The Complete Guide To Setting Up A WordPress Website
Before we begin, let me just say: Welcome to WordPress.
No doubt you’ve heard all about the amazing things this platform/framework will let you do (in half the time and double the ease than anything else could provide). WordPress is a user-friendly, SEO-ready, and scalable content management system that encourages even non-tech savvy users to build striking websites within a few clicks.
So you’ve to use WordPress for an online portfolio (freelance or company: doesn’t matter); or an eCommerce store; or a blog, a forum, a community portal, at all. To get there, you’ll first need to setup a WordPress website.
This article lists the steps you’ll need to take, one by one, to setup WordPress website.
1. Choose the right Domain Name
Choosing the perfect domain name for a site is one of the most crucial steps. It is the address (URL) of your site that represents your brand across the web.Below are the few tips that you need to consider while registering your domain name, including:
You must add good keywords that are relevant to your business in your domain. This will help you get higher ranking in the search engine, such as Google.
Pick the most suitable domain extension
The .com is one of the most popular domain extension, but you can explore more and get the one that suits your site the most. There are several categories for domain extensions such as .org, .info, etc.
Use short & simple domain name
Try to avoid hyphens or other special characters while creating or picking your domain. Also, stay away from double letters domain because it increases the chances of mistakes while typing the domain name. Instead, you can choose short, simple and relevant domain name.
Always choose the most reliable domain service provider that can help you earn a good reputation in the web industry and help you fulfill all your SEO needs:
Also, keep in mind that some hosting providers also offer domain registration services. You can choose one or both services from the same company.
2. Choose the reliable WordPress hosting
Performance, security, and reliability are some of the key aspects that you need to keep in mind while opting for a hosting plan for your WordPress site. Also, analyze your basic requirements before buying your WordPress hosting -as it can save you a lot of money.
You can also choose to host on a different server after buying a domain from someone else.
Here’s what WordPress requires from the server:
- PHP version 5.6 or greater
- MySQL version 5.6 or greater
Well, there are different types of web hosting plans available on the market, so choose the best hosing option for your site carefully.
You can go for shared hosting (like Siteground, Bluehost, etc.) which start their subscription plans (per month) at dirt cheap prices (or sometimes even free). Yes, you can opt for a free WordPress hosting but one of the biggest disadvantages of having free host apart from adds is that they are unreliable. Besides all these limitations, shared hosting is one of the ideal choices for startups because it gives flexibility to use unlimited resources at the most affordable prices.
Managed WordPress Hosting
Managed WordPress hosting (like WordPress.com, Pantheon, Media Temple, etc.) take care of security and performance by managing everything on their end, with the consequence that you lose flexibility.
Other options include hosting on your own server (private server), VPS (virtual private server or cloud server: these typically offer the one-click WordPress install option), dedicated servers, etc. These are cost-heavy solutions and typically opted for by large scale/ high traffic enterprise websites.
Make sure you clear the air in regard with:
- Your Resources: Do you have your own competent IT staff and the budget?
- Monthly traffic: Hosting providers have caps on number of visitors allowed per month. Make sure you have your own traffic estimates at hand before signing up for a hosting service plan.
- Technical Specs: Like storage, data transfers, bandwidth allocated, etc. Your plan will be upgraded to a higher rung if you overstep the caps, or it may cause downtime.
- Additional benefits: Like free domains, support, automatic backups, security checks, demo site etc.
From our personal experience, Bluehost is your best choice when it comes to WordPress hosting for you website. You can get it as cheap as $3.95/month.
3. Configure the Name Servers (Ignore is this step if your domain came with your WordPress Hosting package)
If you purchased the domain from another company, you will need to configure the server. For this, you need to setup your domain to point to your host’s nameservers. This will connect your domain name to the server.
However, the process is quite time consuming – as you first need to to ask your hosting provider for your name servers (ns) information, login to your account at the domain registrar’s website (for instance, GoDaddy.com), and fill the information you received in the ‘Modify Nameservers’ (or similar) option. You can ask your hosting provider or domain provider’s assistance with this.
