create a website banner graphic

I’m living proof: with the right tools, you can create a website for your business, all by yourself. Even if you don’t have ANY coding or design experience. You really don’t need to shell out big bucks to get an attractive, competitive site.

If you have some time and just a little technological savvy, (as in, you can drag and drop things on your desktop and use simple programs like Microsoft Word), then you can follow the steps in this guide to get an optimized website. You’ll be able to brand it just the way you like, and update it when necessary.

web-designer-displaying-a-website-she-builtNow, if you’re totally new to web design, then pre-warned. This is not one of those ‘Build A Website in 10 Minutes!$!$!$’ types of spammy posts. Anyone who tells you that you can build your first website ridiculously fast or super easily is trying to sell you something.

There will be a learning curve up front, and even the best web designers will have frustrating moments. If this is your first time using this type of software, it will probably take you a bit of time to figure things out.

But stick with it. I built my first website with literally no previous experience or education in the field. Thanks to the software available to us today, you just don’t need to be able to code or do anything extremely complicated to get a modern-looking site.

And my first website turned out so well that I was able to start a career as a freelance digital marketer. I bet you’ll find it easy too.

And thankfully, I only use (and recommend below) companies that have great, online, live-chat support. So if you follow these steps, and reach out for help when you need it, it shouldn’t take you too long to figure things out.

You can even email me at yourbigsisteronline@gmail.com if you need more help (’cause don’t we all need our big sisters some times?).

Good luck – and, more importantly, have fun!

Why Create A Website Yourself

Not everyone should build their own website. If you’re already putting in 60+ hours a week on your small business and you really can’t re-allocate some of that to a new project, then you’re probably not going to have the time or energy to put in the extra hours required to get something you actually want.

Or if you’re reeeeallllly uncomfortable using anything computer-related, then again, this might not be the right strategy for you.

But if you have or can make even a little extra time on your hands, then you can pay a little bit for some great software that will help you build a great website (I’ll share what I use below).

This software is user-friendly, and it can save your hundreds if not thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars on a premium web designer, while still getting you a site you love.

More importantly, think about building a website as learning a new skill. And in 2018, being able to control and update your website and your online presence is invaluable.

So while you’re building your site, you’ll inherently be learning how to update it going forward, too. This will allow you to keep your website fresh and current, so that you’re always putting your absolute best face forward to your customers.

Web trends change quickly. What looks good now might not look good next year, or the year after. Or in a year’s time you might decide you want to add an online store, or a live chat feature, or a new page featuring testimonials from clients.

If you build your own website, your options will be endless – and you’ll be in control. You won’t have to pay your web designer for upgrades and wait on her schedule.

Trust me – being able to update your own website when necessary is priceless.

And if you have a very specific vision of how you like things to be (this is my nice way of saying you’re anal!), then I should pre-warn you that, in my experience, web designers are only so willing to accommodate.

sample-website-layout-created-by-Elegant-Themes

Sample website layout built using Elegant Themes software.
I’ll show you how to build your own website like this below (it’s easy!). 

The reality is that there are lots of great web designers out there who aren’t looking to screw you over (I’d like to count myself among them!).

But there are also lots of designers looking to make a cheap buck, and even scrupulous designers usually have strict policies about how many drafts they’ll give you. Unless you’re paying a lot of money, at some point, you’re going to have to take what they give you, whether you love it or like it or not.

(Can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with who were unhappy with their first website, because the designer just didn’t ‘get’ their specific vision).

If your business is your baby and you want to have to have a lot of control over how the end product looks, then you’re either going to have to pay up for an expensive, willing-to-work-with-you-endlessly-and-do-draft-after-draft web designer, or you’re going to have to take things into your own hands.

Thankfully, in 2018, taking it into your own hands has never been easier.

Creating A Website: What’s Involved

So you’ve probably seen the commercials for Godaddy, Bluehost, Wix, Shopify … all kinds of companies offering all kinds of things you need to create a website.

And you’re probably a bit confused, no? What exactly is it that you need?

Don’t worry – your ‘big sister’ is here to break it all down for you!

(Pssssttt …. if you’re ready to get started slready, jump right to the actual steps to creating your site now).

First, you need to decide whether you want to use WordPress to build your website, or another platform, like Wix or Shopify.

(And looking to start a free blog? Then you can skip all this about hosting and jump right to my tutorial here).

Please note that the rest of this guide will centre around using WordPress. It’s what I use, and at the end of the day, it’s what I think is the best option for most people.

