[How to] 14 steps to an awesome WordPress website for beginners

If you've heard about Wordpress, you probably would want to know how to go about building a new WordPress site from scratch. It's not VERY difficult, but we wanted to guide you through all the actual steps, not just the installation but the whole actual procedure from having nothing, to having a complete functional, fully working, optimized WordPress website. If you have just heard about WordPress and want to do it all yourself, this is the article for you :)

First Step - buy a domain

Have you bought the domain you want already? If not, then now is probably the time to do some thinking about this. Choose your domain name wisely, have a bit of a thought process. Choose something which is fairly easy to remember by your target audience, ideally in a domain which maybe is already familiar with your target demographic. Once you've thought about it and made a decision, then purchase your domain

 

Step 2 - get your WordPress hosting sorted

You probably need to get a web hosting page to know where your site is going to live. It's ideal to chose a web hosting service which specializes in WordPress hosting. There are many out there, we choose to use InMotion for a number of reasons
  • InMotion hosting is specifically optimized for WordPress, a WordPress site on InMotion is really really fast
  • WordPress sites hosted on InMotion are secure - besides auto-updates, many of the normal weaknesses of WordPress are specifically protected by InMotion
  • InMotion have a lot of WordPress support gurus, so if we have any questions, they sort it our for us in minutes.

Give InMotion a shout, they'll be happy to give you a full 90 day money back guarantee And DART Creations visitors will get 47% OFF. This is a limited time offer, so grab it while you can.

domain-name

 

Step 3: Get the domain or sub-domain

In all likelihood your host will be using CPanel to manage the hosting service. If you choose a package which allows you to host a single website, then you're already done. If you are hosting on a service which allows you to create multiple websites, you'll probably need to add either a subdomain or an add-on domain. And add-on domain is a brand new domain such as http://www.dart-creations-is-awesome, whilst a sub-domain would be something like http://awesomeness.dart-creations.com

Step 4: Link the domain to the hosting 

The fourth step is to create the "link" between the domain you have bought and the hosting server you have bought. This is done via DNS. Essentially, this is done via the name servers functionality of the domain you have bought. Somewhere in the management of the domain you have bought you will find a way to specify what is called the nameservers for the domain. The nameserver(s) are typically owned by the company where you will host your website - their function is to indicate to the browser try to access the domain you have bought, the exact server('s location / IP) which is hosting your website. So in the fourth step, what you'll need to do, is discover the nameservers of the hosting company you will be using, and enter these nameservers in the management of the domain you have bought. This step is independent from creating a website using Wordpress, whatever technology you use to create your website, you'll have to perform this step.

Link the domain to the hosting - DNS

 

 

 

 

 

There are some users who won't be running just a single website on their hosting. Particularly if you are a web designer or an agency, you're probably going to need plenty of storage. Many hosting accounts will offer a limited amount of storage, however it all depends on the actual hosting account you go for. Many times, you will be able to find hosting companies who can provide you with account with unlimited storage. You should compare and contrast and see what suits your needs before you make an ultimate decision. Particularly if you are an agency,  you wouldn't want to transfer tens or hundres of sites, so consider carefully before you make a final decision.

Step 5 - prepare your hosting package with the WordPress source files

We've now arrived to WordPress specific steps :) First of all, you need to acquire the latest source files for WordPress by visiting and downloading the latest version of WordPress from https://wordpress.org/download/ ... once you've downloaded the files, you'll need to upload these files to the hosting server which you've bought in the previous steps (do not uncompress the files yet!). You can do this, either by accessing your server via an FTP program and uploading the zip file you have just downloaded.