Once that’s done, you’ll have to wait (for up to 72 hours depending on your server’s location) for the changes to take effect. After that, you are officially live.
4. Download and Upload WordPress
After the configuration of Nameservers, you can download the latest version of WordPress from its official download page, and upload it to your hosting account using FTP.
Once you click on the Download button, the installation package will automatically be saved at your hard disk. Now detect the installation package (that you’ve downloaded) and extract it to a new folder. Thereafter, you need to upload the extracted files and folders to your web server via FTP.
Note: If you want to install your WordPress on your root domain name (mysite.com), you need to upload the extracted files directly to your site’s root directory, also known as public_html folder.
Once downloading has been completed, you need to extract the archive and upload it to your web hosting account. But for that, you first need to download and install an FTP client program, such as FileZilla, or via cPanel ->File Manager → Upload files.
You can also upload the WordPress automatically on Managed hosts. Fortunately, it’s almost easy. You can go to Download WordPress to get the necessary files (.zip folder: 7.4 MB install for WordPress 4.6.1).
5. Build a database
A database is a place where all your WP data and content files are stored, such as posts, pages, images, videos, comments, etc, along with configurations and user data. WordPress queries the database for the required information whenever a visitor visits a page. Thus, you need to create your own database.
This is the part that usually stumps beginners, but don’t fret. Check out the page on Codex on detailed instruction for database creation using Plesk, cPanel, DirectAdmin, MySQL client, or the phpMyAdmin file.
The following steps will help you create a database in cPanel using the MySQL Database wizard:
Step 1: Log into your cPanel.
Step 2: Hit on the MySQL Database Wizard under the Databases headings.
Step 3: Enter the name for your database and click Next Step.
Step 4: Enter a Username in the given field. Enter a Password next to Password option. Enter it again for Password (Again) and click on ‘Create User’.
Step 5: You will be redirected to the next page where you will be prompted to select the desired privileges. Check the box next to ‘All Privileges’ option and click the next step.
Note: Once you are ready with your MySQL Database and User, don’t forget to write down the database name, username and password that you have just created because those login details will be required in the installation process.
6. Edit wp-config-sample.php file
Once you are done with the database creation, it’s time to modify the wp-config-sample.php file using FTP client.
First of all, you need to rename the existing file to wp-config.php, and then open the file using a text editor.
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
/** MySQL database username */
/** MySQL database password */
Note: Detect these lines and replace the placeholders with your credentials. Thereafter, you can save the edited file to the server.
7. Install WordPress
First you need to go to your domain. Here, WordPress will ask you to submit some some general information for the installation of your WordPress account. You will need to provide the following information:
- Database name
- Database username
- Database password
- Database host
- Table prefix.
Now WordPress will cross check all your settings and submitted information, and drive you to the confirmation page. Here, you’ll need to click on the ‘Run the Install’ button to proceed.
You will be directed to the next screen where you will have to submit information related to your admin username and site’s title. Here, you can also decide whether you’d want search engines to index your website or not.
Once your information is submitted, click on the Install WordPress button. Now you will be able to login to your admin panel or dashboard account at yourdomain.com/wp-admin.
Note: Never use default user name ‘admin’ if you want to protect your site from hackers. Also, use strong, difficult to crack and lengthy passwords for your amdin account.
8. Selection of a theme
Now we come to the fun part: Designing of a site. A selection of WordPress theme can make or break your site. So make sure that you opt for the most relevant and well-coded theme for your site.
Fortunately, WordPress offs a host of beautiful themes (both free and premium) that lets you customize the overall look and feel of a site in minutes. You can enhance the design including the color schemes, fonts, header, footer, layouts, icons, etc of your site, without generating a single line of coding. So, make sure that your theme must have following features:
- Responsive designed
- HTML and CSS validation
- Compatibility with the latest version of WordPress
- Compatibility with the popular plugins
- Customization options
- Comprehensive support and documentation, etc.
