The prospect of building your website could be quite intimidating. You might even think that it is simply impossible to create a professional-quality website without a background in web design.
Fortunately, as the online world becomes more accessible, various platforms make website creation easy and simple. WordPress is a good example. It’s software that you can install into your web hosting account to make any type of website you need.
Today, we’ll talk about how to use WordPress. We seek to go through the complete process of using the platform to build a site from start to finish.
Getting To Know WordPress
Before anything else, though, what is WordPress? In a nutshell, it is an open-source content management system or CMS that allows you to build websites through a template and plugin system.
Open-source means that no particular individual, company, or organization owns the software. Instead, multiple users, developers, and other tech professionals developed it. That makes the platform forever free to be accessed and used by anyone.
What Is a CMS?
To gain further understanding of how WordPress works, allow us to define what a content management system is. It is a platform that allows you to create and manage various types of content.
While it can build a website through a template application, the system itself was not primarily designed for website development. Most of its features centers on the creation and publication of online content.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
You might have noticed that there are two WordPress websites during your research: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Their offered services are essentially the same except for one factor: your website’s hosting.
WordPress.com offers web hosting as part of a free or paid plan, while WordPress.org allows you to work with a third-party hosting provider while you’re using their CMS.
A lot of people prefer WordPress.com since it’s an all-in-one option. You won’t need to manage your server or bother with your hosting or domain name anymore.
Keep in mind that the free plan comes with a generic domain name, though. It will look like this: www.yoursitename.wordpress.com. Those who want a custom URL can opt for one of their premium plans instead.
On the other hand, WordPress.org offers more customization options and flexibility. It even allows you to edit your website’s code and control every element.
The downside? Running your website takes a lot of effort and responsibility. For instance, managing your website security and dealing with server issues is quite stressful.
It’s also not entirely free, as you would have to pay for your hosting and domain name. All things considered, you might find it more affordable and convenient to go for one of WordPress’ premium plans instead.
How To Use WordPress To Build a Website
Once you have decided on the type of WordPress platform to use, we can now move on to website creation. Those who have chosen to work with WordPress.com must first determine the best premium plan that will fit their needs and preferences. Meanwhile, those who have chosen WordPress.org must learn how to install the CMS into their web hosting account.
Different WordPress Plans
WordPress.com offers five different plans. Paid plans have two payment terms: monthly and annually. Choosing an annual term will allow you to enjoy lower costs.
As mentioned, a free account will not come with a custom domain. It is excellent for those who just want a space to experiment on as they learn the ropes of website building and management.
It can also serve as a personal blogging site, especially if you have no intention of sharing your online space with other people. Please be aware that this plan will come with ads.
Those who want a personal online space with their custom domain name and without the ads can opt for the Personal plan instead. It comes with a year of free hosting and unlimited email support. All paid plans won’t have WordPress ads displayed.
Freelancers who want an online space to display their resume or portfolio can opt for the premium plan instead. Like the previous plan, this package comes with a custom domain name and free hosting for a year.
Aside from that, though, you will also be able to earn ad revenue, access premium themes, upload videos, and enjoy Google analytics integration. Aside from unlimited email support, signing up for a premium plan will allow you to enjoy live chat support.
This plan is great for small businesses. Aside from the perks that come with the Premium package, Business also allows you to install plugins, access to advanced SEO tools, and database access. Another added feature is the ability to back up and restore your website in just one click.
Finally, the eCommerce plan has all the benefits of the previous packages. The perks include accepting payments from more than 60 countries, integrating with shipping carriers, and accessing premium design options specifically for online stores.
Choosing Your Domain Name
Once you have chosen your preferred package, it’s time to choose your domain name. Here are a couple of tips on how to do so:
Short and Straightforward
Your domain name is the URL that people will type into their browsers if they want to access your website directly instead of searching for it through an engine. Thus, it should be easy to spell and not contain confusing elements such as numbers or special characters.
For instance, suppose you’re going to name your website 52.com. This is not a very good website name right off the bat since your online visitors might mistake it for fiftytwo.com, fifty-two.com, or even five-two.com.
Represents Your Brand
Keep in mind that your domain name will serve as the address of your online headquarters. Hence, it must remind people of your brand, whether personal or business. It will not just help increase your online presence but will significantly help your digital marketing efforts as well.
Choosing a Hosting Provider
Those who did not choose a WordPress plan but have opted to download WordPress via WordPress.org will definitely need a hosting provider instead.
Three Top Hosting Providers
Here are the three of the most popular options right now:
Bluehost is one of the pioneers in the industry. The company has been around since 2007 and is the current host of more than three million websites and counting. It offers a beginner-friendly platform, and most of all, a one-click install feature of WordPress.
Those who want an affordable option should certainly consider Hostinger. It also caters to websites powered by WordPress.
Finally, you have probably heard of GoDaddy through their fierce digital marketing campaigns. It is definitely one of the most popular hosting companies right now, powering almost 45 million websites and counting.
What we love best about GoDaddy, though, is their WordPress-specific packages. These have made it easier for WordPress site owners to get their websites hosted through GoDaddy.
How To Install WordPress
You will be pleased to learn that a lot of hosting platforms have built-in WordPress installation features. GoDaddy, for instance, only requires you to go to their Options & Settings page, scroll to their Popular Apps section, and click on the WordPress icon. Each provider has a slightly different process, so be sure to do your research to avoid any issues.
How To Install a Theme
Once the installation is done, you can now proceed to choose your theme. You might have noticed that WordPress has already automatically applied a default theme. It won’t look very appealing, though.
