With many countries going into second and third lockdowns, businesses should now seriously look into operating their business online. Are you looking to bring your business online? Perhaps you are running a boutique, a book store or perhaps you are a tutor, setting up a website or online store not only help you continue your business, it allows you to expand your business globally. Turn this pandemic into an opportunity for your business rather than letting your sales decline because of Covid.
Setting up a website is simple. This “how to set up a website” will help you build an online business from scratch without knowing anything about web development, IT network, or programming. This step by step guide will help you set up a reliable online store that is of commercial standard, one that an experienced web developer or digital marketing agency would build. You can get your website setup in less than an hour and save lots of money. After learning this, you may even be able to diversify your business to provide digital marketing service.
Some Internet Basics
Before we begin, if you have no background knowledge on internet, you need to understand a few important terminology –Hosting, Servers, URL and Domain names. If you already know these terms, you can proceed directly to section B or C.
Every page on the web has a unique address called a URL which stands for Uniform Resource Locator. An URL is essentially the web address of a web page. The URL of a web page looks something like this:
In the above URL, www.examplecompany.com is the Domain Name of the website. A website usually has several pages. Each page will have an unique URL containing the Domain Name of the website. For example, the Shop page of the website may be:
How to set up an online store using self-hosted WordPress?
The bulk of this article will be discussing how to set up an e-commerce (online store) website. If you are looking to setup just a normal business website, the process is the same. We chose an e-commerce example as this is slightly more complex than normal business website. So if you master this, you can do any website.
Step 1 – Choose a Web Hosting Company
WordPress is the most popular platform for setting up a website. It is relatively simple and because it is open-source, many tools are available for you to build a sophisticated website without having to do any programming.
All websites have to be hosted by a web hosting company. Hence, before you even think of a domain name, the first thing is to select a webhosting company and get your free domain name from the company.
There are hundreds of hosting companies. It is important to choose a good hosting company as it will impact the speed and security of your website. You should also choose a company that provides you the necessary support when you need them.
Here at Passion Digital Singapore , we only recommend products that we have been using and are sure that they are good. The following are the best among hosting companies.
We have been using WpEngine and Dreamhost for almost a decade. These are 2 very good WordPress hosting companies. For this article, we will be illustrating using Dreamhost.
The advantages of choosing Dreamhost is as follows:
- Dreamhost provide excellent support. If you encounter an issue while setting up your website, you can go drop them a message or request for a Live Chat and they will help you get the problem fixed.
- Dreamhost offers one of the most competitive and best value hosting plan where you get FREE domain for the first year and FREE domain name protection forever. It is important to get domain name protection, otherwise, you will get lots of spam emails marketing all sort of products.
Step 2 – Choose a Domain Name
When you click on sign up for a Dreamhost hosting plan, you will be taken to the folowing screen where you can regisster for a Domain name.
Select the “Register a new domain” and enter the domain you want. Dreamhost will check the availability of the domain. If it is not available, a list of suggested domains will be displayed. If it is available, you will see a few options available on the right sidebar as shown in the diagram below. You can opt to pay monthly, Yearly or 3-yearly.
Once the order is processed, your WordPress e-commerce website is automatically set up for you. You will receive an email containing links to your WordPress login page and instructions on how to access your admin dashboard.
Step 3 – Select A WordPress Theme
When you visit your website for the first time, you’ll be guided by Dreamhost’s Website Builder , BoldGrid’s start-up wizard to select a theme:
Do not worry too much about the selection because you can easily switch theme with just a click. After you have selected your theme, you will be guided to enter your website’s name and contact details. When you click “Finish”, you will be guided to your WordPress admin dashboard. If you do not like any of the free themes provided, you can change the theme. To change the theme, on your WordPress admin dashboard, on the left side menu, click on Appearance and select Theme. Then type in ecommerce in the search bar.
You will see a list of themes provided. As mentioned earlier, self-hosted WordPress is an open source software. Hence, there are thousands of developers and website companies who have developed very beautiful and sophisticated WordPress theme. Many provides free themes. However, for free themes, there are limitations to what you can change and customize.
Our Recommendation : Elegantthemes
Over the past decades we have we’ve dealt with more web templates companies than you can imagine; in our opinion, the best is Elegantthemes. Divi is Elegantthemes flagship theme and visual page builder. It’s the most widely used premium WordPress theme in the world according to stats from BuiltWith.com. Divi is more than just a theme, it’s a website building framework that enable even a beginner to design beautiful websites without ever touching a single line of code and without installing and configuring dozens of disjointed plugins. Divi is the most popular WordPress theme in the world and powered 767,154 websites. We strongly recommend Elegantthemes for the following reasons:
1. A full library of ready-made templates
Elegantthemes provides a library of hundreds of ready-made beautiful themes that you can easily download and get your online store ready in minutes. Check out the templates here.
2. Easy to use Drag and Drop Website Builder
Elegantthemes website builder is simple to use and allow you to customize almost anything on the website. You may be a beginner but you certainly can get a very professionally designed website up and running in minutes.
3. Option of a Life-time purchase
With the life-time purchase, you get unlimited updates. We have been using ElegantThemes since 2013 and they have been constantly rolling out new features, new platform, new templates and new customization features. Hence it is a good value for money purchase.
As of April 2021, Elegantthemes provide 25 Online Stores design with 149 page layouts that you can use:
The best part is you are not limited to the design of specific template pack that you download. For instance, you may download the Juice Shop pack but for the contact page, you prefer the contact page layout in the Tea Shop pack, you can choose to download that specific contact page from the Tea Shop pack for your contact page.
If you are just setting up a normal business website, the above 3 steps will get your website up and running. The rest of the work requires putting in your product and company information. However, if you are setting up an online store, then there is 1 more step that you need to do, go to step 4.
Step 4 – Install WooCommerce
Woocommerce is a free plugin developed by the company that develops WordPress. It is a proven and tested plugin that allows you to build very professional online store. The best thing is, you can get it installed with just a click.
On your WordPress dashboard left side menu, navigate to Plugins>Add New. Then in the Search bar, type in Woocommerce. Click Install. Once the Plugin is installed, click Activate. The Woocommerce plugin will automatically run the setup widget. You will be guided step by step to complete the setting up of your online store. In the last step, woocommerce will prompt you to select one of their Theme. Choose to proceed with current theme instead. Once you finish the setting up, proceed to create your first product.
That’s it! In just 3-4 simple steps, your business website or online store is set up. You do not have to pay thousands of dollars to a web developer. For less than $20 a month, you can get your business online!