, check if the author answers questions and also when the last update was.

When editing a template, I recommend using Childtheme. With Childtheme, you can make any changes and be sure that your template keeps the changes even after an update. Look at the tutorial or video on how to create a childtheme.

Plugins

I divide plugins into three groups – “must have” for each installation, interesting “nice to have“ plugins and “functions” plugins, which provide specific functions that are necessary on the web. Even among plugins, it is necessary to choose those that are officially backed by somebody (company), see if the author answers support questions, look at the number of downloads and if it is compatible with the latest version of WordPress. WordPress offers a huge variety of free quality plugins in its library, wordpress.org/plugins, or you can buy plugins on the website codecanyon.net.

Must have plugins

  • Coming soon page – allows you to show visitors the text of the page under construction (it is possible to paste html code). I use it at the beginning or when I’m reconstructing my pages.
  • iThemes security –plugin to secure WordPress
  • Sucuri security – second plugin for WordPress security. I combine it with the first one.
  • WP Super Cache – plugin for faster loading of pages (compression, html preload)
  • Akismet – protects you against spam in comments
  • WP Smush.it – plugin for automatic size reduction of a picture
  • WordPress SEO by Yoast – SEO optimization of the page
  • Jetpack – brings many functions from wordpress.com from WordPres authors. I use these Jetpack modules:
  • wordpress-jetpack-logoCustom CSS If you need to edit or adjust the design (CSS), this is the ideal tool for quick testing.
  • Enhanced Distribution
  • Jetpack Comments – enables your Facebook, Google+ or Twitter accounts for comments
  • Related Posts– shows the three articles most relevant to the topic under each article
  • Publicize – When posting an article on your website, it also posts the article on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.
  • Subscriptions – sends notifications about new article to all subscribers
  • Shortcode Embeds– I use this for easy insertion of presentations from Slideshare and videos from Youtube into the articles. It works with similar services as well.
  • Tiled Galleries – changes the basic boring WordPress gallery to a beautiful one
  • Widget Visibility – very important setting of widgets regarding where to show and not show them
  • Stats– alternative statistics to Google Analytics.  (I use both.) The important thing is to display statistics after logging into WordPress.

Recommended “nice to have” plugins

Functions plugins

In this group, we find plugins that provide specific functions, like eshop, event manager, etc. There are many types, and you can create many different types of webpages with them.

Content of web pages

Article vs. page

When creating web pages, we distinguish if it is supposed to be a classic website that describes a product or company. You post your articles quite regularly, they are sorted by categories or tags and it is possible to write comments below them.

The first thing you choose when creating the content of your page is if the page is supposed to be static or if it will be a summary of shortened posts. A company website is usually static, whereas blogs usually tend to have summaries of the newest posts on the main page.

Menu

Each template has a main menu, which you can create by yourself in the administration section and activate in the template. You can add any link to the menu – a page, article, category or external link. Look at how my main menu looks – it consists of website links (SEO, Quotes), article links (personal budget), categories (ICT, Economics) and an external link to my other blog (WordPress). Some templates have more menu types, such as “top menu”, which is on the very top of the page or “footer menu“, placed in the footer. 

Sidebar

Common structure of the web page
Common structure of the web page

A sidebar is a bar where you can display blocks of information with so-called “widgets“ which are shown in the general settings of each page or article. For example, when dealing with a company website, you want to display the major products all the time. With a blog, you want to show article categories and the latest comments. Additionally, you can adjust it to be more individual with the help of plugins (Jetpack). You can also choose if you want to display a sidebar in your articles or website – in the general settings, you can find “Show sidebar‘.

Header & Footer

The header is the upper part of the page and consists of a title, logo or picture with the logo and main menu. It is usually possible to display your own picture in the background of the header and place your title forward. The header repeats in all pages of the website without exception.

The footer is at the bottom of the page, where you can write desired information with widgets. For example, you might want a menu with links to rules and other stuff, which is good to have at the bottom, or your summary of used tags or links to different pages.

Text and pictures “content is a king“

I recommend you take special care of the text you will write and post on your page. Quality and originality are very important.  Quality is important for your readers, and originality for search engines. I would recommend buying photos you want to use at photodune.net (separate photos from one dollar). Use only pictures that you can prove are yours or that you have permission from the creator to use. I would like to say that creating content is one of the most time-consuming tasks when creating a new website.

