Any time is a good time to create a website, and even more so now that there are so many free tools and low cost services, with which to have your own website, blog or online store with a minimum effort and a ridiculous price.
Sure, if you already had the idea of creating your web, you will have in mind the first contents you will publish but… How to create the web? Which tools should i use for my web?
If you have arrived at this blog then at least you have already made a first decision, and that is to use WordPress to create your website.
And it’s a good decision for several reasons:
- It’s the leading system for creating websites and online stores.
- You can install it in a couple of clicks.
- It’s very easy to set up and expand.
- You have thousands of free themes (templates) to change the look of your website.
- You have thousands of free plugins (applications) with which to extend the functionality of your website.
For everything else you have this blog 😉
Let’s start at the beginning, step by step.
The first thing you need to do to take your first steps with WordPress.
Table of Contents
Find a good web hosting
It’s a common mistake to think that since almost everything in WordPress is free it’s also a good idea to spend the minimum on hosting, but it’s a terrible mistake, perhaps the worst you can make.
Your website and your business deserves the best possible hosting, even if it’s just to avoid unnecessary downtime, or your website being slow or limited because of poor quality hosting.
So what you should not be saving money on is precisely the hosting.
Choose one that, at least, offers the following:
- 24/7 support, specialized in WordPress, because your website is always active, your hosting must attend you at all times.
- Installation of the latest version of WordPress at a click, essential, so you don’t have to waste time on this.
- Free SSL certificates, so that your website is served via HTTPS and is secure.
- Daily backups, easily recoverable in case of need.
- Own security measures and speed, so that your website is safe and flies.
- Tools and optimizations specialized in WordPress.
- Money back guarantee.
My recommended hosting is SiteGround, because it not only meets these basics but exceeds them by far, and also the support is one of the most and best valued.
And, yes, at totally competitive prices.
Choose a domain name
Of course, your website must have a domain name, not only to have your emails personalized to your name or your company’s one, a branding basic, but because it is essential to make of your brand your presence on the web.
Services that host the web in a folder or subdomain, such as wix.com/yourweb or yourweb.wordpress.com are not valid.
It is also very cheap to register a domain, around $14 a year, so the investment is minimal.
The question of which domain name to register is sometimes complicated, so I leave you some advice:
- If it’s for a personal brand, try to register the domain name of your surname, if available. This way your emails will be as easily remembered as [email protected], for example. As for the web, they allow you to make interesting combinations of subdomains, like chris.peters.com for the personal brand web, services.peters.com for the portfolio, etc. If it is not available, another good option would be your name and surname, for example chrispeters.com
- As for the domain extension, the so-called TLD, usually – if possible – for personal brand usually recommend the extension of the country (.us, .uk, etc) as it also says something about your origin, something that defines us. But if your area is international, then opt for the .com, more generic and international. Avoid the .org extension, thought for non-profit organizations, or other extensions that are perhaps too specific, like .business, .store and things like that. Although historically denigrated, the .info extension is not a bad option if there are no other extensions available. Also avoid extensions too peculiar, such as .blog, because they are very expensive and is not justified. In the aspect of positioning, they do not matter almost at all, the relevant thing will be your content. For business websites or Ecommerce, think about the scope (national or international) when choosing the extension (.us/.uk for very local businesses, .com for international)
- If the domain is for a business, the choice of name is always more difficult. A very common mistake is to think that it has to coincide with the name of your company, and it doesn’t have to, although to avoid identity frauds it is always advisable to acquire them. In any case, choose the domain name you choose, try to ensure that they are available in the extensions (TLD) of your country and the .com, and do not be obsessed with buying all possible extensions, there are so many that you would spend a lot of money for nothing. One popular option is to reserve the domain name of the company for the corporate website, and a more generic, business, for the sale website. For example, services&solutionschris.com for the corporate website and maintenanceservices.com for the shop website.