An easier way is usually to simply use the File Manager function which is typically available via your hosting control panel. This should provide you with an easy way to upload the zip file to the root folder of your hosting package. Make sure you upload the file to the public_html folder (there might be other folders). If you want your WordPress website to live in www.yourdomain.com upload the file to public_html. If you want to have a subfolder, create a folder with the name of the subfolder you want in public_html, and upload it to that folder. For example, if you want your install a new WordPress named MyStory, create a folder named MyStory in public_html, and upload the file to this folder. Your new WordPress installation would then be created in www.yourdomain.com/MyStory

cPanel File Manager

 Once you've uploaded the zip file, your File Manager should also provide you with the functionality to expand the zipped file via the Extract function. Extract the zipped file now.    Why have we opted to extract it now? Well it takes of course much less time and effort to upload a single file rather than a few hundred via ftp ;) 

Step 6 - Prepare the (MySQL) database for your new WordPress installation

A WordPress installation requires a database to store all of its content, menus, configurations, comments etc in this database, so you'll need to create a database for WordPress. This database is queried by WordPress each time somebody access your new WordPress installation, reads the information you have posted, and displays this data to the end user.  

Using the control panel of your websites hosting package, you should be able to create a database, together with a username and password for this database.  If your host is using CPanel, and use the function MySQL database, creating the database and the user are done as seperate steps. You first create the database, then add a new MySQL user, and finally grant access that user access to the MySQL database you have just created. If you want a slightly easier way, you probably should use the MySQL Database Wizard which allows you to create the database, user and give the user access to the database you have created in a number of steps after each other.   Make sure you take note of the   

  1. Name of the MySQL database
  2. Name of the MySQL user and password of the user you have created
  3. Name of the MySQL server (this is specificed during the creation of the database). It is usually localhost, but it might be different in some hosting servers.  

If this step is a bit difficult for you to achieve by yourself most hosting sites will be able to create the database and user for you and give you all of the information you'll need.

Step 7 - Installing WordPress

Once you have done all of the above preparations, installing WordPress should take literally a few seconds :)   Visit your domain: and you should get a welcome page telling you what information you're going to need which are the following  

  1. Database name (the MySQL database you have created in Step 6)
  2. Username (the MySQL user you have created in Step 6)
  3. Password (the password for the MySQL user)
  4. The name of the database server host (usually localhost, or the name which was given to you whilst creating the database in step 6
  5. Table prefix - this should be a couple of characters at random and an underscore, by default they are wp_  

Once you have confirmed you have all the infroamtion from 1 to 4 above, press the "Let's Go" button. You'll now get a form which allows you to specify the information of the database. Enter the information correctly and click the Submit button. You don't really have to worry too much about the table prefix, so if you don't understand what it does, just leave it as it is by default.  

If WordPress is able to connect to the database, you'll get a nice message from WordPress saying it;s now about to run the installation of WordPress. If you have specified some wrong piece of information to access the database, the WordPress installation is going to complain - something along the lines of "Error establishing connection to the database". Make sure you have the correct information and try again.  

Once you are able to perform the "Run the install" step - you're WordPress site is nearly ready!! Just a final step of configuration and you'll be done! You should now be seeing a Welcome screen.

Here you can now enter some information about your new WordPress website installation.  

  1. Site Title - give your WordPress website a name. We already said it's going to be called My Story
  2. Username and password - these are going to be used to access the administrative part of WordPress, so make sure you create a very strong password. The strength indicator will show you whether you have a good password or not. If you want your website to survive the wild west of the internet DO NOT use admin as the username and password. Do not use admin as the username or password. Infact, make sure that the username and password are difficult to guess by somebody else, but easy to remember by you. I like to use phrases, together with random characters. For example, the username would by MyAdminStory, and the password would be Letmetellyoua$t(0)ry
  3. Enter your email address for important notifications from your WordPress website. 
  4. Check the privacy options if you would like Google and other search engines to be able to access your website   And that's it!! You now have a new WordPress website. You'll now be redirected to the WordPress administration to enter your username and password so that you can start creating posts :)   

Moreover, if you go to www.yourdomain.com you're going to find a brand spanking new WordPress website!! Hello World!

Step 8 - Secure your WordPress site

wordpress SecurityWordPress has had an awful history of being easy to hack - but this is something which can be quite easily addresses with the current mature versions of WordPress.   There are two very basic things you need to do to make WordPress hundreds of times more secure  

  1. Make sure you allow WordPress auto-updates. This ensures that if a security problem is discovered in your current version of WordPress and a new WordPress is version comes out which addresses this problem - the new version will be installed and your website will no longer suffer from that problem
  2. Make sure that your administrator username and password are not easy to guess. We've already highlighted this above, but we'll stress this again. Make sure the adminstrative users of your new WordPress website installation have a username which is NOT admin, and a password which is difficult to guess.

