How To Create a WordPress Website
A simple, step-by-step guide from an expert web developer
Last updated: November 3, 2017
A website helps you to build an online reputation, gives control over your image and expands your reach. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a student starting a new project; everyone should have a website.
If you want to achieve popularity and broader exposure for your offerings, a website is a must.
There can be some persuasive reasons to start your website like sharing your experiences, building a community, improving customer support, and what not.
There are loads of advantages of starting a website, but you might be thinking about its complexities like how to tackle technologies behind it, how to write the content, and how to promote it.
This guide will help you to learn how to create your first website, step-by-step.
Step One: Choosing the right platform
There was a time when knowing web programming was mandatory to develop a website. Basic knowledge of coding may be beneficial but it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Now you can use a CMS or Content Management System.
CMS is an application that allows you to create, edit and publish content through a user-friendly interface. In a CMS, you don’t need to know any coding or scripting language to update or create a new web page.
WordPress is the market leader with over 55% of market share. Joomla and Drupal are there for websites with complex functional features. Magento, Shopify, and Prestashop dominate the e-commerce CMS space.
I recommend WordPress for most websites because of the following:
- Ease of use: It is easy to use and there is a strong community support.
TechCrunch.com is built using WordPress.
- Free and open source: It is open source which means you can download, install, configure, and modify the software for free.
Bloomberg.com runs on WordPress
- Market share: WordPress has roughly 60% market share with over 20 million active websites.
BBC America is using WordPress.
- Single install: You can build your website and blog using a single install.
Variety.com is built with WordPress.
- Free plugins: Free plugins can be used to enhance the functionality of a WordPress website to a great extent.
SonyMusic.com is a WordPress site.
- SEO friendly: It also comes with inbuilt SEO features like permalink, categories, and tags along with plugins like All in One SEO and Yoast.
Joomla is the second recommended platform if you don’t choose WordPress. It’s a bit challenging compared to WordPress but relatively simple to create, edit and manage blog posts. Many developers choose Joomla because:
- Free and open source: It is free to download. It offers a robust content management system for your website settings.
unric.org is built with Joomla.
- Free plugins: Joomla features a plethora of free plugins to customize your theme as per your requirements.
Linux.com is made using Joomla.
- Market share: Joomla is the second most popular platform after WordPress with more than 2 million active websites.
thehill.com is built with Joomla.
- SEO friendly: Joomla provides a pretty URL feature which is as good as WordPress permalinks.
Joomla has some drawbacks. Consider the following points:
#Plugins security: Its plugins may not be as secure and stable as WordPress. You need to check reviews and security details for each of them.
#Mobile responsiveness: Google prefers mobile responsive websites. Creating a mobile responsive website with Joomla is not as easy as with WordPress.
Drupal is another powerful and robust open source CMS. With Drupal, you can easily access and manage your website from any device. It is popular amongst open source community because:
- Free and open source: Like WordPress and Joomla, Drupal is also free to download, install and configure.
Taboola.com is made using Drupal.
- Market share: It is leading the way just after WordPress and Joomla with over 1 million active websites.
Infusionsoft.com is built on Drupal.
- Cutting-edge technology and strong community: Drupal comes with many tools to organize and structure your content. It has over 80,000 odd modules. Developer community size is more than 800,000, and it is a cutting-edge platform with state of the art security design. Drupal’s dedicated security team is tirelessly working to make the platform more robust and secure.
box.com is made using Drupal.
- SEO friendly: URL structure is highly customizable in Drupal, and it offers a robust framework structuring content. There are in-built SEO modules in Drupal’s core.
I won’t recommend Drupal for a simple start-up website because:
#Technical complexities: Undoubtedly, technical complexities are higher compared to other platforms like WordPress and Joomla.
#Ease of use: Drupal is not as easy for a non-developer as WordPress is.
#Who uses which platform: Drupal is a favourite among developer community as it offers great flexibility to customize a CMS from code, but the same benefit becomes tedious for a non-developer.
Step Two: Choosing a hosting service provider
After you have decided the platform, the next step is to choose the appropriate hosting service provider.
From my experience, I recommend BlueHost as your hosting service provider. A good hosting boils down to 4S – speed, support, security and scalability and BlueHost perfectly matches all these criteria. They have an excellent 24×7 customer service in the form of telephone support, online chat, and a ticketing system.
Moreover, it offers an affordable price for all people – be it an individual or small business owners or high-end enterprise solutions.
