Going to launch a website but don’t know where to start? Follow this step-by-step guide and your resource will go live in no time. Plus it will cover most frequent mistakes people do on each stage so you could avoid them.
Today, there’s no need to design a future website from scratch. There are plenty of ready-made templates developed by trustworthy companies, like TemplateMonster.com, for example.
As a rule, everything starts from choosing a website platform, but we can skip this stage as if you are reading this blog post, you have already chosen WordPress, the most popular CMS in the world.
It’s a smart choice, by the way. WordPress is totally free, with many layouts/themes to choose from, and a huge friendly community that will make it easy to get going fast.
WordPress is very beginner-friendly. If you are able to use Microsoft Word, you know how to add your own content. WordPress can be expanded with free plugins (contact forms, subscription forms, image galleries and so on) to turn your web page into a business site or social network.
WordPress is great both for small and large sites. From simple blogs to gorgeous business sites and online stores, WordPress can handle any kind of website. The CMS is used by eBay, Mozilla, Reuters, CNN, Google Ventures and even NASA.
Your site will be responsive right out-of-the-box. It will look great on every mobile device, smartphone, and tablet.
Excellent support and developer community available to help. With so many people using the platform, it’s really easy to find quick help when you need it. Moreover, WordPress has lots of free resources both available on Youtube and their support forum.
To cut a long story short, stick to WordPress, especially if you are a beginner. It’s the easiest platform to work with, but it’s flexible enough to suit everyone from small business owners, and freelancers to creative artists and bloggers.
Let’s walk through the process of choosing a domain name and finding a space to host your site, of installing and customizing your WordPress website together.
You need a domain name and hosting to get a website online.
A domain name is a web address that looks like that: yoursitename.com.
To put it simple, a hosting is a service that connects your site to the Internet.
As we have already mentioned above, the WordPress CMS is free, but a domain name and hosting are paid. They will cost you around $3 -$5 a month, which is almost next to nothing.
Make no mistake here. Make sure to have your own domain instead of having your site on someone else’s domain (like yourbusiness.my-free-website.com). It’s professional and affordable.
The same thing is with hosting. Having your own one will make your site load quickly and won’t go down for hours at a time. This is pretty important for your visitors.
Where to get a domain name and hosting
We can recommend you to use Bluehost.com as a web hosting and domain registrar.
Their website hosting costs $2.95/mo and they provide a free domain name, which is a nice bonus. Of course you can try other web hosting providers.
Possible mistake: some people try to host their sites by themselves, but it’s a very complicated process. Such kind of hosting may not be capable of serving your website visitors. The best advice here is to save your money, time, and efforts to get a proper web host.
Besides, when you get a domain name, you also get a personal email account(s) looking like this: you@YourSite.com, which is way more professional than a generic Gmail or Yahoo address.
What kind of domain name to pick
Everything is easy here:
If you’re launching a website for your business, your domain name should match your company name. For instance: YourCompanyName.com
If you’re setting up a website for yourself, then YourName.com can be the way to go.
Domain names commonly end with .com, .org or .net, but not so long ago a huge amount of domain extensions have come out, ranging from .agency to .pizza.
Possible pitfall. You’d better avoid the weird extensions and go with .com, .net or .org unless they perfectly describe what you have to offer – and even then, check out if you can find a more common name.
While .com, .org and .net are habitual and easy to remember, the domain extension craze hasn’t really gone mainstream yet, so people simply may not find you if you use a totally different domain extension.
Additional tips for choosing your domain name
It should be brandable. For example, if you make a site about writing, then best-writing-website.net is not a good choice: writingacademy.com or writingfall.com is much better.
It should be memorable. Short, compelling and clear domain names are much easier to remember. If your domain name is too indistinct, too long or spelled in a strange way, visitors will forget it by all means.
It should be catchy. Your domain name should roll off the tongue, describe what you (or your business) do and stick in the head. Coming up with a cool name can become a headache for a while since there are approximately 150 million active domain names in the world right now – but you won’t give up, will you?
And the last thing we would like to tell you about choosing a domain name – you should like it.
Setting up & tweaking your website
Well, you have bought your domain name and set up your hosting. Now it’s time to get your website up and running. The first thing to do after that is to install WordPress to your domain.
There are two possible ways to install WordPress. Both of them are simple.
We will tell you about 1-click installation most of the reliable well-established hosting companies provide. There is also a manual way, it’s not complicated either, but if your hosting company doesn’t provide this super-fast option, it is a good reason to reconsider your hosting company choice.
Supposing, you signed up with Bluehost or any other similar hosting company. You should find your “1-click-installation” in your account control panel.
Steps to follow (they should be similar/same on all the major web hosting companies):
- Log in to your hosting account.
- Go to your control panel.
- Look for the “WordPress” or “Website” icon.
- Choose the domain where you want to install your website.
- Click the “Install Now” button and you will get access to your new WordPress website.
Choosing a theme/template for your site
Once you have successfully installed WordPress to your domain, you’ll see a very basic, yet clean site. But this theme will hardly make you happy. That’s why you need a theme – a design, a template that tells WordPress how your website should look.
There are thousands of awesome, professionally designed premium themes you can choose from and customize for a site that meets your requirements.
Here are a couple of good examples of such kind of themes developed by TemplateMonster.
Monstroid2 – Multipurpose WordPress Theme
Bellaina – Real Estate Responsive WordPress Theme
How to find a free theme you like
First of all, log into your WordPress dashboard.
Type in: http://yoursite.com/wp-admin (replace “yoursite” with your domain).
You’ll see the WordPress dashboard:
As you see everything is easily labeled.
