How to create a WordPress website for newbies

How to create a WordPress website for newbies

WordPress is the force behind a third of the websites live today. It’s a Content Management System (CMS) – and a powerful one at that. Plus, it’s free! How to create a WordPress website for newbies (tutorial below)

Good to knowWordPress.org is a CMS system, while WordPress.com is a website builder. Confusing, isn’t it! Check out our article explaining the key differences for more info. In this article, we’ll be focusing exclusively on making a website using WordPress.org.

Get a Domain Name

First, you’ll need to buy a domain name. This is the web address people will use to find you – for example, our domain name is crowvision.com

Buying a domain name is super simple. Just head to a domain name registrar – a well-known one is Domain.com – then search for the address you want.

good domain name should be as close to the name of your website or business as possible. It should be to remember, or even guess, and be as short as possible.

In terms of the best domain name extension (i.e. the bit at the end of your domain name), .com is the most common/popular. It’s a safe bet if it’s available, and the option we’d recommend.

Failing that, you’ve got some other good options:

  • .net – available to everyone, but often associated with tech companies
  • .org – available to everyone, but especially popular among NGOs and charities
  • .co – available to everyone, but often associated with startups or trendy new companies

And of course, if you only operate on a national level, you can always go with your country’s domain extension, such as .us or .co.uk. Only US citizens and entities can use .us, but other countries are often more flexible.

While most domains will cost under $20 per year, you might be shocked to see the initial price of some domains reach several thousand dollars. What gives?

These are premium domain names – that’s to say, they’re very popular because it’s expected that they’ll bring a lot of people to your site. After the initial outlay, though, they will renew at the regular rate. If you’re looking to get a lot of traffic via Google searches, it could be worth splashing out on a premium domain name if it aligns with your business. If people will be following a link to your site, or it has a specific, less coveted name, then there’s no point in spending loads.

Sign Up to a Hosting Provider

Now you’ve got your address, you need to rent your plot of land: it’s time to find a host for your website!

Okay, it’s not a perfect analogy – but it is a crucial step in your website-building process. Without a space to host your website – a virtual plot of internet land – you simply won’t be able to get your WordPress site online.

You need to make sure your WordPress hosting provider meets the following criteria:

  • PHP version 7.2 or greater
  • MySQL version 5.6 or greater, OR MariaDB version 10.0 or greater
  • HTTPS support

Our research found Bluehost to be the best hosting provider – it’s even recommended by WordPress itself! You can check out our article on the best WordPress hosts to find out why, and which others we’d also recommend. They all satisfy the above criteria, of course.

Whichever hosting provider you choose, you’ll need to decide whether to opt for shared or managed WordPress hosting.

With shared WordPress hosting, you share a server – and all its resources – with other sites. You’ll share bandwidth (capacity for traffic) and storage space (for your web content and media). Shared hosting is cheaper, and is best suited to smaller sites. Bluehost’s shared hosting plans start at $2.95/month.

Managed WordPress hosting can take the form of VPS or dedicated hosting, and is better for larger sites that need more resources. As you’d expect, it’s a bit pricier. Bluehost’s managed WordPress plans start at $19.95/month.

Top tip: Start your site on a shared hosting plan, then simply upgrade when your traffic picks up and you outgrow your shared plan.

Here’s a quick overview of how signing up for a hosting provider works. We’ve used Bluehost in our example, but the process is pretty similar across the board:

Pick a plan

Head to the Bluehost homepage and select sharedVPS, or dedicated hosting from the ‘Hosting’ dropdown on the menu.

Let’s assume you’ve decided to start off with a shared hosting plan. Here are your options:

bluehost shared wordpress pricing

We’d recommend you spring for the Choice Plus plan to take advantage of the free backups – it’ll be worth every penny if your site runs into difficulties!

bluehost hosting

Did You Spot a Plan You Liked?

Bluehost’s shared WordPress plans are a cheap and reliable way to get started. Compare each one to see which best suits your needs!

Link your domain name

You’ll then be taken to a screen like the one below, where you can enter your domain name:

Linking a domain with Bluehost
Once you’ve chosen your Bluehost plan, you’ll be prompted to connect your domain name
 
bluehost hosting

Don’t Miss Out On Your Perfect Domain

Do you have a domain in mind? You’d better act fast – see if it’s available so you can register it before someone else does.

