Using WordPress: Ultimate Guide to Building a WordPress Website

The thought of creating your own website seems overwhelming.

You might even think that this task is only possible for developers or people with a background in web design.

Well, I have good news for you – there is software so easy to use that virtually anyone can successfully create a unique and professional looking website for their business, blog, or portfolio. It’s called WordPress.

This ultimate guide covers a basic step-by-step process for building your own WordPress website, along with a list of tips and tricks to keep in mind when working with WordPress.

First, let’s answer the question most people have when they think about their new WordPress website: What is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

The difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com has to do with who is actually hosting your website.

You host your own website or blog on WordPress.org through a third party. You’ll also need to download your WordPress software, buy a domain name on a third-party website, and manage your server. It’s a much more hands-on experience than WordPress.com.

WordPress.com offers to host your website for you. There is also no need to download software or manage a server. If you choose WordPress.com, your website URL will look like this: www.mywebsite.wordpress.com. However, you have the option to also update your WordPress.com account and purchase a custom domain from a third party (i.e. your URL will look like this: www.mywebsite.com).

So choose between WordPress.org or WordPress.com

You might be wondering if WordPress.org or WordPress.com would be a better fit. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons associated with both options so you can make an informed decision.

WordPress.org is ideal if you want full power over customizing and controlling your website. However, there is a lot more responsibility involved with managing a WordPress.org website. You need to buy and set up your own domain name, upload and install plugins and theme, edit your website’s code, and manage your website’s security. WordPress.org is free to use, but you have to pay for everything else that is required for a website.

WordPress.com is preferable if you are looking for an all-in-one option that does most of the hard work for you. You never have to manage your server, pay for your hosting, or buy a domain. There are also a number of customization options that come with a WordPress.com plan so that you can make your website the way you want it.

WordPress.com has a free and paid version. If you stick to the free version, you won’t be able to upload custom themes or plugins and you will have a WordPress subdomain. However, there is always the option to pay for premium upgrades and other plans that give you even more functionality and control, as well as the option to buy a custom domain through a third-party website.

WordPress for Beginners: Using WordPress

There are several ways that you can create your dream website with WordPress. Users generally find the software easy to use, but understandably getting started can be intimidating if you are new to the process. That’s why we created this “WordPress for Beginners” guide. Would you like a quick introduction before you dive deep? Check out this helpful video:

For even more resources, we’ve also put together some of the best websites for learning WordPress – These can be incredibly valuable sources of information when starting your journey.

Here’s a closer look at how to get started building your website.

How to create a WordPress website

  1. Choose a WordPress plan (WordPress.com only).
  2. Set up your domain name and hosting provider.
  3. Install WordPress.
  4. Choose your topic.
  5. Add posts and pages to your website.
  6. Customize your website.
  7. Install plugins.
  8. Optimize your website to increase page speed.
  9. Get inspiration from examples of WordPress websites.

WordPress is by far the most popular CMS today. The ease of use and versatility allow the majority of users and business owners to create a website that suits their needs. So you can do the same.

1. Choose a WordPress plan (WordPress.com only).

Choose a WordPress plan to start building your website. As mentioned earlier, with WordPress.org you only have one (free) plan option. However, you will need to buy your domain, hosting provider, plugins, themes, and everything else related to your WordPress site.

At WordPress.com, you have to choose between the five plans on offer.

The main differences between these plans are the monthly fee, type of website customization, and access to marketing tools.

2. Set up your domain name and hosting provider.

Setting up your domain name and choosing your hosting provider for WordPress are usually about the same time as the website is created.

Before we dive into how to perform these tasks, let’s explain the difference between your domain name and the hosting provider.

Think of your domain name as your home address. This is how your visitors can find your website on the Internet. Your domain name looks something like this: www.example.com.

Your hosting provider is like your house – this is where your website files are actually stored. Without a hosting provider, your website would have no space on a server to “live” on. Some of the best WordPress hosting providers are WP Engine, Bluehost, and Kinsta.

Product page for wp engine WordPress hosting

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How to choose domain and hosting providers

Again, you’ll need to create your own domain at WordPress.org and find a third-party provider for your website. With WordPress.com, depending on the plan you choose, you can decide whether or not you want a custom domain. However, the hosting will be done for you.

