LESSON FIVE: Choosing Your Tools and Platforms

There are many ways of building websites and none is superior to the other. It all depends on what you’re seeking to achieve, i.e. the kind of website you want to build, and the resources available to you. For the professional website designer, success does not come by seeking to learn every website development method. Rather, it comes by mastering a few methods – usually one or two – with a solid understanding of the basics that undergird the website development process.

In this course, you’ll learn how to build beautiful professional websites using self-hosted WordPress. WordPress comes in two forms – we have the cloud hosted version which is also referred to as WordPress.com and the self-hosted version which can be found at WordPress.org. You can easily create a WordPress.com website by signing up for an account at WordPress.com and creating your site. But I don’t recommend that. It’s like building your house on someone else’s piece of land; you must abide by strict rules, and you are limited in what you can do.

You can’t use custom emails (e.g. “[email protected]”), plugins and premium themes. You can’t place adverts or do affiliate marketing. You can’t do some other wonderful things. You’re really not in control.

The other option is self-hosted WordPress which is the most popular content management system in the world right now, powering over 17 million websites including platforms of big brands and government agencies like U.S Department of State, Samsung, CNN, the official website of Sweden and even Google Ventures, to name a few. With self-hosted WordPress, you’ll register your own domain name (e.g., “yourname.com”) plus hosting account and simply install the WordPress software from the control panel. That gives you the freedom to work at building your online home to your taste and satisfaction.

To set up your website with self-hosted WordPress, you need:

  • A domain name
  • A web hosting account
  • A credit card or PayPal account
  • 30 minutes (give or take) for the basic setup (Advanced customisation will take much longer)

The web hosting company I use and recommend is Webhosting Ninja. For domain name registration I recommend Namecheap and Qservers. Some web hosting companies give you a free domain name when you sign up for their web hosting account. Although that will save you cost it is preferable option to keep your domain registrar different from your web host so that you don’t keep your eggs in one basket, as it were.

I have recorded video tutorials to show you how to register a domain name with Qservers and how to create a web hosting account with Webhosting Ninja. Watch the videos, implement them and post your feedback in the comments.

Choosing a domain name

When registering a domain name make sure you choose a name that appeals to your audience and easy to grasp. Avoid using hyphens, abbreviations, new words and ambiguous expressions.

As much as possible choose a .com, .org or .net domain name except in cases where other top level domains (e.g. .tv, .biz, .education etc.) or country level domains (e.g. .ng, .co.uk etc.) clearly serve your purpose better. Even then, it's still a good idea to own the .com, .org and .net versions of your domain name so you can better control your online identity.

Your Webhosting Account

Your webhosting account is the place where your website 'lives' online. It's important that you choose a reputable and reliable company with great customer service. That's why I'm recommending Interserver.

Once you have chosen a great web host (I'm hoping you go with Interserver you need to decide on which plan to go for. The shared hosting plans are usually suitable for most people especially beginners. As your business grows you may need to use virtual private server or dedicated server but for a start just go with a standard shared hosting plan, preferably one that allows you to host multiple websites on one account.