Creating a WordPress Website
Learn about creating a WordPress website, choosing WordPress templates and plugins, choosing a web host and more. You will find essential information and tips to help you create a WordPress website.
Over the past two years, I moved most of my websites from static sites built with HTML and CSS, onto WordPress. It has been a complex process, which included first learning how to use WordPress and how to create a website with WordPress, choosing and testing Themes and Plugins, and eventually moving my sites to a new web hosting service which offered better WordPress performance and more features.
This article is a work in progress. We are still working on it and there will be more content added soon.
Getting started with your first WordPress website
Plan your site
Before you get started, you first need to plan your website – what do you want to call your site? what pages do you want? What content do you want? What images and graphics do you want? What colour scheme do you want? What style of navigation do you want? Do you want a full width header image or a logo?
Get a domain name
Check if you can get a suitable domain name for your site. Most web hosts also sell domain names, prices can vary a lot, and there are often extra charges or VAT to calculate when comparing costs.
Choose a web hosting service
Install and configure WordPress – more below
Install Themes and Plugins
Install and configure Themes and Plugins for WordPress. This may require a lot of testing to choose themes and plugins which suit your needs.
Prepare Images and text
Correctly size images for your website. You will need different sizes of image for header banners, feature images or to use within the content. Some resizing is done automatically, either by WordPress or by an optimisation plugin, however images do need to be set to suitable proportions for the job and not be too large to upload. Some Themes give recommended image sizes. We have articles and tutorials on image editing and image resizing, we also offer training for Adobe Photoshop and creating website images.
Prepare the text for each page, paying attention to keywords and key phrases that you may want people to search for. It is important to include relevant keywords and key phrases in the first heading, first paragraph, on image alt tags, and in the page URL, as well as other text and headings on the page. Each page should use a unique set of 3 to 5 keywords and key phrases. A good SEO plugin for WordPress will help you to do this, and will tell you when something is missing.
Create pages, posts, navigation menus, add content
This part could take some time, especially if it is a large site.
- Pages are used for static pages – such as home page, contact page, etc.
- Posts are used for articles, news, or content which is regularly changing. Posts appear on your Blog page, and can be organised and displayed with categories and tags.
Test your site
It is important to test the website as you are working on it and particularly before you make the site live. It should be tested in multiple browsers and on different screens and devices.
There are services which will help test and analyse your site, such as Lighthouse from Google.
Dotcom Tools offer free online website performance tools, including website speed testing.
Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console
These are essential tools for monitoring your site and site visitors, as well as managing and monitoring your listings on Google.
Choosing a website host
It is important to choose a web host and hosting package to meet your needs.
Some factors to consider when choosing a web hosting provider include:
- Features included with the package.
- Service quality and reliability.
- The amount of web-space included.
- Bandwidth (how much data can be transferred).
- Is an email account included.
- Is SSL included.
- Do you need to pay extra for any additional services.
- If you want to use WordPress, it is a good idea to look for a hosting service which is optimised for WordPress.
- Some hosts offer an initial discounted rate, but the cost will increase when you next come to renew your hosting (usually after a year).
After setting up my first WordPress website, I realised that my then current hosting was not really suitable for my needs. I spent quite a lot of time looking at different hosting options before eventually opting for a Siteground web hosting account.
Siteground may not be the cheapest web host, but their service is reliable and they have a good set of features, which are constantly being improved.
Siteground’s hosting services are very focused on WordPress and include features such as WordPress staging sites – which allows you to work on a duplicate of your site before pushing the changes to the live site.
I did have some issues with their migration service, and also with their initial WordPress install which defaulted to a URL without a www (a possible problem if you already have an existing site which has a www at the start of the address). However everything got sorted out eventually and their support were always helpful and responded quickly.
Siteground web hosting features include:
- WordPress Hosting
- 30 days of backups
- Site and image optimisation options
- Free SSL with Lets Encrypt
- Multi-site hosting with lots of control.
- Staging sites (for WordPress)
Sign up for hosting with Siteground.
We may receive incentives when you sign up with this link.
