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.

12 Essential WordPress Tools Every Site Needs

When starting up a new WordPress site there are just certain things that you NEED.  Notice I didn’t say “want” like it’d be a thing that’s nice to have. Because if you take your site’s performance, and potential, seriously you can’t stand to do without these 10 plugins, themes, and tools for your site.

This goes for existing sites too. If you’ve had a WordPress site for some time but want to spruce things up a bit and get your site firing on all cylinders then make sure you’ve got all of these tools running on your site ASAP.

Fair warning, this list is opinionated. We’re not giving you multiple options for every category of plugin or tool you might need, but giving you The Best options out there, from our experience helping build hundreds of sites over 5+ years. So let’s dive in.

Good, Fast, and Reliable Hosting

This seems obvious, but so many of new site owners miss the mark here. There are tons of options out there when it comes to WordPress hosting, and many providers make strong promises, but in our experience just a few deliver really excellent service and value.

Here there are two clear winners in our book.  One that is a bit less expensive and is great for those just getting started, and one for power users who have significant traffic to their site.

If you’re just getting started or don’t have a lot of traffic going to your site we love Siteground hosting.  In fact that’s what this site is hosted on. They have plans starting from $5/month, which also makes them one of the most affordable options in the managed WordPress hosting business.

One of the things we love about Siteground is the value you get.  There are loads of bells and whistles included in even their cheapest hosting plans, making this the clear choice for those just getting started.

If you’re running a site that has significant traffic, or you want just that bit extra power behind your site then the next move up in the managed WordPress hosting realm is Kinsta.  A relatively new player on the market Kinsta has the benefit of having built a fantastic platform using all the most modern web technologies.

Powered by Google Cloud Platform, Kinsta offers enterprise level WordPress hosting at an affordable price. They have plans for single sites starting at $30/month, which include automatic backups, done-for-you site migrations, managed site setup to optimize speed, and incredible customer service that are available 24/7.

Caching Plugin

As your site gets more pages, images, and other resources it is a good idea to put some of those more static resources (i.e. things that don’t change very often) in a cache layer so that your site loads faster.  Caching is just a way of storing some of your website files and assets in a place that makes them available more quickly to visitors, and search engines.

In fact speaking of search engines even as recently as 2020 Google has said that site speed plays a significant role in the ranking of sites.  So, if you’re writing content and want your site to rank for key terms it’s best to get a caching plugin on your site to speed it up.

The clear winner in this category is WP-Rocket. WP-Rocket is a one-click, set it and forget it kind of tool. Upload, activate and turn on their caching plugin and you’re all set.

SEO Plugin

We mentioned search engines like Google ranking your site higher if your site is fast. There are also things you can do to the actual structure of your site and the content on it to make your WordPress site more likely to get ranked highly by Google.

And when it comes to SEO plugins for WordPress there’s a clear winner: Yoast SEO – this tool has both free and paid options (the free is good enough for most all sites in our opinion) and this gives you all the tools you need to more clearly describe what your site and its content is about to search engines like Google.

Content marketing, or just organic rankings of your site in general, is still one of (if not THE) best way to grow a brand online. If you’re not paying attention to SEO today’s the day to start.

Security Plugin

One of the downsides of WordPress, and the fact that they run nearly 1/3 of the entire internet, is that it’s a popular target for hackers and those who wish to exploit weaknesses in websites.  Add on top of that the fact that with the 3rd party theme and plugin ecosystem around WordPress there are just a lot of opportunities for hackers to affect our sites.

But because of that a few very powerful tools have been developed to monitor your site and keep it clean from malicious code, attacks, and minimize the chances of your site being affected by those who wish to do it harm.

And here again there is a clear winner: Sucuri. Sucuri has free and paid options, and even the free option is extremely powerful both in monitoring your site, and keeping unwanted people from exploiting your WordPress site.

We use Sucuri on this site, and absolutely love it. In fact it’s saved our site more than a few times…so it’s well worth the small yearly cost we pay for it.

Backup Service

Even if you’re on a higher end managed WordPress hosting service, like Kinsta, having a backup service that keeps a recent copy of your site is a great idea.

If you ever want to work on your site locally on your computer, or, heaven forbid, you need to restore a previous version of your site because of an attack, you’ll be very thankful you set up an automated backup service for your WordPress site.

And UpdraftPlus makes this almost too easy. They have a free version that is excellent, and a paid version if you want a few more features like automatic Dropbox or Google Drive integration to store your backup files in a separate place from the rest of your WordPress site resources.

That one dark day when your site goes down and you need to restore it from a backup you’ll be thanking your lucky stars you took these next few minutes to set up automated backups.  They’re like a get out of jail free card for your site.

Their backup WordPress plugin has a free version and a premium, paid version.

