An easy, step-by-step guide to creating your dream site
Why this guide is great:
- Get started quickly
- All the information you need - straight-talking advice
- Up-to-date info on how to make a website
- Start a trial, talk to an Account Manager to help you
STEP #1: Choose Your Website Builder
Before you make your website, you need to figure out how to do it. There’s lots on the internet about how to get started, but everyone recommends different approaches, from finding a host and software to sit on top of that (such as Wordpress), to all-in-one website builders. We started our website builder 15 years ago to make this process simple and have helped over 30,000 people start their own website. However, there’s lots of alternatives too and we want to help you figure out which website builder will be the best fit for you.
What is a Website Builder?
A website builder is the foundation of your website. Gone are the days when you had to be a tech whiz to be able to build a site: a website builder gives you all the tools you need so you don’t need to worry about hosting or coding.
A website builder like Create, SquareSpace, Wix or Shopify takes care of the difficult bits, and gives you free rein to express yourself.
Why you should use a website builder like Create
Because it’s the easiest way to make a website:
#1 Everything is included
If you’re looking to make a FREE website there are lots of ways to do it, but there will always be hidden extras, such as hosting costs, domain costs, etc. With a website builder solution like Create, you pay for everything at once. It’s that easy.
#2 It’s beginner-friendly
If you can use the internet, you can make a website with a website builder! Create makes it easy to start a website: you can choose a theme, organise your layout, add your content, and get it live on the internet in a matter of minutes.
#3 Every website made on Create is ‘responsive’ meaning it will work on any size device, mobile or tablet
If you want your website to be picked up in Google search results, it helps if your site is responsive. With Create, every website is resized automatically so you don’t need to worry about it.
#4 Your own dedicated Account Manager
At Create we offer every one of our customers their own Account Manager from the moment they start their free trial. Your Account Manager is with you from every step of the way, and can help you with advice on how to set up your website, to getting more visitors and making more sales (if you have a shop). We’re a small British company and every customer is important to us - we take the time to get to know you and your website needs.
#5 Perfect for websites of any size - big or small
Some of our customers have huge websites that generate thousands of pounds in sales every month, and other websites are tiny and just have company information. Whatever your type of website, we believe we can handle it.
#6 No hidden costs - we DON’T take a percentage of your sales
Lots of our customers use Create to start and run online shops. Unlike lots of other website builders, we don’t take a percentage of your sales: you keep every penny you make.
#7 You don’t need to worry about hosting
If you’ve done research on how to start a website, you’ll have read about needing a ‘host’. What’s a host? It’s the general space within a server that you effectively rent to build your own web page. With Create, we provide your hosting, so you don’t need to think about this - and there are no extra costs!
What other website builders are there?
There are several. If you don’t feel Create is right for you there are others based in America, such as Squarespace or Wix. Here’s an outline of what they offer:
- Known for its clean, minimalist templates
- Has great blog capabilities - you can host a podcast on their platform
- PRICING: starts at $12 (£9.84) per month for a website and $26 (£21.33) per month for an ecommerce store. (These prices are reduced if you sign up for a yearly plan).
- FREE TRIAL: 14 days
- Choice of premade templates designed specifically with different industries in mind
- Flexible - you can customise and move things around as much as you need to
- PRICING: Starts with the ‘Combo’ package at £5.16 per month - goes up to £15.57 per month for the VIP package.
- FREE TRIAL: 14 day premium plan - once you upgrade from ‘Free’, you’re given 14 days before you need to make a decision
- US-based platform which is all about ecommerce
- Choose from over 100 templates
- PRICING: Starts at $9 (£7.38) per month for the ‘Lite’ package - moving up to $299 (£245.28) for the advanced package. Watch out though - Shopify also charges a transaction fee if you don’t use their payment system!
- FREE TRIAL: 14 days
STEP #2: Find Your Domain Name
What is a domain name?
A domain name is your web address that identifies you, such as www.create.net.
Where do I get a domain name?
There are lots of places to buy domains, but the easiest way to do it is with Create. Simply start a free trial (there’s no commitment and we don’t ask for credit card details), and then follow these steps to see what domains are available.
What kind of domain name should I pick?
It depends on what sort of website you are making. If your website is a portfolio / personal website, YourFullName.com is the obvious choice.
If your website is for your company or services, YourCompanyName.com is best.
Domain names normally end in .com, but if this is not available, look for .co.uk (for UK-based website) .org or .net. There are lots of other types of extensions, but we recommend sticking to .com, .co.uk, or .net.
What else should I consider in choosing my domain name?
