How To Build a Personal Website (That Doesn't Look Like LinkedIn)

Whether you’re creating a site for your artistic work or an online store, here’s a step-by-step guide on making your own website.

Sophia Chang using her phone and computer.
Complex Original

Photo by Liz Barclay

Sophia Chang using her phone and computer.

Building a website is a task and process that, eventually, anybody hoping to run a business or sell a product will have to take on. On its face, figuring out how to make a website can seem daunting. From finding a service to gathering your content to setting up an online store, there are so many things to consider and worry about—especially when you realize that the extent of your web design experience was copy and pasting code a glittery heart GIF onto your MySpace profile in 2006.

Thankfully, these days, it really doesn’t take too much effort to get a site up-and-running. With a plethora of user-friendly website building services available, each with different levels of customization capabilities and HTML knowledge required, you can locate the one that works best for your needs and goals. Creating a website of your own has never been more accessible.

Anyone can create a website, even if you don’t feel like learning code. Whether you’re planning to make a WordPress website or customize your own totally unique web page, we’ve got you covered with the basics. Here’s how to make a website.

Set up a domain


To begin, you’ll need to secure a domain—a.k.a. your URL. This is the easiest step in the process, but also feels like the biggest flex. The quickest way to do this is by heading to a service like Namecheap or Google Domains, and entering in your desired address. If it’s taken (sorry, John Smiths of the world), take the L and head back to the drawing board, rather than settling for a .net URL and smelling broke. Unless you’re trying to get something super common or coveted, this shouldn’t break the bank.

Choose a hosting service


When it comes to options for hosting a website, your cup runneth over. Popular sites like GoDaddy or Bluehost can simply act as host where you can install a content management system like WordPress, or you can pay a little bit more and use something like Wix or Squarespace, that offers hosting and content management in one.

Decide on design


If you know how to code, and know your design basics, you can handle this on your own. You’ll also probably survive the gig economy, so congrats.  

If you don’t know how to code, just find a website builder, like the aforementioned Squarespace and Wix, choose from one of their free or premium layouts, and customize it to your liking, using their intuitive tools.

If you don’t want any part of the design process, and you’ve got *Drake voice* money to blow, hiring a designer is probably the best move.

Figure out your content


Content is what makes your website interesting, but it’s also the key to improving your search engine visibility. Google and other search engines scan websites and try to pull whatever relevant information they can to help index them. The more varied content you have on your website containing a specific keyword or search phrase, the better you’ll rank.

Running a blog? Make sure you have blog posts ready, since you don’t want it to be a barren wasteland for the first few weeks of its existence. Having posts is also the easiest way to improve your SEO ranking, as well as give your visitors a sense of familiarity and reinforce your expertise.

Set up landing page


When people visit your website, you want them to immediately understand its purpose—that’s what your landing page is for. Give a brief overview of either yourself or your group, and make it easy to navigate the rest of your site from there. If you’ll be sharing creative work on your website, consider using some of it on your landing page, so it’ll be the first thing a visitor sees.

If you’re selling something, set up shop


If your website is intended for ecommerce, make sure people can actually buy something from it. Most website building services offer online shop additions to existing plans, though they can cost extra, so keep that in mind when you’re budgeting.

Spread the word


Post the link to all your socials, send it to your friends and family who have gone off the grid, throw it in your email signature. You put the work into making your own website, so make sure it gets seen.

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