This guide is a complete step by step process to get a fully functional website up and running in no time at all. It walks you through everything from start to finish. There are no shortcuts. Just straight to the point answers to all of your questions. If you’re looking to create a website on WordPress, this is the guide for you.
Side Note: although a beginner can easily setup a WordPress site, I’ll be covering just the setup and basic plugins. If you’ve never experienced WordPress whatsoever, you may want to head on over to YouTube and watch a couple of videos when you’re done reading this blog post.
Why Choose WordPress
WordPress is a popular content management system (CMS) used to create websites. WordPress is open source software released under the GPL, making it accessible to anyone. WordPress also runs on a wide range of devices, making it perfect for creating a website whether you’re using a computer, phone, or tablet.
Planning Your WordPress Website
When planning your WordPress website, it is important to first understand what you want your website to do first before jumping into the actual building.
- Do you want a simple website that can be easily updated down the road?
- Do you want to focus on blogging?
- Do you have products you want to sell?
- Are you a designer that just needs a portfolio website?
Once you have a general idea of what you want, it is time to start planning your website in finer detail. If you need help with this stage, refer to this post: How to Plan a Website: Tips for Beginners
When you have your website plan ready, it’s time to get into the building stage, but first, your website needs a home.
Choose A Domain Name
A domain name is a digital address for your website. When you type domain.com in your browser, through a sophisticated series of invisible steps, you are brought to that website.
Choosing the perfect domain name is an important first step in setting up your website. There are a number of factors to consider, including the brand you want to create, the target audience you’re targeting, and the keywords that are most relevant to your business.
Are you the face of the business? you’ll never go wrong just using your name. But if you have a team, you may want to try a few variations. For example:
If you’re the face of your business and you’re a financial consultant for newly divorced women, your domain name can be marysmith.com. This allows you the most flexibility in the services you offer, especially if this is your first website or business. If you chose a domain name like marysmithfinancialconsulting.com, that is so clear and concise that people know immediately what type of website they are clicking on before seeing any content.
Tip: you can register multiple variations of domain names and just point them to your main website.
Once you’ve written down a few ideas, it’s time to check if the domain names are available and not taken by someone else.
For this exercise, I recommend using Siteground, as you can register your domain name, setup your hosting and install WordPress all in one place. (Siteground link will open in a new browser window).
Note: when you register your domain name, it may take a couple of hours for the internet
Choose a Hosting Provider
When creating a website, the first decision you have to make is which hosting provider to use.
So at this point, you know your domain name is your digital address. The hosting is where your website is stored. Think of it like an office building. The office building has an address. The office building in the hosting world is the server which rents space to each business website.
There are many providers available, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The following are some factors to consider when choosing a hosting provider:
Price: The price of a hosting provider can vary greatly, depending on the features offered. It is important to find a provider with a low price that still provides good service.
Features: Some hosting providers offer more features than others. It is important to choose one that offers the features you need for your website. For example, some hosts offer unlimited storage space, while others offer dedicated IP addresses and domain registration services.
Speed: When loading your website, it is important that it loads quickly in order to keep customers coming back. You can minimize the loading time of your website by using a caching plugin and setting up a web server with an SSD. Additionally, you can optimize images, remove unnecessary scripts and plugins, and use compression techniques to reduce file size.
Siteground is an affordable web host with a wide range of features, making it perfect for small businesses. They’ve been hosting WordPress websites for over 18 years, pricing starts at $3.99 per month, they offer a 30 day money back guarantee and hosting includes email, an SSL certificate (to encrypt your website…which Google likes) and they offer backup services too.
Now that you have your domain name registered and hosting provider selected, it’s time to install WordPress.
Because there are so many different domain name registration services and hosting providers, I’m going to outline the steps assuming you’ve either chosen Siteground or a provider that also includes an all-in-one service.
To create a new WordPress site, first log in to your hosting provider account, go into the domain name account and click to install WordPress. Some providers may offer a choice of installing just WordPress or WordPress with WooCommerce (for ecommerce websites). Choose the installation that’s suitable for you.
