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How to Create a WordPress Website: The One Guide to Rule Them All

18 September 2015 Dmitriy Dementiy
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In the epoch of data, even shoe workshops struggle with getting customers, if they are not present online. But not every business takes a chance to create a website – web design agencies are expensive, while doing a job by yourself is too hard. However, a solution still exists. After reading this post, you’ll learn how to create a website on WordPress. With help of this step-by-step guide, you’ll develop a top-five online platform that attracts and converts traffic.

If you know how to use these tools, then you’ll definitely manage to develop a WordPress site by yourself If you know how to use these tools, then you’ll definitely manage to develop a WordPress site by yourself
If you know how to use these tools, then you’ll definitely manage to develop a WordPress site by yourself

Why choose WordPress?

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. According to Web Technology Surveys’ data, as of 2015 it powers 23,8% of all existing websites and 60,4% of websites using CMS. Here are the reasons for why WordPress is so popular:

  • It’s free. WordPress CMS is distributed under a GNU GPL. You can use this product for any tasks, including commercial ones.
  • It offers almost unlimited possibilities. With help of WordPress, you can create a personal blog, corporate website, e-commerce platform, informational forum, industry resource, multimedia gallery.

Do you say that WordPress is for personal blogs only? You are wrong. WordPress is used by The New Yorker, Reuters, TechCrunch, Fortune and many other popular mass media, corporations and organizations. Damn, even Rolling Stones, and Snoop Dogg love this CMS.

  • Flexible customization of the appearance and functionality. Owners of WordPress-based websites can use free and paid templates to customize a front-end. With help of plugins, you can solve tech tasks and integrate necessary functions.
  • Easy admin panel. You don’t have to be tech-savvy to work with WordPress. It’s easy to understand the basics of this CMS intuitively.
  • You can create a website and post first content in 5 minutes. Of course, you’ll have to spend much more time to turn a template product into something unique and interesting. But you won’t spend more than 5 minutes to craft a first post.

So, have you decided to create a website on WordPress? Then read out step-by-step guide next? To make reading more comfortable, we have combined everything in the following sections:

Step №1: How to choose a hosting provider and register your domain name

If your project is non-commercial, then choose a free hosting. For example, you can share pictures of cute kittens or run a diary of a young bodybuilder on the WordPress platform. You domain name will look like this – example.wordpress.com. If you develop a commercial project (topical blog, corporate website, or any other source that you want to make money with), then choose a paid hosting provider.

Don’t stuff your head with tech specifics, like space, bandwidth and so on. Believe us, in fist months or even years of your website, technical specifications of an average web hosting provider will be enough. So go straight to the sales department of a reliable provider, describe your needs and choose a suitable plan. To find a great hosting provider, study their ratings and reviews. If you don’t have time for that, you can use one of these:

Any hosting provider will also help you to register a domain name. Compose it, make sure that it’s available and order it.

Make sure that your desired domain is available
Make sure that your desired domain is available

Here are the tips to help you choose an awesome domain name:

  • It must fully or partially match a name of your website. For example, facebook.com and fb.com are great for Facebook. It’s obvious that twitter.com is not an option in this case.
  • Make it as short as possible. Mobile users struggle with typing long domain names. That’s why you want to use fb.com instead of facebook.com.
  • Make sure that it’s easy-to-remember and has sense. As you understand, Facebook uses fb.com instead of book.com for a reason.

It doesn’t matter which top level domain you will choose – it doesn’t impact website’s tech specifics or rankings. However, it may impact audience’s trust. With all things being equal, users are more likely to trust a website with the johndoe.com or johndoe.org domains than to johndoe.wordpress.com or johndoe.blogspot.com. That’s why you should enough attention when choosing a TLD for a commercial project – like .com, .info, .org, .net, .io and so on. Pay attention to the brand new TLDs – for example, .club, .guru, .ninja, .expert and others.

Step №2: How to install WordPress

After you’ve purchased a hosting and registered a domain name, you can install WordPress. Pay attention to the fact that some hosting providers offer plans with pre-installed WordPress. If you have chosen one of them, you can skip this step and go straight to the №3. If your hosting provider doesn’t have such an option, then follow our instructions:

Downloading the latest WordPress release
Downloading the latest WordPress release
  • Unpack the archive
  • Create a database on a server. To do this, find a necessary option in your account on a hosting provider’s website.
  • Give your database a name, compose a login and password.
  • Rename the wp-config-sample.php file to wp-config.php. Open it with a text editor and specify a host, database name, login, and password. You can learn more about editing wp-config.php here.
  • Use FileZilla or any other FTP client to upload WordPress files to the httpdocs folder.
  • Install WordPress. To do this, follow the link your-website/wp-admin/install.php. Fill the necessary information – website name, login, password, email. Specify whether search engine spiders should index it or not.

Now you can go to the admin panel and start configuring your website.

Step №3: Choose and install a WordPress theme

WordPress themes are responsible for an appearance and functions of a website. In other words, you can customize it by using themes. Here are the questions and answers to help you choose a theme that will work best for you:

  • Which theme to choose: regular or responsive? If you don’t plan to develop a separate mobile version of your website, then be sure to choose a responsive theme. Your website will be mobile-friendly and mobilegeddon-safe.
  • Should you choose a free or paid theme? If it’s your first time working with WordPress, you’d better choose a paid theme. Developers of paid themes regularly update them and offer better customer support. Moreover, most paid themes are not overused. When you buy it or order a theme development, you reduce your chances to create another template website.
  • Where can you find WordPress themes? You can find it either in WordPress admin panel (Appearance – Themes – Add new), WordPress Themes Directory (the same thing) or on third-party platforms. Google will help you. Just type ‘wordpress themes’, and you are in. You can also add the magical word ‘free’, if you want to save some money.
Google knows where to find WordPress themes
Google knows where to find WordPress themes

You’ll find a lot of theme categories. There you can filter themes by different options: topic, features, style, colors and so on. For example, you can view responsive themes only.

Browsing through responsive WordPress themes
Browsing through responsive WordPress themes

If you want to check a theme you liked in action, you must install it. Follow these steps to do it:

  • Download it from where you’ve found it
Downloading a free WordPress theme
Downloading a free WordPress theme
  • Go to your admin panel and then ‘Appearance – Themes – Add New – Upload Theme’.
  • Set a path to the theme you’ve downloaded. Press the ‘Install’ button.
Uploading a theme
Uploading a theme
  • Activate a theme. Go to ‘Appearance – Themes’, chose a necessary theme and press the ‘Activate’ button.

You have installed and activated a theme. Now proceed to configuring your website and theme.

Step №4: How to configure WordPress and a theme

At this stage, you have to pay attention to the basic configuration of the CMS, which is available without installing additional plugins. You should also configure a theme. Keep in mind that configuration options of various themes differ.

Configuring WordPress

Go to the WordPress admin panel and choose the ‘Settings’ menu. Fill the necessary information in each section of settings:

  • Go to the ‘General’ section and write a site title and tagline. This information will be displayed to your visitors.
  • Write your website’s URL in the ‘WordPress address’ and ‘Site Address’ fields. Choose a time zone, date format, time format, and site language. Leave the ‘Membership’ checkbox empty. At early stages, usually only bots and spammers consider registering on your website.
Configuring general settings
Configuring general settings
  • Go to the ‘Writing’ section and choose necessary options. In the beginning, default settings of formatting, post category, and post format are ok. If you want to add new posts by email, then put all the necessary data: mail server, port, login, and password. However, it’s better for beginners to add new posts through the WordPress admin panel. Make sure to put at least one reliable update service in the ‘Update Services’ field. For example, choose the http://rpc.pingomatic.com/ service. Then just save changes.
Configuring writing settings
Configuring writing settings
  • Go to the ‘Reading’ section and specify what should be displayed on a home page. If you develop a blog, then you must display latest posts. As an example, see a blog of Heidi Cohen – a well-known marketer. If you develop a website with static pages, then you should display one of them on your home page. In this case, create a ‘Blog’ static page, where all posts will be displayed. Specify how many posts should be displayed on a single page and in RSS feeds. In the ‘For each article in a feed, show’ menu, choose the ‘Summary’ option. If you don’t want search engines to index your website at this moment for some reason, then activate the last checkbox.
Configuring reading settings
Configuring reading settings
  • Go to the ‘Discussion’ section and set necessary options. In most cases, the default settings will be ok for your needs. Pay attention to the ‘Comment Moderation’ and ‘Comment Blacklist’ fields. Here you can set rules to hold specific comments in the moderation queue before publishing or mark them as spam.
Configuring discussion settings
Configuring discussion settings
  • Leave the ‘Media’ setting default.
  • Go to the ‘Permalinks’ section and choose a necessary URL structure. For example, a URL may contain a post name and publishing date or simply post name. You can also add tags for category URLs.

Customizing a theme

You should remember that each theme has its own customization options. Review of the Zerif Lite theme will help to understand the basics and customize a theme you’ve chosen.

Go to the ‘Appearance – Customize’ sections in your dashboard. Start customizing:

  • Write your website’s title and tagline, and upload a site icon.
Customizing site identity
Customizing site identity
  • In the ‘General options’, you can upload a site logo, put links to your social media profiles, and customize your footer info.
  • In other menus, you can customize different sections of this theme. Options are basic, like changing button copies or placements.

Skip the ‘Widgets’ and ‘Static Front Page’ sections. You have already configured a static page, and it’s better to configure widgets in the dashboard, not in a theme customization menu. To do this, go to ‘Appearance – Widgets’. On the left side of the screen, you’ll see all available widgets. Drag necessary elements to a website’s sidebar or footer with the drag and drop feature. Customize widgets and save settings.

Nota bene! Don’t overload a sidebar with widgets! Leave only those ones that visitors actually need. For example, think twice whether your visitors want to see the ‘Meta’, archive and tag cloud blocks.

In the ‘Appearance – Menus’ section, you can customize a website’s menu. Use the following algorithm:

  • Name a menu and press the ‘Create Menu’ button.
  • Add necessary top-level pages to the menu.
  • Write navigation labels in pages’ settings by clicking an arrow on the right side of each page in the menu.
  • Activate the ‘Automatically add new top-level pages to this menu’ checkbox.
  • Choose theme locations where this menu should be displayed.

You can skip the ‘Header’, ‘Background’, and ‘Install a Theme’ sections.

Step №5: Solving practical tasks with help of WordPress plugins

Plugins are almost the most dangerous disease for WordPress beginners. Many webmasters start searching for posts like ‘9000 Best Plugins for WordPress’ after they’ve hardly registered their websites. They install dozens of these plugins. Why does it impact development in a negative way? The thing is not that they slow down a website (while they really can).

The thing is about a concentration of website owners’ attention and efforts. Instead of creating and posting great content, they are searching for plugins, installing and configuring them for hours. Such webmasters don’t see the forest for the trees – they forget plugins are made to solve specific practical tasks.

Use plugins carefully if you want to develop your website successfully. Install plugins only when you need to solve a concrete task. With help of plugins, you can solve the following tasks:

  • Website security
  • Fighting spam
  • On-page SEO
  • Improvement of functions and usability

How to secure your WordPress website with plugins

Your website is always under two threats. The first one is you. The pursuit of excellence and innovations can make you go risky with a code and programs. It can lead to the loss of information. You can protect your website from this threat with plugins that create website backups.

The second threat is the unauthorized access to your website. Hackers can try to get the access to install a malicious code on your website or just to steal it.

Use one of the following plugins to create website backups:

To install a necessary plugin, go to the ‘Plugins – Add New’ menu. Type a plugin’s name in a search field and press ‘Enter’. You can also download a plugin from a developer’s website and install it with help of the ‘Upload Plugin’ feature in the top part of the dashboard.

Searching for a necessary plugin
Searching for a necessary plugin

Press the ‘Install Now’ button.

Installing a plugin
Installing a plugin

Then activate a plugin. Now you can configure backup settings. Go to the ‘Tools – Backup’ menu.

Accessing backup options
Accessing backup options

Activate the ‘Exclude spam comments’ checkbox in the ‘Tables’ section. Then choose the way you wish to store your backups in the ‘Backup options’ section. You can download them to your computer or send to your email. Set a backup schedule in the ‘Scheduled Backup’ section. In the beginning, making backups once a week is enough.

Configuring backup options
Configuring backup options

To protect your website from the unauthorized access, use one of the following plugins:

For example, install and activate Jeba Limit Login Attempts. This plugin blocks a hacker’s IP for 30 minutes after he fails to login to the admin panel for three times. This way you’ll protect your website from brute force – website hacking by guessing a password.

How to fight spam with WordPress plugins

Don’t be surprised if right after you’ve finished registering your website, there will appear comments promoting Viagra and metal cutting systems. Spam-bots never sleep. Proper configuration of the CMS provides a basic spam protection. You can create an extra protection with the following plugins:

Install and activate Akismet. Click the link highlighted on the screenshot below to get an API key.