Something you should be clear about is that it is not mandatory that you have hired the domain at the hosting company, it is irrelevant, but it is more comfortable, because the configuration is automatic.
What I mean is that if you have contracted the hosting on one hand and the domain on the other, you have to configure something called DNS, or name servers, which is the system by which the Internet protocol knows that when someone types in a domain name, it must show the web hosted on site X.
This is done by configuring the DNS, and each hosting uses different ones.
- Your hosting will indicate somewhere that your site is hosted with a specific DNS, for example ns1.mihosting.biz and ns2.mihosting.biz
- In the management of the domain, where you have registered it, you will find a section called “DNS servers” and there you must write down these addresses that the hosting will indicate you.
This way, when someone types your domain in the browser, it will look for your website in the space hosted in the DNS that you have indicated in the domain management.
It’s like if you’re looking for someone in a big city, if you only know his name is Chris Peters it’s practically impossible for someone to give you directions on how to get there, but if you know his name (domain) and home address (DNS servers) you can’t miss him, you’ll get there safely.
Likewise, if one day Chris decides to change his home (hosting) he will have to change his address (DNS) so that you can visit him again.
When you have hired a domain and hosting with the same company, this DNS configuration is done automatically.
Although there are many ways to install WordPress, don’t overthink about it. If you have chosen the rigth hosting (see above) you will have some utility to install applications, and WordPress in particular, so having your web engine will be a matter of a couple of clicks.
Simply select the domain, your login details and press a button.
Important note: Write down your username and password, you will need them to access to manage your website.
At the end of the process, which takes less than 1 minute, you’ll have a WordPress ready to start setting up, customizing, and creating your content.
When you finish installing WordPress the installer will give you 2 links, one to your domain, where WordPress is already installed and a simple look, and another to the administration area, where the magic happens, the place to set up, customize, extend, and start creating with WordPress.
To access the WordPress administration, the most common route is yourdomain.com/wp-admin/
Customize the design of your website
Now that you have installed and configured WordPress, although I would tell you to start creating content I know you’re not going to listen to me, and the next thing you’ll want to do is customize it to your liking, change the look.
This is done by changing the theme, which is what WordPress calls design templates, and customizing it.
So nothing more to say, go for it!
Log in to WordPress administration and go to the menu called
Appearance > Customize .
The link will take you to the home page of your website with the WordPress Customizer enabled.
In addition to a series of drop-down menus with the customizable options of the active theme, at the top you have a button to change the theme.
You’ll see that you can switch between the already installed and the thousands of free themes available.
On each theme thumbnail you’ll see a button to install and preview it, so choose one that you like the look and layout of the content and do it.
The theme will automatically download and install in a matter of seconds, and you’ll be able to customize it to your liking by browsing its menus, which will replace those of the previous active theme.
Here I leave it to your taste and make the adjustments that you want.
When you’re done and it looks like you want it to, simply press the “Activate and Publish” button, or if you’re not completely convinced, change the theme again and keep trying out settings and configurations.
As long as you don’t activate the new theme, only you will see the changes, while visitors to your site will still see how the previously active theme looks.
I encourage you to know all the possible settings and tangle with them before deciding on one theme or another.
And don’t worry, your contents won’t change, only the aspect with which they are shown to the visitors. Also, you can change the theme as many times as you want, without affecting your posts, only the appearance of the web.
Then it is advisable to create a custom menu, to which you will add the pages you create.
Without exiting the Customizer simply go to the menu settings and…
- Create a new menu.
- Add existing items (pages, categories, custom links, etc.)
- Assigns the menu to a location in the active theme (for viewing).
- Publish changes.
In this video you will see this simple process:
The other basic customization elements are known as widgets.
You have them in the Customizer as well. You have to access their settings, select an area of widgets, also known as sidebars, add the ones you want from the available widgets, and check where and how they will look.
In this video you’ll see it more clearly…
Add plugins for more functionality
Well, it’s about time you start creating content, isn’t it?