Document your credentials as you’ll need them to log into your website in the future and how you’re on your way to build your website.
Note: If you registered your domain name and chose hosting from different providers, your hosting provider will have specific steps for you to take to connect your domain name to your hosting account and to install WordPress.
WordPress plugins are add-ons to the WordPress software that you can use to enhance your website. They allow you to do things like add new features, change the layout, or extend the functionality of your website. There are thousands of plugins available, and you can find them all at wordpress.org or from the Plugins sidebar menu in the backend of your WordPress website.
I suggest installing the following plugins:
- Under Construction plugin, to hide your website from the public, but allow you to see what it looks like when you’re logged in.
- Security Plugin – to protect your website from not so nice people (it happens).
- Backup Plugin – to backup your WordPress site before any updates are done.
- Optimizer plugin – to speed up your WordPress website to make Google and your website visitors happy.
There are a ton of plugins you can use, and here’s a list of the specific plugins that I install for my own clients:
- Coming Soon Pro (paid version only)
- iThemes Security Pro (paid version)
- UpDraft Plus (paid versions, but a free version is also available)
- WP-Optimize – paid version, but a free version is also available
- Elementor – free and pro version available
Customize Your WordPress Appearance
At this stage, you’ll choose a theme for your website. I recommend Astra which has a free version that’s phenomenal and their pro version is even better. The free version is great to at least get you started right away. Go to Appearance -> Themes and add a new theme.
Once you’ve installed your theme, then you’ll go to the WordPress customizer and setup your website colours and font choices (you would have figured this out in the planning stage).
Finally, go through each of the WordPress settings and setup your website name, time zones etc.
For some additional help, refer to this post: These 7 Things Will Help Make Your Website More Visually Attractive to Your Customers
The Only 5 Pages You Need on Your WordPress Website
Don’t fall victim to the “20 pages website” myth. There are only five pages that are absolutely necessary to get any kind of website up and running quickly.
- Home Page
- About Page
- Product/Services Page
- Contact Page
Here are more details about each specific page plus a listing of additional pages you can add if it’s applicable to your business.
Your home page is the front door to your website and should include a summary of all your core pages. Your home page is written with one ideal customer in mind. Have more than one ideal customer? that’s where your individual pages come in later on.
In essence, if a visitor only had access to your home page, they should know
- who you are
- what you stand for
- services you provide
- benefits of working with you
- how to contact you
- frequently asked questions
- how to place an order for products or services
The Hero Section
The first section being a Hero section. This is your statement of who you are, what you do and who you serve. When reading this, your website visitor should know in under 10 sections if they are in the right place.
Refer to these posts:
- How to Write a Branding Statement for Your Website Hero Section that Captures Attention within 7 Seconds
- How to Write Your Website Branding Statement.
Value Statement Section
A value statement is a phrase or sentence that describes the purpose of your website. It might include describing what you offer your visitors, highlighting what makes you different from other websites, emphasizing the importance of your content or the values your services provide.
If you are a service based business, outline the three simple steps someone takes to work with you. If you are a product based business offering custom products, this also applied to you.
The about section should include a summary of who you are and why you do what you do. As Simon Sinek says, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Include a photo of yourself facing front, smiling and showing confidence.
Your home page is your front door, and once people enter, they can see what products and services you offer. Keep this in mind when designing your home page so that visitors know exactly what to expect.
If you offer coaching services to people who are recently retired, but aren’t ready to retire, your services section would be an introduction to what you offer and then people can click through to get into the specifics you offer.
But if you offer let’s say 3 products or services, this section could showcase three columns with a graphic and title of the service, prefaced with a short introduction. Each service would link to a specific page for that service only.
Or if you have one service, but three ideal customers. For example, if you’re a dog trainer, your ideal customers could be dog owners of puppies, adult dogs and senior dogs. Same service: basic obedience dog training, but three different type of customers. Or you offer three services, beginner dog training, intermediate and advanced. Your home page gives the reader the clear idea of what you do and your individual pages are where they find the details.
If your website is an ecommerce website with many products, this section could showcase your top 5 products or categories that link out to specific sub-categories or products.
