How to Build a Portfolio Website in 5 Steps : For the HTML UnSavvy

Recently I’ve been asked by a few friends how I created my website with my own domain name and all. So for all my non-design/media/tech friends, I’m forgoing my weekly 3 in 5 entry to explain how to make a nice website without being a tech genius. Keep in mind there are a million and one ways to go about doing this…this is just one of those million!

Step 1: Buy a Domain Name

I put off starting a website for quite sometime. What kicked me into gear? Buying the domain name. Once you have the money invested you will waste no time! I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where to get the domain from (there are literally thousands of hosting sites out there) and finally went with a place recommended to me by my friend talented friend Brendan. It’s called 1&1. It’s cheap and I’ve only had amazing customer service experiences with them.

Step 2: Use WordPress

WordPress makes it simple for people who don’t want to design and create a site from scratch. There are tons of free themes available and ready to download. Mashable wrote a great article highlighting some slick new themes.

Step 3: Call 1&1 customer service for help installing WordPress

I spent a really long time trying to figure out how to install WordPress until I thought screw it, let me just get help. I called 1&1 and they walked me through the whole process and I had it done in probably less than 20 minutes. Walking through it with someone helped me get a better idea of how the whole thing works (I had my own website back in high school but was definitely due for a refresher!). Don’t be embarrassed about being confused, just let the person you are talking to know you are new…remember, you are paying for that customer service, so take advantage of it!


Step 4: Play Around

Building a website takes a lot of time no matter how good you are. I remember sitting in my dorm room for an entire Saturday just to get mine set up and ready to be launched. I went through a lot of themes before I finally got one to work and was happy with the way it looked. Be prepared to do a lot of google-ing to find answers to problems and don’t be afraid to call customer service. For example, 1&1 helped me figure out how to make my home page the “about” page instead of the blog (which is super easy to do, go to “settings” and then “reading”).

Step 5: Meet your new best friend, Plugin

Plugins are pre-built, customizable cool things you can easily add to your site. You can use them for adding a twitter feed, “like” button, photo galleries, and more! Some are really bad, some are great. Again, all you need is time to go through, install and uninstall until you find ones that you like. My twitter feed, social media icons, category cloud, “like” button, retweet button, and RSS feed are all plugins.

So there you have it. That’s more or less how I built my site and it worked out really well. This should be enough for you out there to get started. Feel free to post questions in the comments section. And…this seems like a good time to plug that I’m available for freelancing. Email me at to talk about your project needs.

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  1. Posted September 24, 2010 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Hi Emily, you have a refreshing style of writing, nice! I’ve been researching and it seems that many people struggle to design and build stuff even with WP and plugins, or don’t like the template approach, or like Amanda says, you become a tech nerd:) Many creative people have idea’s and like some creative freedom to design, but control the content as well, with no technical hassle at all. Another thing is that I believe that a site is a very important, but just one aspect of how a creative person presents itself to the world. Presenting work to clients, in social networks, on mobile devices are increasingly important these days. We designed with this in mind, to make all this accessible and easy. I guess it’s most important to manifest yourself actively online while keeping the focus on the actual creation of work.

  2. Posted August 10, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    The only problem is…once you cross over into the world of WordPress mucking around, you become a tech nerd! Great, very straightforward advice here, and I look forward to checking out the rest of your site, too.

  3. Jaime
    Posted August 9, 2010 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    You’ve really inspired me this summer to finally put a website together. Thanks for all of your tips. They’re always great.

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] How to Build a Portfolio Site for the HTML Unsavvy […]

  2. […] How to Build a Portfolio Site for the HTML Unsavvy […]

  3. […] if you want to work in social media. There are no excuses for those who don’t know HTML. I use WordPress. Other choices? is a platform for creating flash websites with a drag and drop editor. […]

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jaime Hoerbelt, Emily Miethner. Emily Miethner said: How to Build a Portfolio Website in 5 Steps : For the HTML UnSavvy inspired by @hoygino :) […]

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