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How To Own Your Own Website (Even If You Can't Build One) Pt 1

You likely have many pages and accounts on different services and blogs. But today, learn how to become a real website owner and put together a fantastic, feature-rich website of your own with little to no experience.

Having your own website is expected in many cases. You can host your resume and various files, or create an online business card to make sure you are among the top results when doing a first-person search on Google. Whatever your reason, you don't have to pay hundreds (or thousands?) Of dollars to have someone else create a website for you when you can use free software and cheap hosting to create your own in minutes. This first in a multi-part series explains how to create a simple website and set up your own domain.

Buy and host a domain

In order to own your own website, you usually have to pay for at least two things. To make your life easier, you can benefit from boththe same company. The first thing you need is a domain name. This is the url that you type into your browser to find your website. Basically, buying a domain means putting yourself on the map so remote computers can find you. You usually pay a fee once a year to notify the services required to direct your URL to the second part of your website, your host.

Domains can be registered on any major hosting website, although there are some dedicated domain registrars. You can buy a domain from a registrar and host it with another company. This is not particularly difficult and requires changing the A-Host settings. However, for simplicity, we recommend buying hosting from the same company that is selling you your domain. Expect to pay from somewhere $ 10 to $ 25 per year for each domain you buy. Many companies offer incentives to buy hosting and domains and may offer you a discounted or even free domain.

(Writer's Note: Be careful with the “Check Domain Availability” search bars. Depending on the integrity of the person performing the search, the registrar may deregister the domain under you and force you to buy from them if you are looking for one Search a domain, you can buy it immediately!)

Hosting is the second required part of the equation. Hosting is space and bandwidth rented from a number of remote servers that carry your information over the Internet. While it does some fancy things and compresses some data for you, basically you can think of your hosting as hard disk space to store the things that make up your website. That is quite an oversimplification. However, since we are not writing about how to run your own server or web applications, we will be content with our simple explanations for today.

Hosting can be bought in several places (like all of the above) with lots and lots of fancy features, most of which you'll only use if you hire a developer (or learn more about developing applications for the web). The only ones that matter (as of the date this article was written) are:

  • PHP version 5.2.4 or higher
  • MySQL version 5.0 or higher

Hosting like this can (usually) be purchased for less than $ 10 a month, although your mileage may vary. Even the most basic plans come with PHP and MySQL, both of which are required by a variety of popular software for the web.

To update: Bluehost offers completely unlimited hosting for $ 3.99 per month, which is pretty good business.

Dreamhost and Bluehost are two hosts with this easy integration with WordPress. If you are a beginner and want to follow our how-to, you can use one of these. If you're not afraid of running into confusing setups and help files, you can set them up on any server. We recommend sticking with Dreamhost or Bluehost if not all of the readers of this article.

Finally, a note on hosting and domain registration - don't worry about a clever domain. When you set up a website to promote yourself or use it as an online business card, all you need to do is use your name as a domain Perfect acceptable. Use your name, Xbox username, your first dog's name, or whatever. Choosing a domain doesn't have to be a big ordeal, it is you probably will not build the next Google on it. Plus, you can always buy a second (or third or fourth) later.

Web software for a feature-rich modern site

If you started studying HTML for several years, you may have noticed a while ago that web pages have gotten a lot more complicated. If your understanding of HTML scripting hasn't grown (or just doesn't exist) with the web, fear not. Modern web pages are more robust than some random text files that are encoded in the editor and thrown on the Internet. Most modern websites have one Content management system Behind the scenes, non-tech-savvy users can update, design, and customize feature-rich web software with just a web browser.

Three of the most popular software packages are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. All of them are free downloads that you can use to manage, design, and update your own website. Our approach today focuses on installing the WordPress.org software. All of them are fairly easy to install, even without using a host with built-in one-click installers for the software.

The one-click scripts allow you to download, install, and create all of the MySQL databases required to use the software. It's almost too easy. Let's take a look.

Install WordPress (the easy way)

When you sign up for your shiny new hosting service, you will likely be faced with some sort of control panel. This is common software for a web hosting control panel simply called a Cpanel. Probably at the very bottom you'll find a section called "Site Builder" that says "1-Click Install" or "Simple Scripts".

Click the link for the 1-click installer software.

Most websites have a list of software that they will download and install for you. Find WordPress from the list and install it.

Just tell him to install it on the next screen to continue.

You should be able to select the domain you bought, assuming you also bought it from the host. Select the drop-down menu and find your URL - something like http://www.myawesomewebsite.com - and it will do all the hard work for you.

You may need to agree to some software terms. Nothing surprising here.

On the script screen you should be given links to your new domain and to the "backend" page where you log into your content manager. It's pretty easy to use, but we'll cover it, along with some other basics, in an emerging article.

And congratulations! You now have your own WordPress.org website based on your own domain that can be customized to suit the content of your heart. Come visit us as we expand this multi-part series for basic customizations in WordPress, an advanced installation, and some tips on how to turn your basic WordPress installation into a great website.

How To Own Your Own Website (Even If You Can't Build One)

Part 1: Hosting and Installation | Part 2: Themes and Menus

Part 3: Customization, Widgets and Plugins

So how did we do it? Do you feel more confused or less? Or are you a legendary "webmaster" with lots of tips for newbies for their first "real" website? Let us know what you think in the comments or send your questions to [email protected] Your questions about WordPress and building basic websites can be included as part of the next articles in this series.

Photo credit: Cat by Moyan Brenn, Creative Commons.