Getting Started with WordPress

Creating a website with WordPress may seem daunting. The good news is that this powerful platform is also intuitive, enabling even users with limited tech skills to install WordPress and make a new website go live. Within minutes, the entire process can be completed from choosing a domain name and web hosting to installation and choosing a theme.

First Steps

WordPress.org¬†is the self-hosted version of WordPress, which is different from WordPress.com. This platform is free, enables customization, and is free of most restrictions. To use WordPress, you must create and register a domain name, and you must arrange web hosting services. The domain name is the Internet address of the website (example: XYZ.com). An effective domain name will attract interest and reflect the purpose of the website. After choosing a domain name and confirming that it’s available, you’ll need to register it by purchasing it from a domain registrar. Generally, domain registration happens annually, to be renewed every year. After registering the domain, the next step involves purchasing service from a Web host and pointing the domain to the host. Most managed Web hosting companies will assist with this process, if necessary.

Installation of WordPress

After completing domain registration and initial set-up with your Web host, the next step is to install WordPress. In some instances the Web host will provide login information for a control panel, where you will install¬†WordPress. Some hosting companies offer “one click installation” of WordPress, while others require a manual install. When performing one-click installation, find the WordPress icon in your control panel and click it to begin. Select the domain; entering website name, username, and password; and simply clicking “install.” After installation, you will see “Installation Complete” and a login screen that enables you to log in to WordPress. For hosting services that do not come with a control panel or are unmanaged, there are some requirements you need to cover before you can start your WordPress install. You will install these required services via SSH. WordPress requires Apache or Nginx, MySQL or MariaDB, and PHP. The suggested version of PHP is 7.2 or higher, the suggested version of MySQL is 5.6 or higher, and the suggested version of MariaDB is 10.0 or higher.

Setting up WordPress

After installation, you can select a theme. Your theme determines the appearance of your website. WordPress offers a wide array of free themes, or you could also purchase a theme, or if you have the time and ability, create your own theme. Within the WordPress dashboard, navigate to “Appearance” and then “Themes” to select the desired premade theme. You can preview themes as you browse. Once you find one you like, click it and select “Install.” After installation, click the “Activate” button to make it go live.

More In-Depth Tweaks

WordPress allows you to modify and customize your website. Widgets add features to your sidebars, such as search functions, tag clouds, and categories. Widgets are ideal for beginners because they require minimal or no coding expertise. You can add, rearrange, and remove them easily within your WordPress dashboard. Plug-ins are another customization option that will expand the capabilities of your website. Plug-ins can perform processes such as reporting current weather, performing spell-checks of content, and counting website visitors. WordPress offers directories of both widgets and plug-ins that can be added to WordPress themes.

Adding Content

Adding content is extremely simple in WordPress. In the dashboard, click “Posts” and then “Add New.” This will bring up an editing area with a box for writing the content. Within the text box, you have options to format the text with bold and italics. You can also format with left justified, right justified, or centered text. You can add hyperlinks, add images, and add videos to the text as well. After writing the content, click “Publish” to publish the content to your website. You can also save the content in a draft form to work on it later. You might also choose to publish the content at a specific date and time in the future.

You can create pages for your website, too. Pages are designed to be static on the website, not expiring or changing. These pages might include an “About Me” section, a privacy policy, disclaimers, and more. Generally, it’s wise to turn comments off for pages to prevent visitors from commenting.

Once you begin adding content, it can be helpful to categorize it on the website. You can create categories and then specify categories for all content to make it easier for your readers to find the information they want. Tags are also helpful, as this enables you to designate keywords contained in your content that will match visitors’ searches.