Besides these two steps, the best way to secure your WordPress installation, is by allowing the experts to do it for you. If you are not a security professional, then in all likelihood you might miss something, so better leave it to those who exactly what they are doing. We recommend installing Acunetix WordPress plugin, and let it do its thing. It will perform a number of fixes on your WordPress installation which makes it much much more secure than a standard WordPress installation.  

Step 9 - configure the basics  

There are a few steps you really should do to make sure your new WordPress site is up to scratch.   

Make the URLs look pretty

If you clicked on the Hello World post, and take a look at the address bar - you'll see that it the address of the post isn't exactly ideal. It looks like www.yourdomain.com/?p=1. This how your posts would look if you did not change the default "Permalink" settings. So head over to the Permalinks section (Settings > Permalinks) and choose how you would like the address of your posts to look. There are various options you can choose, and choose one you prefer as long as you change it from the Default.  

Protect your WordPress website from comment spam

The scourge of the ability to comment is that so many WordPress websites get abused by comment spam. Fortunately, WordPress ships with Akismet, which is comment spam protection service. First of all choose whether you want comments or not, if you do not want any comments, head to Settings > Discussion and customise the options here to suit your needs. You can for examle force users to register before they are able to post comments, or you can choose the disable comments completely.  Once you have done this, you should still configure Akismet. Go to Plugins > Instlaled Plugins > and click on Acitvate for Akismet. Once you press Activate you'll get a huge button which shows you how to register and Akismet account, generate an API key and use this to protect your WordPress installation from comment spam  

Give your name a face - activate Gravatar

Gravatar is used by default in WordPress to display images on comments, or wherever Gravat is enabled. Many themes also support Gravatar. You just need to associate your email to Gravatar once, and from then onwards, on your WordPress website or any site where Gravatar is enabled, your name which have a face

Step 10 - Choose an AWESOME theme!

Wait - you thought you were done? Strictly speaking you are ready of course, but these steps will give your site a few things which is *should* have. A theme basically is the personality of your new WordPress installation. A few themes comes installed with WordPress by default, and there are literally thousands which you can choose from. There are also thousands of WordPress themes for sale. We'd recommend that you choose one which you reflects the scope of why you are creating a WordPress website in the first place. Configuring the theme is something which is a little bit outside the scope of this article because it is going to be very much specific to the theme which you have chosen.

What will make or break your WordPress website is very much dependent on what your website looks like. And the way to control what WordPress looks like is through themes. Here's a little hint - do NOT use a free theme. Many times there are limited, basic, unprofessional, and make your site look cheap. Instead visit this website here for a huge selection of WordPress themes costing usually between $20 and $60. You really should skimp on the look and feel of your website - so really, do yourself a favour and pick up a template from there, and we guarantee your site will look great!

We've taken the time to choose quite a few WordPress themes which we love and you might as well have a look at them ;)

WordPress themes for setting up an online shop

WordPress themes for setting up a personal blog

WordPress themes for setting up a real-estate website

Step 11 - Create a few basic pages

Your WordPress website is of course for getting people to know about you, your company, your product or something else you want your viisitors to get to know about. So for your visitors to get to know you quickly and easily you might want to create a few standard pages.  

Set the homepage or front page of your WordPress website

This is where everybody lands as soon as they hit your website i.e. when your users enter www.yourdomain.com. By default WordPress shows a list of your latest posts. If this is the way you want your landing page to be, you don't need to do any changes. On the other hand, if you want to create a a static page, you can go to Pages > Add New and create the content which you want to be displayed as your frontpage. Once you are done with the content of this page, set the page as the frontpage of your website by going to Settings > Reading and choose the static page you have just created to be displayed as the front page

About Us page

The about page of course will be a bit of details of who you are. The about page is one of the pages that most people visit who don't know about your website visit to know who they are dealing with, so make sure you create a succint description of who you are and what you and your website are all about - hence the About Us :)

The contact us page

Once people have arrived on your site, you want to make sure they can get in touch with you as easily as possible. You can either put in an email address, telephone number and other basic contact details. You could also choose to install a Contact Form WordPress plugin, to be able to display a contact form.

