WordPress is one of the simplest and simultaneously functional Content Management Systems. Many inexperienced web designers give preference to this platform. Having reviewed our tutorial on website creation, you will understand that this is quite a reasonable solution.
Just like any other CMS, WordPress requires a certain set of skills from a user. To install and set up the system, a web master should at least deal with hosting, create a database and learn how to use FTP. This is not the case, when you register with the system and understand how it works at once. That’s why, the major assistant of a newbie is the guide that explains how not to get lost in WordPress settings.
1. Hosting Choice and Domain Registration
Prior to creating a website with WordPress, you should select hosting it will be stored on. Free options won’t work here at all – they either offer a limited amount of space or don’t provide decent functionality. To launch a blog, the features of a minimal plan of SiteGround or Bluehost hosting will be enough. This cost usually starts with $3.95 per month. If you decide to make annual payment, you will cut down the expenses.
Some platforms offer special plans for WordPress websites. They usually come with a pre-installed CMS, while the server working parameters are optimized for the platform’s specifications. However, don’t expect any wonders from these plans: there are no unique tools to come up to WordPress requirements only.
It is website optimization that can make serious impact, but you can handle it on your own as well. If a special plan comes with the same cost as standard virtual hosting, then go ahead to get it. If the price is too expensive, it makes sense to give preference to the general offer. This won’t spoil the result anyway.
Right after you sign up for the hosting, you will receive an email with the account data to get access to the administration panel. Login in the console to proceed to website creation.
The next step is domain registration. You need to make up a domain name for your website, make sure it is available and make annual payment for its use. Here are a few recommendations on how to succeed with your choice:
- It is desirable to specify your website name or its implication in the domain.
- The shorter the name is, the easier it will be for a user to memorize and recollect it.
- Domain name shouldn’t have any other meaning or unpleasant sounding.
- The choice of the domain zone depends upon the target audience you create a website for. The most popular domain zones are local ones, but sometimes it is useful to use niche domains like *.shop for a web store, for example.
The majority of hosting providers additionally offer free domain registration option. If there is such an opportunity, go ahead to use it – this is very convenient as a domain name will be automatically attached to your hosting.
Tip: You can register a domain name on other platforms, but you’ll have to manually connect it to hosting, specifying the addresses of DNS servers in the settings. Registrars usually send an instruction on how to do that in the email you get after you buy the domain. To register it, you’ll require your passport data – it is impossible to get a domain name without this information.
2. WordPress Installation
The prevailing amount of hosting providers offer automatic installation of popular CMS. If you have purchased a special plan for WordPress, then the system will be instantly ready for work. More often, however, you have to make a number of minimal steps – find a section with engines in the administration panel and install the required CMS.
WordPress installation is completed according to the same scheme in all the hosting providers. There is usually an “Application Installation” section in the console menu. Right after you click it, you get access to the list of platforms you can automatically set up on the selected hosting – WordPress almost always occupies the first position due to its popularity.
To install the system, you have to select a website (by the domain you have already connected to the hosting) and press “Install WordPress”. The system will be installed by default in the root website directory – sitename.com. If you need to store it in any other section – for example, the one with the sitename/blog.com address, press “Specify Catalogue” and add the required path.
The database of the website will be created along with the system installation. All the required authorization data will be send to the email you’ve specified when signing up for the hosting. You don’t have to do anything else – just use the domain name to make initial WordPress settings.
If there is no automatic installation on your hosting or you wish to install WordPress yourself, this won’t be a problem as well. What you will need is:
- WordPress distribution kit you’ll need to download from the official CMS website.
- FTP file upload manager to add files to the hosting. For example, you can use FileZilla FTP Client.
Steps for Manual WordPress Installation:
- Download the archive with distribution set and unpack it on your computer. Then get back to the hosting administration panel, access the section with the databases and create the new one.
- Assign login and password for it and make sure to store these data as you will need them, when installing WordPress. Having created a database, get back to the files of the distribution set you have unpacked on your desktop.
- Find wp-config-sample.php and rename it into wp-config.php.
- Open the file with any text editor.
- Find “MySQL Parameters” section and specify the account data of the database you have just created on your hosting. This will be the final step of the preparation stage. Now, you can proceed to adding the files to the server.
- Launch the FileZIlla FTP Client file manager.
