It’s time to get dirty and build a WordPress website DIY. Let me give you the run down before we get started. First, we’ll lay the foundation of your website and decide what you want it to do, then, you will have to find a domain name and a hosting service. Once you’ve set that up, it’s time to play and configure your website. I want to show you the basic approach to build a WordPress site from A to Z, by yourself! Let’s get started…
Step #1: Lay the groundwork first
Make sure that you understand what you want to do with your site and make wireframes. Once you know what you want to achieve then you can continue to build the whole site around it and it will be a guide in all of your next decisions.
Step #2: Register your domain name
Selecting the right domain name can help you achieve better rankings in the search engines. For example, when someone searches for “spicy chicken sauce”, a website with the domain name containing those words will likely rank higher than those domains that do not but domain names are hard to find. Once you find a good name, chances are it’s taken so it takes a bit of time to figure this out. There are lots of places to look and buy but here is one of them: https://domains.google. We take care of this for our clients.
Step #3: Get a Web Hosting Account
You can host for free using WordPress.com but they include that in your domain plus you can’t upload any custom themes, plugins or modify the PHP code behind your site. I am not even going to talk about this option, but know it exists. I will talk about the option where you download the free software and install it on a host that you choose.
There are tons of providers out there and you’ll need to carefully select the provider as it can impact the overall performance of your website, such as speed, stability, up-time, etc. We offer high end wordpress hosting but only for maintenance clients whose sites I have developed. We’ve partnered with the most private, secure Canadian hosting company in Canada. They are connected to the backbone of the internet on multiple state of the art networks and provide us with our Secure Hardened WordPress cloud based hosting solution. Our partners host major sites like Aeroplan, Nissan, World Health Organization, The David Suzuki Foundation and guarantee uptime. They have 24/7/365 server and security monitoring for all threats online and physical on their 700 server network.
There are a lot of web hosting companies out there, some great, some okay and some horrible. Look at it this way, you can get a hosting account for $12 a year, the likelihood of you actually getting the service is next to none. Web hosting is inexpensive and selecting the wrong host can kill your website before it’s even created. You don’t want the headaches, trust me. I won’t advertise anyone (except myself, of course) but I have opinions, just ask me!
Step #4: Install WordPress
WordPress is a free content management system that has been used for bloggers and developers for many years. It’s highly customizable and powerful tool for creating professional looking websites. Many hosts will now install WordPress for you which means you don’t have to learn about FTPing and setting it up. Find a host that does this for you!
Step #5: Configuring your Website
You’ll be able to see your site by going to http://www.yourdomain.com/. You’ll more than likely see the default, which is a “Hello World!” message. In order to configure your website, you’ll need to log into the configuration area which can be accessed at: http://www.yourwebsite.com/wp-login.php
After logging in, you should come to a page that looks like this:
This page is called WordPress Dashboard. You should make yourself familiar with the interface, you’ll be using it quite often. Anything and everything that you do to your website will be done from the Dashboard.
Overview of the Dashboard
You’ll notice a quick link section to posts, pages, tags, category and comments. This will allow you to quickly get into the areas that you’ll most frequently use. Pay close attention to the “Update” button as well, it’s important to keep your WordPress updated at all times!
On the left side, you’ll see a navigation menu that will give you access to all the other tools available to you. There are tons of things, but I’ll talk about the important ones:
- Posts — This is used more often when your website is acting as a blog. It will allow you to publish articles, select the category in which they’ll be archived, and let to set options specifically for that post.
- Media — You’ll be able to manage your images, videos, sounds from this menu.
- Links — If you’ve ever wanted to create a “friendly links” list, this is where you would do it. You can then use it for your sidebar widget.
- Pages — This is where you’ll create static pages, like about us, product information, contact information, etc.
- Appearance — This is where WordPress is absolutely amazing. You’ll be able to totally customize the look and feel of your website by using themes, menus, widgets and more but note that not all themes are created equal.
- Plugins — There are thousands of plugins available to make your site cooler or your life easier for managing things. Browse the plugins area to find what you’re looking for but remember that you don’t want to install too many plugins.
- Users — You can give access to other people to modify your website, add posts, pages, etc but remember that it’s important to be a control freak and make sure you have a system for user roles and what different people will be doing on the site.
- Settings — This is where you’ll manage the configuration of your WordPress installation, such as site name, URL, date format, media settings, comment settings, etc.