Once you’re in the dashboard, you get access to over 1500 free themes. Just look along the side bar for “Appearance”, then click “Themes”.
If you want something more professional or elegant, then head over to TemplateMonster or similar companies, where there’s a huge collection of themes to pick from at moderate prices.
But we will train on a free theme if you have nothing against it. Many of them are good-looking and quality; so you may give them a chance.
Installing a new theme for your website is very easy.
You can search for specific keywords and/or use filters to find themes that suit your corporate style.
You should also look for themes that are “responsive”, as this means they will look good on any modern mobile device.
In a word, all you need to do is just punch it in as one of your keywords, and you’ll be all set.
Installing your new theme
Did you find your one and only theme? Great! Click “Install” and follow by “Activate”.
FAQ: I want to change themes. Will the operation delete my previous posts/pages/content? The answer is NO. You can change themes as often as you wish, don’t worry you won’t lose what you’ve created.
When your theme is installed, you are ready to start creating content. Let’s make a quick recap of some basics.
Adding and editing pages
Would you like to add a “Services” page, or an “About Us” page?
1. Search along the sidebar in the WordPress Dashboard for “Pages” -> “Add New”.
2. Click it. You’ll see a screen that looks similar to what you’ve seen in Microsoft Word. Add text, images and more to build the page you want, then save it when you’re done.
Adding pages to the menu
If you want your new page to be linked to in your navigation bar, save any changes you’ve made to the page by clicking “Update”. Then click “Appearance” -> “Menus” in the sidebar of the WordPress Dashboard. Find the page you created and add it to the list by clicking the checkbox next to it and then “Add to Menu”.
Adding and editing posts
Today most of the websites have blogs, so “Posts” are usually your next stop point. There is an option of grouping similar posts choosing from different categories.
If you want to add a blog to your website, you can use different categories and posts. For example, you want to create a category named “Blog”. What you need to do is add it to your menu and start crafting posts.
In a nutshell:
a. Create a new category by going to “Posts -> Categories”
b. Create a blog post by going to “Posts -> Add New”. Once you’ve finished writing your blog post, don’t forget to add the right category for it.
Once you’ve created your category, simply add it to the menu.
Answers to FAQ on customization and tweaks
Changing Your Title and Tagline
Page titles help the users understand what your website is about. They also play an important role in how search engines determine your rankings, so you’d better be sure they’ve got the keywords you want to target in them.
NB! But write them for real people, in a natural manner.
Use a unique title on every page of your site.
Taglines are added at the end of titles across every page.
Go to “Settings -> General” and fill in the form below to change the title and tagline on your website.
Disabling Comments for Posts & Pages
If you don’t want your visitors to be able to comment on your pages, here’s how to shut comments off on WordPress pages:
- 1. While you are writing a new page, click “Screen Options” in the top right corner
- 2. Click the “Discussion” box. The “Allow Comments” box will appear at the bottom.
3. Untick “Allow Comments”.
Go to “Settings -> Discussion” and untick “Allow people to post comments on new articles” to disable comments on every new page by default.
Setting Up a Static Front Page
If it seems to you that your home page looks like a blog post and don’t like that, you can fix it by making your home page “static”.
A static page won’t change. Unlike a blog, where the first new article shows up at the top every time, a “static” page displays the same content every time someone enters the site.
To set up a static front page:
- 1. Go to “Settings -> Reading”
- 2. Choose a static page that you have created. “Front Page” denotes your home page, “Posts page” is the front page of your blog (if your entire site isn’t a blog).
What happens if you don’t choose a static page on your own? WordPress takes your latest posts and starts showing them on your homepage.
Most WordPress themes have a sidebar on the right side, sometimes it’s on the left.
If you want to get rid of the sidebar or edit out the pointless items like “Categories”, “Meta” and “Archives”, here’s how to do this:
- 1. Go to “Appearance -> Widgets” in the WordPress Dashboard.
- 2. You can use drag and drop to add different “boxes” to your sidebar, or remove the items you don’t want from here.
You’ll see a “HTML box” – a text box where you can use HTML code. It’s not for beginners, so just drag and drop the elements you’d like in your sidebar.
“Plugins” are extensions that are intended to expand WordPress’ capabilities, adding features and functions to your site that don’t come built-in.
They work as shortcuts to getting your site to do what you want to, without having to build the feature from scratch.
You can use plugins to do almost everything: from adding photo galleries and submission forms to optimizing your website and creating an online store. Go to “Plugins -> Add New” and simply start searching. Installation is easy – once you find a plugin you like, just click “Install”.
There are over 25,000 different free plugins, so you’ve got a lot to choose from!
Common mistake: don’t install every single plugin just because it’s free, think well whether you really need it on your site.
Here is a short list of most popular plugins from webmasters, hope it will be useful:
Contact form 7: If you want to have a contact form, say, on your About Me page, get this plugin. It’s an awesome feature, as people can fill in the form and send you an email without logging into their own email provider.
Yoast SEO for WordPress: This plugin is a must-have if you want to make your WordPress site even more SEO-friendly. You’ll be able to edit your title tags, meta descriptions and more, all from within the page itself – no more bother with WordPress settings.
Google Analytics: Everybody is interested in tracking their visitors/traffic and their behavior. Just install the plugin, connect it with your Google account and you won’t miss a thing.
- Of course this list is not comprehensive; you may find more info on the
- for your WordPress site on the Internet.
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- Congrats! You were diligent and followed all the guide steps and now you have a fully-functional WordPress website. No sweat, yea?
Here is the last, very important advice. Keep improving your website regularly. WordPress is highly customizable. But this will be another story…
Was this guide helpful? Still have any questions? Please ask them at the comments section below.