- To connect to the website, you have to fill out the “Host”, “Login” and “Password” fields in the upper part of the program. A host is a domain name you have attached to the hosting. Login and password are the data emailed to you by the hosting provider to get access to the dashboard.
- Specify these data and activate the “Quick Connection” button.
- You will see hosting files and folders in the right part of the manager. You need public.html catalogue. You can find it in the folder, the name of which is similar to that of the domain name of the website.
- What you have to do is to transfer WordPress files into public.html – you can choose them in the left window of the manager or just drag from your computer. The entire process of copying the files will take around 5-10 minutes.
To complete the installation process, access your website from any browser. You will see the 5 – minute set up master window. Specify the name of the website, login and password in it to get access to WordPress administration panel.
Mind that they should obligatory differ from hosting account login data. Make up new credentials and save them in the same file, where the login and password of the database are already stored. You have to do this not to lose the data.
Enter the email, to which the system will send the emails for the administrator and close it from indexation – your website is not ready to be browsed by the search engines. Enable indexation after you set everything up and publish your first post.
If you haven’t added database login and password to WordPress configurations file, then you’ll see another window providing this option before the 5-minute settings. It doesn’t matter a lot what way of database uploading you select. Anyway, it will be connected to the website as it won’t function without it at all.
The order of database creation and manual WordPress installation may slightly differ depending upon the hosting. Generally, hosting provider offers detailed instructions, but, in most cases, it is not needed at all as automated CMS installation is supported in one click. Manual installation is outdated, but it is useful to be able to complete the task to understand the way the system works.
3. Initial Set Up
Basically, you can publish your first post with WordPress right after you install the system, but it will hardly be useful. To make your website work properly, it is a must to complete at least a minimal set up of its parameters. You can do that in the “Settings” section of the administration panel, which encompasses several subcategories. Let’s review each of them for extra convenience not to overlook important nuances.
Specify your website name and description. Provide its address twice, add email you will use for administration purposes. This is where you will get notifications regarding the availability of website updates and events.
Select the time zone, time and date as well as language. Prohibit registration for any users – there is no necessity in this at all.
This is where you can leave standard formatting settings. If you wish to publish posts via email, add your email data, letters from which will be automatically sent to the website feed. However, it is better not to use this option and publish posts via the administration panel, at least for the first time.
Add one or several addresses of the update service – they will notify the search engines about new posts published at the website. For example, you can add rpc.pingomatic.com service. It is specified by default, so, leave it in the line.
Specify what exactly users will see on the homepage of the website: either the latest blog posts or a static page. Set up the amount of posts on a blog page, the number of elements displayed in the RSS feed as well as their design: full text or just the ad.
If you wish the search engines not to index the website for a certain period of time, close it from indexation.
You can use standard settings. If there is such a necessity, add keywords by finding which, the system will send comments for moderation or mark them as spam. Parameters specified in the “Discussion” section will work only in case the website uses standard WordPress comments. If you connect extra applications for commenting, you’ll have to set them up separately.
Leave the parameters by default. In old WordPress versions, photo parameters that were published in articles, were set up in this section. However, this is already outdated.
Choose the way the addresses of your web pages and posts will look. For example, you can set up the «Post Title» meaning. If you wish the material link to specify the category it will be posted in, then mark the «Default» point and enter the /%category%/%postname%/ construction.
4. Template Choice
The website sets a standard template by default, but it will hardly work well for you. You can find another template in different ways:
- Browse the official WordPress catalogue. You can get access to it directly from the administrative panel of the new website. There is a “Themes” section in the “Appearance” category.
- Explore various websites with templates designed by third-party developers. You will easily find them by typing the “download WordPress template” phrase in the search engine. There are free and paid versions available there. The major danger of this option is the potential security threats you can encounter by downloading themes from unknown web masters.
- Order a template from professional web designers.
You can install the selected template in two ways, the choice between which depends upon the source you’ve found it in. If you have found the template in the official WordPress catalogue from the administrative panel, you can just select it and activate the “Install” button.
You’ll be offered to preview the theme right before the installation. This is useful to make sure you’ve made the right choice. After the installation, the theme will appear in the general template list. To get it, just press the “Activate” button.
If you have downloaded templates from external websites or you’ve got them from a developer as an archive, the installation process will somewhat differ:
- There is an “Add New” button in the administrative panel with templates.
- Activate it and then click the “Download Template” button and select the file. Right after you add the archive, press the “Install” button.
Don’t forget to activate the template to make it display at the website.
