How to Make a Website

Asking how to make a website is a lot like asking how to bake a cake.

What kind of cake do you want? From scratch or from a box? How much time do you have and what’s your budget? Are you making it for yourself or for a client?

There are more ways to make a website than you could ever cover in a post like this, so we’ve broken it down into 4 different ways to make a website.

4 Ways to Make a Website

1. Use a website builderThis is the easiest way to build a website in 2021. You can get a website up in minutes, or depending on the website builder you choose, you can take your time and build something extremely custom.

2. Use WordPressUsing WordPress can be a bit more complicated than using a paid website builder, but it can open up a lot of possibilities. As open-source software, WordPress can be cheaper or more expensive than using a website builder, depending on a few different factors (including your hosting fees).

3. Use other web technology This is an extremely broad category that basically means anything that’s not a traditional, paid website builder or WordPress. There are tons of options that fall into this category, and most are best suited for non-beginners and experienced web developers.

4. Build a static website with HTML & CSSThis is not a practical solution for most websites. But building a website from scratch with just HTML and CSS can be fun for personal projects, some basic websites, or just to learn about how websites work.

1. Use a Website Builder

Using a website builder is the easiest way to make a website. You can simply create an account, pick a template, and add your content and customizations.

In some cases, you can create a website in minutes. Or, depending on the website builder, you can take your time and create something extremely custom.

Here are some reasons you might use a website builder:

  • You want to make a website as quickly, easily, and inexpensively as possible
  • You found a template you like
  • You want a convenient way to manage and edit your website yourself
  • You’re already using a software platform that offers a website builder feature
  • You’re making a website for a client and you want to give them an easy way to manage their website (and/or you don’t want to manage their hosting)

Here are some of the most popular website builders:

Squarespace

Squarespace is one of the most popular website builders due to their beautiful templates, easy-to-use backend, and good branding and marketing.

Wix

Wix have really made a name for themselves as one of the leading website builders on the market. They have also improved their templates in recent years. It used to be that all Wix websites you saw were a bit janky or poorly designed. But they are currently one of the best ways to easily set up a website.

WordPress.com

Not to be confused with WordPress.org (the open-source software we’ll cover in option 2), WordPress.com is the paid version of the software. It’s extremely similar to WordPress, with some minor differences. It’s a very inexpensive way to get a website up.

Shopify

Shopify is designed for ecommerce websites. If your website isn’t an online store, you probably don’t want to use Shopify. But if you do need an online store, Shopify is one of the best website builder options.

Alternatives to Shopify for creating an ecommerce website include Big Cartel, Magento, WooCommerce for WordPress, and many, many others.

Webflow

Webflow has a much steeper learning curve than any other website builder in this list. But if you’re a designer looking to create one-of-a-kind professionally designed websites, it’s currently one of the best options.

Other Website Builders

There are more website builders than you could ever possibly try out. It seems like every internet company in the world offers a website builder these days. Weebly/Square, GoDaddy, and even marketing platforms like Flodesk, Mailchimp, Kajabi, and others.

The website builders we listed here can be used to create almost any kind of website. But there are also website builders designed for specific verticals, like portfolios, photography, vacation rentals, hotels, life coaches, dentists, and pretty much any other category you can think of.

There’s a website builder for almost everything these days. That doesn’t mean all of them are good, and in many cases many of them are actually quite bad. But it’s worth a Google search if your website has specific needs.

A Note on Using a Website Builder for Client Websites

If you’re a web designer or developer, you may feel like you need to use something other than a DIY website builder to make websites for clients.

Maybe you feel like you need to be building something custom or from scratch, because anyone can just set up a website on Squarespace. But this is nonsense. Plenty of people want a website and don’t want to bother with learning how to set up a Squarespace website, much less create a custom design.

Using a website builder also means the website you’ll hand off to your clients will have a convenient Content Management System (CMS), allowing your client to edit and update their website. You also won’t have to deal with hosting.

2. Use WordPress

WordPress is an extremely popular open source website platform.It’s estimated that over 33% of websites on the world wide web are built with WordPress.

To use WordPress, you’ll need website hosting (something most website builders take care of for you).

Here are the steps:

  1. Choose a hosting provider (we recommend Cloudways or SiteGround)
  2. Install WordPress
  3. Point your website to a domain
  4. Choose a theme
  5. Add your content

3. Use Other Web Technology

There are a lot of technologies for building websites. These include a variety of frameworks, code languages, and CMS platforms in every shape and size imaginable.

Here’s a very non-exhaustive list of some popular web technologies: Drupal, Joomla, Django, Ruby on Rails, Ember, Craft CMS, Backbone, Netlify, ASP.NET, Gatsby, React, Node.js, Laravel, Vue.js, Angular.js, Nuxt.js, Prismic, Express, and many, many more.

Most of these require at least an intermediate level of web development knowledge and skills.

4. Build a Static Website with HTML & CSS

At its most basic, a website is an HTML file (or set of files), hosted on a server somewhere, and served up in an internet browser at a specific URL.

So every website fundamentally requires HTML and CSS (unless you want a plain HTML website). Building a static website with HTML & CSS only can be a fun way to learn how websites work, but it’s not a very practical way to build any kind of modern website.

How Should You Make Your Website?

If you want the simplest way to make a website, we recommend you head to Squarespace.com, Wix.com, or WordPress.com, create an account, pick a template, and add your content. You can set a website up in an afternoon.

If you’re a designer without a deep knowledge of web development or coding skills, and you have time to invest in learning a new program, we recommend you check out Webflow. It’s a powerful way for designers to build modern, highly custom websites.

Otherwise, we recommend WordPress or another web technology of your choosing. WordPress has one of the most active communities and resources, so again, it’s a very popular option.

We’re going to update this post with a lot more detail on all of these options. But we wanted to get this post published to help you get started. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions, and we’ll do our best to respond.

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