Ultimately, I’m going to cover how I build websites (including this one). There’s lots more ways you could go, but I hope that walking you through my process, step-by-step, will help you get started.

woman-using-laptop-to-work-on-a-website

If you go the WordPress route, then you’re going to need to set up your own domain name and your own hosting (don’t worry – it’s simple!!!).

Your domain name is the URL for your website – the address where people will find you. For example, mine for this website is yourbigsister.online.

So the first thing you need to create your own website is get a domain name. You want to pick a name that is as short as possible, while still communicating your business. 

And don’t worry so much about getting the coveted ‘.com’ ending. Users don’t expect all their websites to end in .com like they used to, so just try to find something that works.

OK, you’ve got your name picked out. But just like your physical address isn’t the same thing as your house, you need more than your domain. You need also need what’s called hosting.

So on the ‘the back end,’ as we like to say in the biz, websites are made up of lots and lots of files. And those files need to ‘go’ somewhere, right? That’s where hosting comes in.

For a few dollars a month (usually), you need to pay a company with a server to ‘host,’ or store, all your files.

Now, there are tons and tons of options for hosting your website. There are all kinds of start-up and local companies. Because I’ve worked with lots of clients, I have experience with some lesser known hosting providers. And I have to say I’ve never had a bad experience with any of them.

But my best experiences come when working with bigger companies like Bluehost and GreenGeeks (affiliate links). These bigger companies have really good live chat and phone support, so that you can usually get help right when you need it. And they regularly offer sales that make them even more appealing.

my hosting company banner graphic

(I will say that in my experience, I’m usually able to talk to someone a bit faster at GreenGeeks, which is one of the reasons I like them for my own hosting).

I use GreenGeeks hosting, and that’s what I’m describing in my little guide below. You can learn more about why I use GreenGeeks and the benefits here. And yes, they’re called ‘green’ for a reason!

(In fact, hosting is probably waaaay worse for the environment than you realize – the average website in the US creates 4,500 pounds of CO2 a year. Learn more about green hosting here).

But note that the process with any hosting provider you choose will look roughly the same – this guide will give you a pretty good idea how to set up hosting with any provider.

OK … ready to create your website? Let’s get started!!!

Step 1: Domain & Hosting

Please note, I’m a GreenGeeks affiliate as well as a happy GreenGeeks customer – so if you follow my links and make a purchase, I’ll get a small cut – at no extra charge to you. In fact, I’ve even got some coupon codes to make it cheaper for you! I’ll share them below. 

So a quick note about your domain and hosting. It is possible to have your domain and hosting handled by separate companies. It just makes things a bit messier.

So if you’ve already bought your domain with one company, but you’d like to host with a more reputable company like GreenGeeks, that is possible. Learn how to do so here.

It’s also not that hard to transfer ownership of domains from one company to another. Not gonna lie – it’s not my favourite type of task, but it’s do-able. Thankfully GreenGeeks also makes this pretty easy. Learn how to do so here.

(In fact, linking up and switching domains and hosting is one of the times having live support is helpful – just call ‘em up if you get stuck! See more ways support from hosting/theme companies is so important here).

But if you’re just starting out, do yourself a favour and get your domain and hosting from the same company.

Thankfully, if you choose GreenGeeks, at the time of writing this article, they’ll give you one free domain for the first year of hosting.

(Note: unless you’ve decided that you need to pay thousands for a super-special domain like cats.com, say, then expect to pay about $20 or less for your domain per year. You’ll have to either renew it each year, or pay for a longer expiry term).

And a final note before choosing a domain/hosting provider. If you ever want to rank on Google, it’s now critical that you have an SSL certificate on your site (this is basically an extra security level, and they can be quite costly).

So do yourself a favour and choose a provider like GreenGeeks or Bluehost that offer SSL certificates for free.

OK, so let’s jump in.

First, most hosting providers are going to have multiple packages for you to choose from – here’s what GreenGeek offers.

Choosing A Website Hosting Package graphic

I’ve only ever needed the first tier EcoSite Starter, and this should work for most basic websites/businesses. If you plan to build a large estore and you know that it will be very busy from the get-go, you might want to use a higher package.

But generally, with most companies, you can start with the lower tier offerings and move up if you need to. (Need to move up in the future? Just call their support line! Seeing a trend here??)

Another note: many hosts will try to up-sell you on site builders and seo strategists and all kinds of ‘extras.’ My advice? You don’t need ‘em. Using the free tools available to you, you’ll be able to do just as good a job yourself.

So, you know you want starter hosting. Time to sign up!

Go to their homepage and click the big green ‘Get Started Now’ button. See how easy they make things? You want any provider you’re using to make things this obvious.

