A lot of people make the assumption that building a new website will be quick and simple, and while the WordPress platform is indeed a simple solution, those with little or no experience may get stuck on some of the details required to turn their vision into a reality. For those who can afford to hire a web designer or developer, the solution can be as easy as writing a check, but for those on a limited budget, a more creative response may be required.
If you’re a driven self-starter on a budget who’s seeking a dynamic WordPress site, here are a few quick tips for building your site.
Purchasing Your Domain
The domain is your website’s address and how people find your website on the internet. Choosing your domain is typically the first step in building your new website. You can purchase a domain through a number of sites, such as GoDaddy, Bluehost, iPage, or Name, and most sites charge a similar price, $10-$24 a year. It’s of no particular importance where you purchase a domain name, as they are portable, meaning you are not locked into dealing with the same company year after year. Furthermore, you’re not required to purchase hosting services from the same company.
You must be aware that some domain registrar sites are performing manipulations behind the scenes that can impact your budget. It is not uncommon for a person starting their own website to go to a domain registrar site, run a search to determine if the domain name they want is available and then take some time to consider it to be sure it’s what they want. When they return a few days later to purchase the domain name, the registrar may have purchased the domain name and now is offering to sell it to you for a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars rather than the $20 it may have originally cost. The takeaway here is if you like the domain name and it’s available, just go ahead and buy it.
While the domain name you choose serves as your address, you can think of the host account as the structure that will serve as your home. A host site is where all your files will be stored and where the domain name will direct site visitors. There are a lot of great hosting services available, and when beginning a new site, consider shared hosting or managed WordPress hosting rather than more complex and expensive, and possibly less secure, alternatives such as a dedicated server or VPS. Shared hosting offers the greatest flexibility and lowest initial price, so if you’re planning on multiple sites, shared hosting is likely the most solid solution.
Some shared hosting sites offer incredibly inexpensive services, outstanding customer help, and an excellent record of uptime versus downtime, and good SEO support. Be aware that some shared hosting sites have limitations, such as the maximum visitors you’re allowed monthly, but even at the lowest rate, these limitations are still typically averaging around 25,000. If you anticipate a heavier traffic flow than this, a simple upgrade that’s still quite inexpensive, perhaps $10 a month, can allow 250,000 visitors.
Some shared hosting sites and managed WordPress hosting sites are a little barebones on benefits, and others are jam-packed with features. You simply need to do a cost benefit analysis based on the features you want versus what you’re willing to pay, but rest assured there are great solutions available for every budget.
Here, your level of expertise is going to factor into how easy the installation process will be for you. WordPress prides itself on its user friendliness, and while it is a simple install for many, not everyone is entirely comfortable with the process. Installation takes for granted that you understand things like how to work with a database or gain FTP access – things a novice can easily be confounded by.
Fortunately, you can lean on your hosting service for some help here. Your hosting account’s control panel will offer something like the WordPress logo, and these features can get your through most of the process. Once the installation is complete, you simply need to complete the setup by choosing your language and creating a user name and password.
Plugins and Widgets
There are pro WordPress plugins and widgets available for just about everything these days, including shopping cart solutions, social media icons, counts and share buttons, maps, custom menus, contact forms, messaging, image galleries, calendars, popular and recent post, subscriptions, sidebars, and much, much more.
As an alternative to plugins and widgets, if you feel confident to do so, you can tweak coding yourself, as WordPress is an open source platform and completely customizable. There are a lot of great tutorials available online to walk you through the steps required for basic coding to alter landing pages, menus, themes and more. Alternately, you can hire a professional to make some changes to the code, but if you’re on a tight budget, free plugins and widgets, or a little experimenting on your own is a great way to go.
Choosing a theme is perhaps one of the most fun parts of building your website. This is where you set the tone and really make it look attractive. A quick visit to the WordPress site will show you hundreds of available themes for free, or at very reasonable prices, most under $200, many as low as $40. Choosing a pre-existing WordPress theme is a huge savings over hiring a web designer or developer to create one for you. While you can purchase a premium theme at a good price, the good news, most of the low cost themes available are simply amazing!
Installing a theme is simple. You download the zip file, go to your dashboard and choose install. You’ll then be prompted to upload the zip file and activate the theme. Easy-peasy!
Customized graphics are where you can really express your creativity and personality while making your website look incredible. Most themes allow you to change colors, and you can choose different fonts. If you want to keep the cost associated with graphics to nothing or very little, look for stock photos from sites like Splashbase, SplitShare, or StockSnap. Do a quick Google search to find many stock photo websites with millions of images.
You can also try creating your own images with online photo editors, such as Canva. Online photo editors typically offer lots of design ideas to help get the inspiration flowing. Programs like Photoshop make it easy to resize photos or create collages.
Starting a new website can be a little intimidating for the inexperienced, and the assumption is often that you’ll need to spend a lot of money paying experts. However, starting a WordPress site with little to no technical knowledge and a minimal budget is not only doable, it’s been done by millions and you can do it too. It’s all about a little planning, a little research, a little confidence, and using the right tools.