Creating your own website can seem like a daunting task, but, depending on the type of website you want to build, it's probably easier than you think. Here, we show you how to make a website using a Mac.
This article will help you get started with creating a basic website with its own custom domain registration (like www.macworld.co.uk) that you can use to add articles and other information to. For anything more complicated, we'd recommend Udemy's online Web Development courses.
For something even simpler such as a blog, we'd recommend visiting our sister title Tech Advisor's article on how to start a blog.
What you need to build a website
If you want to build a website here are the things you need to think about first:
- Getting hosting for your website.
- Buying a custom domain for your website.
- Designing and building your website.
Of course, this is just to get started, and there’s much more to building a site than we can cover here, but you'll find that this sets you on the right track and should leave you with a basic website that you can develop.
How to host your own website
Websites need to be hosted on a server in order to be able to be shown to people across the globe.
The easiest way to host your website is to rent space on a server. It'll cost you a few pounds a month, but many offer additional features such as webmail and backup solutions.
There is no shortage of hosting services out there, and there is much debate about which one is best. Here are some popular names to help you get started:
- 123-reg: One of the biggest global domain and hosting providers.
- GoDaddy: A global brand, that hosts a wide variety of UK websites.
- SiteGround: A well-known hosting company that has fast global customer supoprt.
- TSOHost: Popular with beginners and has good WordPress integration.
- FatCow: Reliable with good support. A popular choice for small businesses.
- 1&1 Ionis: Great value service based in the UK. Offers hosting for a very low price.
Which one you go for is up to you. One of the Macworld team is currently using SiteGround to host her website and has found that it does the job brilliantly, but we've not personally tested the others enough to be able to offer a final verdict on which is best.
How to get a domain name for your website
When you've chosen a hosting service and signed up to it, you'll have purchased a little portion of the web that has its own IP (Internet Protocol) address. An IP address is a series of four sets of numbers separated by full stops (such as 18.104.22.168). Typing this IP address into a web browser takes it to the server over the internet and returns the website associated with it.
Obviously nobody goes around remembering these IP addresses, so you need to get a more user-friendly name like “johnswebsite.co.uk”, or whatever you want to call it. This user-friendly name is called a domain (although that strictly refers to the bit at the end, the ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.net’ bit)
You do this by checking for your preferred name and domain on a domain registration site. If it's available then you can rent it for a year, and link it to your IP address. Now when somebody goes online and enters the domain it’ll take them to your IP address which is where your website will live.
There are lots of domain registration services in the UK, and 123-Reg.co.uk seems to be a popular choice. But if you can get a domain registration through your hosting company, it will be easier for them to link the domain straight to your hosting service, and easier to make changes to down the line.
How to design a website on a Mac
Once you have the hosting and domain name registration set up, it is time to put together your website. There are many ways to go about this, at the most basic websites are put together using HTML documents, CSS documents (for the design and layout) and image files. HTML and CSS is by no means difficult to learn, and learning basic HTML is a good idea if you plan to get into web design.
We'd recommend checking out Udemy's HTML and CSS courses if you decide to go down that route. However, most people skip coding a website by hand and use either a program to design the site or an online CMS (content management system) such as WordPress.
We think putting together a WordPress site is the best way to create a website that you can add articles to on a regular basis. WordPress is downloaded from the WordPress.org website. This is different to the WordPress.com website. WordPress.com is used to create personal homepages that end in WordPress.com (such as mysite.wordpress.com), while WordPress.org is used to download the full WordPress system and install it on your site.
You can then choose from Wordpress's own themes for the design of your site, or search for Wordpress themes in Google to find thousands available for you to buy. The process of designing pages and content for your site will be different depending on the theme you choose, but most have in-depth guides and support available to help you find your way around.
If you decide against WordPress, there are various alternatives. Here are some of the most popular web design software options for Mac:
For more suggestions, take a look at our roundup of the best web design software for Mac.