From here you’re taken to the Web Hosting Order Form. Check availability of your desired name, and notice they have a nice feature to make transferring your existing domain as easy as possible. For the rest of this guide, I’ll assume that you’re getting a new domain.

web hosting order form graphic

(Note: GreenGeeks is a bit limited in the number of domain endings they offer. If they don’t have the domain I want I usually check out GoDaddy)

Next, time for all your sign-up info. Now, let’s go over the two important issues practically every host will ask you at this stage.

First, how long do you want to sign up for? Pretty much every provider will charge you less per month, the longer term you sign up for.

It almost always makes sense to sign up for at least a year, because they’ll all charge you a premium if you go month-to-month. And a year is probably long enough to see how viable your website/business is.

So, choose which ever option is best for your budget. Note, too, that hosting providers are regular companies, too – and like regular companies they have regular sales. They often offer killer Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Second, you need to decide if you want Domain WHOIS Privacy. This is an extra level of security you can add to any website, so that no one can find out that you own the site.

If you don’t get privacy protection, anyone can take your website, plop it into Whois.net, and find out that you are the the owner of the site.

If you’re ok with people knowing your info, then this might not be an issue for you. But otherwise, if you get the WHOIS Privacy, then a generic ‘GreenGeeks’ ownership will show up.

Since it’s not too expensive and I’m generally a private person, I usually opt for this extra security.

And that’s it! Pop in your credit info, and you are the proud owner of a new hosting account!

Bonus time! Like promised, here’s some coupon codes you can use for GreenGeeks:

 
TAKE20OFF – 20% annual shared hosting accounts

 
RESELLER20OFF – 20% monthly, quarterly and annual reseller hosting accounts

 
VPS20OFF – 20% monthly vps hosting accounts

screenshot-green-geeks-hosting-chat-box-for-live-support

And did you notice the little orange ‘Chat now’ button on the bottom right? Click here at any time in the process that you’re stuck or have questions!

Step 2: Install WordPress

You’re now the proud owner of a killer new domain and a cheap and easy hosting account. The next step is to turn your hosting account into something you can actually start to work with. And you do this by adding WordPress to your domain.

After you signed up, you should get an email with login info for your GreenGeeks account. So, go ahead and log in!

green geeks website hosting customer login area

(And to login in the future, just go to greengeeks.com and see the ‘Customer Login’ on the top right).

From here, you’re going to want to go to your ‘cPanel.’ This is true whether you’re using GreenGeeks or any other provider. The cPanel is basically your web hosting control panel, so whichever provider you’re using, find the link to it.

Thankfully, it’s nice and obvious in GreenGeeks:

green-geeks-website-hosting-dashboard

Your cPanel will look something like this:

screenshot-of-a-website-cpanel

Scroll down til you find the Scripts Installer, and select ‘WordPress.’

install wordpress section found on a cpanel

(Different cPanels may organize things a bit differently. On GreenGeeks, this is waaaay down at the bottom of your cPanel. You basically just want to find the button that lets you install WordPress – it should be pretty obvious).

Click on the WordPress Installer, and you’ll be taken to this screen. Click on ‘Install Now.’

how-to-install-wordpress-on-a-website-graphic

After clicking ‘Install Now,’ you’ll get taken to a new screen where you’ll get to make some decisions before starting.

screenshot wordpress installer

For the protocol dropdown, make sure you choose an option with https:// (assuming that you did in fact get an SSL certificate as discussed above). It’s your choice whether you choose the www. or not. I usually choose it.

Next you have to choose your domain – this is here in case you have more than one domain in your account.

And you can leave the next box ‘In Directory’ blank.

In the Site Settings section, you get to, well, make your site settings!

site settings in wordpress installer

Give your site a name and a short description. This will be how Google and others see you in the future. Don’t worry too much though – you can always easily change this in your WordPress settings later (I’ll show you how below).

And you likely don’t need to click the Enable Multisite option.

From here, move on to the Admin Account section.

admin account section of wordpress installer

PLEASE choose a different name other than ‘admin.’ Pick a strong and unique user name and password. You’ll be surprised how many people/robots will be trying to hack your website, even if you’re small and don’t get a lot of traffic. Don’t make it easy for them.

And make sure you update the email section, as it will be important for you to get any emails relating to your site.

Next up, pretty obvious, choose the language for your site.

more settings on wordpress installer

From here you’ll be given the opportunity to automatically add some plugins (plugins are extra bits of software that let you do all sorts of fun things on your site, and they’re one of the many reasons that we web designers love WordPress so much).

If you go with the WordPress theme that I use (described below), then you don’t need the WPForms lite. The Limit Login Attempts might not be a bad idea. But note that you can always add any plugins you like at any point in the future.

