Step-by-Step Guide: How to Make a Website from Scratch

Creating a website from scratch may seem like a daunting task, but with the right steps and guidance, it can be a rewarding experience. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of building your own website. From choosing the right platform to launching and promoting your site, you will learn all the necessary steps to create a professional and functional website.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the different website platforms available and choose the one that best suits your needs.
  • Compare popular website builders to find the one that offers the features and flexibility you require.
  • Consider the pros and cons of self-hosted and hosted platforms before making a decision.
  • Define your website’s purpose and target audience to guide its design and content.
  • Plan your website structure and create a site map to ensure a logical and user-friendly navigation.

Choosing the Right Platform

Understanding Different Website Platforms

When it comes to building a website, choosing the right platform is crucial. WordPress, a popular content management system (CMS), is a great option for creating various types of websites, from digital resumes to large eCommerce stores. It offers flexibility and customization options for those who want more control over their website design. Another option is website builders, which provide drag-and-drop functionality and pre-designed templates, making them perfect for beginners without programming knowledge. Consider your skill set, budget, and purpose when selecting a platform.

Here is a comparison table to help you understand the differences between WordPress and website builders:

Platform Pros Cons
WordPress – Flexibility
  • Customization options
  • Large community support | – Steeper learning curve
  • Requires web hosting
  • May require additional plugins for specific functionality |
    | Website Builders | – Easy to use
  • Drag-and-drop functionality
  • Pre-designed templates | – Limited customization options
  • May have restrictions on advanced features
  • Monthly subscription fees |

Remember, the platform you choose will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Take the time to research and consider all the factors before making a decision.

Comparing Popular Website Builders

When it comes to choosing a website builder, there are many options available. While most website builders are inherently easy to use, our pick for the easiest website builder is, thanks to its drag-and-drop editor. allows you to easily customize your site with its hundreds of starter templates. Additionally, offers bonus features like ecommerce functionality, booking and appointment tools, and free marketing features. However, it’s important to note that website builders tend to be more expensive and less customizable compared to other options. If you ever decide to switch to a different builder or host, you’ll have to rebuild your entire site. Ultimately, the choice of website builder depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Deciding Between Self-Hosted and Hosted Platforms

When it comes to deciding between self-hosted and hosted platforms, there are a few key factors to consider. Self-hosted platforms give you more control and flexibility over your website. You have the freedom to customize your site and add any functionality you need, such as booking and appointment tools or free marketing features. However, self-hosted platforms require more technical knowledge and maintenance. On the other hand, hosted platforms are easier to set up and manage. They provide a user-friendly interface and take care of the technical aspects for you. Hosted platforms often come with pre-built templates and plugins, making it quick and simple to create a website. However, they may have limitations in terms of customization and functionality. Ultimately, the choice between self-hosted and hosted platforms depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you’re looking for more control and flexibility, self-hosted platforms like WordPress may be the better option. But if you prefer a simpler and more user-friendly experience, a hosted platform like Hostinger could be the right choice for you.

Planning Your Website

Defining Your Website’s Purpose

Before you start designing your website, it’s important to define the purpose of your website. This will guide the design decisions and ensure that every element aligns with your site’s end goals. Whether you’re creating an e-commerce store, a personal blog, a small business website, or a portfolio site, the design should reflect your brand identity and cater to the needs of your target audience. To define the intent of your website, ask yourself questions like: Who is your site’s target audience? What are the main goals of your business’s content strategy?

Identifying Your Target Audience

After defining your website’s purpose, it is crucial to identify your target audience and understand their needs better. This will help you tailor your website content and design to effectively reach and engage with your intended users. To identify your target audience, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is your site’s target audience?
  • What are the main goals of your business’s content strategy?
  • What series of actions should website visitors take upon opening the site?
  • What voice and tone do you want to use to communicate with visitors?

By answering these questions, you can create a website that resonates with your target audience and meets their expectations. Remember to continuously analyze and adapt your website based on user feedback and market research.

Creating a Site Map

Develop a sitemap that outlines the structure and hierarchy of your website. It will later serve as a blueprint for your site’s navigation and content. Create wireframes or mockups to visualize the layout and structure of key pages. It helps in planning the user experience (UX) and interface (UI) and designing a website from scratch.