The first thing you will need to do is install and configure WordPress on your webspace.
Many hosts will offer a WordPress installer, which makes installing WordPress easy. Alternatively it can be downloaded and FTP’d to your webspace then installed manually.
If using a WordPress installer provided by your host, there will sometimes be a starter set of themes and plugins available. This is a quick way to get started, and you may find what is offered suits your needs, however sometimes the plugins and themes offered can be of very limited usefulness, unless you upgrade to a Pro or paid for version. There may be better plugins available if you want to start building your website with Free plugins.
When you install WordPress, you will need to choose an install folder for WordPress – for security reasons, you should not name your folder “WordPress” or anything too easy for hackers to guess. You will also need to set a secure username and password. You can change these later, but if you can correctly set these now it will save time later on. The default administrator username cannot be changed, except by editing database fields, and in WP can only replaced by a new admin user.
WordPress settings are found in the menu on the left side of the WordPress screen.
Begin with General Settings, Settings>General Settings
- Site Title
The title of your site: site name, business name, organisation name, etc.
A short description of your site, which may be used by WordPress in certain locations of the site.
- WordPress Address (URL)
The location of the WordPress install,
- Site Address (URL)
The address at which the website will be visible,
- Administration Email Address
- plus some other settings, including date and time settings.
– more soon –
Hompage type (blog or page)
WordPress users – login and security
Search engine visibility
Settings > Reading Settings
Tick this to discourage search engines from indexing this site.
Choosing a Theme
Themes give the WordPress site its look and feel, including the page layout, colour scheme, navigation style, text and heading styles, and sometimes, image sizes.
To choose a new themes, got to Appearance > Themes, and click on the Add New button at the top of the screen.
There are many thousands of themes available, and there are some excellent free themes available. These may be suitable for a lot of new web sites. Often these themes also have a option to upgrade to a PRO version to get extras feature and better support.
While there are a lot of themes to choose from, it may still be difficult to find a suitable theme if you need a specific layout or specific features.
For this site, I wanted a three column layout with left and right menus, I also wanted enough control over the logo and header design, a multi level dropdown navigation, and some colour controls.
I tested dozens of themes before choosing one that offered most of what I needed. i also looked at page builders, but decided that these made the site to complex.
The theme I chose to use was a magazine theme. It has a lot of features that I don’t really need, but it does have 3 columns as well as logo and header control and some other features that I wanted.
Customising a theme
Most themes allow you to customise certain features of the theme, such as header style, colour scheme, text styles. The amount of customisation available varies, with some themes offering lots of settings and others offering only a few.
Further customisation can be done with CSS.
For more advanced users, a child theme can be used to make more complex changes to a theme.
Some of my favourite Themes
Neve, Flash, and Magazine Hoot all work well for me, but there are thousands of themes to choose from.
Plugins allow you to add extra functionality to your WordPress site.
Plugins can add extra formatting and design features, including, backups, SEO, gallery, e-commerce, forms, image optimisation or security.
It is possible to end up with rather a lot of plugins installed. Sometimes it is possible to find a plugin which will do the job of 2 or more plugins, but sometime individual plugins are needed for each required feature.
One of my sites has only 6 plugins – 5 of which would be considered essential. My other larger and more complex sites have 12 or more plugins installed.
You can search for WordPress plugins from within WordPress, you can check ratings and reviews.
Many of the most popular plugins are heavily promoted and whilst some are very good, often the most highly rated plugins are missing a key feature which is needed to work effectively. Some plugins constantly pester you to purchase the Pro version.
Sometimes a slightly less popular plugin will offer a better solution – often for free or for a lower cost.
Some Plugins which may be essential for many websites
- Image Optimisation
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Some of my favourite Plugins
All in One WP Security, WP Vivid Backup, Broken Link Checker, Rank Math, Admin Columns, Content Aware Sidebars, Woo Commerce.
More details soon.
Sign up for hosting with Siteground.
We may receive incentives when you sign up with this link.
We are still working on this article, and there will be more content added soon.