Next you’ll see an ‘Advanced Options’ section. You can skip this entirely (whew!).

Finally, they give you an opportunity to choose a theme. Again, you can skip this – for now. I’ll show you my preferred WordPress further below.

install button on wordpress

There’s a little opt-in to get email instructions mailed to you. You don’t need this, but it doesn’t hurt. Click install, and you’re good to go!

You’ll likely have to wait a few minutes. But eventually you should get an email letting you know WordPress has installed.

And last but certainly not least, here’s how you get into your new website, so you can start building (this link should also be in the email you get).

Got to yourdomain.com/wp-admin. You’ll get taken to a login page, where you can enter the username and password we just set up. Login, and, TA-DA! Here’s the back end of your newly minted website.

Note that from now on, you just need to WordPress Admin – you can forget about logging into GreenGeeks (or, your hosting provider) except for when you need to update payments, upgrade, get new domains, etc.

All the dirty work going forward will be on this back end, starting with …

Step 3: Some WordPress Basics

Before we move on to the nitty gritty work of getting your site optimized … Welcome to WordPress! Let’s take a peek around at some of the basics.

Over on the left, you’re going to see a black menu. This is where you’ll get access to, well, everything you need access to. And you can hover over the different sections to pull up even more options.

So, hover over ‘Posts.’ See where it says ‘Add Post?’ Click here, and see what the posting interface looks like. Pretty straight forward, right?

where to add a post on WordPress dashboard

blue arrow

editing a post in wordpress

It works the same with Pages. Note that pages are meant for pillar content on your site (think your Home Page, your About Page, your Contact Page, etc), whereas posts are generally reserved for your blog (and learn some unique ways to use your blog if you’re stuck for ideas here).

So your posts and pages are where you’ll be adding most of your actual content. (And if this all seems a little confusing … you can learn more about the difference between WordPress posts and pages here).

Under the Appearance tab, you’ll have access to your Menus (the links at the top of your page that direct people to where they need to go) and Widgets (the little options like ‘recent posts’ that show up in sidebars and sometime the footer of your website).

Appearance tab on WordPress dashboard

Your Settings tab is where you change basic settings, like your site name, as we discussed above. I suggest you poke around here later to get familiar with things.

my wordpress settings tab

For now, go to the Permalink section in Settings. You’ll want to change this to the Post name setting, because this is better for SEO. (Find another super simple SEO trick here). 

permalink settings section in wordpress

The last ‘WordPress Basic’ we should cover before we dive into creating your website is Plugins. Trusty little plugins are one of the main reasons to use WordPress. These are little bits of extra software you can ‘plug in’ to your site to do all sorts of fun and necessary extra tasks that WordPress doesn’t do natively. You have to pay for some, but many of the best ones are free.

You can use plugins to add estores, block spammy comments, set up contact forms, improve your seo, track your stats, backup your site, optimize your images … at 29,000 available plugins and counting, the list is practically endless!

For now, all you need to know is how to add new ones. You can get them straight from WordPress, by clicking ‘Add New’ and searching for what you need.

where to add plugins in wordpress

Or, if you’ve purchased or downloaded one from another source, you can click ‘Upload Plugin.’ 

I explain more about plugins and how to add them, plus the plugins that I automatically add to every site, here. You might want to consider adding these too. 

Everything else on the back end, you’ll start to figure out as you go (and try to have some fun with it!). For now, let’s take care of the most important step …

Step 4: Upload Your Theme

Now it’s time for the most important part: getting you a WordPress theme for your new website.

First, what is a WordPress theme, and why do you need one?

Basically, a theme is a collection of files you can add to WordPress to change the front end (ie, what people will see when they come to your site). It’s what makes your site look pretty!

And your theme helps you organize the back end so you can better brand your site and keep everything running smoothly. (See my complete guide to branding websites here).

The best part is that these themes are all made by people who have spent their life dedicated to WordPress … so you don’t have to!

And leveraging good themes is the key to creating a website, especially for newbies or people like us with limited (or no) coding experience. With the quality of themes these days, people won’t know the difference – I promise.

So how to you pick and install a theme?

On the back end of your WordPress site, find ‘Appearance’ on the black menu on the left. Hover over it, and see the option for ‘Themes’ at the top. Click here. 

themes section on wordpress dashboard

From there, click ‘Add New.’ And take a little gander at all the free options available to you! It’s amazing to me how much the quality and sheer number of free themes have gone up since I started creating websites, even though that was only about 5 years ago.

themes-available-on-wordpress

Now, you can use one of the free themes, and they’ve gotten quite good. Some are quite nice. You might want to click on one and play around with it a bit. A free theme might be a good way to start out.

