How to Build a Website

If you Google ‘how to build a website’, you’ll find a lot of information, and courses, both online and face-to-face. The cost ranges from free to very expensive.

I didn’t Google ‘how to build a website’ – and I didn’t race off to my nearest college to learn how.

I just did it!

And if I can do it, you can do it.

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

Building a website was on my list of things to do in retirement, so I bought a couple of domain names, just in case. It seemed everyone had a blog and I wanted one too, even though I wasn’t quite 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. 

Once I’d retired from teaching, 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.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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. Maybe one day I’ll find time to fix that old site up a bit – now that I know more about building websites. Having said that, it still works just fine the way it is.

Follow Me! I Know a Shortcut!!

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

I was proud of my first attempt, but I look back now and cringe, given what I have learned since then. 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.

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).


Racking it up a notch

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 will need a Domain Name.

Hosting is the part that gives your website its ‘street address’ out there in cyberspace. Because there’s no point in building a website if nobody can see it. Until you get the hosting part sorted, the only place you’ll see your website is on your computer, or whatever device you use to build it.

When I Googled ‘how to write a blog’, there were heaps of options! But nearly all started with:

Choose a descriptive name…

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 the website describes what they do or who they are.

My site is called MaureenDurney.com.

That doesn’t exactly tell you a lot, unless you are a member of my family or a friend who Googles my name to see what comes up.

GoDaddy is a popular site for finding the right Domain Name.

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.

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  

My son helped me with the hosting. He had the option of including the hosting of my site alongside sites that he had built. GoDaddy has a package plan where you can host multiple sites under the one plan – and that’s what my son had.

There are a lot of Hosting companies out there and WordPress has a list of 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!

I’ve since learned how to tweak the theme a little, but I mostly stick to the already installed features of the themes I use.

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 website up and running.

And Remember: if I can do it, so can you!

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