When you make a WordPress website, you’ll need to get a domain name, choose a web host, customize WordPress, and add your content. Read on to learn about the steps of building and maintaining your WordPress website.
Step 1. Get a Domain Name
Your domain name is the official name of your website and how people will gain access to your site. Register a domain name from a domain name registrar, such as Domain.com, Namecheap, and Bluehost, and have it pointed to your web host. You can often get a domain name directly through your web host.
Step 2. Choose a Web Host
For your website to be accessible by internet visitors, you need to host it on a server. Unless you have your own servers from which you can host, you need to choose a web hosting company. Fortunately, there are many good choices, and almost all of them provide easy-to-use tools for putting your website online.
Note: If you have already chosen to host your site on WordPress.com, you have a host. Those who have not will need to decide between different hosting companies. Here are leading web hosting providers to choose from:
Bluehost offers a variety of professional web hosting services. It offers shared, dedicated, VPS, and WordPress server types with 24/7 customer support via chat and phone.
WP Engine is an excellent hosting option for WordPress users. With their basic WordPress plan, you get automated WordPress updates, customizable themes, and one-click staging and backup.
SiteGround offers secure WordPress hosting with simple tools and free automated site migration. You’ll have access to support 24/7.
Step 3. Install WordPress
Before installing WordPress, you will need to have a local server set up with PHP ― the programming language that WordPress runs in ― and MySQL or MariaDB. If you don’t have this already, we recommend using XAMPP for local development. It’s simple to download and install and runs on Windows, Linux, and Macintosh.
Download WordPress from WordPress.org. Extract the file, and then copy the contents of the extracted file into a folder on your local server. For example, in XAMPP, it will typically be called htdocs. You can create a folder with whatever name you like, such as “htdocs\my_site.” Next, you need to build a MySQL database. Do this either via the command line or phpMyAdmin, which comes with XAMPP. You can get to this by going to http://localhost/phpmyadmin/ ― assuming you have it installed. (NOTE: localhost is not a website; your browser uses it to recognize your local server. It will only work if you have your server correctly installed).
Create the database and note the information, including your database name. Then, navigate to whatever you called your folder.
You will be prompted to follow the installation instructions below:
Follow the instructions on the next page to create a site name and username, and enter your email address.
If you need to install WordPress on your web server, you can follow the same steps on the server. Many hosts have installers, making the process easy. Suppose you prefer to work locally after you have built your initial site. In that case, you can use file transfer protocol (FTP) to move the files into the desired directory, create a database, enter the credentials, and install.
It’s that simple ― your site should be installed now.
Note: you may find it easier to work directly online on your web host, so you do not need to manually update the database. WordPress comes with a set of safety mechanisms to only publicly publish the information you choose. Your choice will vary based on your expertise.
Step 4. Customize WordPress
Once installed, you’ll need to select a WordPress theme, which can quickly update the look of your site. WordPress comes with several free themes, and you can purchase additional themes from the WordPress store, where artists, web designers, and developers have created templates that will work for almost any option you choose. You can access themes from the “Appearance” link on the left-hand side of your menu in the administration console.
Choosing a theme can be time-consuming and overwhelming, especially since so many options are available. Before you choose a theme, keep the following in mind:
- Know what features you need to have, so create a list beforehand
- Avoid bloated and overly busy themes, as using a clean and simple approach can go a long way when constructing a good quality site
- Make sure will appear clean and readable to mobile users; additionally, responsive sites will adapt to the screen size of the user
After your theme is set, select WordPress plugins. Plugins are discrete pieces of code that can seamlessly integrate within your site to provide a wide range of functionality. This can cover everything from basic tools for managing the site to increasing SEO to increasing the security of your WordPress site. Some examples:
- Contact form: A contact page is an important part of your site. You may wish to install software that will enable users to contact you via form, and WPForms is a good example of a form plugin
- SEO plugins: Several good plugins are designed to help you manage your content in a way that will improve your search engine placement with Yoast being a very popular plugin of this type.
- E-commerce: If you plan to do any sort of transactions through your site, you may want to make use of several e-commerce plugins available on the market, and WooCommerce is one of the most popular of these.
- Security plugins – Security is of utmost importance, particularly when using well-known software, as many bad actors will happily take advantage of unpatched sites; fortunately, many excellent WordPress plugins can help ensure your site remains relatively secure.
There are, of course, many other types of plugins. You can also develop them yourself. However, it’s important when choosing plugins to make sure they are popular enough that they are updated regularly when new versions of WordPress are released, which often occurs for security reasons.
Step 5. Add Content
The most important part of your site is the content you provide. No matter how pretty or cool your site looks, if there’s nothing to engage a user, they won’t stay long. Adding content in WordPress is handled by entering data into several prebuilt forms. This is one of the advantages of using this platform. The back end of managing and creating a website is handled for you automatically. The process for maintaining your content is simple.
WordPress sites enable you to create different pages. There are a standard set of pages that most users of sites expect to find so it’s wise to create these. These include:
- Home page: This is the face of your website, so it needs to look good but also needs to be easy to understand
- About: will want to be able to look for a concise summary of your site and who you are, whether it’s for a business or any other purpose
- Contact: You need to provide a page where people will be able to contact you, either via a provided form or through email addresses or phone numbers.
- Products and/or Services pages: If you are selling a product, you will want to provide these upfront, usually from your home page; if you are offering services, provide a listing of these services with pricing (if possible) on your main page
- Blog: One of the best ways of keeping your website up to date is to publish a regular blog post; WordPress was originally designed as blogging software, so this is easy to implement
- Other pages: Depending on the nature of your site, you may have a portfolio of items that you wish to show while if you offer services, a testimonials page may be helpful for those who wish to learn about others’ positive experiences with you
Why Should You Use WordPress?
WordPress is generally an excellent choice for hosting your website. It is one of the most popular methods for creating dynamic content for the web. Instead of learning a lot of code to create a website, you can launch a website without much technical ability. Even if you are good at writing code, it’s still a very quick method of getting content onto the web and making it much easier to update. You can often get a site up and running in a few days or less.
Here’s a summary of reasons to use WordPress:
- It’s free: WordPress is a powerful, well-designed suite of software that costs absolutely nothing to get started with; sometimes, there are prices involved if you want to purchase a customized theme, and some plugins may have a fee but to get started, there’s no cost
- It’s easy to customize: You can always change the look and feel of your site with many different themes and plugins with little or no technical knowledge
- It’s SEO-friendly: WordPress helps you structure your site automatically with good headers to make sure that you can be found, even without using plugins
- It’s secure: As long as you are using the latest updates and plugins, you will be relatively safe from most attackers; however, you must be vigilant and keep your software and plugins up to date.