WordPress for Dummies – Setting Up Your First Website

Wordpress for dummies
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Powering up to 35 percent of the web, WordPress is truly a powerful content management system, complete with tools and plugins for designing any website. It’s the go-to option for bloggers and seasoned web developers as well as big-name brands, such as TechCrunch, The New Yorker, Bloomberg Professional, among others.

Even though WordPress is designed to be user-friendly, it can be complex for the uninitiated. You need to know everything from buying your domain to publishing your first post. With a little research and time, you can learn and understand the whole process.

In this post, we’re going to show you how to get started with WordPress. Hopefully, you’ll learn how to set up your website without any hurdles.

Get a Domain Name

You can easily buy a domain name online, thanks to the hundreds of available domain registrars. Some popular registrars include Namecheap, GoDaddy, Domain.com, and Name.com.

When buying a domain, you have first to check the availability of the name. You want to ensure the name is as simple as possible for SEO purposes. Most importantly, your domain name should represent the theme or focus of your blog or website.

For example, our domain name Precisethemes.com reflects what the website is possibly about. Of course, other components, such as taglines and meta descriptions, provide more information about the site.

Find a Web Host

You need a home for your website, and that means finding a good website host. It should be affordable but provides adequate resources for your site or blog.

Picking a good web hosting provider boils down to three crucial factors: security, speed, and support. Web hosting is usually overlooked, yet it’s one of the key factors of a successful website. So, it’s wise to take the time to review different options, including Dedicated, VPS, Shared, and managed-hosting.

Some reputable web hosting providers include HostGator, Bluehost, SiteGround, GoDaddy, Dreamhost, and Hostinger. Bear in mind that most hosting services also sell domain names. Regardless of your choice, it’s advisable to compare different services before picking one.

Install WordPress

Install WordPress

Once you have purchased your hosting plan, you now need to install the WordPress CMS. There are two ways you can do this:

Download and Install

You can visit WordPress.org/download to download the latest version of WordPress to use on your site. Once you have downloaded the package, you’ll need to unzip it.

You can then upload the file’s content to the root directory of your hosting account using an FTP client, such as FileZilla. You can also install it in its own subdirectory on your website. Then, run the installation script by visiting the URL in a browser. That’s it!

One-Click Install

This is the easiest way of installing WordPress on your new site. You’ll need to access your web host’s control panel to complete this process. Locate WordPress and then click install.

There are also automated tools you can use for installation, including APS, Fantastico, Installatron, and Softaculous.

Get Your Theme

Once you have installed WordPress, you’ll need a theme for your website. It’s basically like your site’s clothing. A theme gives your website the look and feel you want. It plays a role in how visitors and search engines perceive your website.

When searching for a WordPress Theme, you have three options:

  • A free theme
  • A premium theme
  • A custom-made theme

While free themes don’t cost you a dime, they have limited design features and customizability. They’re also rarely updated, and this poses a security risk to your website. There have also been cases of free themes with embedded malicious code. However, there are still good, clean free themes.

The best option is usually to get a premium theme that offers a customizable design, complete with an in-built customizer for managing colors, widgets, typography, and more. Some are usually SEO-ready, allowing you to optimize your blog or site for search engines.

You can also consider getting a custom-made WordPress theme, and this will definitely cost you more. With custom options, you get to give your blog a unique design based on your ideas.

Install Your Theme

WordPress Theme

Installing a WordPress theme is quite easy. You need to log in to the WordPress admin portal and then select Appearance on the left menu. Go to Themes and click Add New to upload your downloaded .zip file.

Once you have uploaded the file, simply select it from the available themes, and click . You’ll then need to click Activate to start using it on your blog or website.

Bear in mind that you can also install your theme using FTP. But you’ll still have to finalize the installation through your WP admin portal.

Customize Your Theme

Before customizing your theme, it’s vital to understand the options that are available to you. For example, if you want a specific functionality, you can simply install a plugin. In some cases, using plugins can provide some of the things you need for your site.

You can also use the Customizer to change the fonts, colors, and layout of your site. Some of the themes come with a page builder, which allows you to customize your blog’s design. For a framework theme, edit the child theme to edit your site.

You can also use the theme editor, but it’s not advisable to do so. This is because any changes you make will be lost when the theme has a new update. Also, editing using the theme editor can lead to a broken site if you don’t know much about PHP and CSS.

So, the easiest way is to use the Customizer. While in the admin screen, click on Appearance and then Customize. You can change the customization options as you wish to get the look you want.

Install Essential Plugins

Once you’re done with editing your theme, you’ll need to install the essential plugins. While using plugins to add functionality eliminates unnecessary theme edits, they actually add to your website’s code volume.

This basically means that your site’s speed may slow due to the increased code volume. Therefore, you only need to limit your plugin installations to those that are really essential. Here are the great options to consider:

  • SEO plugins – Yoast SEO and All-In-One SEO
  • Security plugins – Sucuri and WordFence
  • Backup plugins – Updraftplus, VaultPress, and BackupBuddy
  • Caching plugins – WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, and WP Super Cache

You can choose one for each category highlighted above. However, you’re not limited to these plugins only. There are so many plugins when you go through the WordPress plugin repository. Bear in mind that these plugins have free and premium versions – you get to choose what you want.

There are also other important plugins you will want to consider, such as:

  • Redirection – When you remove or relocate posts, visitors will always get 404 errors when visiting those pages. You can prevent that by using the Redirection plugin to set up 301 redirections manually.
  • Elementor – If you want to create custom pages, Elementor can help you get original designs.
  • Optimole – This plugin is great for optimizing your images. Optimized visual elements help to improve your site speed.
  • Social Snap – For sharing your posts on social media. When used well, social media can grow your blog traffic.

On average, you should have about 20 to 30 plugins. Some experts recommend staying below 20 plugins to avoid slowing your website. You should only install plugins when it’s absolutely necessary.

Secure Your Website

WordPress and web hosting service providers are doing everything to protect the websites and blogs of their users. But you also have a role to play to bolster your site’s security and keep hackers at bay.

Be sure to use strong passwords and user permissions that are unique to your blog. Avoid using your name, birth year, or simple numbers as passwords.

Install security plugins, such as Sucuri or WordFence. Both of these plugins are great, and they also offer premium plans. They help with scanning for malware, blocking unauthorized login attempts, monitoring your traffic, and more.

You should also enable a web application firewall, though your security plugins usually come with a firewall. A website firewall usually blocks malicious traffic before it reaches your website or blog.

Another key addition is the SSL/HTTPS encryption. This protocol encrypts data between your website and browser to prevent malicious actors from stealing the data.

WordPress for Dummies – Final Thoughts

Starting a WordPress blog or site isn’t a difficult process. Of course, there are a few hurdles if you’re for first-timers. Taking the time to learn and understand the crucial steps could make the experience quite seamless.

WordPress is the most popular CMS due to its user-friendly design, large community, and easy access to plugins, themes, and other tools. Plus, there are great WordPress resource sites that provide guides, tips, and tricks for making the most of the CMS.

Whether you want to start a blog, business website, job board, forum, or an ecommerce site, WordPress makes it easy for you to create your desired site. Just be sure to find the right theme for your website or blog.