Best places to buy WordPress themes:
Steps to Install a theme in WordPress
Step 1: Download the theme’s zip file to your desktop computer.
Step 2: Login to your WordPress admin area → go to Appearance → Themes page.
Step 3: Click on the ‘Add New link’ on the top of your themes page.
Step 4: After that you will be redirected to the add new theme page.
Step 5: Click on the ‘Upload theme link’ at the top of the add new theme page.
Step 6: Select the theme Zip file from your PC and click on the Install now button.
Step 7: WordPress will upload the theme to your site and install it.
Step 8: Once installed, you can either preview your installed theme or activate it directly on your site.
9. Configure the Basics
Now, you need to make some basic configurations to improve the performance and functionality of your site. With the help of the following tips, you can optimize your WordPress site for better performance.
Akistmet is a powerful tool for WordPress that can help you detect spam comments within your site. The best part is that it comes built into WordPress itself – this means you just need to activate it and generate an API key.
You need to customize the permalink structure of your site to make it more friendlier to search engines and web visitors. You can change the URL of each post even after customizing the permalink structure.
If you don’t want to enable comments, you can go to the Settings → Discussion → uncheck the “Allow people to post comments on new articles” option.
10. Secure your WordPress site
Hackers are finding it easy to hack websites powered by WordPress – this happens because of its growing popularity across the world. In order to make your site 100% percent secure, you need to follow some robust security measures, including:
- Update your core WordPress, intalled themes and plugins with latest versions.
- Use strong passwords and unique username
- Avoid using wp_ as the database table’s prefix
- Remove the WP version from the site’s header.
The above changes need to be done manually. But if you are new, you can install any of the reliable WordPress security plugin to get the things done automatically.
11. Build Essential Pages
A perfect website should include different sorts of pages for different informations. If you want your visitors to find everything on your site with ease, you need to create some essential pages.
- Home page : One of the most important pages of your site. It is also known as the landing page.
- About Page: This includes all the necessary information – from the inception to the achievements, and goals of your online business/site.
- Products and services page: It is an ideal page if you are planning to launch an e-commerce based site. You can showcase your products and services to your visitors in the best possible way.
12. Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an advanced marketing technique that can help you promote your site on popular search engine platforms like Google. To make your site SEO-friendly, you need to optimize the content, meta tags, meta descriptions and meta titles of your site for search engines.
You can also make a use of best SEO WordPress plugin, Yoast SEO that will automatically optimize your site for search engines.
13. Set up Analytics
You should integrate Analytics tool if you want to track your visitor’s action while browsing your site. You can know:
- How they accessed your site
- How long they stayed
- Which pages they viewed, etc.
Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool that will help you turn your visitors insights into enhanced conversion rates.
Important tips to consider:
- Always backup the database and files of your WordPress site if you don’t want to lose all of your online assets.
- Use VaultPress, bbPress, BackupBuddy plugins to automatically backup your WordPress site.
- You can improve the speed of your site by integrating the best caching plugin.
- W3 Total Cache plugin lets you improve the speed and user experience of your site, without any coding.
I’ll leave the rest for you to explore…
You have successfully gotten your WordPress website up and running.
Now just immerse yourself in the platform, learn about security and maintenance, maybe take baby steps towards code snippets and how to work with them, and stay updated with the new developments which make your chosen platform more awesome than ever. If you run into trouble, ask for assistance on the support forums and you’ll be sure to get helpful responses.
Go and grow with your WordPress website. Oh and, remember to have fun: That’s the most important thing.
Tracey Jones is a professional web developer at HireWPGeeks Ltd. who has a vast experience in developing custom WordPress websites for all kind of businesses. Apart from this, she is also an enthusiast blogger who always loves to explore new things on the web. To gain from her in-depth experience, follow her on twitter.