In this article we are going to discuss the necessary steps needed to get your WordPress website up and running by looking at choosing the right domain, hosting, theme and plugins for WordPress. You should have all of your content that is required for launch ready at this point. If not then have a look back at the previous article about preparing your content.
Domain and Hosting
Before you dive right into adding content to your WordPress website you will have to grab your space on the World Wide Web. Finding a domain name that suits the needs of your online presence is your first step. The bad news is that most good domain names have gone. The good news is that you can pick one of them up at a domain marketplace like the Godaddy aftermarket for a reasonable fee (I have landed some nice ones for under $30).
If you don’t fancy bidding for your desired domain you can use your creative side by making up a catchy name and buying it at the standard rate of around $10 a year. In fact if you buy a hosting package with the same company they will normally throw in your domain for free. Hosting packages vary but a basic solution will set you back around $50 a year.
Most of the big hosting companies such as GoDaddy, BlueHost and HostGator will also offer free WordPress setup. So straight away you have your web space, your domain, email account and WordPress website. The world is now your oyster!
If you already have hosting but don’t have WordPress installed then it is a simple setup process that you will be able to achieve through your hosting user area with a just a couple of clicks. Once installed you will be provided with login details to get you started.
You may need to install WordPress manually but this is still a fairly straightforward task. Download the latest version of WordPress from the WordPress website, unzip and upload to your main website directory via ftp. Create a database using phpmyadmin, go to your web address in a browser and follow the instructions. For more detailed instructions look at the WordPress Codex installation guide.
After installation is complete you will normally have the standard TwentySixteen theme setup for your website. You may well be happy with this design (it is very good) but you will more likely want something that suits your content a bit better. Fear not, WordPress has thousands of free themes and even more premium themes available at the click of a button. You will not be short for choice in this department!
Free themes can be found at wordpress.org/themes. You can also check out our Free WordPress Themes. These are also available at wordpress.org. If you are looking for a design with Premium features, design and support then you have plenty of options. Themeforest is the biggest player in this market with thousands of high quality themes. Mojo Marketplace is another popular theme marketplace. And then you have a large selection of theme shops including our very own Responsive WordPress Themes at Template Express.
Theme shops like ours and our competitors tend to offer themes that are simple to setup and easy to customize. Themes from marketplaces often offer much more functionality with built in plugins and add-ons. Your choice should really depend on your content and website needs as discussed in the first article of the series.
The easiest way to upload and use a theme for your website is through your WordPress admin area. From the left hand menu select Appearance and then Themes. You will see a page with the themes currently installed and you can switch between any by clicking “Activate” on your preferred choice. If you want to add additional themes click “Add New”. You will now have the option to can search through all of the freely available themes from WordPress.org or click “Upload Theme” to upload a theme you have already downloaded to your device.
After installing a new theme I would suggest having a good play around with the theme customizer options and also make sure you are comfortable adding and editing content with the theme.
Plugins basically add dynamic additional features and functionality to your website. They come in many formats such as E-commerce, Forms, Forums, SEO and pretty much anything you could possibly need. You can search through a large collection of free plugins at WordPress.org. Similar to themes you can also buy premium plugins from various marketplaces and theme/plugin shops.
You can install plugins through your WordPress Admin area by selecting Plugins in the left hand menu. You have similar options to the Themes area where you can search for free plugins or upload plugins you have already downloaded.
Below are some of the plugins I find most useful and personally use on most of my projects:
Yoast SEO – This is an excellent plugin that allows you to easily add keywords, titles, descriptions etc that are relevant to your content.
Easy Digital Downloads – EDD is perfect for setting up a simple online shop that sells digital goods. If you want something that is better suited for selling physical products I would suggest looking at woocommerce (add link)
WP Super Caching – You will need a decent caching plugin to stop your website from slowing down.
Google Analytics – Keeping an eye on how your customers interact with your website is highly important and this plugin will hook up your website to your GA account.
iThemes Security – The last thing you need is for your WordPress website to be hacked! Make sure you install well supported security plugin to keep the hackers out.
These are just a few of many great plugins available. The plugins you need will depend on your own content. Think about the end user and how you can make the website experience easier and more productive for them.
Everything is now ready for you to start adding your content. Adding and editing content using WordPress has been made as intuitive as possible and most of you will pick it up in no time. If you do have any issues then you have nothing to worry about as the WordPress community is vast and very helpful. The WordPress support forums will give you all the answers you need. Many guides can also be found online including the very useful Easy WP Guide.
For the next article in this series we are going to look at marketing your WordPress website.