Designing Your Website

Choosing a Template or Theme

When choosing a template or theme for your website, there are a few key factors to consider. First, think about the type of website you’re creating and choose a template that makes sense for that purpose. For example, if you’re creating an online store, look for a template that is designed specifically for e-commerce. Next, consider your brand’s aesthetic and choose a template that aligns with your brand’s style and image. It’s also important to choose a template that fits within your budget, as many templates are available for free. Finally, make sure the template is mobile-responsive, meaning it will resize and adapt to different devices. This ensures that your website looks great on both desktop and mobile devices.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a template or theme:

  • Type of website: Choose a template that is suitable for the type of website you’re creating, such as an online store or a blog.
  • Brand aesthetic: Look for a template that aligns with your brand’s style and image, including factors like color schemes, typography, and imagery.
  • Budget: Consider your budget and choose a template that fits within your financial constraints.
  • Mobile responsiveness: Ensure that the template is mobile-responsive, meaning it will adapt to different screen sizes and devices.

Remember, the template or theme you choose will serve as the foundation for your website’s design, so it’s important to choose one that meets your needs and reflects your brand.

Customizing the Look and Feel

After selecting a template or theme for your website, it’s time to customize the look and feel. This step allows you to make style changes to specific page sections and create a visually appealing website. You can make site-wide changes to your content in the Design panel, and also style individual sections with section styles. By using the Design panel, you can choose a font pack and change the size of different text types. Additionally, you can choose a color palette and edit color themes to create a cohesive design. Implementing subtle animations to your content can add a touch of dynamism. Finally, you can change the padding or space between elements to optimize the layout of your website.

Optimizing for Mobile Devices

Your design and content should work properly on computers, mobile phones, and tablets. Do not underestimate your website’s performance on mobile devices. Up to half of web traffic now comes from smartphones.

It’s great to have a beautifully designed business website, but search engines want to see more than that to establish your authority when they index it in their search results. As you optimize your site for search, make sure you’re keeping your visitors in mind. You’ll want to choose easy navigation systems and build pages that enable fast load times. To accommodate a range of user abilities, follow these tips:

  • Use a hamburger menu for smartphone and tablet viewing. Such a menu design saves more screen space by hiding all the links under a three-lined button, usually accessible on the top left of the page.
  • Make CTAs touch-friendly. The button size should be large enough for finger tapping.
  • Ensure your website is mobile responsive. With increasing mobile users across the globe, it’s important to have a website that is mobile responsive, as it enhances user engagement and has a defining impact on SEO.
  • Implement real-time updates. The most beneficial part of having real-time updates on a website is its capability to experiment with different layouts, reducing editing hassles and improving overall performance.
  • Prioritize safety and security. It helps you stay compliant with data privacy regulations and builds trust with your visitors.
  • Consider accessibility. Make your website more accessible by using an accessibility tool or following best practices and tips.

Implementing a mobile-friendly website design is crucial, as half of all internet traffic originates from mobile devices. Ignoring this aspect can cost you a sizable portion of potential visitors. Not to mention, Google considers mobile-friendliness an essential factor to rank on their SERPs. Follow these tips to make your website design more mobile-friendly:

  • Ensure your design is minimal and features only the most necessary elements for the website.
  • Minify your website files by removing unnecessary lines, negative space, and characters with no functionality. WordPress users can use plugins or manually minify CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files.
  • Optimize your media files by using compression tools to reduce file size. Choose the lossless method to prevent losing image quality when optimizing web design.

Creating Website Content

Writing Engaging Copy

When writing copy for your website, it’s important to grab the reader’s attention and keep them engaged. Here are some tips to make your copy more persuasive:

  • Highlight important keywords in bold and use italics for subtle emphasis where needed.
  • Clearly communicate your unique selling proposition to differentiate your business from competitors.
  • Include a large headline at the top of the page and a call-to-action button to capture the reader’s attention.
  • Display social proof to boost credibility and set buyer’s expectations.
  • Use a filtering and sorting system for multiple items to help visitors find what they’re looking for.

Remember, the goal of your copy is to solve your potential customer’s pain points and persuade them to take action. By implementing these strategies, you can create compelling copy that drives results.