Selecting the suitable web hosting server can be tricky. Firstly, you need to understand why you require a web hosting server. A website is nothing but a collection of files, in the form of text and images. These files need a secure physical storage location.
A hosting provider is a business that provides the necessary hardware and software for any website to be viewed publicly on the Internet.
Different hosting service providers are available with costs as low as $3/mo to as high as $1500/mo. You need to know your requirements before selecting the most suitable service provider.
While choosing your web host, there are a couple of factors you need to consider:
- Reliability: Your hosting server needs to perform consistently at any given point of time, and it must be free of any technical issues.
- Uptime guarantee: 100% uptime guarantee is not feasible for any provider, but 99% is a must.
- Scalability and upgrade option: Today you may be a start-up website hence a basic hosting can serve, but when you outgrow its capacity, it should be able to upscale quickly.
- Pricing options: It may not be feasible for you to spend a fortune on your first website. You need an affordable solution.
- Control panel software: You may not be a Linux expert. So you need a user-friendly interface to manage your hosting.
- Software/technology options: As you are going to use a CMS, a LAMP stack server is needed. LAMP is – Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP.
There is also the new trend of cloud web hosting these days. While researching about web hosting providers, you are going to come across the term cloud computing. There are only a limited number of providers that offer cloud hosting. Cloud computing is nothing but a seamless delivery of computing services like servers, storage, networking, software, analytics, etc. over the Internet. Though cloud computing is great, it may not be a useful solution for hosting a simple website.
Other web hosting providers include:
And many others.
Whichever web hosting solution you choose, make sure to browse their websites for their offerings and prices before signing up.
Step Three: Select your hosting package
My recommendation would be to go for a basic web hosting package. Down the line, if you upgrade your website, you can scale up your web hosting package anytime. As of now, a basic hosting package from BlueHost will work fine.
Though Shared hosting is very popular, I would recommend avoiding this hosting solution because:
- Noisy neighbour problem: The performance of your website completely depends on the load of other websites using the same host.
- Unlimited option is not a reality: There is no such thing as unlimited because every server comes with a fixed capacity and vertical auto-scaling is not feasible.
- Not scalable: You cannot afford to grow exponentially with shared hosting.
- Malware attacks: Shared hosting servers are always targets of hackers for use in mass phishing attacks.
I recommend dedicated servers because:
Enhanced performance and security: Hosting provider allocates dedicated server resources for your website which enhances performance and adds an extra layer of security. They also reduce the chance of malicious attacks.
Reliability, flexibility, and performance always give an edge to dedicated hosting than shared hosting.
BlueHost dedicated hosting is built on OpenStack, a free and open source cloud operating system.
I recommend you to choose the Standard Package for 12 Month term. It will cost you around $125/mo.
Step Four: Choosing a domain name
I recommend BlueHost as they offer a free domain registration if you buy hosting package from them.
A domain name is your website address, like YourWebsiteName.com. Choosing the right domain name is as important as choosing your business name. It is your identity on the world wide web. So, it should match with your business name.
- Make it brandable: Your domain name defines your brand. It is the foundation of your online reputation and trustworthiness. A creative and unique domain name is always preferable over generic names.
- Easy to type & remember: Your domain name is the first thing your audience will see. Hence make sure it is easy to spell and read. People should be able to pronounce the name easily. Otherwise, there’s going to be typos and memorability issues.
- Short, crisp & unique: Keeping your domain name unique will help you to stand out of the competition. Length matters. Hence short and crisp domain name will help to avoid any spelling mistakes. Fewer the number of characters, easier it is to type and share. It’s recommended to aim for 6-14 characters – and remember: the shorter, the better.
- Avoid hyphen, underscore and numbers: Presence of special characters like a hyphen, underscore or numbers in your domain name make things complicated. What if “Facebook” had a hyphen or underscore, “Face-book” or “Face_book”? It may not have become as popular as it is today. The bottom line is to give your domain name a smooth and punchy feeling which is not possible if you use special characters or numbers in between.
- Avoid trademark or copyright infringement: Be very careful while selecting your domain name to avoid any trademark or copyright issues. Stay away from those names already having trademarks.
- Use the right domain name extension: .com is the preferred domain extension as it’s easier to remember. According to a recent survey, 75% of domains have the .com extension followed by .net and .org. If you are launching a government website, a university website or a non-profitable organization website, go for .org. Otherwise, your first choice should be .com. If .com is not available, then you can go for .net.