Other pages

If your site has a specific scope of displaying information about a product, service, or anything else which you might want to get across to people, you can create pages for the stuff which you want to show to people

Post categories

If you plan to use WordPress as a blog, or somewhere where you want to display posts often, it would be a very good idea to configure categories for your posts. The one thing which you need to keep in mind when creating the post categories is User Experience. You want to optimize the user experience so create categories which make it as easy as possible for your visitors to get to the posts they are looking for in the shortest time possible.

Start posting!

Once you've set up the basics, you should now start adding some content. This of course is going to be an ongoing process. As a rule of thumb, you should be creating posts which are unique and useful for your visitors. If they are useful for your visitors, they will be more likely to stick around or come back for more.

Step 12 - Make your WordPress website search engine friendly and optimize your content for search engines.

By optimizing content for search engines, you make sure that when people are searching for certain phrases, your website is displayed in the search results as often as possible. Although SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is not a one-off thing, there is one thing you need to do to ensure you ease the process of optimizing your WordPress website for search engines. Besides choosing a theme (see below) which is search engine friendly, you'll want to make sure that you install the WordPress plugin:

WordPress SEO by Yoast

Yoast-Wordpress-SEO-Plugin

This plugin enhances the SEO features of your website by providing a number of essential features such as

  1. An XML sitemap of your website. Google, Bing, Yahoo and many other search engines use Sitemaps as a guide of when and what posts to look at when they visit your search engine. If they are guided, they need to guess. An XML sitemap is a detailed map of the content of your website. The Yoast SEO plugin ensures a good sitemap is created for your website, verifies your website ownership on a number of Webmaster tool pages, and submits the sitemap of your WordPress website to the Google, Bing, etc, WebMaster tools portals on your behalf.
  2. Control of title and meta-data tags Two of the most signficant on-page SEO indicators are the title tag and meta-data description. Yoast allows you to configure these tags as necessary for the best possible SEO scores.
  3. Keyword focus - if you are targeting specific keywords or keyphrases, Yoast makes sure you do all the necessary tweaks to ensure your page will rank as well as it can with onpage changes. Things such as having the keywords appear in headings and sub-headings, keywords appearing in the content at specific densities, appearing in the ALT tags of images and other on-page SEO techniques.

Step 13 - Make your website fast and sociable

Prepare for social sharing

Social sharing

Besides traffic from search engines, another great source of traffic are Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. So you need to make sure that your website is enabled for social sharing. As a bare minimum you need to make sure all your pages have a share button enabled for Facebook, Twitter and a number of others (where you target traffic demographic visits most often). You also need to ensure that the pages are "share-friendly", meaning that code is inserted into each page to make sure that the site displays images and descriptions as necessary for each social network. Fortunately, we've got you covered, you won't have to worry too much about inserting these codes into your site. The plugin which we have mentioned above for SEO also covers your site for social sharing.  

Make your website fast

Your WordPress will be annoying if it isn't snappy. If you want the site to be as fast as possible, you'll need to make sure you've gotten a good WordPress hosting server but besides that you'll also need to help it along. There are some good plugins out there, however defintely the best one out there to make your WordPress website fast, you'll need to install W3 Total Cache. When installing this plugin, your site immediately gets a boost, besides rating much better in websites such as Google PageSpeed or Yahoo!'s Y!Slow. This means that your site is going to faster and much more pleasant experience to your visitors.

Step 14 - Do your thing

of course, if you want to break away from the crowd, you'll probably need to customize the site to suit your own needs. However, that is now what YOU need to do and where we can't help you much :) 

What else can we help you with? Drop us a comment and we'll try to help!

One more thing...

Do you have friends or a Facebook group who you think would find this useful? Share this with them and then let me know what they think.

Want to supercharge your website?

 
Our website loads FAST ... just 1.29 seconds. We're hosted on FAST InMotion VPS servers We want YOUR website to be fast too, so we've gotten you an exclusive deal - 47% OFF for DART Creations friends + FREE domain! Check it out NOW!