How to Get Started Building a WordPress Website
If you are reading this, I assume you have at least a bit of interest in starting a WordPress website. I’d like to help take the mystery out of the process for you by walking you through the steps to get started building a WordPress site.
Choose A Domain Name
The first step is to choose a domain name for your site. This is the address of your site, i.e. the url (uniform resource locator) you will use to reach it. For example, if you choose blog.yourdomain.com, when someone types that url into their browser it will take them to your site.
When choosing a domain name, you want to ensure that it is easily memorable and that it accurately represents your brand. For example, if you run a bed and breakfast, you might want to consider choosing b&b-inn.com or something similar. You can also use a tool such as www.namecheap.com to find the best available generic top-level domain (gTLD) for your site.
Pick A WordPress Theme
Your next step is to choose a WordPress theme for your site. A theme is a graphical part of your site that provides the layout, color scheme, and some of the functionality for your page. Themed websites are built on the WordPress platform and they usually include a library of common layouts and styles that can be customized to fit your needs. When choosing a theme, it is important to keep in mind that you are designing a website for human beings, not search engines (think of your audience when choosing a theme).
On a side note, if you decide later that you don’t like the theme you initially choose, there is no need to worry as you can always switch to a different one.
Set Up The Installation
Once you have chosen a theme for your site and bought the appropriate domain name, the next step is to set up the WordPress installation. This is a process that will copy all of the files necessary to make your site live to your server.
Go to your hosting account and find the ‘wordpress’ folder. Inside that folder you will see an ‘install.php‘ file. Simply upload this file to your server and click the ‘install WordPress button‘ on the resulting screen. From here on out, the process should be pretty straightforward. You will be prompted to provide a password and a username for the WordPress dashboard. Once this is done, you can come back and start using the site.
Set Up The WordPress Dashboard
If you have just installed WordPress, the next step is to go to the dashboard and set up your site. To do this, navigate to www.yourdomain.com/wp-dashboard/ (replace www.yourdomain.com with your domain name).
As you can see in the screenshot above, the WordPress dashboard is where you can manage all of the functions of your site. You can access this same area from any device with an internet connection via www.yourdomain.com or www.yourdomain.com/wp-dashboard/. The dashboard has five primary sections that can help you get started:
- Saving and publishing
The items in each of these sections will be discussed in more detail below.
Using The WordPress Dashboard
Once you are on the WordPress dashboard, you will see a section at the top titled ‘Tools’. This is a drop down menu filled with many different useful tools that can help you build your website if you ever get stuck. Some of the items in this menu are:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Web Analysis
- WordPress Version Check
- Security Check
- Press Release
- Domain Authority Check
- Ping Social Media
- Saving Drafts
- Media Library
- Child Theme
- Plugin Manager
- A/B Testing
- Cron & Scheduling
Amongst the ‘Tools’ menu items, you will also see the ‘Site Monitor’ tool. This is an excellent way to keep track of the performance of your site over time. You can use this tool to track the number of unique visitors to your site each month as well as how often your site is being accessed. It also provides you with detailed reports on the performance of various parts of your site.
The Settings section of the WordPress dashboard allows you to configure many aspects of the look and feel of your site. First, you can change the color scheme of your site by selecting one of the many available colors or choosing ‘Custom’. You can also choose a background color for your site for the sidebar and the main content areas by selecting one of the many colors or using the hex code for the color.
To make your site more SEO-friendly, you can do the following things in this section:
- Enable “All Posts” to display on your homepage (this makes all posts available for the SEO)
- Set the “Blog’s About Me” section to display on your homepage (this appears just below the “All Posts” widget)
- Change the “Blog’s sidebar” area to display more recent posts (<div class=”sorting”> Blog’s sidebar</div>)
- Add more icons on the left side of your blog’s header (<div class=”alignleft”> Blog’s header</div>)
- Select a more suitable header image for your blog (<div class=”alignright”> Blog’s header</div>)
- Set the “Home’s theme color” to whatever you like (<div class=”content-area”> Home</div>)
- Select the preferred language for your blog (you can choose between English and Spanish)
- Select your country for the site to represent (use the ‘Search’ box to find your location)
Apart from these basic settings, you can also choose to display posts from a selected category or tag on your site. Doing this allows you to organize your content into topics and makes it much easier for your readers to find what they are looking for. You can also add more categories and tags to your site without having to go back and edit the posts individually.
The Appearance section of the WordPress dashboard allows you to change the way your site looks in general. You can change the theme style of your site or use one of the many different plugins to customize the way your site functions. For example, you can choose to show different excerpts of content on your site depending on the category or tag placed next to the excerpt.
When it comes to design, the choice is all yours. You can use any of the many WordPress plugins to change the way your site looks. Some of the more popular ones are Revolution Slider, Pod Layout, and Visual Parallax.
The Media section of the WordPress dashboard is where you can manage all of the images and videos that will be used on your site. First, you will need to decide whether you want to use images for SEO or not. If you decide against using images for SEO, you can always use one of the many free image hosting sites such as Pixabay or Unsplash to save your images.
To use images for SEO, you need to make sure that the images you use have a high “alt” (alternative text) tag and that they are relevant to the content of your page. You can use SEO tools to check the performance of your site’s images.