But you should know that you can also pay a little bit more to get a professional WordPress. This is what I do, and it’s what I generally recommend. Learn more about whether you need a free or a paid WordPress theme here

Basically, while free WordPress themes are great for some websites, you won’t get the same level of support you can from paid themes. They don’t have the same level of documentation, so the learning curve might be steeper. And unless you have coding experience, you’ll be more limited in how much you can customize your site.

Plus, you can just get some really pretty options when you pay just just a little.

So for most people, if you really want a professional site that will grow with you, then you’ll want to explore your paid options.

That’s why I’m excited to tell you about, drum roll please, Elegant Themes. 

Elegant Themes is the software that I use to build all my websites, including this one! I’m pretty passionate about it (have even been an affiliate for them for about 4 years now), because I could not have started my own company without them. Learn more about my journey with Elegant Themes here. 

So when you buy a yearly subscription to Elegant Themes, you get access to 87 beautiful themes, including Divi, their flagship, drag-and-drop theme. You’ll likely end up using Divi, unless you’re building a magazine/blogging style website (like this one!), in which case you’ll use the very similar Extra theme

There are other options out there, like those from Themeforest and Themefuse. I have a little bit of experience with Themeforest and no complaints, and all most premium themes will generally have good reviews. I’m not a shill here.

But I was just lucky – I used Elegant Themes for my very first website, and it helped me become a web designer with no web design experience. And I haven’t looked back.

So if you’re building a website for your business, I highly recommend using their ‘Divi’ theme. It has a drag and drop visual builder that makes design easy and simple, they make it really easy to customize everything (like, everything), and their interface includes 46 content elements, from pricing tables to toggle sections to video sliders and filterable portfolios and everything in between, so there’s something for everyone. 

But don’t take my word for it – take a look! (Gif source: Elegant Themes)

using elegant themes gif

And since Divi is the most popular premium WordPress in the world (source), then trust me – there is TONS of content out there to support your journey and help you make your website even better. 

Plus, Elegant Themes offers custom layouts that can be used to build entire websites. They’ve basically done the design work, so that you just have to plop in your own text and logo. Brilliant. (I’ll get more into how these can help you build your website further below). 

And if you’re building more of a blog or a niche site that will have lots of content (a la Income School, another great resource for bloggers), you can choose their ‘Extra’ theme. It’s what I’m using for this website. Both themes basically use the same back end software, but Extra just has some extra features for sites with tons of blog posts.

(Note that Elegant Themes also includes two great plugins, one for adding social media buttons to your site, and one that pairs up with your contact list for getting new signups. You can also use their Divi Builder to harness Divi’s capabilities on another WordPress theme – pretty cool).

Maybe I’m biased, because I can contribute the entire success of my online career to Elegant Themes. They’re just that good.

(Oh, and the best thing about Elegant Themes? Their support is ah-mazing. Like, it’s been kind of hard to believe the amount of customization work they’ve helped me with for free, and they now have a live-chat feature, too. Learn more about the support available from Elegant Themes here).

So let’s cover how to add a paid WordPress theme to your site, noting that the process will be the same whether you go with Elegant Themes or another paid theme of your choosing.

First, you gotta purchase and download your theme. At the time of writing, Elegant Themes is offering access to all their software for $89 a year (with a 30 day money-back guarantee) . To purchase, go to elegantthemes.com and click the ‘Join to Download’ button in the top menu.

And then decide whether you want to go with the yearly or the lifetime option. 

elegant themes subscription screenshot

I should also point out that once you have your subscription, you can use Elegant Themes on as many sites as you like (one of the reasons why it’s so popular with web designers).

Once you’re into your new account, you’ll want to download your theme.

Let’s assume you want to set up a regular website. That means you want to install their Divi theme. (If you’d like to set up more of a blog/magazine style website, like this one, see this tutorial on Extra).

You’ll find access to your themes in the Members Area, immediately when you login. Click ‘Download’ here and you’ll automatically start downloading a zip file. This is all you need from your Elegant Themes account for now (but note that this is where you’ll come back if you need support).

download Divi button screenshot

I usually drag the zip file onto my desktop, just to make it easier to find.

OK, so we’ve got your theme downloaded. Now, go back to Appearance -> Themes and click on Themes. 

And click the ‘Add New’ button again. 

add new themes button in wordpress

But this time, find the ‘Upload Theme’ button and click it. 

upload theme button in wordpress

Click choose file, then choose the zip file with your theme (this is why I drag it to my desktop – just makes it easier to find!). 

uploading theme screenshot

Click Install Now, give it a few seconds, and then your new theme should be all nice and uploaded for you.

