How to Use WordPress to Build a Website
WordPress is a free and open-source content management system (CMS) that’s been around for more than a decade and continues to grow in terms of both user base and activity.
This year WordPress officially surpassed Twitter as the second most popular website in the world. (According to Web traffic analysis company GAP, which tracks more than a million domains.)
And with good reason. WordPress is flexible and a great platform for building virtually any kind of website you could imagine.
In this guide, you’ll discover the different ways you can use WordPress to build a website. From small business websites for WordPress professionals to simple blogs for beginners, you’ll discover how to go from zero to running a successful website in no time at all.
The Basics Of WordPress
WordPress is actually made up of several different ‘sections’ or ‘engines’ that allow you to build a fully functional website. These different sections were originally created back in 2006 for the sake of web designers who wanted to create custom websites with a certain degree of flexibility.
The most popular section is the ‘WordPress core’ which is exactly that. The ‘WordPress core’ is the basic building block of WordPress and includes everything you need to create a basic blog or website. When you log into your WordPress dashboard, you see three areas of the site labeled as ‘CMS’, ‘Appearance’, and ‘Editor’.
“CMS” is short for “content management system”, and it allows you to easily update the content on your website without having to touch a single line of code.
“Appearance” is the part of the WordPress dashboard that allows you to customize the visual style of your site. You can choose from an array of different themes (essentially, the ‘skin’) that WordPress comes with, and you can also find and install additional themes from third-party developers and designers.
“Editor” is where you’ll find all of the different tools you need to build your website. You have the option of either using a WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) editor or a text-based one. The former allows you to easily build and update content, while the latter provides you with more control but also requires a bit more learning.
WordPress also allows you to create ‘shortcodes’ which are special sections of code that you can include in any area of your site. This makes it much easier to update certain areas of your site, as you can just paste in the relevant shortcode and hit update.
Why Build A Website With WordPress?
When we consider all the different options available for building a website, it’s not easy to pick a favorite. (Unless you’ve used a particular platform and are very much attached to it, in which case, you might have a heart attack.)
For the sake of this guide, we’ll focus on how to choose WordPress. Why? Well, firstly because we’re firm believers in the power of WordPress and think that it can be an excellent option for anyone looking to build a website. But secondly, and more importantly, WordPress also has a very high degree of flexibility which makes it one of the most popular options for building websites. This level of flexibility is actually what makes it a great choice for anyone who’s interested in web design, as you’ll discover below.
The Many Different Ways To Use WordPress
There are actually a lot of different ways you can use WordPress to build a website. In fact, there are so many different options that it can be a little hard to know exactly where to start. (Especially since a lot of the options are designed for different purposes.)
For the sake of this guide we’ll focus on the most popular and, in our opinion, the best way to use WordPress to build a website:
- The CMS method which stands for “content management system” and allows you to easily update the content on your website without having to touch a single line of code.
- The Appearance method which allows you to customize the look and feel of your site through the use of CSS (“Cascading Style Sheets”).
- The Classic Blog method which, as the name implies, is for people who want to start a basic blog or website.
- And finally, the simplest of all the WordPress methods which simply means that it’s the easiest to use. (Although, you’ll have to invest in a quality theme to start.)
To get started, simply visit the WordPress dashboard and you’ll be presented with a few options. First, you’ll see a big button that looks like this: Get Started. Click this button and you’ll be taken to the WordPress installation screen. Here you’ll need to enter the name of the website you want to create (or if you already have a website, you can use this option to switch accounts) and then you’ll be presented with the default options of what you need to enter for a username and password. Save these details and you’re good to go.
WordPress is actually incredibly flexible and can be customized in a lot of different ways. The two biggestg factors that influence the flexibility of WordPress are the ‘theme’ and the ‘plug-in’ that you use. A WordPress ‘theme’ is essentially a set of templates (that is, the “look and feel” of a website) that you can use to build your site. The templates are designed to be flexible so you can easily build different types of websites with the same theme.
WordPress comes with several different themes that you can use to build a website. (Although, we recommend going the extra mile and installing a premium theme that offers a great deal of flexibility.)
Once you’ve installed the WordPress dashboard, you’ll see three areas of the site labeled as “CMS”, “Appearance”, and “Editor”. (There’s also a link on the left side that will take you to a separate section called “Gutenberg” which provides additional tools for content creators.)
Within each area of the website, you’ll see a big button that looks like this: Customize. Click this button and you’ll be presented with a lot more options. You can use this button to access a setting menu from where you can choose what sort of blog (or website) you want to create. (More on this later.)