Click this link
Click this link

On the next page, enter your registration information. Choose a suitable plan. The free plan is available for non-commercial projects and personal blogs.

Choosing a suitable plan
Choosing a suitable plan

Enter your personal info, and then drag the slider to make the plugin free. Once again – pay attention to the fact that only non-commercial projects can use a free plan.

Finishing registration
Finishing registration

Press the ‘Continue’ button, copy the code and paste it into the appropriate field on the plugin settings page.

How to do on-page SEO for a WordPress website with help of plugins

With SEO-plugins, you can make your website follow search engines’ guidelines. In particular, plugins solve the following tasks:

  • Create and update a sitemap
  • URL canonicalization
  • Title tags optimization
  • Automatic generation of meta data
  • Blocking duplicate content from indexing
  • Markup creation

To solve these tasks, you should install one SEO-plugin from each of three groups: sitemap plugins, on-page SEO plugins, and markup plugins. Use one of the following plugins to create a sitemap:

Install and activate a necessary plugin – for example, Google XML Sitemaps. Go to the ‘Settings – XMl-Sitemap’ section to configure it.

For amateur webmasters, it’s better to leave all settings default. After activation, this plugin creates a sitemap, adds it to robots.txt, and prepares to notify search engines of website updates.

If you think that you have enough experience, you can change plugin’s settings.

Use one of the following plugins to do on-page SEO:

Install and activate a necessary plugin – for example, All in One SEO Pack. Use the default settings, if you are new to WordPress. If you consider yourself an advanced webmaster, then you can change some settings. To do this, click the ‘All in One SEO’ menu in your dashboard.

Configuring ‘All in One SEO’
Configuring ‘All in One SEO’

Pay attention to the following settings:

  • Deactivate the ‘Use Schema.org Markup’ checkbox in the ‘General Settings’ section. You will implement markup with a separate plugin.
Leave it empty
Leave it empty
  • If you display recent posts on a home page, then write a title, description, and keywords in the ‘Home Page Settings’ section. If you display a static page as your home page, then activate the ‘Use Static Front Page Instead’ checkbox like shown on the screenshot below.
Configuring structured data for our home page
Configuring structured data for our home page

In the ‘Webmaster Verification’ section, enter a website verification code from Google Webmasters. To do this, add a new website in Google Webmaster Tools, choose the ‘Alternative methods’ tab. Copy a part of an HTML code highlighted on the screenshot below.

Copy it
Copy it

Paste it into the ‘Google Webmaster Tools’ field on the plugin settings page.

Paste your code here
Paste your code here

Save plugin settings. Press the ‘Verify’ button in Google Webmasters.

To implement a markup for pages, use one of the following plugins:

Install and activate a necessary plugin. Schema Creator by Raven is best for beginners. Now you can implement a markup when creating new posts. To do this, use the ‘Add Schema’ feature when crafting a new post.

Add schema by clicking this button
Add schema by clicking this button

Choose a necessary schema type. We’ll use the ‘Recipe’ type as an example.

Put all the necessary information. In this case, it’s names of an author and dish, published date, link to a photo and its description, cook time, calories, fat, sugar and sodium, ingredients, and cooking instructions.

Try to fill as many fields as possible
Try to fill as many fields as possible

Hit the ‘Insert’ button and publish a post. Data, which search engines use to compose snippets, is shown at the end of a post. You can replace it anywhere in the editing mode.

How to improve usability with help of plugins

It’s necessary to constantly improve functions and usability of a website. As it was mentioned above, some WordPress site owners get so addicted to this process, that they install dozens and even hundreds of plugins. To avoid this mistake, don’t start improving functions and usability with plugins. Start with identifying problems and tasks you want to complete.

If you want to create an e-commerce website on WordPress, find e-commerce plugins. If you think that standard navigation is not comfortable enough for users, then search for breadcrumb and related posts plugins. With plugins, you can also add contact forms, display most active commenters in a sidebar, show a subscription form and complete other tasks.

Let’s give an example of how to install social sharing buttons. Plugins can help you with it.

There are a lot of social share buttons plugins – for example, ‘Custom Share Buttons with Floating Sidebar’. Install and activate it, then go to ‘Settings - Custom Share Buttons with Floating Sidebar’.

