There are literally thousands of plugins available that help extend the functionality of WordPress. Your website will depend on several plugins, depending on what you need done. Having too many plugins, of course,is not a good idea since it can slow your website down. Also, too many plugins is a management headache along with the risk of not being compatible with the latest versions of WordPress.
If you're ready to get going, this guide will introduce you to the services and software that can get you started building your own website, even if you have no experience. Keep in mind, none of these tools will give you an idea for a winning website—that's on you. They also won't make you a web designer, a job that's distinct from building a site. Still, these services and software will ease some of the headaches that come from a lack of extensive expertise in CSS, FTP, HTML, and PHP.
Sure, there are more advanced hosting topics to consider, such as Domain Name Servers and multi-cloud connectivity, but this guide is meant to introduce you to the basics. Whether you decide to do build a website yourself or hire coding experts to do the dirty work is up to you. But for now, rest easy knowing you have the information to get started in taking your business online.
For more than a decade, Jeffrey L. Wilson has penned gadget- and video game-related nerd-copy for a variety of publications, including 1UP, 2D-X, The Cask, Laptop, LifeStyler, Parenting, Sync, Wise Bread, and WWE. He now brings his knowledge and skillset to PCMag as a Lead Analyst. When he isn't staring at a monitor (or two) and churning out web hosting, music, utilities, and video game copy, Jeffrey makes comic books, mentors, practices bass and Jeet Kune Do, and appears on the odd podcasts or convention panel. He also collects vinyl and greatly enjoys a craft brew.
Identify the features you want on your site: If you’re a photographer, you’ll need a photo gallery to showcase your portfolio. If you’re a retailer, you’ll want a website with a storefront. If you want to build authority in your niche, you need a website with a blog section. Write down what you want your website to do, then research the most suitable website-building platform.
Getting your own website used to require a lot of tech wizardry, including knowledge of servers, HTML, FTP, site registrars, and web hosting services. Thankfully, we now live in the age of easy online site builders. The services included here let you make a well-designed, mobile-friendly site with minimal technical knowledge. They can even take a small or sole-proprietor business to profitability with buy links, online stores, and other money-making options.
There are three main ways to build a website. If you’re a beginner, by far the easiest way to build and launch a site is to use a website builder provided by your web host. If you’re at least somewhat web-savvy, you could use use WordPress or a content management system (CMS) such as Drupal or Joomla. If you are already well-versed at coding, you can start from scratch and use HTML to build the site from the ground up. Each approach has its merits and challenges:
The selection below should be plenty to get you started. Read the blurbs and then click through to the linked reviews to find the one that best suits your needs. And don't hesitate to chime in below in the comments section to report your experience with a site builder or praise one that's not included. For more advice and alternatives to DIY website building, check out our primer, How to Create a Website.
Several of the services included here offer free options, too. If you choose that path, however, your site will include branding from the provider, which necessarily makes your site less impressive to savvy surfers—and shoppers. Free offerings vary greatly in the storage, bandwidth, and site options they allow, so read the small print to find out how much you get with each provider. Strikingly, Weebly, Wix, and WordPress.com are among the most generous with their free offerings, if that's the way you want to go.
If those template customizations don’t look like enough for you (though if you’re building your first website, they will be), you might want to think about building your website on an open source platform like WordPress.org – this is the ‘Option 2’ that we’ll be covering a little later on.. You will get more flexibility, but if you’re not a coder, learning WordPress takes a lot of time — especially compared to drag-and-drop builders.