How to Create a Website Using WordPress

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) used around the world to create and maintain websites. It’s free and open-source, which means it’s available to use, modify and distribute.

Because it’s so popular, there are plenty of tutorials and videos on YouTube that show you how to create a basic website using the platform.

However, if you want to take your site to the next level and add features like blogs, galleries, and online stores, you’ll need to learn a little bit more than the basics.

Learn PHP

One of the things that make WordPress so popular is its easy to use, even for beginners. You don’t need to know any prior coding knowledge to get started, as the platform uses an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that makes creating pages and uploading content a breeze.

If you’re looking to add more functionality to your WordPress site (e.g., blogs, online stores, etc.), you’ll need to learn a new programming language called PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor).

Why PHP? Well, it’s widely used and supported across the web and can be relatively easy to learn once you understand how it works. If you have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS, you’ll be able to pick up PHP pretty easily.

You’ll find plenty of free online learning materials that can help you understand the basic concepts behind PHP, like this YouTube video from the Lynda.com website.

Learn MySQL Databases

Another thing that makes WordPress so popular is the fact that it’s compatible with almost all major database systems, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB.

This means that you don’t have to learn one special algorithm or program to utilize WordPress functionality. You can simply choose the type of database you’ll use (e.g., MyISAM, BDB, or MRGBD) and the rest will be taken care of by WordPress.

If you’re using MySQL, you’ll want to learn a little bit about the Generalized Algorithms for Search (GASS), which provides additional optimization for full text search. And if you’re looking to add a bit more flair to your WordPress site, you might want to look into using a MySQL database instead of the default WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP).

Master Mail Merge

If you’re looking to add a contact form to your WordPress site, you’ll want to learn how to use the aptly named Mail Merge to allow visitors to submit messages or questions.

Why Mail Merge? The answer is pretty straightforward. Let’s say you have a blog about fashion. You want to add a contact form so that people can get in touch with you about your content. You can literally just type in the email address of your forms and use the Mail Merge feature to create an email template that can be used to reply to all the inquiries you receive. It’s that simple.

In addition to helping you build a contact form, the Mail Merge feature can also be used to create email newsletters, for example, to provide subscribers with frequent updates on new content or features. Just remember that if you use Mail Merge, you’ll need a separate mailing list for each type of communication you have.

Use An SSL Certificate

You’ll want to install one of the many reputable security certificates on your site before you use it online. Otherwise, your readers will see a big red flag upon clicking the “enter” key, not to mention the fact that they’ll be less inclined to trust you or your site.

What is an SSL certificate? It’s a little security box that appears in the URL bar of their browser when they visit your site. When an SSL certificate is installed, all the information that they send (e.g., name, email, billing information, etc.) is sent using a secure encryption protocol.

Why do you need to install an SSL certificate? Well, you don’t need to have an SSL certificate to use WordPress. You can literally disable it in the backend and use HTTP instead. However, it’s a good idea to get one anyway. Why? It adds an extra layer of security to your site, making it harder for spammers to mess with your content.

If you’re curious about getting an SSL certificate for your site, take a look at this detailed guide on how to do it for free.

Create A Better User Experience

WordPress is designed to be easy to use, which makes a difference in how people interact with your content. If you’re looking to create a more positive experience for your visitors, you should consider reading through this document from WordPress.com, which provides a ton of helpful information on UX design.

The main takeaway from this document? Make it easy for your users to find the content they want. If you have a FAQ section on your site, make sure that the answers are easily accessible from the homepage.

In addition, if you have a category or tag system in place on your blog, make sure that those tags and categories are consistently used throughout your site. They should not be used solely as a means to organize your content but as a helpful tool that encourages your readers to find the type of content they want.

Use Schema

WordPress offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to the way data is stored, organized, and presented in the backend. However, if you’re looking to create a more conventional website with blogs and galleries, you can use the built-in schema options to dictate the way your content is structured. For example, you can use the Blog article type to indicate that each post should be an individual blog article rather than just a list of links.

Although not mandatory, you can use the Schema application to manage and apply schema to your content, as this application offers a more conventional experience with minimal customization options. You’ll find loads of information about schema at WordPress.org, including a step-by-step tutorial that’ll walk you through the process of applying it to a test blog.

Use Ajax

WordPress is fully capable of handling dynamic content without the need for refreshment. However, if you have a lot of content that you want to progressively load without disrupting your readers, you should look into using Ajax.

What is Ajax? It stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, and it’s a tool that allows web browsers to communicate with servers and other websites without having to reload the page.

This feature makes it possible for users to interact with your site content while still on your site. If you have a blog post that you want to highlight in a box or on a slide show, you can create an Ajax-enabled page that’ll load all the content from the post into a dynamically generated slide show. And if you want to send a message to a reader when they visit a particular webpage you’ve created, you can use Ajax to make it happen.

WordPress itself is capable of running a few Ajax-enabled features, like the live chat feature that allows visitors to chat with you directly from your site.

Use Plugins

WordPress is a great platform because it’s customizable. This allows you to add additional features and functionality that might otherwise be difficult to program directly into the core of the platform. If you’re looking to add a bit of polish to your blog, you can find a ton of plugins that can help you do just that.

What are plugins? They’re small applications (i.e., plugins) that can extend the functionality of WordPress. For example, the Akismet plugin adds a functionality that allows your site to automatically detect spam and deletes it before it even reaches your readers. Or, the WP GDPR plugin can help you comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements in the EU.

Why should you use plugins? It can literally take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours to setup the various options and features of a plugin. If you’re looking to add a bit more customization to your site, plugins are a great option because you can literally just drop them into your WordPress dashboard and start using them. While it’s possible to build a custom theme from the ground up and use it on your site, you might find that you’ll need to learn a new programming language (e.g., CSS, SASS, LESS, etc.) in order to do so. The good news is that once you learn those languages, you’ll be able to utilize a plugin to its full potential and, as a result, potentially remove the need to create a custom theme altogether.