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How to Build a Website in 8 Steps

I’ll admit it. I’m a total DIY’er.

I’ve been known to cut my own hair, sew my own clothes, and bake my own bread. Sometimes it turns out perfectly, and sometimes it doesn’t (my most recent DIY-project meant an immediate appointment at the dog groomers). But I’m a strong believer that with enough guidance, instructions, and pretty pictures, I can do just about anything.

But what about websites?

Enter the mystical land of HTML, CSS, PHP, and a hundred other acronyms that are mysterious and, frankly, scary. Staking out your own place on the worldwide web can be a bit harrowing, but enter the iThemes Guide to Building an Awesome Website (ta-da!):

At iThemes, our goal is to Make People’s Lives Awesome–and that means web design made easy. We wanted to break website building down into eight simple steps. It’s really that easy!

Step 1: Get a Memorable Domain Name

Think about it and be creative, but keep in mind domain names should be simple and easy to remember (and spell).  We recommend GoDaddy to purchase your domain name.

Check out a few more helpful tips on choosing a great domain name in our free eBook 5 Keys to Rockin’ Websites.

Step 2: Get Quality Hosting

Think of your domain name as your address and your hosting as your house. This is very important: get good hosting! Not all hosting companies provide the same quality, service, and technical specifications–so choose carefully.

We recommend HostGator, and here’s why.

Step 3: Install WordPress

It’s simple: WordPress is the best, easiest to use, and most innovative content management system on the web. The best part? It’s free.

Check out our How to Get Started page with video tutorials on getting your domain name and hosting and how to install WordPress.

Step 4: Personalize Your Site Design

Personalizing your site is one of the major advantages to building your own website. WordPress has tons of themes and templates, so the possibilites are pretty endless.

We recommend iThemes Builder, the most flexible, robust, and “super” theme out there. Builder helps you create WordPress sites quickly and easily by creating your own page layouts, something basic (and free) WordPress themes don’t offer.

Step 5: Add Content

Content is King, folks!

Besides personalizing your site, having control of your website content is another important reason to build your own website. Your site needs to be updated frequently, and having an easy way to add or change content is crucial to the success of your site.

Check out Content Rules by Ann Hadley and C.C Chapman for some great ideas and tips for creating great content.

Step 6: Promote Your Site

What good is your site if it doesn’t get traffic? Fortunately, great opportunity exists in utilizing social media and search engine optimization (the modern “yellow” pages).

Thank goodness iThemes Builder includes an SEO plugin to help you get started getting noticed.

Step 7: Protect Your Site

Make sure to protect your investment and hard work. Losing your site due to crashes, hackers, and mistakes can be tragic, so make sure you have BackupBuddy–a plugin that automates backup files of your site and can even restore everything completely if something terrible happens.

Trust us–don’t build a website without BackupBuddy.

Step 8: Learn and Grow

Another one of our core values at iThemes: Learn and grow. Technology and society are changing rapidly, so stay up-to-date and engaged in advances to stay ahead of the competition and ultimately, meet the needs of those that visit your site.

Check out WebDesign.com for awesome training and community in all things “web”.

And Finally:

Get all of the tools you need to build your website in one place: The 3-in-1 Web Designer’s Toolkit!

With support and community, as well as themes  from iThemes (including Builder), plugins from PluginBuddy.com, and comprehensive training from WebDesign.com, you’ll have everything you need for the ultimate DIY project.

So, start building! The possibilities on the web await.

Download your copy of the entire infographic and see the interactive version here:

The iThemes DIY Guide to Building an Awesome Website

Let us know what you think!


  1. Kristen:
    I am new to this. Can you clarify something for me?

    My site is with hostgator. I want to make a couple changes:

    1) Change to my business name & logo

    2) I want to convert my site to wordpress.

    My questions are

    1) If I use the hostgator wordpress plug-in does it make any difference later should I decide to change hosting companies?

    2) Can I convert my site & blog with the current header/name/logo now and then change those items later as I come up with the new info?


    • Hi, Kate!

      I’m not sure what CMS your site is operating on currently, but you can install WordPress on your current site via your HostGator cPanel (you should have been emailed details about accessing this when you bought hosting).

      Check out a few of these tutorials (they offer the most thorough walk-through on how to get started with WordPress: http://ithemes.com/four-quick-steps-to-getting-started/

      and also our free WordPress tutorials: http://ithemes.com/tutorials/

      From there, you’ll be able to change headers/site titles. Operating your site on WordPress will give you the greatest flexibility in adding and changing content to your site. Additionally, you’ll want to check out our Builder WordPress theme–it’s amazing. http://ithemes.com/purchase/builder-theme/

      As far as moving your site (if you change hosts), we have an excellent plugin for backing up, migrating, and restoring your website– BackupBuddy. http://pluginbuddy.com/purchase/backupbuddy/

  2. This was a really comprehensive piece Kristen. Clear with generous linkage to back up some of the information. I shall personally be checking out Back up Buddy. It sounds very handy and I have never been completely au fait with the back up systems I’m already using.

  3. Nice article. Sometimes I forget what it was like to start my first website. Back in the 90s you really had nothing to go by apart from opening up notepad or *cringe* frontpage. It is great to see new tools popping up to satisfy first-timers. If only this was 10 years earlier!

    • Alex, I’m so glad I wasn’t building websites then!

      It’s just great to have some awesome tools now–making it easy to build websites for newbies like me.

  4. Ive never heard of Ithemes builder but I will definitely look more into that idea when I work on my next site building project. The rest of the list is totally solid, go daddy and hostgator are great sites to work with and wordpress is the best way for any beginner to get started quick and easy with their own website.



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