If you Google ‘how to build a website’, you’ll find a lot of courses, both online and face-to-face. Most will cost you at least a few dollars. And most will be written by and for young people.
I didn’t Google ‘how to build a website’ – and I didn’t race off to my nearest TAFE to learn.
I just did it!
And if I can do it, so can you.
When I closed the door of my classroom for the last time in April 2016, I was sixty-six years old and had chalked up over thirty years of teaching.
You can’t work fifteen hours a day, five days a week – to suddenly sit on your touché and do nothing. When I first thought about retirement, I thought about what I could learn once I didn’t have to go to work each day.
It’s all in the name
I bought a couple of domain names and thought I’d build a website. It seemed everyone had a blog and I wanted one too, even though I wasn’t sure what a blog was.
The first time I raised the question of my pending website with my web-developer son, the response was “Go to WordPress.com – it’s so easy anyone can do it. You’ll be right”.
I can’t say that I wasn’t tech savvy at the time, but loading a few Apps onto an iPad and reviewing them in the school newsletter, isn’t exactly high tech.
The gauntlet was down – the challenge was on.
I had all the time in the world to learn. So I logged onto www.WordPress.com, rolled up my sleeves, and got stuck into it.
It was flabbergastingly easy! Oh, and perhaps I should mention my learning style…
‘if all else fails, read the instructions’ .
Through trial and error and a few Google searches, I figured it out.
I remember the first time I typed in www.havandra.wordpress.com, and my new website stared back at me. It was an amazing feeling! I’ve kept that old site as a reminder of how far I’ve come. One day I’ll find time to fix it up – now that I know a bit more about how to build a website. Having said that, it still works just fine the way it is.
Follow Me! I Know a Shortcut!!
When I look back on that first attempt – I cringe. It certainly wouldn’t pass muster now, given what I know about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). I used a lot of text, rarely any headings or sub-headings, not nearly enough white-space, and very few photos.
This is what my blog looks like now www.maureendurney.com
And before the website police start jumping up and down, I know it isn’t perfect. But I built it myself! And I haven’t had any formal training in how to build a website.
If you follow me on this journey through tech-land, I might be able to save you some time. But, there’s a lot to be said for learning by doing, as I did. Either way, you will be surprised at how easy it is to build a website.
Racking it up a notch
The buzz I got from seeing my first WordPress website up and running (the .com version) inspired me to take the next step. I had bought a few GoDaddy domain names before I retired, including MaureenDurney.com, so now I was ready to build a couple of .org websites.
WordPress.com is a F-R-E-E version of the popular website-platform. You can build and maintain a website without any cost (apart from your ridiculously inexpensive Domain Name).
With a little help from my son for the hosting part, I built a website and started my blog.
WordPress.org gives you more flexibility to customise your website, but you will need to pay to have it hosted. And you still need a Domain Name.
When I Googled ‘how to write a blog’, there were heaps of options! But nearly all started with:
Choose a descriptive name x/✓
Well – I’d blown that one before I’d even started.
Your Domain Name is the name of your website. If you think of websites you’ve probably visited, you’ll see how the name of their website tells you who they are, or describes what they do.
My site is called MaureenDurney.com. That doesn’t exactly describe anything – not even me – unless my family and friends go looking for me in cyberspace.
GoDaddy is a popular site for finding the right Domain Name.
Although, I got it right with another domain name I’d bought – way back then.
As soon as I signed the contract to buy a unit in a Retirement Village (even though I wasn’t retired at the time), I bought the domain name ‘MountainView-Living.com’. I had no idea what I would do with it, but figured I could write a blog about what it was like to live there – once I finally retired and moved in.
Out of the four websites I’ve built, that’s the one domain name I got right. It at least features the name of the village I live in, so you’d expect the blog to have something to do with the place.
Get Hosting ✓
I got this bit sorted, with advice and a little help from Ricky. I went with GoDaddy for the hosting – economical and good for a first attempt. There are a lot of Hosting companies out there and WordPress has a list of Hosting Companies that are very WordPress friendly, including many of the companies that sponsor WordPress WordCamps around the world.
I’ve since upgraded one of my sites to WPEngine hosting. They are one of the world leaders in web-hosting and are also a major sponsor of WordPress WordCamps and Meetups.
Customise your site ✓
WordPress has this part covered. And this really is the fun part.
I started by choosing a WordPress theme. WordPress provides heaps of themes that are free to use. And you can test-drive them to see how it will look on your site before locking it in.
Themes have a lot of built-in features to make your life easier. At the start of my website journey, I left it all up to the theme. I chose the theme, installed and activated it, and that was it. Done!
But now I can to tweak things a little – nothing too drastic, just a few minor changes. And I’ll get better at it as my learning progresses and my skill set grows.
This is what my blog looks like now www.maureendurney.com
There are lots of YouTube videos that will step you through the process of getting your WordPress site up and running.
I did it, and so can you.