To conclude, your domain name is similar to registering a business name in the brick-and-mortar world. Be very sure before buying the domain name as it’s going to stay with you for years to come.
Step Five: Install WordPress
If you choose WordPress as your website platform, it’s time to learn the installation procedure. It takes about 10 minutes to complete WordPress installation. The overall process requires only a couple of straightforward self-explanatory steps.
I always advise manual installation because it’s more secure than one-click install and offers better configuration control.
Step 1: Download the WordPress installation package.
First, you need to download WordPress from the official download page. Always download the latest stable version. Once you download all the files, unzip the downloaded file to a folder on your hard drive.
Step 2: Upload the WordPress Files to Your Server.
Once you download the files and folders, you need to upload the same to your web server. The easiest way to upload the installation files is via FTP (File Transfer Protocol).
Step 3: Create a MySQL Database for Your WordPress Website.
Next, create a MySQL database and assign a MySQL user to it with full permissions.
Step 4: Go through the installation process.
It’s time to run the WordPress installation script by accessing the URL in a web browser. This URL will be the domain name you have registered, http://YourWebsiteName.com. First, choose your preferred language from a predefined list. Click Continue once you have selected.
Next, a pop-up window will appear asking to prepare for necessary database information required for installation. As you have already created the database and the information is ready, press the “Let’s Go!” button to proceed to the next step.
In the next step, enter all the details for your recently created MySQL database and press the “Submit” button.
If all the information provided is accurate, a confirmation screen will appear. Click on the Run the Install button to proceed.
In the next pop-up window, you need to provide all the information about your admin username and password for your website. Once all the information is filled, press the “Install WordPress” button to proceed to the next step.
Voila! You have completed the WordPress installation process and now you are ready to go to the next step of starting a website. Go to the administration panel URL “http://YouWebsiteName.com/wp-admin” to log in to the website backend. The backend is where you can create, edit and manage your content.
Step Six: Install your theme
Your website now needs a theme to go LIVE. Installing and activating a WordPress theme is easy.
Access Themes from your WordPress administration interface.
The admin login is where you can access the backend of your website. Here is the login URL in case you have forgotten:
Once you’re logged in, go to Appearance -> Themes.
Here you’ll find the already installed default themes. Either you can choose from one of the default themes or install a free or purchased new theme.
To add a new theme, click on Add New Button.
Here you’ll find the already installed default themes. Either you can choose from one of the default themes or install a free or purchased new theme.
To add a new theme, click on Add New Button.
On clicking the Add New button, you’ll find two options to add a new theme. The right WordPress theme can make your blog stand out.
There are various methods to select the most suitable theme for your website:
– Browse through the WordPress theme directory.
– Visit a commercial theme provider or marketplace (e.g., Genesis, ThemeForest, Envato).
Initially, I would recommend using a free theme. There are professional looking themes available, and you can choose any of them. If you want something more professional or elegant than what you find here, you can head over to ThemeForest.net where there’s a HUGE library of themes to pick from at varying costs.
Once the theme is selected, click on the Install button.
Once you Install the theme, click on Activate button and your theme is Activated.
Whoa! You have activated the new design on your website.
In case you have decided to purchase a commercial theme and wanted to install that, Themeforest and Template Monster are leading marketplaces to buy your WordPress themes. The cost varies between $35 and $175.
After purchasing the theme, you need to download and unzip it. Next, go to the Theme option again from WordPress admin dashboard and upload.
Once you have uploaded the theme, click Activate button to activate the theme.
Step Seven: Add plugins to your website
Plugins allow you to add new website functionalities. After the WordPress theme activation, the first thing you need to know is how to install a WordPress plugin. Thousands of free and paid plugins are available to enhance your website features. These include:
– Photo gallery to display your desired pictures
– Social media sharing buttons
– Google Analytics to track traffic
And the list goes on.
First, log in to your admin interface. Then from the Dashboard, click on Plugins and then Add New button.
Go to Plugins -> Add New
Now search the plugin you want to install. Type with the relevant keyword in the plugin search box. For an SEO plugin, use the keyword SEO.
Then click Install Now to complete the process. Once the plugin you have completed the installation, you need to activate the same.
I recommend the following plugins:
- Ultimate GA: Plugin to add Google Analytics tracking code to each page/post on your WordPress website.
- All-in-One SEO Pack: All in One SEO Pack optimizes your WordPress site for SEO.
- Contact Form 7: It’s a secure contact form creation plugin for WordPress.