Ah! What? Not yet?
I know, you’re not going to listen to me now either, because I’m sure you’ve heard of plugins.
A big part of WordPress’ success is thanks to Plugins, those little big applications that allow you to add from a simple functionality to your website to turn it into an online store, a social network, a CRM or almost anything you can imagine.
There are over 50,000 free plugins to choose from, and it all starts with the plugin management screen.
You’ll see that WordPress installs a few by default, but you can do without them perfectly, because they’re neither really useful nor worth trying.
Below the name of each plugin you’ll see two links: “Activate” and “Delete”, which is obviously useful.
At this point you should know that you can install as many plugins as you want, but you should only have active those that are really useful.
But also installing new plugins is perhaps even easier than installing new themes. Simply click the “Add New” button on this screen, or go to the Plugins > Add New menu, whichever you prefer.
You’ll get to the famous and beloved WordPress plugin installer.
You can browse the list of featured, popular, recommended, and favorites plugins, or use the search engine, and you’ll always find one for every need.
It’s another thing to find the perfect plugin for you, because there are so many for every need that sometimes it’s hard to decide, but when in doubt always start with the list of popular plugins.
In any case, here is a list of what I consider a list of 5 essential features that you should add by installing plugins:
- Contact form: Surprisingly, WordPress doesn’t include it by default. Recommended: Contact Form 7.
- SEO: Although WordPress has a fairly optimized configuration for search engine positioning is essential to accompany a good SEO plugin. Recommended: Yoast SEO.
- Optimization: Nowadays you always have to optimize the web to consume the minimum of resources while offering a fast web. Recommended: WPO Tweaks, Autoptimize and SG Optimizer.
- Security: No website is safe, so we must install a system that protects us as much as possible from attacks and malware. Recommended: iThemes Security.
- Accessibility: Your website must be accessible to all types of users, including those with disabilities. Recommended: One Click Accessibility.
From here, of course, the list is almost endless, and it will depend on what kind of website you have and what features you want to offer.
For example, if you are going to offer an online store you will need to install WooCommerce and some other plugins that will add interesting features to your Ecommerce.
Create the cornerstone pages
Is it time? Have we started creating content yet?
Take my advice, because you won’t be interesting or useful to Internet users if you don’t offer content.
But first things first, and before you start creating blog entries you must publish a series of essential pages in every website, which are:
- Front page: By default any WordPress theme will show you the blog entries, but you can put a static page, perfect in cases of personal or professional branding and services and products.
- Contact: It is a basic offer.
- About: The typical “who we are” page or similar, where you tell who you are or your company, something that should always be in every website.
That would be the basics.
Creating a page is very easy, to start you just have to go to the menu Pages > Add New.
From here you’ll find the famous WordPress editor, which is the same for blog posts and pages, so once you have learned to use one you have learned them all.
Using it is very easy, just put the title and start writing or adding blocks.
Now, as I said before, WordPress does not have a block that adds a contact form, so in the contact page you must have installed the forms plugin before, and then you can insert it.
The rest of the pages are the same, just add your content and then press the “Publish” button.
Then go to the Customizer and remember to add the new page to your menu, as we saw before.
The case of the home page is something special, because although it’s true that all WordPress themes by default show blog entries, you can configure your website so that at the beginning, on the front page of your domain, a previously created page is shown.
To do this, go back to the Customizer and in the section called “Home Page Settings” change “Your latest posts” to “A static page”, choose the one you want to appear on the front page and publish your changes, it’s that easy.
Of course, here begins your story, from now on there is much to learn and to improve, expand and master your website.
In this same blog you’ll find plenty of articles and guides for almost any need you have about WordPress.
If you have arrived at this guide without previous knowledge, it is certain that you will still have many doubts, in which case I encourage you to ask them in the comments.
Read this post in Spanish: Primeros pasos para crear tu web con WordPress