If you don’t want to use your full name or company name, there are other things you can consider:
#1 Does it describe who you are? If your website is about you, does your domain name describe who you are? ‘Does what it says on the tin’ isn’t just a Ronseal advert slogan from the 1990s - use it to describe you and your website, so if you’re an artist from Newcastle who works primarily in watercolours, your domain should describe this: NewcastleWatercolourArtist.co.uk is one example.
#2 Will people remember it? If you’re going to be telling people your domain name to drum up business, will people remember it? If the domain name is long, spelled in a unique way, or doesn’t make sense, potential visitors may forget it. Make sure it’s catchy and easy to remember!
#3 Is it different enough? Have you done your research to see if other people are using similar domain names? If there’s a big website using a domain similar to what you want to use, consider using something else. There are over 300 million domain names in use at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something unique that sets you apart from others.
#4 Is it something you’d be proud to use? Choosing a domain name is like naming a child or a company - what you decide on now is something you could still be using in 10 years time. That doesn’t mean you can’t change it at any time - you can - but it’s best to choose something that will stand the test of time.
What shouldn’t you choose?
Your domain name should be an inviting label for your brand. Remember that in a domain name the words won’t be separated with punctuation, so make sure that they work well together as a whole.
Some particularly unfortunate domain name examples include:
- ‘teacherstalking.org’ (meant to be Teachers Talking, not Teacher Stalking).
- ‘choosespain.com’ (meant to be Choose Spain, not Chooses Pain).
- ‘childrenswear.co.uk’ (Childrens Wear, not Children Swear).
Avoid mistakes like these when coming up with your own domain name - it’s amusing but will damage your credibility.
There are still plenty of great domain names out there, and you can buy as many as you like through your Create account so make sure you pick the one that’s right for you.
For more help on domain names, check out Create’s handy guide.
Step #3: Start Your Website!
Once you’ve laid the foundations for your new website, you can get on with developing the site itself. The great thing about using a website builder like Create is that you can be up and running - and making your first sale - in just a few hours.
Often when building a website for the first time, people are tempted to outsource to external designers. This can be very expensive, and is usually unnecessary. With Create, you don’t need to be an expert designer to make your perfect site. We provide custom-made themes to get you started, and you can edit these as much as you want. Remember, with a website you can tweak and customise it as often as you like, even after it’s live.
Start your free trial
It’s simple and fast to start a free trial with Create. Simply enter your full name and email address and you’ll get instant access to the Create platform. From here you can play around with the design, content and shop features of your site - without spending a penny!
Choosing a Theme
Now it’s time to focus on the design side of things by choosing a theme. Much of the cost - and the success - of your website depends on this part. But don’t let that intimidate you - this is your chance to be creative and have fun with it!
The above site was made with the Boutique template, exclusive to Create.net.
Choosing a great theme is the first step to making an eye-catching website. It should be both stylish and functional. An attractive colour scheme and a layout which enables clear navigation of your site means more engagement from potential customers.
Create offers a wide range of clean, professional themes - so how do you decide which one’s right for you?
How to choose the right theme for your site
#1 Go to the Design tab on your Create dashboard
Create takes you through each stage of making your website. Everything is clearly labelled. It might seem like a lot to keep in mind, but don’t worry - I’ll take you through it one step at a time.
#2 Pick a theme
Now you’ve accessed the Design tab, you can choose from the range of original themes in the left-hand column.
When choosing a theme, it’s a good idea to think about what sort of colour scheme and layout fits best with your brand. For example, if you are selling gardening products, a theme with green, earthy colours, would work better than reds and yellows.
The above site was made with the Mode template, exclusive to Create.net.
Now you’ve picked the perfect theme, it’s time to add your content! Simply click on the ‘Content' tab at the top of your Create dashboard.
TIP: If you change your mind about your theme after adding content on top - don’t worry! You can always go back and switch themes without losing what you’ve created.
How to add pages
By default, your site with Create comes with a homepage, a blog page, a contact page and a shop page. Want to add an ‘Our Story’ or a ‘Gallery’ page to your site? You can customise your site in a few clicks.
#1 Add Page: Once you’re in the ‘Content’ section, click on the green ‘Add Page’ button.
#2 Choose Page Type: Once you’ve added a page, you can then choose the type of page you’d like to include. Make sure you title your page clearly so visitors will be able to navigate the site easily.
#3 Customise: Now you’ve created a new page, every element is customisable. First choose the page layout you’d like, and then easily add text and images.
#4 Reorder/Remove Pages: Change the order of your site’s pages by using Create’s simple drag-and-drop system. Remove unwanted pages with one click of the dustbin icon.