The amount of settings may differ with regard to the template, but there is a certain set of options in each theme – you can at least change the color scheme and form the main website menu.
To start customizing the template you’ve installed, select the “Appearance” category and press the “Customize” button.
What you can do is:
- Upload the logo, add title and short description, website icon to make it display in browser windows, bookmarks and search engines.
- Select the color scheme of the template.
- Create and set up the menu, adding links to website pages to it.
- Add widgets.
These are the major settings available in each template. Premium themes may have extra parameters like those responsible for slider display, for example, or activation/deactivation of the visual editor.
5. Plugin Installation and Analytics Set Up
One of the major temptations of using WordPress is the uncontrolled plugin addition to extend website functionality. Don’t worry, if you suddenly find yourself browsing the catalogue of extensions and reading the description of one of impressive features. Almost all web masters, who start using WordPress, face this situation.
That might be ok, but there is one thing you should consider. The more plugins you install, the higher the server loading will be and the lower website load speed will become. What’s more, some extensions are not useful at all and are offered just for fun. At the same time, it is impossible to go without plugins at all – there are several extensions, without which your website won’t function properly. The list of must-have add-ons includes:
- All in One SEO Pack — to be added to the block with SEO settings: title, description, keywords.
- Akismet — to protect from spam in the comments.
- Google XML Sitemaps — to create sitemaps.
- Classic Editor — this is a classic WordPress editor, which simplifies the process of working with posts.
Each of the above mentioned plugins has its alternatives – we have enlisted the most well-known extensions. You can install another add-on – just make sure you’ve added all the required functionality.
To find and install the plugins yous should:
- Reach the corresponding section in the administrative panel.
- By using the search option, find the required add-ons.
- Right after you press the “Install” button, the plugin will be added to the list of installed extensions.
- To activate it, you have to press the “Activate” button.
Apart from that, plugins can be installed in the same way as themes – by downloading the archive with files.
The next step is to add analytics counters. They will help you track website traffic, watch the reaction of users to the content to understand the direction, in which you should further develop the project.
Google Analytics Set Up
To add Google Analytics counter, you should initially register with the system. If you have Google account, use it for authorization. Add website title and address, niche it belongs to and time zone. If your registration is a success, you’ll get a code you’ll have to add to web pages to start collecting the statistics.
You can add a counter in different ways. The simplest one is to install Google analytics plugin and insert the generated code into it. This is a great variant for newbies, who don’t wish to deal with website files that might seem frightening because of their complexity.
If you don’t wish to install another plugin, then add a code to the header or footer, using the integrated WordPress template editor. To do this, you should complete the following steps:
- Open the “Design” section in the administrative panel.
- Select the “Editor”.
- Find the header.php file, if you wish to install a counter into the upper part of each website page or footer.php, if you intend to add it to the footer.
Mind: before making the changes, create the backup file copy. Connect to the website through FTP – we have explained how to do that, when describing the procedure of manual WordPress installation. Download the file you intend to edit. If the mistake appears after making the edits, you can quickly restore the initial file configuration.
- Insert the code into header.php before the </head> tag.
- Insert the code into footer.php before the </body> tag.
Having added a counter to the website, make sure it works without any errors. You can watch the statistics in the personal Google Analytics account.
Mind: you have to insert the counters each time you update or change the template as its files will be replaced.
7. Website Code Editing
Adding a counter to the website is the simplest task you can do via code editing. It comes with all the template files you can change with regard to your preferences. By editing different template parts, you can add and delete the interface elements, change color schemes and positions of widgets. To do that, however, you need programming skills, at least PHP and CSS knowledge.
Experienced web developers recommend changing the code in the editor on your computer, instead of using integrated system tools. Prior to doing that, you have to make a backup file copy. This will let you restore the initial file version, when finding a mistake. As to the integrated editor, it is more convenient to use it to make minor changes like adding counters or third-party commenting widgets, for example. To apply the edits, you should press the “Update File” button.
After the preliminary website set up, you may proceed to the most interesting process – filling the website with content.
Is It Possible to Go Without Code Editor?
Actually, it is quite possible to go without using an integrated code editor, when working in WordPress. The system allows creating websites by customizing the available themes and plugins. Mind that, in this case, you won’t be able to get the most out of your web development process because of the limited website customization options.