- ShareThis: The one-click share of your posts and pages on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
- Akismet: Akismet filters comments and contact form submissions against a global database of spam to prevent your website from publishing malicious content.
- Digg Digg: Adds a floating bar with social share buttons.
- Easy Social icons: Adds your social profiles on the website.
- Google XML Sitemaps: This plugin improves SEO significantly by creating special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your site.
- WhatsApp Chat WP: Adds WhatsApp click-to-chat box on your website.
- WP Super Cache: Enhances the performance of your website by caching dynamic pages as static HTML files.
Once you have installed your theme, compile a list of plugins first and then install. Don’t overdo otherwise it will slow down your website loading process.
Step Eight: Create content
Now it’s time to add content to your website. For any CMS be it WordPress, Drupal or Joomla, adding content is more or less similar. I’ll be guiding you how to add content to WordPress.
You can add content in two different formats, either as a page or as a post.
You can add static content like About Us and Services in WordPress page format and the dynamic content in the post format.
To add a new content, first log in to your admin dashboard.
If you are adding a new Post:
Go to Post -> Add New
Then add Title of your blog post followed by respective content (both textual and images).
Select an appropriate category for your post from Categories list on the right side.
The category is used to sort/filter content into different logical groups.
If you have not specified any category for your post, it automatically gets filed under default category. In a new WordPress website, default category is ‘Uncategorized’. As the website administrator, you can create or edit categories.
You can create a new category while writing a page in the ‘Categories’ meta box.
Don’t forget to publish your post once you have uploaded your content and selected respective categories.
If you are adding a new page:
Follow the same procedure as creating a new blog post. Only select Add New page from Pages in Admin Dashboard:
There is no category selection in pages. So go ahead and publish your page once you have uploaded your content.
Step Nine: Promote your website
Once you finalize your website theme and content, it’s time to focus on your website promotion.
Following are some simple and basic guidelines to promote your content across the web:
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the technique to make your website visible in search engines. You need to figure out a set of keywords relevant to your domain and then optimize the same. You must implement the targeted keywords in Meta Title, Description and Keywords. When you add images to your website, make sure to include your keywords in ALT/TITLE attribute.
Google recommends to adhere to their rules and follow white-hat SEO technique for higher search engine rankings.
- Social media platforms: This is one of the easiest ways to promote your offerings to your audience. These platforms help you to create connections with your potential customers. Though Facebook and Twitter dominate the show, other platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. are also not far behind.
- There are many social media tools where you can schedule future posts. The popular amongst them is Hootsuite followed by Buffer, Sprout Social, and many other.
- Focus on quality content: Content is the king. Quality content now holds the trump card for successful marketing campaigns. Make sure your content is unique and plagiarism free. You can easily get more visitors to your website and increase sales by using the right content marketing strategy.
- Both search engines and clients are attracted to quality content. There is no doubt that creating quality content involves a bit of investment, but it’s going to add value.
- Submit to content communities: Write articles related to your industry, share trending news from your website and re-post them in different content sharing networks like Slideshare, Hubpages, Blog Engage, etc.
- Infographics are also an option for content submission. Keep your message unique and innovative. Don’t overload the visual with too much information and cluttered design. Always remember that quality is more important than quantity.
- Video promotion: Video marketing is the in-thing for promoting and engaging your content. Make short videos with your textual content and upload in different video platform websites like YouTube, MetaCafe, and Vimeo. Don’t forget to publish your videos with relevant Title, Description, and Keywords.
Compile a list of 25-30 relevant blogs/article websites. Start commenting on those blog posts and articles. If your comments are approved and published in 3rd party blog/article websites, they generate organic backlinks for your website. These backlinks help to enhance website listings on Google and other prominent search engines like Bing and Yahoo. Moreover, blog commenting will maximise your website reach.
These tips should help you to garner traffic to your website. If you know the online monetization techniques, you can easily monetize your website. Focus more on quality rather than quantity. Consistent activity will ensure strong brand presence and reputation on the web.
Step Ten: Implement Google Analytics tracking
Once your website is up and running, your first step would be to implement Google Analytics to track traffic from different mediums. The recommended and most popular WordPress plugin is Ultimate-GA. Investigate with the help of Google Analytics data when you see a sudden dip or a surge in your website traffic.
Congratulations! Your website is now LIVE. It is time to notify your customers and vendors through a Welcome mail.
Don’t forget to promote the launch in your social media channels. Publish as much content as possible and build the audience on your social networks. Traffic will surely follow.
This guide explained how to create a website. I hope you found it useful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!