How to Build a WordPress Website
The essential tasks required to build a WordPress website for a small business can be broken into 8 main steps.
- Choose a WordPress plan.
- Pick a domain name and a website host.
- Install WordPress on your chosen domain.
- Choose your WordPress theme.
- Add content (pages, articles and blogs) to your website.
- Customise your website.
- Install any required plugins.
- Optimise your website to increase page speed.
- Carry out some initial SEO ‘best practices’.
Before we go through these steps in detail, we should mention that if you don’t have the time or technical expertise to accomplish these steps, Carden Digital have our own website development and hosting services available as a complete package.
What Is WordPress?
WordPress is an example of what is known as a content management system (CMS) that lets you build websites in an easy and standardised manner with almost no coding required.
Many WordPress sites are built on variations of pre-designed templates and utilising standardized plug-ins to add functionality like a contact form.
Through this system you can customise a website for any purpose, including a blog, online advertising platform or e-commerce store.
You can host your site through wordpress.com but this limits your functionality. For a fully functional website which you have 100% of control over you should host the site yourself (or through a dedicated hosting service like ours).
If you are not hosting the site with WordPress.com, you will need to purchase your own domain name and host it on your own server or through a third party. Carden Digital can do this all for you!
WordPress is the most popular CMS on the internet. Current estimates suggest that 30-40% of all sites on the web are running on the WordPress CMS. It’s flexibility and versatile make it the perfect choice for a business wanting an online presence.
If you need to make a website for your business, follow the steps below. If you get stuck, Carden Digital have a full website design service available and can take over for you.
- Choose a WordPress Plan
The first step is to go to the official WordPress website and choose a WP plan. The WordPress.org plan is free but as we stated earlier, you will need to purchase your own domain and hosting plan elsewhere.
- Purchase a Domain Name and Hosting Plan
First, it’s important to understand what these are, how they differ and why you need them.
Your domain name is like your home address, it’s how people on the internet know where to find you. Without one, your site’s address would just be a random collection of numbers.
The hosting refers to the actual location your website is housed on. This is normally a server housed in a data centre which is operated by a hosting provider. Think of this as the actual land on which your house is built.
There are numerous hosting providers available, each offers a different package but the three main things to look for are:
- PHP version 7.3 or greater
- MySQL version 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.1 or greater
- HTTPS support
For your website to function properly it needs both a domain name and a hosting provider. It can make things simpler to get these services from the same provider.
- Install WordPress
Use the control panel of your hosting provider to install the latest WordPress version on your domain.
Create an account and log in to your WordPress admin section for the first time. You can reach this by going to [yourdomain]/wp-admin.
- Choose a Theme For Your Website
The layout and design of your website can really be anything you want it to be, but if you want it made quickly or don’t have any coding skills, a template can be a great solution.
WordPress will install a default theme to begin with, but it is very plain and boring. If you look on an online theme store like https://themeforest.net/.
Make sure the template you choose is one that is compatible with your current version of WordPress and is regularly updated. It is also important to think about what sort of visual style would be most appealing to your ideal customer.
- Add Pages and Posts
Content on WordPress in displayed as either a page or a post.
“Posts” are normally used for blogs or portfolios as they automatically place your newest website content at the top of your site.
“Pages” are static and are often more suited for business sites. For instance, you may have a page about each of your company’s services or products. Content added to a page always stays in the same place.
Decide which type of content you will use. You do not have to choose entirely posts or entirely pages. You may use pages for your services and posts for a business blog. The important thing is that the website content is relevant and engaging.
To add posts or pages, go to your WordPress dashboard and click on either “page” or “posts”, then click “Add New”.
You can then add a title for your post/page, add text, images and change the URL slug.
Choose one post or page to be your homepage.
- Customise Your Site
There are further ways to edit your site beyond your initial choice of theme.
Many themes have more in-depth options for colours, fonts and layouts. Choose one that is in keeping with your brand image and keep it consistent across your site.
Your site title can also be customized – from within your admin dashboard, go to the “general” tab and add a title and tagline for your website.
You can alter the navigation bar to suit your content. Add a navigation bar from your admin dashboard under “appearance” and then “Menus”, make sure that each item in the main menu navigation bar is important and easy to understand at a glance.
- Install Plugins
Plugins are premade pieces of software that bring additional functionality to your website. They are a great resource when building your WordPress site, particularly if you do not have great coding skills. If there is something that you want to add to your site, someone has probably already made a plugin to do it for you.
Some popular plugins that can save you time when building your website are:
- Contact Form 7 (adds an easy-to-use contact form to let users message you)
- WP Google Maps (adds a popup showing your location in Google Maps)
- Yoast SEO (checks your content for readability and simplifies the process of adding meta descriptions and titles to each page/post)
To add a plugin, go to the “Plugins” section in your admin dashboard, click on “Add New” and then search for a plugin.
- Optimise Your Website to Increase Page Speed
Website performance is an important part of UX (User Experience). The longer a page takes to load, the more visitors will give up and leave your site. You want to avoid this as it not only loses you potential sales but also will affect your ranking on search engines.
There are several ways to improve your site speed but one of the simplest and most effective is browser caching. Browser caching stores your website’s data to your website’s visitors’ browsers. This can drastically improve your site’s speed for most users.
To enable browser caching for your website, look for a well-reviewed caching plugin in the plugins section of your dashboard.
- Do Some Initial SEO Best Practices
Some SEO strategies are specific to a particular niche or industry but there are many standard and easy to implement SEO best practices that apply to every website.
- Use dashes and not underscores when naming your URLs in WordPress. Google views dashes as a “space” while it ignores underscores. So, Google would read new_autumn_products as newautumnproducts and not know how to rank the page.
- Make sure every image on your site has an accurate alt tag that describes what is in the image. This is sending more signals to Google about what your page is about and makes your site easier to read for users who are short sighted or any other users who need a screen reader.
- Keep the website sidebar neat and organised with only the most relevant content there.
- Set up Google Analytics and Google Search Console (there are plugins that will help with this). Review the data from these platforms regularly, it will help tell you which content and pages are popular and how your audience is finding them.
- Ensure your site work as well, if not better, on mobile as it does on desktop. The majority of web traffic is now from Mobile and Google will not rank the site on mobile searches if it performs badly.
- Keep your WordPress version up to date and update your plugins regularly to ensure your site runs smoothly and to make sure it stays secure.
Creating A Website Doesn’t Have To Be Hard
But it does take time. If you have lots to spare, then a website can be a great hobby to pursue that also adds value to your business. However, if you do not have the time, patience or tech skills to build one yourself you can always contact Carden Digital.
We’re always happy to give a quote on website design or development and we are always transparent and upfront about the time and money required for each project.
Speak to us today for help creating your first or next great website.