Hence, here are the steps to apply a different one:
1. Log Into Your WordPress Account
This will take you straight to the user dashboard.
2. Go To Appearance
You will find the main navigation panel on the left side of the dashboard. Click on Appearance, and then Themes. Click on the Add New on the next screen.
3. Choose Your Preferred Theme
The next screen will give you the ability to search through thousands of free themes in the WordPress directory. We highly recommend using the filter feature to search for popular and industry-specific themes.
4. Apply Your Preferred Theme
Click on your desired theme. It will show two options: Install and Preview.
5. Customize Your Installed Theme
Upon installation, you can now go back to your dashboard. Click on Customize. It’s also within the Appearance section right under Themes. It will take you to the theme customizer.
Feel free to explore the various customizable elements of your website. They are listed on the left side of the screen. The right screen will show a live preview of your website.
Tweak your site until you are satisfied. You don’t have to customize everything right away. After all, you haven’t even added your content yet. This leads us to the next part of our guide.
How To Add Pages and Posts
There are two main types of content that you can add to your website. These are posts and pages.
Posts are part of the blogging feature offered by WordPress. This type of content allows you to publish a collection of posts that you can feature in a segment of your website.
It doesn’t have to be limited to a blog. You can also post updates and news.
On the other hand, pages are designed to be static that is always displayed on your site menu and seldom changed. Contact pages, privacy policies, and landing pages for products and services are some examples.
Separating your content into multiple pages is ideal. Meanwhile, you don’t have to add a blog section to your website if you don’t need it.
It is very easy to add pages. Just go to your user dashboard and click on Pages on the left panel, then click on Add New.
It will take you to the Page customization area, where you can edit your page to your needs and liking. Add title, text, images, and other types of media to make it interesting and presentable.
Adding a post has a similar process. Go to your user dashboard, click on Posts on the left panel, and then click on Add New. This will take you to a screen to the Post customization area that looks identical to Page customization. It will have extra options, such as adding categories and tags.
Again, you can give it a title, add text, images, and other media types to better express what you want to share with your online visitors.
What Are Plugins?
You can already leave your website as it is, but there’s one more WordPress that we’d like you to explore: plugins.
A plugin is an application that can add special features to your website. There are almost 60,000 different plugins in the WordPress directory. A lot of them are free, but we recommend looking into paid options as well.
Here are some ideas of what you can add to your page:
Add a collection of pictures. It is a great idea if you want to feature multiple images of your latest products and services.
Having a contact form that will allow online visitors to send you messages is essential. That is especially if you’re a professional looking into gaining new clients through your website.
Plugins don’t always have to be on-page. Some of them can give you more technical features like Yoast that helps with SEO.
This is probably one of the most popularly used plugins. It allows users to create an online store on their website and offer physical products.
How To Install a Plugin
The process of adding a plugin is similar to adding a page or post. Just head over to your user dashboard and click on Plugins on the left panel.
Click on Add New. It will take you to the plugin directory.
Search for your needed plugin by entering the plugin name or functionality into the search bar. Choose the plugin that best fits your needs, then click on Install Now.
The Install Now button will change into the Activate button after the plugin has been successfully installed. Please note that the plugin will not take effect until you activate it.
Congratulations, you have just successfully installed your first WordPress plugin!
Each application will come with its own set of customization settings and features. Don’t worry; most of their developers will include instructions on making the most out of their plugin.
Uploading Your Plugin
Not all plugins are included in the WordPress directory. For instance, paid plugins are usually offered as a downloadable digital product by their developers. Thus, you’ll be able to buy them from their websites.
As such, there are additional steps to apply these plugins to your website. Here’s a quick guide:
- Go To the Developer’s Website and Buy the Product
Can’t find a free plugin that can serve your needs and preferences? You can search online for other available options out there.
Your developer’s online store should guide you through the purchase process until you reach the download page. The digital product will come in the form of a zip file.
Go back to your WordPress user dashboard and click on Plugins on the left panel. Click on Add New. As mentioned, this will take you to the plugin directory.
However, instead of browsing through the listed applications, click on the Upload Plugin button instead. It’s beside the Add Plugins title.
It will then take you to the plugin upload form. Click on the Choose File button and select the zip file you have downloaded earlier.
You should see the Install Now button activated after you have selected your file. Click on it. It will start the installation process.
Once done, you should see a success message that will tell you that the installation is finished.
Click on the Activate Plugin button to trigger your application. Again, don’t forget to configure it according to your needs.
How To Navigate Through the Dashboard
There are other WordPress features that you can explore in your user dashboard. Below are others that you should look into.
This will allow you to add other types of content to your pages, such as audio and video files.
Access all the interactions you’ve received from your online visitors. Engaging with them by responding to their comments is ideal.
Add your team members and give them controlled access to your dashboard and website.
Change your website’s title and tagline through this page. You can also add your email address and edit comments settings on this section.
There are other elements that you can look into. Feel free to explore your dashboard further to make the most of the available features. There are numerous references about each of them online as well.
WordPress is a very powerful platform to create your website with. It offers a wide selection of themes, plugins, and other features that you can use to enhance your website’s appearance, user experience, and overall value.
The guide that we shared with you above barely touches the depth of functionality that this content management system has to offer. Still, we hope that it has given you a good foundation to start with.
Remember, you don’t have to be a web designer or spend a lot of money to build your website. You just need patience and an open mind to learn how to use WordPress to its full potential.