Your hosting provider is important as it will affect the speed, security, and reliability of your website. There are hundreds of providers to choose from. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 22 of the best WordPress hosting providers to help you decide which is best for you. All of these providers meet WordPress’ three hosting requirements:

  • PHP version 7.4 or higher
  • MySQL version 5.6 or higher OR MariaDB version 10.1 or higher.
  • HTTPS support

When considering hosting providers for your WordPress site, make sure they meet all of the criteria above.

For this guide, let’s assume you don’t have a domain or hosting provider yet. How to build your website with the popular Bluehost hosting service.

First of all, go to the Bluehost website and click Getting started.

Product page for hosting the Bluehost WordPress website

This takes you to Bluehost’s pricing page, where you can choose from four plans.

Pricing for hosting the Bluehost WordPress website

Once you’ve chosen your plan and clicked ChooseYou will be redirected to another page to log in with a domain name.

Bluehost login page for the WordPress website

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Once you’ve selected your domain name, you’ll be taken to a page where you can complete your account and billing information for your purchase.

Bluehost account page for the WordPress website

After you have verified your account and purchased your domain, you will be given access to your hosting dashboard where you can install the WordPress CMS.

3. Install WordPress.

If you’re using a hosting provider outside of WordPress, you’ll need to install the CMS to connect your new domain to your website.

This time, let’s use GoDaddy as an example. (Don’t worry, whichever hosting provider you choose, the process is similar.)

Note: If you are using a managed WordPress hosting service like WP Engine or Kinsta, you do not need to do this process as these services are created specifically for WordPress and WordPress is installed for you.

First, log into your GoDaddy account and click Web hosting, and then Manage. You will be redirected to a screen with your account details.

GoDaddy account for the WordPress website

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Scroll down and down Options & settingsyou will see an area titled Popular apps. Click on that WordPress App to start the installation.

GoDaddy settings for the WordPress website

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After installing WordPress, you’ll need to answer a few questions about the domain you want to use, the directory where you want to install WordPress, and your administrator information.

After about 24 hours, your website will be installed on your hosting account and GoDaddy will send you a confirmation email.

After you’ve set up your domain and installed WordPress, the next step is to set up your “primary domain” in WordPress so that your visitors will see your website when they browse your domain.

In WordPress, go to My page and click on Domains. Select the custom domain that you want to make your primary domain.

Set up a custom domain for the WordPress website

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Then click Do primary.

Domain settings for the WordPress website

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Confirm that you want to make this change by clicking Upgrade the primary domain.

primary domain for WordPress website

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Verify that the update was successful by looking for a green box with a check mark Primary domain.

Check the domain for the WordPress website

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Now move on to Step 4: Make Your Website Beautiful.

4. Choose your topic.

You can customize your WordPress website using WordPress’ numerous themes and templates, each with a variety of layouts, formatting styles, colors, fonts, and other visual options.

WordPress automatically applies a standard theme that looks rather plain. You can keep it, but your website visitors might not be that impressed. A custom WordPress theme, whether paid or free, will make your website look engaging and professional to your buyer personalities.

Similar to the numerous hosting providers available, there are hundreds of themes and templates to choose from. To help you out, we’ve put together a guide to 20 of our favorite themes and templates and categorized them by purpose. Whether you are looking for a topic that is versatile enough for several different types of business, or a topic that is suitable for your ecommerce website, portfolio, blog, or business, there is a topic that is yours meets specific requirements. In addition to your theme, you can further customize your pages using a builder tool like Elementor.

To find a theme that works best for you on WordPress.org, go to your admin dashboard. click Appearance, then subjects. You will be taken to another screen where you can browse available topics or search for a specific topic.

The topic selection page on a WordPress website

When you find the perfect theme, just install it to start customizing. Each topic requires different steps during the customization process. So follow them exactly. If a theme has a website (often accessible through the WordPress theme and template library), look for documentation during the customization process.

5. Add posts and pages to your website.

When you add content to your WordPress website, it usually comes in the form of posts and pages.

