If you want to create a website for your business (or anything else), one of the best ways to do it is by using WordPress.
What is WordPress
WordPress is a content management system that enables you to create a fully functional, self-hosted website. It is free, cloud-based software anyone can use and works on any PC, Mac or mobile device.
I’m referring to WordPress.org here, not WordPress.com. There are differences between them.
WordPress.org is the self-hosted version, meaning you control your website. You can make any type of website you want. You can sell products and services and can completely customize your site using themes and plugins.
WordPress.com is best for blogging; it’s what the platform was originally designed for. There are limited theme choices and plugins can’t be used for further customization.
You can read more about the differences between the two here.
Why Choose WordPress
There are a number of reasons to build your website using WordPress.
- Versatility. WordPress can be used to create a simple blog, a full blown website or mobile applications.
- Customizable. The design of your website can be customized to have the exact look and feel you want. You can choose your theme, colors, fonts, navigation and page layouts.
- Flexibility. WordPress gives you the ability to add the functionality you want by utilizing plugins and widgets.
- It’s free. You can download, install, use and modify WordPress as you wish at no cost.
- Support. There are a wide variety of resources you can use to get help when you need it. There are support forums, books, websites and videos devoted to teaching people how to use WordPress.
- Easy to manage. Updates will automatically appear in your WordPress admin dashboard. So you can quickly and easily see if there is a new version of WordPress available or updates for your plugins and themes. Applying updates is as easy as the click of a button. You can also keep your WordPress content safe by setting up regular, automated backups.
WordPress powers over 60 million websites. Anyone can use it from Fortune 500 companies and major brands to local mom and pop businesses.
Take a look at some big names that use WordPress.
- Best Buy
- The New York Times
These large companies benefit from creating their web presence using WordPress and you can too.
WordPress gives you a place to store and manage your content, but it isn’t all you need for your website.
Hosting, Plugins, Widgets…Oh My!
In addition to WordPress, here’s what you need to get your website up and running.
1. Domain Name. This is your address on the internet.
Here are some tips for choosing a domain name.
- If you are creating a business website, try to get your business name as your domain name. You want consistency when building your brand.
- Keep your domain name short if you can. This may be difficult since so many domain names are already taken.
- Make sure your domain name is easy to spell. Don’t get cute with wordplay and spelling. You’ll confuse people and visitors won’t find you.
- Get the .com if it is available. That is what most people default to when they are trying to remember or type a website address.
- Include keywords if possible. But don’t get too stuck on this.
- Avoid hyphens and numbers. You want easy, not confusing.
Once you have some ideas you can see if the domain name is available here.
2. Hosting.This is where your website lives. Your web hosting service provides the computer servers and other necessary equipment to allow internet users to reach your site using your domain name (your address).
You have a variety of choices when it comes to hosting. I use Bluehost, which is the #1 WordPress recommended hosting provider.
3. Install WordPress. Once you have your hosting set up it’s time to install WordPress, which is typically a one-touch installation. If you go with Bluehost you simply click the WordPress icon on your cPanel (control panel).
Your website is now live, but it needs content and customization.
Written content is added to your site using pages and posts within WordPress.
Here’s how to customize your site.
1. Themes. The theme you choose gives your site its look and feel. Most WordPress themes provide:
- Overall design and style of your site
- Font styling
- Widget locations
- Page layouts
There are thousands of themes to choose from.
You can get a free theme but you won’t get support. You are better off investing in a paid theme which will be more secure and will offer support. Most themes cost under $100.
Here are a few suggestions for where to find premium WordPress themes.
Make sure you choose a mobile responsive theme. This is important for both usability and search. Learn more here.
2. Plugins. WordPress plugins are add-ons that extend and add functionality to your site. WordPress itself is designed to be lightweight to maximize flexibility and minimize code bloat. Plugins then offer custom functions and features so you can tailor your site to your specific needs.
A few examples of what plugins can be used for include:
- Integrating your site with social media
- Search engine optimization
- Adding YouTube video
- Contact forms
- Site backup
3. Widgets. WordPress widgets allow you to add content and features to widget-ready areas of your theme such as your sidebar, header and footer.
Widgets can be easily dragged and dropped into the widget area of your choice. You can find the list of available widgets and widget areas by going to the Appearance » Widgets section in your WordPress dashboard.
The available widget areas will vary from theme to theme. While most WordPress themes are widget ready, some do not have widget areas.
There are many different types of widgets. WordPress by default comes with several widgets including categories, tag cloud, navigation menu, calendar, search and recent posts.
There you have it. How to get your website started using WordPress. The best way to learn WordPress is to start working with it. Get your domain name and hosting, install WordPress and dive in.
Questions about WordPress? If you use WordPress what plugins and widgets do you use? Let us know.
If getting your website done is a project you just don’t want to do yourself, I can help. Learn more about my website services here.