Set up billing details

Once you’ve linked your domain name, you’ll need to create an account and fill in your billing details:

Creating a Bluehost account
Once you’ve connected your domain, you’ll need to set up an account

At this point, you’ll also need to select how long you want to sign up for. As you might expect, signing up for a year or more will work out cheaper than paying on a month-to-month basis. Bluehost also offers a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can always give it a go and switch later if need be.

So now you have your domain name and a hosting plan, you’re ready to install WordPress! It’s worth noting at this point that, if this is all sounding a little more technical or expensive than you’d hoped, website builders might be a better option. See our roundup of the best website builders for more info!

By now, you should know:

  • What web hosting is, and why you need it
  • Which hosting provider you would like to use (or at least where you can see your options)
  • How much is will cost to host your site

Install WordPress

Now you’ve got the admin out the way, it’s time for the real fun to begin – it’s time to install WordPress!

This is something you can do directly through your hosting dashboard. Depending on the provider, installation will be one-click or manual:

One-click WordPress installation

The clue’s kind of in the name here! With hosting providers offering one-click WordPress installation, downloading WordPress really is that easy.

Bluehost offers one-click WordPress installs.  Most hosting providers use the industry standard ‘cPanel’ dashboard, so even if you’re not with Bluehost, the process should be fairly similar.

How to manually install WordPress with Bluehost
Here’s a step-by-step summary of how to install WordPress with Bluehost

Manual WordPress installation

As you might expect, manual installation is not such a straightforward (or dare we say it, fun) process. It basically just involves downloading WordPress to your computer first, and then reuploading it to your hosting provider.

Choose a Theme

One of the draws of WordPress – if you’re confident with code, or prepared to learn – is that you’ve got pretty much unlimited scope for customizing your site. That said, every site starts with a theme.

And what is a theme, we hear you ask? It’s like a ‘template’ for your website; a fully-made example site that you can then populate with your own content and tweak to your liking.

WordPress comes with its own set of themes. You can ‘demo’ each one to find which best fits the purpose and vibe of your site. To install a free WordPress theme, follow these simple steps:

  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Hover over ‘Appearance’, then click ‘Themes’. This will take you through to the theme dashboard.
  3. Click the button above the themes that says ‘Add New’, then browse themes under ‘Featured’, ‘Popular’ etc, or use the search bar to search for specific industries.
  4. Demo a few themes to find the one you like, then hit ‘Install’ under the theme to download it.
  5. After a couple of minutes, a button will appear under the theme that says ‘Activate’. Click this, and the theme is all yours!
WordPress theme directory
Just six of the many free themes available directly through WordPress. Demo a few to find the perfect springboard for your site.

For something a little more sophisticated and unique, you can buy a theme from a trusted third-party site, such as ThemeForest. Just bear in mind that too many fancy extra features could slow your site down, so only go for what you need – less is more!

Here’s how to install a premium theme on your site:

  1. Download the .zip file of your new theme.
  2. Log in to your WordPress Dashboard.
  3. Hover over ‘Appearance’, then click ‘Themes’. This will take you through to the theme dashboard.
  4. Click the button above the themes that says ‘Add New’. This will take you to the WordPress theme dashboard.
  5. Click the blue button at the top that says ‘Upload Theme’
  6. You’ll then be prompted to choose a .zip file from your computer. Choose your new theme file.
  7. You’ll then see a success message, with a link to activate your theme. And that’s it, you’re ready to go!

Premium themes vary in price, typically costing anywhere between $10 and $200 dollars. We’d say the average is around $55, and this is a one-off cost.

Remember how we said a theme was only the start of your website story? That’s because you’ve got pretty much unlimited scope to customize your site – whether by editing the code itself, or by installing plugins, which we’ll talk about in more detail a little later on.

And don’t worry – whether you choose a free theme or spring for a premium one, you can always change it later down the line.

WordPress is continually updating, and themes need to update accordingly. Any WordPress-made themes, or those made by a responsible developer, will create a theme update in advance of a WordPress update being rolled out. You’ll then need to install the update yourself to make sure your site remains compatible with the new version of WordPress.  

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