In Part 1 of the So You Want to Make a Website? Series, we looked at which platform was best for your needs. In Part 2, we delve into the setup process. There may be small differences with WordPress (depending on who you choose for your hosting), however, things will be very similar whoever you choose.
With Squarespace, setting up your website is as easy as going to squarespace.com, choosing a design and clicking ‘start with this theme.’ Squarespace is a great platform that allows you to try before you buy. You get a 14-day free trial of the platform without the need for a credit card, allowing you to take the platform for a test drive.
When you go on the site, start with the template section and look for one you like. Squarespace has a search option to help you choose a theme that’s relevant to what you want your website to do. Once you find a theme you like the look of, you can preview it across multiple platforms at the click of a button. There are also links to real life websites that have been built using the theme you are previewing. That way you can test its functionality.
Once you have chosen your theme, click ‘start with this design’ and Squarespace creates your website. After a simple login and hello, you can get down to business.
Starting your build
In Squarespace, you work with seven tabs. Each is clearly labeled and easy enough to get your site design started intuitively. By default, all pages get set as demos. To create your unique pages, click on it and Squarespace creates a working page for your site.
From here, you can add text and photos. You can also style the page as you desire. It is an intuitive platform, but if you get stuck, there are some great tutorials to help you. Squarespace also has a dedicated support team you can contact.
The Styles Editor is the main menu where you can tweak several options of your site. These include options such as fonts, color, and text size. These options enable you to personalize your site and make it match your style or brand. Switching templates is easy if you find you aren’t happy with the one you started with. Again, this is a simple, hassle-free process.
Domain names and Email
Finally, in the settings page, you can register your free domain and access a free year of Google’s G-Suite email. You can set up your domain name and personal email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) quickly and with minimum hassle. As a paying customer, domain registration (your web address) is free and becomes automatically linked to your account. I recommend this option when you start because it keeps things simple from a setup point of view.
Extending your trial
Once your Squarespace trial is up, you can extend it for a further two weeks if you need to. However, if you like the platform, pay for your chosen plan, and your site can be live within minutes. If, after your trial, you think the platform is too restrictive (some do), you have lost nothing. You won’t even have the annoyance of canceling your credit card.
Finally, there are several vouchers out there for 10% off your first purchase. Make sure you take advantage of one when you purchase your site.
While this may seem a like a more complicated option – it isn’t. WordPress installation is quite simple, as most hosting companies have a one-click install option.
In regards to hosting companies, there are many, and they vary in price, speed and customer support. Some are better than others, so do your research. A quick Google search will help you out immensely here. The main three things to look out for are security, support, and speed. Site loading time is a factor Google takes into account when ranking sites, so speedy hosting helps. Having security is essential so that your site doesn’t get hacked. Support comes in handy when you get stuck with any issues in regards to your site being offline. Similar to Squarespace, you can register your domain name with your hosting company (usually for a small fee). Doing this makes the setup process more straightforward.
Creating an Email address
Creating an email is incredibly easy using your hosting CPanel. Just click on the email button, choose your email address and password and click ‘OK’. It really is that simple.
With your hosting purchased, you now need to access your control panel (CPanel) to install WordPress. CPanel is daunting on first look, but you soon get used to it. This area is where good support from your hosting company can be useful. I can’t give specifics as this varies by company, but all good hosting companies will have guides to help you. Once you have WordPress installed. It is time to start creating your website.
Building your site
Once you are set up, you need to login to your admin area (AKA backend). In the Admin area, you’ll find the tools you need to create your site. Once you are logged in, you have access to all the tools to control your website.
The three main options you will use day to day are posts, pages, and media. When setting up your site, you may also need to use a couple of other options — appearance (where you choose your theme of the website) and Plugins, where you can add plugins for specific things such as SEO. There are a lot of different options with WordPress, but like everything, using it becomes more comfortable over time.
Installing a theme
Once you have installed WordPress, it is time to choose your theme/template. There are thousands of fully-customizable WordPress themes that range from free to $$$. Check out the free themes first, but these often have less functionality and features than the paid ones. Free themes can be prone to things such as poor coding (meaning your site will not load as fast) or may be outdated. Lastly, free templates generally will not offer great support. I am not saying there aren’t some great free ones available, but it takes more to find a good one. However, you do get what you pay for.
On the other hand, paid themes tend to be more feature-rich. They also tend to have better support, which can be invaluable if you run into a problem. Updates also tend to occur more frequently and are less prone to bugs and errors (this does not mean they do not suffer from these problems though). I can guarantee there is a WordPress theme you will love. The hardest part may be choosing.
Installing a theme is just as simple. Go to the Appearance tab and upload the theme you have purchased. Alternatively, choose directly from the themes offered. Depending on the template, things vary from here. Work with the support team on your particular theme to get the best from it.
Now that you have your theme installed, it is time to start to create your content. You’ll learn how in Part 3 of the series.
All tutorials in this series:
Part 1: Squarespace versus WordPress
Part 2: How to Create a Website
Part 3: Creating Your Portfolio
Part 4: Adding Website Content