Email Optin Provider

No matter what kind of site you’re running there is one single best way to communicate with your site visitors, fans, audience, and customers: email.

I know, I know, you say “It’s 2020, shouldn’t I be on TikTok or even Instagram?”.  Maybe…but that’s not all.  Social media is a great way to start a relationship with your audience and customers, but talk to any savvy marketer and they say that hands down the best way to connect deeply with your site visitors and they go straight to email.

This brings up the need to have an easy, and effective, way of gathering website visitors’ email addresses.  An email optin service, like OptinMonster, is a fantastic tool in your website quiver.  With this you’ll be able to present a variety of offers for your website visitors that allow them to enter their email address in return for something from you. This could be a coupon code, a free course, a downloadable template, or anything else that is of value to your specific target audience.

Email Marketing Service

Now that we’ve established that email marketing is The Best Way to deeply connect with your audience and share updates with them, and that a tool like Optinmonster is a great way to gather those email addresses, it’s time to send some emails.

Here again the choice is easy: Mailchimp.

Mailchimp is one of the original players in the email marketing industry, and they’ve done nothing but get better over time. Today Mailchimp is recognized as a powerhouse both for those just getting started with email, and those power users who want a LOT out of a tool.  Mailchimp has a generous free plan, and as you get more subscribers their plans scale very fairly with the amount of subscribers you have on the platform.

Page Builder

Even using a beautiful and flexible theme like those here at Precise Themes, you often times want a way to customize some pages on the site. The ability to quickly add beautiful looking elements to your site, without learning how to code or decipher what a theme is doing is a huge advantage.  And here is where Elementor shines.

Elementor is a page builder, which means it works alongside your WordPress them to give you additional flexibility and customization to any post or page on your site.  Whether you heavily design your site (almost entirely) with Elementor or just add a bit of splash to certain pages, this tool gives you the tools you need to add great looking, and high converting assets to your WordPress site.

SEO Research Tool

We almost didn’t include this in our list of essential tools that every WordPress site needs, but we’ve seen such enormous success in the growth of this site and others like it that we had to include it.

Furthering the discussion of content marketing and SEO you need a tool to help you create a plan for crafting interesting, in demand, and easy to rank for pieces of content on your site.  This is typically referred to as “keyword research”, or just generally creating a “content calendar”.

Using a keyword research tool to map out what articles you can write blog posts about that get traffic, have high “intent” (meaning that people that are searching for those terms are actually looking to take some kind of action on your site like buy your product), and aren’t super difficult to rank for is one of the most overlooked aspects of a high performing blog.

And there is absolutely no better tool at this than Ahrefs.

Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO research, tracking, and data tool for your website. It is where we do all of the research about our competitors, areas we can write about that you as our readers are interested in, and track our organic keyword rankings.

If you’re doing any kind of blogging or content marketing then this tool is a MUST in your marketing arsenal.

Mail Sending

How often do you check your Spam folder? And even then how likely are you to pull emails out of there and actually read/reply/engage with them?  Not very often if you’re anything like me.

Having emails from your WordPress site (like comment notifications, password resets, user invites, etc.) is paramount if you’re using the built in functionality inside WordPress. And I have to say this is one place where almost all shared hosting falls short. They just aren’t “made for” sending email, and as a result email tools like Gmail often flag their sending IP address as Spam.

The workaround for this is using a tool like WP Mail SMTP allows you to easily set up the emails that are sent directly from your WordPress site to go through a dedicated email service, like your own Gmail account.  This is a huge win for deliverability and your audience being able to interact with your site via email notifications

Tracking and Analytics

There is perhaps no better free tool out there for site owners than Google Analytics. The ability to easily track how many visitors your site gets, which are your best performing pages, and loads of other data just wouldn’t be popular without an analytics tool like Google Analytics. And the best part is it’s entirely FREE.

In order to install Google Analytics on your site, you can use a tool like Monster Insights, or if you have other tracking and analytics scripts you’ll want to use on your site it’s worth using a general purpose tool like Insert Headers and Footers.

Forms Plugin

If you have a site then you need a way for people to send you questions, feedback, or share something with you in an organized way. The solution for this is sometimes just an email address, but often times you want to structure things a little more and place a form on your site for visitors to fill out.

The most common use of a form for many of us is a Contact Form. Here you’ll have fields like Name, Email Address, and a Message text box for visitors to send you information.

And a fantastic tool for this is Gravity Forms.  We’ve been using Gravity Forms for years now and it’s both extremely simple to use, but also very powerful when you use some of their add-on modules like Zapier, Stripe, and Trello integrations to extend the native functionality of this forms plugin.


In this article, we’ve listed 12 of the most popular tools we like (and use on this site) for most all WordPress sites. But there are loads of other great tools out there. What tools do you use on every WordPress site you spin up? Drop a comment in below and tell us all about it.

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