Lesson 1: Getting started

In this lesson, we’ll pave the way for your new website by answering some key questions and considerations to lay a solid foundation.

Hello and welcome to my course How to Build a Website. Thank you so much for joining me on this journey towards launching your very own website. 

Here’s an outline of what we’ll cover in this course:

  • Lesson 1: Getting started (this lesson)
  • Lesson 2: Intro to how the web works 
  • Lesson 3: Choosing your hosting and buying a domain
  • Lesson 4: Installing WordPress and picking a theme
  • Lesson 5: Customizing WordPress for your website
  • Lesson 6: Introduction to plugins and third-party services
  • Lesson 7: Introduction to SEO
  • Lesson 8: Website maintenance
  • Lesson 9: Intro to eCommerce
  • Lesson 10: Resources

By the end of this course, you’ll have a website that you can continue to build as your business or project grows. The best part is that you’ll own your content. Unlike social media platforms that may change the rules tomorrow or go out of business, having your own website means you’re in control. By choosing to build your website using the WordPress Content Management System, you’re also opening yourself up to adding any features you like in the future. In Lesson 2, I’ll explain why that’s possible and in Lesson 6, how to pick the right features to add.  

Now, before we move on to the next lesson, I have some homework for you. I want you to take a few minutes to answer these questions about your future website:

The first question is: What is the ultimate goal of my website?

Some people build websites to increase foot traffic to their brick-and-mortar store. Some want to start gathering email addresses so they can build a newsletter mailing list to promote their upcoming books, albums, or public appearances. Some people need a website so customers can book a consultation. Whatever your reason, the important thing is to have a clear idea of your desired outcome and the ultimate purpose of your website. This will help make decisions later on about what features to add, and what design elements to draw your website visitor’s attention to.

The second question is: Do I want a blog to be a prominent part of this website?

Now, you might be wondering why I’m talking about blogs when this is the website course. The reason is that some websites feature a news or blog section, as part of the site, without being the main focus. This can be a section to update readers on the company’s latest news or blog about topics relevant to the content and purpose of the website. You won’t need to make this decision until Lesson 5, but it’s important to start thinking about it. 

How much money do I want to spend on my blog a year?

You’ve already invested time in this course, so kudos for taking the step to start your website right. And maybe you’ve already purchased a domain name and hosting and just need to build your site. There are ways to host a site for free on the internet, but none of them will give you the same freedom and flexibility as purchasing your own hosting. Plus, there’s usually a tradeoff to using free platforms. It may be that the platform gets to display ads on your site, or that you don’t get to pick your own domain. Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions before opting for a free platform. 

Now, does this mean you have to spend hundreds of dollars every year on your site? Nope! You can get hosting that meets the needs of your website for a few dollars a month. And, you can choose themes and plugins that are totally free. What’s great about building your own website is that if your site takes off, gets loads of visitors, or becomes a massive eCommerce site, you can move it to more high-performance hosting.  

Whether or not you want to invest in design services like getting a custom logo made, or want to choose a paid, third-party plugin (more on that in Lesson 6) is totally up to you! But for those who want to start lean, there are plenty of ways to do that too. 

In summary, your homework before moving to Lesson 2 is to answer these questions:

  • What’s the main purpose of my website?
  • Do I want to add a blog to my website?
  • How much do I need to budget for my website?