22 February 2021

How To Build Your New WordPress Website

When setting up a website from scratch often the first step is to turn to WordPress. It is simple to set up, offers a wide variety of flexible options for customisation and hosting, and an extensive list of plugins to enhance your site as your business matures over time.

Sounds simple right?

Unfortunately, all this functionality requires a level of knowledge to navigate the content management solution. Don’t worry, that’s why you’re here.

So where do I start?

This tutorial will walk you through the necessary steps in setting up your first WordPress site, and areas for you to focus on as you mature and grow more confident within the console.

Step 1: Choose A Domain

We’re at base camp!

Maybe you have an existing website you aren’t happy with. Maybe you have a business and want to grow your digital presence. Or maybe you have a concept in mind for a start-up business and want to get your foot in the door.

Either way the first step is defining the domain address for your website – essentially what you want users to search for to view your content.

For example, using Google Domains, you can search for a domain name to check availability for purchase, and allow you to begin setting up your website.

Whilst you have pure creative freedom with your website there are three key points to ensure you select the most effective option;

  • Select a relatively short domain
  • Easy to remember and type out
  • Matches your brand name or is directly related to it

!Tip:Short snappy domains are often the most effective and easy to remember.

Whilst there are several options for digital marketing and advertising, often the most effective way to grow your digital presence is through word of mouth, so make sure that domain name sticks in the brain!

Step 2: Choose Your Hosting Option

Fire up those engines!

WordPress is an excellent choice when setting up a website due to the flexible hosting options it provides. Some of the most common examples include;

  • hosting: Best for small internal and private company sites
  • Shared Hosting: Best for running blogs
  • Cloud Hosting: Best for enterprises offering complex functionality
  • Virtual Private Servers (VPS): Best for heavy traffic on a website, such as e-commerce

As a beginner the thought of setting up a website is enough to juggle, without the added burden of thinking about setting up your own servers and managing the infrastructure there.

That is why the most common option for beginners is to use Managed WordPress Hosting, where you can pay a subscription fee to a service provider to manage the technical infrastructure, leaving you to focus on the website content!

The main benefits of Managed WordPress Hosting include;

  • Entrusting a subject matter expert within WordPress to assist you with technical infrastructure
  • Premium dedicated customer support options if challenges arise
  • Automated security updates and backups to protect your content

Whilst there are many service providers in this space, WordPress provides a list of recommendations for companies that are experienced within the platform and offer affordable hosting plans

A key consideration if you are planning to use the managed hosting option is you can bundle your domain name, email accounts and other security features alongside the hosting costs with the same provider to obtain discounts and make those early savings!

Step 3: Perform Initial Site Setup

Time for those final safety checks!

Most web hosting providers will offer you an easy to use, one-click installation option that simplifies the whole process. As WordPress is primarily coded in PHP, this one click option helps you to get through the initial configuration stages without needing to be a programming expert or writing a line of code. Just like magic!

During the configuration you specify an email address to use as your username, and a password to secure your account with.

Step 4: Access The Admin Interface

Fasten those seatbelts we’re almost ready!

Once you have completed the installation and created your login information, it is time to step inside the management interface. By default the admin login section is located at;

Step 5: Find A WordPress Theme

Fetch me the keys!

We’re now set up with our website, and have logged into the admin section. Before creating content for your site, you first want to define a theme. This allows all subsequent pages that you add to automatically match this defined theme, with features such as font library, size and colour examples of factors to define.

Within the themes section there are a number of pre-built themes for WordPress. This will save significant time designing and coding a website from scratch. When selecting a theme, it is important to follow the 5 W’s of questioning;

  1. WHO?
  2. Is the developer well known and respected in the community?
  3. Do they have ratings and feedback from users
  4. Do they provide support and if so, under what terms?
  5. WHAT?
  6. Is the original design enough or will it need further modification to your needs?
  7. Does the preview appear responsive and interactive?
  8. What level of flexibility is in place for editing the theme?
  9. Can Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) be added in to the theme?
  10. WHERE?
  11. The official WordPress theme directory:
  12. WordPress theme marketplaces including; Creative Market, MOJO Themes, ThemeForest and WPExplorer
  13. Independent theme shops directly from a website
  14. WHEN?
  15. WHY?
  16. Your niche or unique selling point
  17. Your short and long term goals

Step 6: Configure Your WordPress Theme

Lets do those final tweaks!

Once you have selected your theme, you should select ‘Add New’ at the top of the page, to take you to the WordPress repository of themes. Here you can select the theme of your choice, preview, install and activate it for your site.

Once activated you can then customise further by selecting the ‘Customise’ option.

Options in here include;

  • Site identity
  • Colours
  • Widgets
  • Menus

Step 7: Configure & Publish Your First Page

Calling all stations, it’s go time!

Now we have our website and our theme, lets get our first page setup. The most common place to start is the homepage – the first page that users will land on when they visit your website.