In the ‘General’ section, you can enable necessary share buttons, and define custom messages.

Configuring general settings
Configuring general settings

Go to the ‘Floating Sidebar’ section to enable and configure a sidebar with share buttons. Enable it, choose a position, set delay time, and you are ready to go. You can also upload custom icons for buttons in a sidebar. We recommend disabling a sidebar for mobile because in a free version it’s not responsive. If you want it to be responsive, then you should buy a pro version.

Floating sidebar settings
Floating sidebar settings

Finally, go to the ‘Social Share Buttons Settings’ section, and enable them. You can also choose a positioning, where to display buttons, and upload custom icons for buttons if necessary.

Last steps
Last steps

Now you are all set with social share buttons.

Step №6: How to install a Google Analytics code

You can do it in different ways. For example, you have already verified your website on Google Webmaster Tools while you were configuring All in One SEO Pack. But it’s not enough – Google Analytics is a must if you want to track your website’s performance.

To register your website in Google Analytics, follow these steps:

  • Go to your Google Analytics profile, then choose ‘Admin – Account – Add New Account’.
  • Write your website’s registration info – name, URL, industry, time zone. Click the ‘Get Tracking ID’ button.
Setting up your account
Setting up your account
  • Install and activate the ‘Google Analytics by Yoast’ plugin or any other Google Analytics plugin.
  • Use the ‘Authenticate with your Google profile’ button on the plugin settings page, or enter your Google Analytics tracking ID manually.
Configuring Google Analytics by Yoast
Configuring Google Analytics by Yoast
  • If you have authenticated with your Google account, then choose a necessary Analytics profile and save changes.
  • Check if a tracking code is installed. You can do it manually by viewing a source code of a page. You can also check a tracking status in the ‘Admin – Tracking Info – Tracking Code’ menu. Keep in mind that it might take a few hours for Google Analytics to update a tracking status.

Now you can track your website’s performance in Google Analytics. Some data is also available in the ‘Analytics – Console’ menu in the WordPress dashboard.

Step №7: How to add new pages and posts

Nice job! You have configured your WordPress website. Now you can create static pages and post content in a blog.

How to add a static page

Follow our instructions:

  • Go to the ‘Pages – Add New’ menu.
Adding new page in WordPress
Adding new page in WordPress
  • Select the edit mode: visual or text.
  • Enter a page title and write a copy.
Writing a title and copy
Writing a title and copy
  • Add an image. You can do it with the ‘Add Media’ button. Make sure to write a title, caption, and alt text.
Inserting media
Inserting media
  • Scroll down and write a title, description, and keywords with help of ‘All in One SEO’.
Writing a title, description, and keywords
Writing a title, description, and keywords
  • Use the ‘Add Schema’ menu to add structured data if necessary.
  • Specify page attributes. You can choose a parent page or order number.
Specifying page attributes
Specifying page attributes
  • Set a featured image if necessary.
  • Now you can preview your page or publish it immediately.
Publishing a new page
Publishing a new page

After you’ve published a page, make sure that content displays properly. Edit a page if necessary.

Static page is done
Static page is done

How to add a post

To add a post, go to the ‘Posts – Add New’ menu. Publishing a new post is almost the same to publishing a new page. Pay attention to the following nuances:

  • Most themes support several post formats.
Choose a necessary post format
Choose a necessary post format
  • Choose a necessary category for your post. To create a category, use the ‘Add New Category’ option.
  • You can also add tags to your posts. If you have installed ‘All in One SEO Pack’, and you write keywords for posts, then you can simply ignore this section.

Proceed to the main work

You have created and configured a WordPress website and learned how to publish content. Now it’s time for the most difficult and responsible task. You should always be creating high-quality content that helps your audience. Features of this CMS are enough to make almost any project live: from blogs to e-commerce websites.

By the way, if you have any questions, notes, and suggestions on website development, write them in comments. You can also share your experience of working with WordPress, tell about favorite plugins, and discuss pros and cons of the world’s most popular CMS.

Don’t have enough time to do all of the above? Leave it to our company.

You can find the original post in Russian here.

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Автор: Dmitriy Dementiy

Copyrighter at Texterra online marketing agency. He writes articles, searches for interesting information and offers practical ways to use it. Dmitriy believes that with help of top quality online marketing buyers find sellers, not vice versa. Do you agree? Then send him a friendship request on Facebook.

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