Posts (or “dynamic pages”) are typically used for blogs and portfolios because they automatically place your latest website content on top of your featured content. The pages are static which makes them more appealing to business owners – the added content stays in the same place.

Posts and pages are the most important post types in WordPress. There are also other native post types as well as custom post types. At the moment we can only stick to pages and posts.

First, decide whether you want a post or a page to act as the homepage (or any other page) of your website. To add a post to your website, go to the admin dashboard and click Contributions and then Add new.

the dashboard menu on a WordPress website

You can add a title for your post, place photos, change the format and insert page elements using blocks and shortcodes. click save draft to save your changes as a draft, or click Publish to take the post live immediately.

Adding a page to your website is a similar process. Click in your administration area on pages, then Add new.

the dashboard menu on a WordPress website

First, add a title to your page. Next, you can insert photos, embed videos, and add content. Follow the same steps to create multiple pages for your website. When you’re done, click save draft or Publish.

6. Customize your website.

Beyond the theme you choose, there are a number of ways you can further customize your website. Let’s review a few options.

First, let’s customize your site title. From your admin dashboard, select the option Settings> General. Add your website title and tagline here. You can also toggle other basic site information like url, email, time zone, etc.

the general settings page on a WordPress website

Next, we’ll customize your reading sections. Under Settings> Readingyou can change your homepage to a static page.

the reading settings page on a WordPress website

Keep this in mind if you’re a business owner who prefers content to stay in one place on your website. Use a dynamic page if you’re a blogger who prefers your latest content to appear on top of your pages. This way, your visitors can easily find your latest posts.

The navigation bar is also customizable. This makes it easy for your visitors to find information on your website.

Add a navigation bar by clicking in your admin dashboard Appearance and then Menus.

The menu options page on a WordPress website

From here you can choose how you want your bar to look, how many pages you want to include, how you want to title these pages, and in what order they should be listed.

Of course, this is only a fraction of what you can do in the dashboard. Click here for more information on your WordPress site settings and customization options.

7. Install plugins.

Plugins are pieces of software that add functionality to your WordPress website and improve the user experience. With over 55,000 plugins available, there are options for almost every type of website and user. Some of the most popular plugins available are:

  • HubSpot WordPress Plugin: Easily add popups, forms and live chat to your WordPress website. Couple this plugin or other CRM plugins with your HubSpot CRM as an additional bonus.
  • The Event Calendar: A hassle-free event calendar that makes it easy for you to schedule events from your site.
  • Yoast SEO: The go-to plugin that helps you with on-page SEO. This app makes sure that you are following best practices before broadcasting your website live.
  • TablePress: Do you need a table on your website? Look no further.
  • The SEO Framework: Another plugin that allows you to master SEO on your website.

To start the installation, go to Plugins Section in your admin dashboard. This will show you all of the plugins that are currently installed on your site. Several plugins may already be installed, depending on your host. Note that a plugin must be activated after installation in order for it to work.

the plugins page on a WordPress website

Click to add a new plugin Add new. Find the plugin you want and then click Install nowWait a few seconds and then click activate.

The screen for adding plugins on a WordPress website

Get the WordPress CRM plugin that will help you organize, track and nurture your leads.

8. Optimize your website to increase page speed.

Website performance is an important part of the user experience. If a page takes too long to load, your visitors will quickly switch to another site. You don’t want to frustrate visitors with slow speeds.

You can improve the performance of your website by enabling browser caching. With browser caching, your website data is temporarily stored in your visitors’ browsers. This way, your content does not have to be sent from the web server to be displayed in the browser. This increases the speed of the website.

To enable caching for your website, install and activate a caching plugin using the procedure outlined above.

9. Get inspiration from examples of WordPress websites.

When you start customizing your website, you may feel overwhelmed with all of the options available. Instead of starting from scratch, it helps to take inspiration from other exemplary WordPress websites. Here are some of our favorites:

99% Invisible is a popular podcast that focuses on design and architecture. Their website is sleek, modern, and has easy navigation for visitors to quickly access any podcast episode.

the homepage for the 99 percent invisible WordPress website

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The Houston Zoo website shows its main attraction on the home page. The magnifying glass icon in the top menu bar makes it easy to browse the site.