Next, we gotta install this puppy!

Step 5: Optimize Your Theme

Still with me? Good, because here comes the fun part. And here’s where the strength of a premium theme comes into play when you’re creating a website.

So let’s explore All The Options!

Once you’ve uploaded your new theme, you’re going to see a new option on the side menu on your WordPress Dashboard, down towards the bottom.

See the ‘Divi’ button? Good, because you’ll be using it lots! 

divi section in wordpress

First, let’s look at the THEME OPTIONS.

Here’s where you can upload your logo and set some colours. 

divi theme options section

(Don’t have a logo yet? See this tutorial to make a professional logo yourself. Plus, get tips for how to pick a color scheme for your website/business here, and learn more about branding your complete website here).

So, as you scroll through this Theme Options’ section, you’re going to see all sorts of customization options, from WooCommerce integration (for an estore) to where you want the sidebar, just to name a few. 

Now, an important side note. With custom themes, it’s possible to get ‘Customization Overload.’ There are tons of options. Don’t let them overwhelm you. Most of the default settings are going to work for you, so you don’t need to change everything. Certainly not right away.

So for now, jump to the social media settings, where you can pick which channels to include on your site. Note that even if you click ‘enabled,’ these won’t actually show up unless you include a domain linking to your account pages .

divi theme settings

Note too that you can control where these icons appear in your Theme Customzier (which we explore in just a second).

Otherwise, you can go ahead and leave the rest of the settings as-is for now.

The last thing we need to cover under Theme Options is how to update your theme in the future. Very important, since you want to keep you theme updated for security reasons.

(And thankfully, Elegant Themes has partnered with Securi.net to ensure Divi is ultra-safe (source), they update it regularly, and it’s easy to update things on your end … so you can rest easy on this front).

So to enable updated, look at all the extra under Theme Options. Again, we can leave most of these for now – except for‘Updates.’ We’ll use this section link up your WordPress and your Elegant Themes accounts so you can get automatic theme updates in the future.

So, go to Updates. 

update section on divi theme options

The username is the what you made when you setup your Elegant Themes account.

And you can get your API key under Account -> Your API Key. 

account settings in elegant themes

Once you’ve added them both, click ‘Save Changes’ and you’re good to go!

The last thing in Theme Options that we need to cover now is the Custom CSS box. You might not appreciate it right away, but this is a pretty cool Elegant Themes feature. 

custom css box in elegant themes

So say you want something special on your website, that doesn’t come out of the box on Elegant Themes. Like, you want your logo in a unique position or something.

If you take your request to the Elegant Themes support team, they’ll often give you a bit of code to address your issues. And this is (usually) where you put that code (they’ll tell you if it needs to go elsewhere). 

It’s such a great option, because it means you can add custom coding, without having to go into your theme files, where you run the risk of messing things up. So much simpler, and it makes updating easier too.

So let’s move on to the THEME CUSTOMIZER section.

This is where you’ll do all the heavy lifting of your custom work. So go in and see how nicely everything is arranged for you. 

theme customizer section

Here’s where you can set your custom fonts and colours to keep your site nice and branded, and where you can do things like move your logo around, add backgrounds, change your website layout … and on and on.

There’s really too much for me to cover in a simple guide. What I recommend is play around a little while your site is still new. You’ll start to get a better feel for the options available to you, while you’re also familiarizing yourself with how WordPress works. Win, win. (Gif credit: Elegant Themes)

customization on Elegant Themes

 

And Elegant Themes also includes all kinds of tutorials with their membership. I’ll explain more were to access them, plus get more support, below.

Remember too that Divi is sooooo popular, that just a Google search is really all you need to answer most of your questions or get some great, section-by-section guides. 

Finally, while we’re talking about customization, I should also let you know about the Visual Page builder option that comes with Elegant Themes. Now, I’m kinda old school – I started using Elegant Themes before they even made Divi. So I don’t take advantage of this like maybe I could. 

But it’s a cool feature, that let’s you build, organize and customize your page designs, on the page itself. This gif from Elegant Themes shows you what I mean:

on page builder demo

Pretty cool, huh? So let’s get in to using all these great features to build a great website. 

Step 6: Start Adding Pages –
Using Custom Layouts

Finally, let’s move on to the part where your premium WordPress theme really comes in handy.

Now, you might have an idea of what you want your homepage and the rest of your pages to look like, and that’s great. Divi’s drag and drop interface and Visual Builder are designed to make that process as easy as possible. 