Selecting High-Quality Images

When selecting images for your website, it is important to choose high-quality pictures that align with your brand and resonate with your target audience. Here are some tips to help you find the right images:

  • Stock photos: Consider using stock photos from websites like Unsplash, which offer a wide range of free high-quality images. Look for photos that feature human faces, as they can help build trust with your visitors.
  • Design marketplaces: Explore design marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork, where you can find professional designers who can create custom images for your website.
  • Page builder plugin: If you are using WordPress, consider using a page builder plugin like Elementor or Beaver Builder. These plugins allow you to easily create and customize your website using a drag-and-drop interface.
  • Logo maker: If you haven’t developed a branding strategy yet, consider using a logo maker tool to create a professional-looking logo for your business.

Remember, the images you choose should enhance your website’s visual appeal and support your overall brand message.

Incorporating Videos and Other Media

When creating your website, it’s important to consider incorporating videos and other media to enhance the user experience. Videos can be used to showcase your products or services, provide tutorials or demonstrations, or simply engage and entertain your audience. Here are some ways you can incorporate videos and other media into your website:

  • Create a homepage video banner to catch visitors’ attention from the very beginning.
  • Use videos on your About page to tell your story and convey your brand identity.
  • Consider featuring sponsored content or affiliate marketing to monetize your website.
  • Use high-quality images and videos to showcase your products or services and increase trust.
  • Break up text-heavy content with visually stimulating videos.

Remember, incorporating videos and other media can greatly enhance the overall user experience and make your website more engaging and memorable.

Building and Testing Your Website

Setting Up the Basic Structure

When building a site, you’ll create the page structure, add your content, and then set the site styles. If you think of your website like a house, the site’s structure is the arrangement of rooms in relation to one another, the content is the furniture you fill the rooms with, and the style is the combination of colors, brands, and other flourishes you use to make it feel like home.

  • Register for our Getting Started with Squarespace webinar where we’ll show you the basics of setting up your site.
  • Create the structure of your site by adding pages to your navigation. By dividing up your site’s content across different pages, you ensure visitors can find essential updates, make purchases, or get in touch with you.

Tip: See the sections below to learn about adding a blog or selling online store.

This guide covers the basic but essential steps to create an online presence for your personal brand, small business, or online store.

Adding Functionality with Plugins

Plugins add functionality to your website, whether you’re using a website builder or host + WordPress. They come in all shapes and sizes – some are free, some are paid, some are regularly updated, and some may be abandoned. Here are some plugins you might want to consider:

  • Yoast SEO: Can guide you to creating better content optimized for search.
  • Elementor: Acts as an excellent website builder for WordPress.
  • Tidio Live Chat: Add a live chat messenger to your website to provide support to visitors.
  • PayPal: Can help you secure more sales on online stores if your website builder allows it.
  • Social media feeds: Add your Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook feed to your website to encourage engagement.

Every website builder or web host handles app or plugin installation differently. Generally, you can find an app or plugin marketplace where you can browse and add the plugins you want. Adding ecommerce functionality to your website is also an optional step, but it’s likely a popular one if you want to promote or sell products online.

Testing and Debugging

Before making your website live, you’ll want to thoroughly test it to ensure everything works as intended. Consider aspects such as loading time, responsiveness to different screen dimensions (mobile, tablet, desktop), and overall user experience. Once you’ve tested everything and made corrections if needed, it’s time to launch your website.

Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines

Performing Keyword Research

Google Ads, an advertising platform that uses keywords to help your ads appear in relevant searches. Create your account at and go to the keyword planner. Type keywords relevant to your industry or the content you’re creating. For example, in this case, I typed in “sticker subscription box.” The information I got isn’t granular, but it gives me a good idea of what my competitors are targeting (and what audiences may be searching for). Given the information in the screenshot above, I might create content around the keyword “sticker surprise box” if I offered a product like this. Chances are my page, post, or product would rank higher in search results for that keyword. Another useful tool for keyword research is Google’s keyword planner, which is available within Google Ads. It can help you identify popular keywords and search trends related to your industry or niche. By using these tools, you can optimize your website’s content to target relevant keywords and improve your search engine rankings.