Homepage for the Houston Zoo's WordPress website

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Awesome Motive, the creators of several WordPress projects, inspires their visitors with a sophisticated yet simple website. It offers subtle animation to grab people’s attention.

Fantastic example of a WordPress website

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WordPress website tips and tricks

There are a number of WordPress tips and tricks to help make your website as effective and user-friendly as possible. We have listed 20 of these below to help you with this.

1. Focus on the basics and create a great user experience with a WordPress theme that compliments your business and website content.

2. Use hyphens, not underscores, when naming your files in WordPress. Google looks the same underlined as Carpenter, which means your file will look like one big word. That won’t help you with your SEO. Use hyphens to make it clear that there are separate words. (For example, use www.example.com/this-is-an-example, not www.example.com/this_is_an_example).

3. Use the WordPress online support For any questions or concerns you may have while building or using your website. There are a number of forums and ways to reach out to WordPress experts listed on their website.

4. Use Image Alt Text to your advantage. Image Alt Text can be used to improve your SEO and Google rankings.

5. Hold your Sidebar organized as well as possible. Stick to the basics and think about what your website visitors and buyers need to access really quickly and easily.

6. Back up your website regularly. So, if you ever lose access or experience technological difficulties, you have everything you need to fully restore your content. There are a number of plugins such as B. Snapshot Pro, specially designed to secure your WordPress content.

7th Learn and understand SEO basics to make sure your website is fully optimized so that you can increase your conversions.

8. Create a custom homepage. As already mentioned, WordPress provides you with a standard homepage. Take the time to create your own theme with a theme appropriate for your business. Remember, this is your visitor’s first impression of your company, blog, or portfolio.

9. Keep track of your website’s performance and know what works and what doesn’t for your visitors. There are a number of useful WordPress plugins as well as Google Analytics software available to improve this performance.

10. Add an About Us page to your website to show your visitors that you are a trustworthy person and / or a trustworthy company. “About Us” pages are known to be the second most visited pages on websites (after home pages). So it is important to introduce yourself.

11. Make sure your site is secure to ensure that no hackers gain entry. Again, there are plenty of plugins like WP Defender to help you with security.

12. Create custom permalinks. Permalinks are the permanent URLs that you want to keep static for the foreseeable future. They are important because they improve the user experience and improve the SEO of your WordPress website.

13. Create a custom navigation bar (as mentioned earlier) to make your website easier for your visitors to use.

14. Add excerpts to your blog posts That way, people won’t land on your blog page and see your entire piece at once. By only including excerpts on your blog page, you create space to list all of your blogs in one place. Visitors can then read the excerpts and click through to read the posts they are most interested in.

15. Structure your website sensibly for your company, your visitors and your buyer personalities. For example, use posts if you’re a blogger and pages if you’re a business owner.

16. Remove the Comment and Share buttons from certain pages Your website. You don’t need (or don’t want to) a Comment or Share button on your About Us page or any of your service pages.

17. Think how your website will look on mobile devices. It’s no secret these days that people search the internet on their phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Consider using a plugin for a responsive WordPress mobile theme.

18. Use graphics and video content if possible, to break up the text on your web pages.

19. Update your WordPress site and plugins regularly. WordPress will let you know when updates will be released. This will keep your website looking fresh and working efficiently.

20. Use social evidence to show your new website visitors how many other people have viewed your website and content. There are plugins out there that will help you do this in minutes.

21st Choose a CRM that works with your WordPress site. You can use a CRM to keep track of how users interact with your website and business. Here is a list of the best WordPress CRM options.

Build a website with WordPress

A great website is important. This is how you connect with your visitors and leads, create a positive first impression with new users and increase conversions. The good news is that creating your own website doesn’t have to be a daunting process – at least not with WordPress.

The easy-to-use CMS offers fully customizable plans to suit all needs. Without any prior knowledge, you can start building your own website for your company, blog, portfolio or online shop right away.

Use HubSpot tools on your WordPress website and connect the two platforms without bothering with code. Click here to learn more.

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