It’s no secret that one of the undeniable WordPress highlights is an opportunity of external plugin and template integration, which allows creating unique and one-of-a-kind projects. Otherwise, it is impossible to express your creative freedom to the advantage and get stunning result in the long run. Thus, if you don’t use WordPress code editor, then what’s the sense of using this CMS at all? Instead, it is highly recommended to switch from wordpress to wix or another website builder that will allow reaching outstanding result without the need of code editing at all.
8. Creation of Static Pages
A static page differs from other pages by the content – it contains certain information instead of a post feed. “About Us” or “Services” sections are the examples of static pages. To change the content they contain, you should edit the page.
Apart from HTML and text editors, recent WordPress versions also come with a visual Gutenberg editor. By using it, you can insert widgets and multimedia files, add content blocks and change their positions. Correspondingly, a web master now has more options to create various static pages.
WordPress comes with a default homepage, which contains the latest blog posts. To add other sections to the website, open the “Pages” section in the administrative panel and activate the “Add New” button.
Specify web page title – it will be displayed both in the section and the website menu. Write the text or use Gutenberg to add content blocks. By using the visual editor, adjust all the required elements on a page. Having made the edits, press the “Publish” button.
Make sure the blocks added to the page are displayed correctly on all the devices. If there are any problems or you just wish to use other elements, select the page in the general list and edit its content.
9. Post Publication
Posts are added according to the same plan as web pages. The difference is that the posts are published on one page, which is the blog feed. To make a post, you can also use Gutenberg editor, but it is more convenient to design it in the classic WordPress editor, which is added as a plugin in the recent versions of the system.
- Open the “Posts” section and press the “Add New” button. Reach the post settings to select the template. If you don’t intend to use any unusual format, leave the basic one. Some themes in post templates may come with cards, videos and other formats.
- Select the category the post will be published in. If there are no categories yet, create them right in the editor by clicking the link. You can make website sections from the categories, adding links to them to the main menu. This lets you form several pages with thematic posts at the website, which come up to specific categories.
- Add post title and insert the text into the editor. You can use visual mode or format a post by using HTML tags. Fill out SEO parameters for the post: title, description, keywords. Press the “Publish” button to send the post into the blog feed. Just like web pages, posts can be edited after the publication. To save the edits, you’ll have to publish the post once again.
- If you wish the post to appear in the blog feed on a specified time, use the scheduled publication option. There is a “Change” link near the “Publish” button. Press it to specify the date and time of post publication for general access.
However, don’t forget to check website time specified in general WordPress settings – there should be the same time zone you live in.
10. Transfer Your Existing Site to WordPress
Do you already have a website created on another platform? Then you may consider migrating to WordPress to extend its functionality and give it a more professional look combined with superior feature set. It’s not quite difficult to do that as it may seem from the first sight. You may choose between two popular methods of website transfer – hiring professionals and DIY migration.
There are also special services like CMS2CMS, for example, which are created with this very purpose in mind. They can complete the process of your website transfer in the automated mode, but the possibility that you may encounter problems with the incompatibility of website elements or malware threats is quite high in this case. What’s more, website migration services are mostly paid. So, what’s the sense of using them, if you are nor sure about the result?
Hiring web design experts is a far better idea as you will be able to consult these people afterwards. However, you can also try moving your website to WordPress on your own, even if you are a newbie and this is your first experience. You’ll have to take care about proper hosting choice (WordPress recommends Bluehost for simple and complex projects), domain name and content transfer. The latter includes the transfer of all the website content elements, including images, videos media files etc.
Finally, you’ll need to set up permalinks and check whether your website works well on a new platform. This is required to preserve your traffic and current website positions. Well, that’s all about DIY website transfer. This is a brief overview of the website migration process and there are lots of nuances you may face, when working on the task. However, the result will definitely be worth that plus you’ll get such an amazing and useful experience that may come in handy to you afterwards.
Despite the fact that WordPress is the most popular content management system among newbies, creation of the first website in it may be a complex task. To make the project work well, a user will have to deal with hosting and databases as well as to understand the connection between the server, the engine and the website interface. This may take much time in the long run. Mastering all the features of the CMS will take up to several months, requiring programming skills, at least on the simple CSS editing level.
If you need a website right away, then WordPress is not the quickest way to get it without serious financial investment. Using website builders is a more effective solution as they are more convenient and easy-to-use. No special skills are needed to work with them and you don’t have to care about hosting. What the owner of a website created with a site builder needs to do is to fill it with useful and interesting content.