How to add images
Images are essential for your new website. With Create, it couldn’t be easier to add images. In your 30 day free trial, you have a generous 100MB of memory to play around with. Adding images to your pages couldn’t be easier.
#1 Upload Images: Go to the ‘Content’ tab on and select ‘Images’ from the sidebar. Here you can upload all the pics you want to use on your site in one place. Click ‘Add Image’ to upload from your computer.
#2 Insert Images to Pages: Once you’ve uploaded your images, go to the page on which you want the image to feature, click ‘Edit This Page’ and then select the section you want the image to go.
#3 Swap Images: Select ‘Choose Image’ from the sidebar and select your uploaded image. Click ‘Swap’ if you want to change the image after selecting.
How to add blog posts
A blog is a great way to add an extra dimension to your site, share your expertise and connect with your customers. When you set up a website with Create, by default you are given the option to have a blog section.
Below are some examples of blogs made on Create.net sites:
#1 You can change the name of the page on which the blog appears, and add a little introduction to your blog.
i) Go to your ‘Content’ screen
ii) Select the ‘Page Options’ square icon next to ‘Blog’
iii) Alter the ‘Page Title’ - this is what appears in your content screen.
iv) Edit the ‘Menu Text’ - this is the blog’s name and will appear in your site’s menu.
v) If you want to add a little introduction to your blog, click the ‘Display’ tab under ‘Page Options’ and enter text within the relevant field.
#2 You’re in! It’s time to make your first blog post. However limited your experience with blogging, if you can use Microsoft Word or any other word processing software, Create’s blog platform will be easy.
#3 Go to the ‘Content’ tab at the top of the page and click ‘Edit This Page’ (it looks like a pencil) next to ‘Blog’ and then the green button ‘Add Blog Post’.
#4 Now it’s time to start writing! Like all good content, a great blog makes your site more credible and establishes you as a resource for potential customers.
For tips on how to write an effective blog post, check out our post on How to Write the Perfect Blog Post.
If you’re really passionate about blogging, there are plenty of great comprehensive guides to get you started. Blog Tyrant's post on how to write a great blog post is particularly good.
How to make an online shop
#1 Go to the ‘Shop’ tab and click ‘Add Category’ to start listing your products.
#2 Add a title for your product and include a product description in the ‘Long Description’ box
#3 From here you can customise the way your products are displayed. Divide your products into categories with ease.
Below is an example of a Create.net site with a shop - Nectar & Bumble.
Creating quality content - what should you write?
Now we’ve looked at HOW to add content - WHAT is the content going to be? There’s no point having a visually stunning template for your site if the content doesn’t do your website justice.
A great website needs high quality images and tight written content. This is where you can get creative and really make your site your own.
The challenge of producing your own original content can seem daunting, and outsourcing to content writers and photographers is an expensive option, especially if this is your first website.
At Create, we believe anyone can make great content, and that starting a website shouldn’t cost the earth.
Adding Stunning images
The human eye is naturally drawn to images over text. I bet you looked at the image below this section before you started reading? Your website needs and deserves high quality, professional-looking images, but you don’t need to break the bank or have a degree in photography to get the pictures you need.
This photography may seem out of reach for your first website… but what if we told you they’re all completely free stock images that anyone can use?
There are lots of places to get amazing free image content - Unsplash and Pexels are two of our favourites with literally thousands of free photos available. Choose from evocative landscape photos to arty food pics - there’s a huge range of categories and genres to suit the needs of any website ... and without the expense of paying professionals.
For more websites to get great free stock images, check out Create’s list of the 20 best places to find them online.
Do It Yourself
Don’t be afraid to take your own photographs. If you’re selling unique, physical products, it’s unavoidable. If done well a decent camera can be all you need, and you can also invest in a studio lighting setup (you can get a good one for around £50) for professional-level shots. This may seem like a superfluous cost initially, but it’s a one-off purchase that you can use over and over again. Hiring a professional photographer can cost £30+ per hour - not ideal if you’ve got dozens of products to photograph. Try it yourself and you’ll see just how self-sufficient you can be.
Get the most out of your image content by using photo editing software. Customise stock images or fine tune your own photographs with free programs like Pixlr, GIMP and Google Photos. There’s no need to spend a fortune to get the visuals you want for your site.
Beautiful images are very effective for catching the eye of a potential customer, but quality written content adds credibility to your site.
Outsourcing written content to professionals can cost up to £2000 and may not always be as helpful or time-saving as you’d like. You’re the expert, and you’ll know what content your website will need.