But let’s assume you’re a busy small business owner, limited on time and design experience (hey, isn’t that the reason you’re reading this article in the first place?). So wouldn’t it be great if all the designing was actually done for you?

Well, with Elegant Themes, it is! Your Elegant Themes subscription includes access to dozens of what they call ‘Layout Packs.’ These layout packs work for all sorts of businesses, from caterers to construction companies and everywhere in between.

If your exact company isn’t on the list yet, don’t worry. They come out with new layout packs every week (be sure to follow their blog so you don’t miss the next one). 

And I’ve also found that you can still take advantage of the gorgeous designs, even if they’re not technically designed for your type of company. For example, I love the make-up artist layout for all sort of feminine websites.

So let’s go over how to actually take advantage of this great feature. Let’s say you’re a florist, and you want to start by setting up your home page. Easy!

First, go to the Pages section in your Dashboard, and ‘Add New.’ 

add new page section on wordpress

Since this is your homepage, the title can just be ‘Home.’ And really important, click that pretty purple button that says ‘Use the Divi Builder.’

add new page

Hit ‘Publish,’ and then let’s switch to the live version of your page, where we can use the Visual Builder. Find the ‘View Page’ button at the very top of your browser, and let’s go!

where to view a page in wordpress

Once you’re on the live page, select ‘Enable Visual Builder’ from the top, and you’ll have a new screen pick up with three beautiful options. Pick ‘Choose A Premade Layout.’ 

divi visual builder options screenshot

Scroll down til you find the Florist Layout Pack (or do a search for your preferred layout on the left hand side). 

florist-layouts-available-in-divi

You’ll see there are 7 different page layouts in this pack. Each layout represents a design for one page (About, Contact, etc). Since we’re working on the home page, select ‘Home.’

You can view a live demo if you’re like to see more. When you’re ready to start designing, select ‘Use This Layout.’ 

home-page-layout

Give it a second, a voila. Your new layout will be uploaded and ready to edit. Take a peek at what your new home is going to look like:

new-homepage-screenshot

Now, you can go into each section to edit text as necessary. You can also change the photos if you like (although haven’t the Elegant Themes team picked out such nice ones to match your industry? Find more great free photos here).

And you can change colours and fonts, and move around sections, or delete sections, or add more in.

But you shouldn’t need to mess with the layout too much, cause it’s been designed by experts!

And note that you can work on the Visual Builder like I’ve shown you here, or you can work through your WordPress editor. 

wordpress editor using divi screenshot

If you go with this option, then you click the three little lines on the left of each grey box, which opens it up so you can edit what’s inside. You can click the little square button next to it to copy, and you grab each box with your mouse to move it around. And follow the prompts to add new modules, rows or sections.

divi builder options

I personally find it easier to work on the editor, and keep a separate tab open to I can preview my updates regularly. That’s probably because I’m old school and I started using Divi before they introduced the Visual Builder, so I just find the old way a little more straightforward. Do what works best for you.

Also, an obvious word-to-the-wise. I’m not a rabid affiliate making promises I can’t keep. So yes, there will be a bit of learning curve as you get the hang of things, whether you use the Visual Builder or your WordPress editor. But, 

Be sure to click ‘Save Draft’ or ‘Publish’ before leaving the page (whether you’re on the Visual Builder or the WordPress page). I like to save drafts regularly as I’m designing, just to be sure I don’t lose anything. 

Like I’ve mentioned, Elegant Themes is adding new layout packs every week, so hopefully they have your industry on the list. And if not, not to worry – these are all attractive and adaptable, so you can probably still find something to suit your needs.

I love them them, because they’re simple to use and designed by WordPress experts with way more design experience than me. These are hard to mess up and so they’re perfect for newbies!

So out of the box at the time of writing this article, you get 88 Layout Packs right away with Divi – which actually means there’s 661, pre-designed layout pages. PLENTY to choose from.

Here they are, in no particular order: Restaurant, Agency, Learning Management (for e-courses), Design Agency, Fashion, Coffee Shop, Farmer’s Market, Yoga Studio, Wedding, Travel Agency, Photo Marketplace, Copywriter, SaaS Company, Web Agency, Interior Design Company, Digital Payments, Pottery Studio, SEO Agency, Business Consultant, Juice Shop, Software Marketing, Babysitter, Design Conference, Food Recipes/Blogger, Marathon, Cosmetics Shop, Tea Shop, Boutique, Auto Repair, Architecture Firm, Real Estate, Law Firm, Author, Handyman, Jeweler, Doctor’s Office, Travel Blog, Job Recruiter, Digital Marketing, Cryptocurrency, Animal Shelter, Elementary School, Locksmith, Life Coach, Wedding Planner, Car Dealer, Pharmacy, Graphic Illustrator, IT Services, Car Rental, Accountant, Insurance Agency, Construction Company, Meetup Website, Therapist, Moving Company, Carpenter, Business Coach, Language School, Electrician, Transportation Services, Food Catering, Gardener, Hosting Company, Plant Nursery, Cleaning Company, Makeup Artist, Bed and Breakfast, Web Freelancer, Political Candidate, Notary Public, Dentist, Nutritionist, Funeral Home, Soccer Club, Personal Trainer, Church, Driving School, Plumber, Fitness Gym, Podcast, Day Care, Laundry Services, Charity, Bank, and Suit Tailer. Whew!

