Does Your WordPress Website Need Hosting?
Is your WordPress website growing in size and getting a little pricey to run? Do you know what hosting is, and do you know what types exist?
WordPress is a free, open-source CMS (Content Management System) and one of the most popular content management systems currently in use. It was initially created by Chicago-based Matt Mullenweg and released as a beta back in 2007. Since then, it has taken over the world!
As with any other website or application, WordPress needs somewhere to live when it’s not being used. The difference with WordPress is that you don’t need to have a web host to use it. You can run WordPress directly off a desktop computer. However, for best results, you’ll want to have the CMS hosted in the cloud.
What Is Hosting?
When you install WordPress, you’re given the choice of installing the software manually or using a ready-made WordPress template. If you opt for the latter, the hosting service will take care of the configuring, installing, and updating of WordPress for you.
Hosting is like renting a spare room in someone’s home so that you can put your website or app in there and access it online. Instead of paying for a whole server, you’re paying per month for the use of someone else’s computer.
What Is The Difference Between Caching And Hosting?
One of the most confusing terms when it comes to the internet is cache. Most people think of caching when they hear the word “hosting”, but they’re actually different. If you’ve ever used the Google Cache feature on a website you’ve built, you know what caching is. The feature temporarily stores a copy of a website you’ve built so that it can be more quickly accessed by internet users.
When you host a website, you’re giving it your own computer’s IP address. When a user goes to your site, their device will look for an IP address belonging to your own computer. If it can’t find one, it will attempt to connect to the closest server.
Allowing your site to be cached speeds up the loading time of your content and saves users/visitors from needing to re-visit websites they’ve already been to. Caching is essential for any site, and especially for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes.
Why Do You Need To Host Your WordPress Website?
WordPress is a free, open-source platform that can be downloaded from the official website and set up in literally no time at all. For those looking for a simple, free blogging platform, WordPress is the perfect alternative to expensive, proprietary blogging platforms like Blogger.
Once you’ve downloaded and installed WordPress, you’ll need to decide what type of hosting you want to use. There are several different hosting providers, each offering their own perks. For example, one provider might offer a free domain, while another might offer free backups.
Hosting your site with a reputable service like WordPress.com or Bluehost means that you’re getting the benefits of using the platform along with the reliability and security of a reputable service. You won’t have much luck trying to pull off an illegal activity on a platform like WordPress.com, and you’ll be glad that you didn’t have to worry about the safety of your data. (WordPress.com also keeps a close eye on malicious attacks and keeps the security of your site up-to-date.)
Here’s How to Host Your WordPress Website
Now that you have WordPress installed and determined that hosting is the best option for you, let’s get started setting up your site. You can use a tool like WordPress.com’s built-in one-click installer or download a WordPress installation package and follow the included instructions. Once you’ve installed WordPress on your computer, you’ll see a screen like this:
From here, you can configure your site with a free domain name (like joe.com) and a password. You’ll also need to enter a general email address for the site (i.e. email@example.com). Don’t worry, you can use a fake email address if you don’t have one.
As mentioned above, WordPress is completely free and open-source, which means that anyone can use it to build a website. For that reason, you’re going to want to keep your site’s name as generic as possible. It’s a good idea to find a short, meaningful name for your site. Remember, you’re always free to change the name of your site later on if you want to. (As an SEO (search engine optimization) expert, I usually recommend keeping your site’s name as close to “pure” as possible. For example, if you have a blog about fashion, you might want to name your site “fashion inspiration” or “fashion blog”. Using descriptive words like “inspiration” or “blog” in your site’s name helps search engines like Google understand what your site is about. For more information on SEO, read my blog post about SEO Basics For Bloggers.)
Once you’ve entered the necessary information into the relevant fields, Click the “Create your free account” button to continue. You’ll now be taken to your free, private WordPress dashboard, which will look something like this:
As you can see, the dashboard is pretty self-explanatory. You can use the area on the right to manage your site’s content and the left to browse through different themes (looks) and plugins (advanced functions) to improve your site.
What Is A Theme?
A theme is a design template for your website’s appearance. When you download and install a WordPress theme from the dashboard, you’re presented with a series of options that will let you customize the look and feel of your site. The following are the most common and popular themes available on WordPress.com:
- Avada – an attractive, free WordPress theme with an emphasis on standards compliance, SEO (search engine optimization) and performance.
- Twenty Four – an elegant, free WordPress theme that makes a statement through its use of color.
- Genesis – a popular free WordPress theme that provides users with a one-click shopping experience and lots of space for images.
- White – a clean, elegant, and free WordPress theme that was specifically designed to be difficult to style.
- Arrow – a free, minimalist WordPress theme that’s as easy to use as it is to look at.
- Clean WordPress – a free, elegant, and minimalistic WordPress theme that was designed to provide an easy layout for bloggers. It also offers users a one-click experience for purchasing items on their site and allows for quick site deploys.
- WooCommerce – a free and open-source eCommerce solution that can be used with any WordPress theme. It supports offline shopping as well as online purchases through shopping carts.
- Shopify – an all-in-one eCommerce solution (think Big Commerce, but without all the extras).
- Fancy – a free, luxurious WordPress theme that was designed to be easy to use and modify.
- Thematic – a free, elegant, and minimalistic WordPress theme that was designed with photographers in mind. It provides users with the tools to create custom-designed albums and sell prints and other items from their work.
- Agency – a free, elegant, and minimalistic WordPress theme that was designed to be user-friendly and simple to navigate.
What Is A Plugin?
A plugin is an extension, or tool, that allows you to add more functionality to your WordPress site. There are several different types of plugins, each offering unique features. Let’s take a look at the most common and popular plugins on WordPress.com: