Would you like to create a website for your business or yourself? Is the thought of hiring developers and hosting companies too much to deal with? Are you concerned about the cost of it all?
It can be disconcerting to put a lot of money into a project you aren’t sure will pay off. Perhaps you want to try building a website yourself and see how people respond before you enlist the help of professionals to take your site further.
We have created a comprehensive step-by-step guide for non-techy beginners to help you successfully set up a WordPress website for your business without having to learn a single line of code. If you require assistance with any of the steps in the process, contact our team for advice.
How to build a website on WordPress
1. Choose a domain name for your site
2. Set up web hosting
3. Install a WordPress website
4. Pick a theme
5. Get plugins that will help you improve the design and growth of your site
6. Start creating and customising pages, headers, footers, and blog posts
7. Congratulate yourself
Step 1: Choose a domain name for your site.
The first step is to choose a name for your website and check if it is available on sites like GoDaddy or 123-Reg. This will be the name people use to find you online, so make sure it’s memorable. Once you have checked the domain’s availability, you can purchase it.
The end of the URL will have an extension attached to it, such as .com, .co.uk, .org or .net. The extension you choose should be specific to the country you are operating in and your future plans; so, if you are in the United Kingdom and have no plans for international expansion, your extension would be .co.uk
Step 2: Set Up Web Hosting
Now that you own your website’s name, it’s time to rent hosting space from a reputable provider such as Bluehost, HostGator, WPEngine, etc.
This is a crucial step in the set up process because you cannot have a website without a place to store it. Unfortunately, it can also be the most confusing. When choosing a hosting provider, make sure they offer:
- HTTPS support
- PHP version 7.2 or greater
- MySQL version 5.6 or higher
Bluehost and WP Engine are approved by WordPress, and they satisfy all the above requirements, so they may be the best option for you. However, it’s essential to carry out thorough research to find a provider that fits your requirements.
Next, you’ll need to go to your chosen host website and go through the process of signing up to your preferred package. This should be pretty straightforward, however, if you need help, please do get in touch.
Step 3: Install your WordPress website
After you’ve purchased your web hosting, you’ll receive an email confirming the purchase and instructions on how to login to your control panel (known as cPanel).
The cPanel is your hosting dashboard. You should be able to scroll through the icons to find and select the WordPress icon. You will then be asked to choose a domain name, your site’s name, admin username and password to attach to the WordPress site. You should then be able to click on an ‘install’ button. All that is left to do then is wait for the system to work its magic.
When ‘installation complete’ appears, and is clicked, you will be taken to the WordPress login page. Just like that, you have successfully created your first website. Now you can log in to start designing your website.
Step 4: Pick a theme
One of the great things about WordPress is that it comes with pre-designed themes, so you don’t need to be an artist or web developer to create a smart-looking site.
You can pick a design that complements your brand by navigating to the ‘Appearance’ section on the dashboard and then clicking on ‘Themes’. There should be an ‘Add New’ button that will allow you to look through the selection. You can filter your search by featured, popular or even specific industries.
Try out a few demo themes until you find one you like, then click the ‘Install’ button followed by the ‘Activate’ button, and your theme will be implemented on your site. You can change the theme later down the line, but this can have a knock-on effect, so we recommend getting some professional advice before doing that.
If you decide to buy a theme rather than choose a free one (which we advise), this is how you would install it.
- Download the file you purchased from ThemeForest (it will download into a .zip file)
- Login to your WordPress Dashboard
- Go to appearance and click on themes
- Click the ‘Add new’ button, and you will be taken to the themes dashboard
- Click the ‘Upload Theme’ button
- Upload your downloaded (.zip) file from your computer
- Wait for a success message to complete the process
Most purchased themes come complete with a page builder such as WP Bakery or Elementor already installed. This makes building your web pages much easier as you can drag and drop elements in and even save your own page templates.
Step 5: Get plugins to improve the design and growth of your site
Plugins are a great way to automate the running of your website. Beware, though, they can slow your website down; which isn’t great for your audience’s experience. We recommend only installing plugins you know you need.
Before installing anything, you need to make sure your settings are correct:
- Write a site title of your choice
- Set up permalinks to define your linking structure
- Upload your logo
- Set your preferred fonts and colour palette
You will also find the ‘Menus’ section under appearance. This is where you can rejig what pages appear in your header and footer navigation and where which will be important later down the line.
You can now start installing plugins from the WordPress dashboard. To get started, we recommend adding:
- Contact Form 7 – to set contact forms
- All in one SEO or Yoast – to automate your SEO. These are quite basic and won’t serve all of your SEO needs, but it’s a good starting point
- WordFence or Securi – for your site’s protection
- Simple SSL – for your site’s security (if your hosting provider doesn’t offer SSL certificates)
- Smush & Hummingbird – to help optimise your site’s speed and image compression
Step 6: Start creating and customising pages
This is the fun part. Now you can start building pages for your audience to interact with. By default, WordPress comes with two different content types, called pages and posts. Posts make up the blog part of your site. Pages make up everything else, including your homepage, about page, contact page and service or category pages.
If you want to edit your headers and footers, the easiest way to do this is via the site’s front-end under the ‘Customise Button’. You can also change all the colours and elements here to keep the site in-line with your brand. If you’ve purchased a theme, often these elements are found under your theme’s settings (found on the left hand side) and you’re able to set many of the universal elements of the site through here.
Step 7: Congratulate yourself on your new website
And you’re done! Give yourself a pat on the back or break open the prosecco because you now have a stunning and functional website. We recommend signing up to Google Analytics and linking it to your website so that you can monitor traffic and conversions. That’s a task for tomorrow though, for today, congratulate yourself on a fantastic job.
Don’t forget to keep everything on the WordPress platform up to date from the core updates to all the plugins; or to renew your domain and hosting service when the time comes.
Next step, drive traffic to your website.