This doesn’t apply “yet” if you are a brand new business and don’t have any testimonials yet. When you do, add this section and include 3-4 testimonials.
Benefits of Working With You Section
If you are a service based business, outline 3-5 benefits or transformations people will get when working with you.
In the benefits section, this focuses on the transformation you provide for people. The features are what’s include with your main service.
Frequently Asked Questions Section
If you’re a new business and don’t have a list of questions people ask, think of what people might be asking when they arrive on your website. Outline the top 3-5 questions and answers. Add a line if they don’t find an answer to their question, link to a dedicated FAQ page with more Q&A’s and you can also include a small form where people can ask a question if they still can’t find the answer they’re looking for.
There are two ways to handle the contact section. You can put a “contact me” link in your main menu (which is obvious), but you can also include a section on the home page so people can contact you from there. Include a short introduction sentence and include a button or link to your main contact page.
Call to Action
The last section on your home page should be a call to action. What do you want the person to do when they’ve reached the bottom of the home page?
- Join your email list
- Schedule a free consultation
- Download a free guide
Be specific on what you want them to do and only have one call to action on this page.
Individual Pages on Your Website
About Us Page
When you’re creating your website, it’s important to focus on the customer. Make sure that your About page doesn’t focus solely on you, but on the ideal customer.
This page should include information about what your ideal customer wants and needs, as well as a photo of yourself and should also highlight what sets you apart from your competitors. You need to show that you understand your ideal customer.
Refer to this post for help on writing your about page copy: How to Write a Simple but Effective About Page
On these individual pages, you’ll expand and write out your copy (words) specifically for that one product or service. Be clear and concise so your messaging is on point.
Refer to these posts for help on writing your copy:
Your contact page is one of the most important pages on your website. It should be easy to find and use, and it should provide the information people need to get in touch with you.
Your contact page should be self-explanatory and not overly complicated. Try to keep it simple and organized. Include information about how people can reach you, your email address, and your phone number. If you have any extra information that people might need, such as a map, include it on the contact page instead of buried in the footer of your website.
Keep your contact page updated so people know where to find you if they have any questions or requests include a contact form to make it easy for them to reach out. And always be willing to answer questions! You’ll be surprised how much contact you’ll get from people who find your website.
Refer to this post: How to Design a Contact Page that Converts
Additional Pages if Necessary
- Blog – I honestly would love to move this to something every website owner should have. It shows your expertise and gives your reader an idea of what you’re like. How to create a blog is outside the scope of this article, but you’ll find a lot of posts I’ve already written here:
- Terms of Service – helpful to people know your returns policy, guarantees, shipping etc.
Create Your Website Pages
In WordPress, creating your home page and individual pages is as simple as clicking “Add Page” and writing your content.
This is where things can get a bit technical. You can create your pages right out of the box, or you can use what’s called a “website builder”. This is an add-on to your WordPress website that can help you build out your pages a little easier.
Some common website builders include:
- Elementor (free and paid versions)
- Divi (paid version only)
- Themify (paid version only)
- Beaver Builder (paid version only)
- Gutenberg (free default builder in WordPress)
You can get specifics about each builder on the respective websites and choose which you’d like to use.
Setup the Main Menu and Footer Menu
Make Your WordPress Website Live
At this point, you’ve done the following:
- planned your website in advance
- registered a domain name
- setup a hosting account
- installed WordPress
- installed core plugins
- installed a theme
- customized the appearance of your WordPress website
- created a core set of website pages
- create content for each of the pages
Review your website and if possible, have someone else take a look at it. Keep in mind your website will NEVER be perfect, so get that out of the way right now. Strive for 70% done and refine along the way.
When your website is all set, disable the under construction plugin and your WordPress website is live!
Creating a website can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and instructions, it can be easy. I hope that this guide has helped you in creating your own WordPress website.
Feel free to reach out through my contact page if you have any questions or if you’d like to setup a discovery call if you need some additional help.
Note: I believe in full transparency, so I’m disclosing that my posts may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links, you won’t pay a penny more, but I may get a small commission.