AND they also have a Layout Pack called ‘Simple,’ for, like you’d imagine, simple websites. And like I’ve already mentioned, you don’t need to find your EXACT company on this list, to find a layout that will be nicely branded for your company. So, a Physical Therapist might be able to use therapist layout, or a wedding decorator might be able to use the wedding planner website. You get the idea. 

AND AND, the Elegant Themes team puts out a new Layout Pack every week (every week!), so if your exact business isn’t on this list, it might be soon! 🙂 

Finally, to give you an idea of what these layouts actually look like, take a gander at these options, some of my faves:

Travel Blog

Restaurant

Gym

Plumber

Church

Fashion

Driving School

Personal Trainer

Nutritionist

Dentist

Notary Public

Web Freelancer

Copywriter

I bet any web designers out there are getting some ideas too, no? That your job might be able to get a lot easier? This guide, though, was written for newbie designers trying to build their first website, so for our final section, let’s look at how you can get support (cause I promise, some questions are going to pop up while you’re designing!)

Step 7: Where To Get Extra Support

While Elegant Themes makes things nice and easy, and while WordPress is a great, user-friendly choice, your big sister would never lie to you. There are going to be moments when you get stuck while you try to create your new website.

Thankfully, there are also going to be lots of resources available to you when you do get stuck. 

First, Google is your friend. Type in your issue or question and you’ll doubtless find people talking about it. That’s the benefit of using software that is omnipresent like Elegant Themes and WordPress – you’re likely not the first person to ask your question, and you can often find the answer easily online.

But remember – you paid for Elegant Themes, so make sure you take advantage of the paid support they offer.

So, log in to your account, and navigate to the Help section. 

elegant themes help section screenshot

Here’s where you’ll find all those tutorials I mentioned earlier.

Usually, if I’m trying to figure out something like ‘why is my Facebook icon not showing up,’ I’ll search through the community forum first. I can often find a solution to my issue here. 

You can also leave a question here, but note that it’s the community, and not the Elegant Themes team, who will answer you here. Doesn’t mean you can’t get some good help.

Here’s a little peek at some of the questions I’ve asked over the years: 

elegant themes support tickets screenshot

(Notice that they’ve all been solved? Also, note that these were all posted before the new live chat feature was launched – a lot of these issues I would now take to live chat).

But today, instead of having to leave a question for the Elegant Themes team and wait for answer, you’ve got something much better: live chat. 

Here’s where you can talk directly to members of Elegant Themes exceptionally knowledgeable and helpful support team.

Now, it might not be super fast – they say they try to answer questions within a few minutes on weekdays, but will followup via email if they take longer.

If you’ve been designing websites for awhile, you’d know that this amount of access to the people who actually built your theme is pretty unprecedented, and pretty awesome.

So submit your question, and design other sections of your site while you wait for a response. Easy-peasy!

There’s a slight chance that you may have an issue with your hosting. Maybe you didn’t link up your SSL properly or something. If you can’t get the answers you need through Google or Elegant Themes, then by all means try asking your host. Like I mentioned, GreenGeeks also has a live chat feature, and I find they’re pretty quick and helpful on there.

And if you’ve got any questions about this guide or how I put it all together or you want someone to look at your website and offer advice, then don’t forget your big sister! I’d love to help – leave your questions in the comments, or email me at yourbigsisteronline@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to respond promptly.

Finally, I’ve put together a few other guides that will help you as you build your site:

How To Get Free Photos That Are Actually Gorgeous

How to Copy A Website Design You Love

How to Brand Your Website With No Design Experience

How To Build A Logo With No Design Experience

How To Build a Simple Favicon

How To Pick A Font For Your Website

How To Pick A Colour Scheme For Your Website/Brand

Free WordPress Plugins To Install Right Away

What To Call Your Blog And What To Write About

I hope you’ve discovered that it’s easier than you think to create a website for your business. Please let me know if you follow this guide, and best of luck!