Optimization of website

After creating a website with content, the website is usually able to perform most of the required functions. But naturally that isn’t all. You need to check the speed of loading, and website security.

Caching & HTLM preload (speed of website loading)

After installing WordPress, the template and plugins, and after creating the web pages and articles, it is necessary to optimize your website so it can load quickly with the help of caching and HTML preload. We could use the plugin WP Super Cache.

CDN – pictures quickly for the whole world

You can use this service if you have visitors from all over the world. CDN is a worldwide network of servers that enables the reader to download pictures. CDN is provided by many companies. Some of them, like CloudFlate, are free, while other companies sell them directly with page hosting.

Page security

Part and parcel of website optimization is page security. As WordPress is open source, it gets attacked from time to time, so it is a good idea to secure your website against these attacks. The most common type is an attack to break your passwords – therefore, it is necessary to limit the number of allowed wrong password attempts with the help of the iThemes Security plugin. A second type of attacks looks for old versions of plugins and templates known to still have bugs. Updates of WordPress, plugins and templates could help you with that, but you should be extremely careful when choosing them.

I recommend discussing it with someone and setting up general security measures such as limiting login tries, strong passwords, switch off the editation of template and plugins from administration, changing the prefix of the database during the installation of WordPress and setting two-phase logins. You can secure your website mostly with the iThemes Security and Sucuri Security plugins mentioned above.

Use of online applications

You website can connect to many online services via a lot of interesting options. Use the list shown below as you like, but the first two items are in the “must have” category for every website.

  • Google Webmasters Tools – information about how Google robots see your website, statistics, bugs and more.
  • Google Analytics – statistics regarding the visitors to your page
  • Google Alerts – alerts you when someone copies your article – I use this to find out who mentions my blog.
  • WordPress.com – account necessary for activation of Jetpack and Akismet plugins
  • CloudFlare – caching and security. A basic account is free.
  • Incapsula – an alternative to Cloudflare, with greater emphasis on security. A basic account is free.
  • Uptimerobot.com – controls if the website on/off and also sends alerts
  • Tynt.com – adds your website‘s link if anyone copies your content and pastes it somewhere

Website propagation

We now consider the situation where the website is complete and all you need to do is notify the world regularly that your site is active and that it is great. I divide propagation into these types:

Links

One of the most important factors determining how search engines rate your website is the links from other web pages directed to your site. So if you own a company website, register yourself in popular company catalogs, ask your suppliers to mention you on their websites and look at important local websites and ask if they could add your link on their pages. With this, we can try to be on the first page of search results when people look up your specific key words.

PPC

PPC (pay per click) is a type of advertisement that works on the principle of redirecting to your website (google.com support this). You pay only for each click; so it doesn’t matter how many times the advertisement has been displayed. The price of a click varies from few cent to tens of USD. If you sell something, I recommend you hire someone to do the first basic analysis, set you some goals and other stuff.

Emailing

Sending of emails is a very important form of propagation, and it is possible to use it in many ways. If you have a webpage where you publish articles, you can notify your subscribers by email that you have posted a new article. All you need is the email addresses of your readers. You can also offer downloads of tutorials or books for free via email. Finally, you can send newsletters in which you can inform your readers about the latest developments.

Social media

If you decide to use Facebook, Twitter or Google+, you should create a profile page and make sure you take care of it, check what people write you there and respond to them.

Basic use of social media involves sending a notification to these social media when posting a new article. Jetpack and its module Publicize are the best option for such a thing.

Regular publishing of quality articles

I recommend you to choose a time period and be sure to write an article within each period. Let’s say you have company website devoted to car dealing, so you publish articles about cars. Quality articles are a base for each website and can attract hundreds of visitors, even years after they have been published.

Here is where I end my tutorial or rather easy guide to creating your own website without having any programming skills. If you have any ideas or if you would like to add something to my list, I would be really glad to hear from you. I would also appreciate any feedback you wish to give me here in the comments.

 

Radek Kucera

Work as a salesman in ICT/Telco branch more than ten years, WordPress fan and blogger. Interested to write about an Internet and ICT topic.

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