Optimizing Meta Tags and Descriptions

Optimizing meta tags and descriptions is an important aspect of search engine optimization, or SEO. Meta tags provide information about the content of a web page to search engines, while descriptions give users a brief summary of what they can expect to find on the page. By optimizing these elements, you can improve your website’s visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract more organic traffic.

To optimize meta tags and descriptions, consider the following strategies:

  • Use relevant keywords: Incorporate keywords that are relevant to your website and its content. This will help search engines understand the context of your page and improve its chances of ranking higher.
  • Write compelling descriptions: Craft compelling and concise descriptions that accurately represent the content of your page. This will entice users to click on your website in search results.
  • Keep it concise: Keep your meta tags and descriptions concise and to the point. Avoid lengthy descriptions that may get truncated in search results.

Remember, optimizing meta tags and descriptions is just one aspect of SEO. It’s important to implement a comprehensive SEO strategy that includes other factors such as keyword research, quality content creation, and website performance optimization.

Improving Page Load Speed

Page speed is a crucial factor in the overall user experience of a website. Reports have shown that a slow loading time can result in a high bounce rate, lower click-throughs, and lower chances of ranking on popular search engines. The size of website elements can significantly impact its loading time. For instance, if a picture exceeds 1 MB, the website speed will likely suffer. It is recommended to optimize media files by using compression tools to reduce file size. Creating a minimal design with only the most necessary elements can also help improve page loading speed.

Launching Your Website

Choosing a Domain Name

Choosing a domain name is the most important decision you can make for your site. It literally says how you want to be represented to the world. It’s the address for your site and the way people will remember who you are. When brainstorming good domain names, consider the following elements:

  • Easy to say and spell
  • Relate it to your name or business
  • Keep it short
  • Pick a common top-level domain (TLD) like .com

Remember, the domain name you choose depends on your website’s purpose. Typically, people use their personal or business name as the domain. However, these names will likely be taken, especially if they include commonly used words. In that case, consider using a domain name generator to assist you. Don’t forget to choose a fitting domain name extension. Generally, it’s a good idea to go with the .com TLD, which is common for commercial websites. Its price starts from $8.99/year. Opt for a country code top-level domain to target a specific market. For example, registering a .us domain is a good idea if your business targets the US market.

Selecting a Web Hosting Provider

The first step to make a website from scratch is choosing the best-suitable hosting service provider and domain name. A web host refers to the platform offering server, storage space, and other essentials for your website, along with giving global access to your platform. On the other hand, a domain name refers to the specific URL that the visitors will use to navigate to your platform directly.

Here are some tips to consider when selecting a web hosting provider:

  • Research different hosting providers and compare their features and pricing.
  • Look for a provider that offers reliable server uptime and fast loading speeds.
  • Consider the level of customer support provided by the hosting provider.
  • Check if the provider offers additional features like SSL security, custom email accounts, and unlimited bandwidth.

Tip: It is recommended to choose a hosting provider that offers a free domain name registration or has an SSL security measure.

Remember, the web hosting service you choose will play a crucial role in the performance and accessibility of your website.

Uploading Your Website Files

After you have finished designing and building your website, the next step is to upload your website files to your web hosting server. This process allows your website to be accessible to visitors on the internet. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you upload your website files:

  1. Connect to your web hosting server using an FTP client.
  2. Navigate to the directory where you want to upload your files.
  3. Select the files and folders you want to upload and transfer them to the server.
  4. Once the upload is complete, you can test your website by visiting the domain name in a web browser.

Remember to double-check that all your files and folders are uploaded correctly and that your website is functioning as expected. If you encounter any issues, refer to your web hosting provider’s documentation or contact their support team for assistance.