What makes a good homepage you ask?

Whilst there is no secret sauce to making a good homepage, a few herbs and spices will set yours apart from a bland option!

  • Eye catching colour scheme
  • Limit the amount of text to only what is necessary
  • Clearly define the purpose of your website / business
  • Provide links to further sections or functionality for an interactive experience

Step 8: Add Further Pages

Not all websites were created equal.

There are a number of different reasons why you might set up a website, maybe you want to publish a blog, or offer an ecommerce platform, and the purpose of the site will largely dictate what content will be on it. But for all websites you will likely have the following sections;

  • Homepage
  • About Page
  • Services / Product Page
  • Contact Page

Using WordPress you can create a website akin to your desires, whether that be multiple pages on a domain, or an infinite scrolling page with content all contained within it.

Whichever option you select you should define exactly what content needs to go on each page, which will make this process go as smoothly as possible.

Step 9: Create A Menu Bar

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

Great, you’ve created a series of pages and your website looks great in WordPress! However, we also need to make sure it looks good to visiting users who ultimately land on the homepage by default.

On the homepage, you will need to add a menu bar that can be used to navigate to the different sub-pages & sections that you have created. A great menu bar is;

  • Simple
  • Clear and understandable
  • Easily accessible on the page

Step 10: Configure Your WordPress Settings

The beauty (and challenge) of WordPress is that it offers a wide range of configurable settings for users. These can be left to the defaults for first time users, or carefully selected by users looking to enhance the website. The key settings areas to be aware of are;

1. General

Site TitleTitle that appears in a user’s browser when they visit your website
TaglineNon required field, which can be changed when you create homepage
WordPress AddressMain website address or URL of your website
Site AddressTypically the same as WordPress address unless you have multiple sub-domains
Email AddressEmail address to receive notifications for your website
MembershipAllows you to provide a subscription option for updates to your site for users
New User Default RoleSelect Subscriber / Customer so new users do not get admin level access

2. Writing

Default Post CategoryAllows you to select a default category for new blog posts to be assigned
Default Post FormatAllows you to specify a default format for new posts, such as video, audio or image
Post Via EmailAllows you to write WordPress posts and email them to your site

3. Reading

Homepage DisplaysAllows you to set a homepage as the main blog roll, or set a static page instead
Static PageIf choosing a static page you must link it in here to display as the homepage
Blog Pages Show At MostYou can display a summary of blog posts and select the number to show
Syndication FeedsAllows you to define how many recent posts will show for your blog in an RSS feed
For Each Article In A Field, ShowAllows you to either show the full blog or a summary to entice users to click further
Search Engine VisibilityAllows you to choose whether search engines can index content on your site

4. Discussion

Default Article SettingsAllows you to choose article settings, such as allowing blog comments
Other Comment SettingsAllows you to specify requirements for users that comment on your blog
Email Me WheneverAllows you to be notified when a user comments on your content
Before A Comment AppearsAllows you to approve comments to prevent spam or abuse
Comment ModerationAllows you to configure settings to determine which comments require moderation
AvatarsAllows users that comment on your blog to create a full custom profile

5. Media

These settings allow you to specify custom media file sizes, so that visual content automatically goes into pages at the right size, for example blog images being a consistent size.

Step 11: Install WordPress Plugins

Plug and play.

A WordPress plugin can be thought of as a piece of software that has been designed to achieve a function within WordPress. This is where you can take your simple start up website and transform into an enterprise grade powerful digital platform.

Some of the most common features that these plugins target include;

  • Integrating social media feeds such as Twitter into your website
  • Taking security actions on your website
  • Creating a comments and posting section to provide a customer forum
  • Adding a gateway to process payments
  • Translating your website into multiple languages

The WordPress repository currently contains over 50,000 free plugins, where you can get lost sifting through the endless possibilities. But be wary – with great power comes great responsibility (and resource).

WordPress plugins add an additional layer to your site, so this additional weight can impact loading times and user experience. So you should carefully select plugins that help achieve your goals, without adding in extra for the sake of it.

Some of the essential plugins for any WordPress site include;

  • Google Analytics plugins to track visitor activity
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) plugins to optimise your website for search engines
  • Caching (Speed) Plugins to boost site loading times
  • Image Optimisation Plugins to load high resolution images quickly
  • Security Plugins to maintain security over stored / processed information
  • Contact Form plugins to provide user interaction
  • Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) plugins

Step 12: Professional Services

Final comments!

The task of building a website can be daunting and almost overwhelming for a new user, especially someone with no technical experience. Your website may be the first thing a potential client visits and sees in relation to your business, so amongst other things, it should grab the visitor’s attention.

If you would like a professional to take care of creating and securing your new website to grab the user’s attention, look no further. DigiF9 have a team of designers and developers who will be happy to create a brand new, bespoke website that you love. Email to get the ball rolling.

Stay tuned for next week’s article, Securing your WordPress site.