Do It Yourself
You don’t have to be an acclaimed author to be able to write good content. If you’re talking about your passion, the writing will flow.
Before you start writing, have a think about what sort of language and tone best fits with your brand concept. If you’re selling health and beauty products, a suitable tone would be that of a helpful expert; if you’re selling children’s toys, a playful and lighthearted tone would be
appropriate. Having an idea of your brand’s ethos will help dictate the direction of your content.
A great ‘About Us’ section goes a long way, and make sure your product descriptions are clear and concise. It goes without saying: check and double-check your spelling and grammar, and if you have a friend with some spare time, ask them to read through your content too. We often don’t see our own mistakes.
Customisation with Create
Like many website builders, Create provides you with a unique, user-friendly foundation for you to build your perfect site.
The page title, which is separate from the domain name, explains to visitors what your website is all about. It also plays a big part in where you rank in search engine results (more on this later). Hover over the tab at the top of your browser to view the page title
To change the title of your site, go to the Content tab >> click Site Information in the left hand column. Here you can select to change your company name and your site name.
Whether you’re selling homemade chocolates, high-end jewellery or a palm reading service - the way you brand your business can make or break you. Customers buy the idea you represent and the story of your businesses as much as they buy the products you offer.
Decide the unique feeling you want to be conveyed when customers imagine your brand. Do you want them to feel warm and cosy? Energised and empowered? Inspire a deep and positive feeling in your customers; one that will run deeper than a superficial interest in the product itself.
Great branding boils down to solid values, communication and consistency. Create can give you the springboard you need to realise your creative side and develop a winning brand.
Create’s support doesn’t end at the platform. There’s a wealth of advice and resources to help make your brand as strong as possible, both while you’re building your site and once it’s up and running. Take a look at the Help Centre and blog for tips and support.
It’s important to keep your information secure. This is where SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) becomes important for your site. Whether it’s your personal details, your passwords, or credit card information, you need to be sure that no one but the intended party can get hold of it.
An SSL certificate encrypts this information, making it unreadable to hackers. If a page is secure, a green padlock will appear in the Search bar before the ‘https://’ part of the web address.
SSL is essential, especially if you’re running an online shop. Customers are more likely to trust your site and make a purchase if they feel that their information is secure.
Create offers full SSL Encryption on the Website Builder, Shop Builder, Shop Builder Pro and Shop Builder Advanced packages. For more information on the benefits of using SSL and how to add it to your site, checkout our HelpCentre guides ‘How to Encrypt Your Website With Full SSL’ and ‘How To Ensure Your Web Content Is Secure’.
Promoting on Social Media
Once you’ve decided on the design and content of your site you should give some thought to promotion. Your site may look perfect, but without visitors your efforts are in vain. Social media is one of the easiest ways to generate traffic to your site.
Connect with similar companies on Twitter, respond to customer queries on Facebook, post great pictures on Instagram. Social media is a free and simple way to connect with customers and be more than just a business: you can be a resource by providing advice and support on your products and field of expertise.
Easily link your site to your social media profiles with Create. Simply go to the ‘Content’ tab and click ‘Site Footer’ in the menu bar on the left. Scroll down to the section called ‘Your Social Profiles’. Here you can add URLs for up to four social profiles.
Useful SEO Tools to Get More from Your Create Site
You want your website to be discoverable, which means getting it to rank highly for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). The more effective your SEO, the higher your site will rank on Google’s list of search results. It’s a good idea to get to grips with the basics of SEO if you want to generate serious traffic to your site.
SEO can be complicated and, let’s face it, tedious. Here are some great tools you can use to make it easier:
#1 Google Analytics - helps to track web traffic and monitor how people are accessing your site
#2 Google Keyword Planner - helps find the optimum keywords for your site that will maximise traffic
#3 SEMRush - provides competitor analysis and analyzes your site for better performance
These tools take a while to get used to, but can really make a difference to getting your site the traffic you deserve.
Congratulations - it’s time to launch your website!
If you’ve followed this guide, you’ll now know everything you need to launch your own Create website.
Your free trial with Create gives you the chance to play around with design features, add content and build momentum for your site before you launch it - without spending a penny!
Create takes care of the technical side of making a website so you can focus on making your site look as good as it can be. You can be up and running quickly and can tweak / add as much extra content as you want, whenever you feel like it!
One last piece of advice: never stop improving your website.
Stay ahead of the game and be vigilant with keeping your site fresh and up to date. As your site evolves, Create moves with you, and if you need any extra help or advice, your dedicated Customer Account Manager will be with you every step of the way.