Promoting Your Website

Implementing Social Media Marketing

If you have a small business website or online store, adding a pop-up to collect email addresses for a newsletter or coupons is a great way to build an email list for email marketing campaigns. Include social media share buttons: Adding these to blog posts generates word-of-mouth marketing online and may bring referral traffic to your site. Add images to pages and posts: Images pique readers’ interest and help with SEO. Insert relevant images into all posts and pages to make your website better. Be sure to add alt text for images and a description of the image to make your website more accessible for all users. Submit your website to

Utilizing Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of refining your business website so your pages rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), most notably Google. It’s what helps people find you. As you build your website, keep these basic SEO practices in mind to increase your visibility and drive more traffic: Use relevant phrases, called keywords, throughout your posts and pages. Don’t use keywords just for the sake of them, though. Make sure your choices are intentional. Overuse may negatively impact your ranking. Consistently publish valuable content for your customers or readers. Perform techniques to improve performance. Customer support and contact information: Make it easy for customers to contact you for inquiries, support, or assistance. Provide clear contact information, including phone number, email, and live chat options if possible. Optimize Your Site for Organic Search Using a good SEO strategy can increase your website’s visibility on Google and other search engines. You can optimize your website’s SEO using Google Analytics, adjusting permalinks, and using relevant keywords. Add Google Analytics Google Analytics 4 is a great way to track your site visitors. It helps you understand where your traffic is coming from and how users interact with your site. Use Descriptive URLs When creating links within your website, use descriptive URLs instead of generic ones. Descriptive URLs with keywords are much more SEO-friendly because they’ll usually include keywords related to your industry, website, or content. It’s good for visitors and search engines for the same reason: the link text informs what the page or post is about. Use Google’s keyword planner One of the most useful free tools you can use to help your website rank in organic search results pages (SERPs) is Google keyword planner. It’s a tool within Google Ads, an advertising platform that uses keywords to help your ads appear in relevant searches. Create your account at and go to the keyword planner. Type keywords related to your business, products, or services, and the tool will provide you with keyword ideas, search volume, and competition level. Use these insights to optimize your website’s content and improve your organic search rankings.

Engaging with Your Target Audience

To foster deeper connections with customers, consider implementing the following strategies:

  1. Booking or shop page: Drive more revenue and integrate a third-party online scheduling platform or an e-commerce platform, such as HoneyBook or WooCommerce.
  2. An accessible contact page: Include social media accounts, emails, phone numbers, addresses, and a contact form to make it easier for people to reach you. If it fits your business, add your operating hours, too.
  3. Memorable content: Sharing compelling content establishes you as an expert in your industry and helps grow a loyal community for your business. This might include blogs, videos, podcasts, and more.

By implementing these strategies, you can create a more engaging website that resonates with your target audience and drives meaningful interactions.

Promoting your website is crucial for driving traffic and increasing your online presence. With the right strategies and techniques, you can attract more visitors and convert them into loyal customers. One effective way to promote your website is through search engine optimization (SEO), which involves optimizing your website’s content and structure to rank higher in search engine results. Another powerful method is social media marketing, where you can engage with your target audience and share valuable content that drives traffic back to your website. Additionally, email marketing can be a great tool for promoting your website by sending targeted messages to your subscribers. To maximize the effectiveness of your website promotion efforts, consider implementing a call-to-action on your website that encourages visitors to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. By incorporating these strategies and utilizing the right keywords, you can effectively promote your website and drive more traffic to it.


Creating a website from scratch may seem daunting, but with the right steps and guidance, it can be a manageable process. In this step-by-step guide, we have covered the essential steps to help you build your own website. From selecting a hosting provider and domain name to customizing your website design and adding content, each step is crucial in creating a successful website. Remember to define the purpose of your website, plan your content, and consider the user experience. With determination and creativity, you can create a website that meets your goals and engages your audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first step in creating a website from scratch?

The first step in creating a website from scratch is selecting a hosting provider and a domain name.

How do I choose the right website builder?

To choose the right website builder, consider factors such as ease of use, available features, customization options, and pricing.

What is the importance of customizing the look and feel of a website?

Customizing the look and feel of a website is important as it helps create a unique brand identity, improves user experience, and enhances visual appeal.

How can I optimize my website for mobile devices?

To optimize your website for mobile devices, use responsive design, optimize images and media, and ensure fast loading speed.

What is the role of plugins in website development?

Plugins add functionality to a website, allowing you to add features such as contact forms, social media integration, SEO optimization, and more.

How can I improve my website’s search engine ranking?

To improve your website’s search engine ranking, perform keyword research, optimize meta tags and descriptions, and work on improving page load speed.