Building a WordPress website – your first steps

by | May 21, 2014 | WordPress Tutorials

You know you want a website, and you’d like to get started on it yourself, but you’re not sure WHERE to start. You’ve completed the branding process, written your copy, and have some smokin’ imagery for your new WordPress website.

Now you draw a blank.

Even if you want to ask the great google for help, you’re not sure what words will help you find all the right information that you need to make a confident decision.

It’s confusing out there, baby.

When you hear the word “hosting” you think bubbly drinks, snacks, and bunch of your closest people.  “Domain”? Your home.

So what does hosting a party in your humble domain have to do with building a WordPress website?


Or at least a significant portion of your future website. They are the foundation, really. As I like to refer to them, they are the lot and the address that your website will sit on and be located by.

Still confused? No worries! I’ll explain it all (and more) below in my “Baby steps to building a WordPress website”:

1. Choose a domain name and purchase web hosting

If you think of your website like your home, then your web server (hosting) is the lot that your home is built on (because as much as we’d love it, things can’t exist on nothing). Conversely, your domain name is like the address of your home, simplistically speaking, so that folks can find you when you throw that fabulous party (or send you an invite to an amazing soiree that they are hosting – pun intended).

There are lots of companies out there that offer budget to enterprise level website hosting. Look for one that you can speak to a live agent from. Support is key. Do they have an 800 number? Live chat? What are their reviews like online? Do they specialise in WordPress hosting?

I’ve experienced my share of hosting companies (I started working for one in 1996 – oops, I just aged myself!) and trust me GO-ing bigger isn’t better (without naming any names). Recently I found a great hosting company in WP Engine. They have top-notch support and they’ll even help you migrate your website for free if you already have a site and are less than pleased with your webhosting company.

Choosing a domain name doesn’t have to be difficult, but make sure you have a firm grip on your target market, your brand, and your offerings – this will help you make a much more informed decision!

2. Install WordPress and start playing

Once you’ve gotten set up with a reliable hosting company, installing WordPress should be as easy as a click from your hosting control panel (such as cPanel).

Now get familiar with WordPress. Explore the Dashboard, look at your settings, learn the difference between posts and pages. Install your first plugins and make a security and maintenance a priority. I recommend Backup Buddy, Akismet, Securi, WordPress SEO and Coming Soon Pro as the first plugins you install. Read more about them in this post I wrote about my favourite WordPress plugins.

3. Find a theme and install it

This step is the rabbit hole step, in my humble opinion. There are so many beautiful WordPress themes, both free and premium out there to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed in your quest for the perfect fit! You can also enlist the services of a WordPress solution finder such as myself and have a custom theme made just for you.

Whether you choose a free, premium, or custom-developed WordPress theme, try to follow these suggestions. Check out the theme developer. How long have they been in business, what is their support record, and what do other folks have to say about them online? Look at the overall structure of the theme and see if it will meet your specific needs. Try to look past the pretty pictures that they use and imagine if your imagery, copy, and graphics will work well with it. Finally, and most importantly, create a child theme if you want to make any custom changes to that theme!

4. Create pages, insert your pre-written copy and images or graphics

Now that you’ve installed WordPress and your absolutely perfect-for-you WordPress theme, start adding your content! Create pages, name them intentionally, and start adding all that glorious copy.  Add images, use white space, and don’t be afraid of playing with text. Use your WordPress styles, headings, and lists to make your content legible, interesting, and engaging!

5. Test, test, test!

Before you launch, test your work. Visit your site on different browsers (like firefox, crome, safari, etc) and on different operating systems (windows and mac). Check it out on different devices (tablets, phones, etc). This will be a great chance for you to hang out with friends and show off your work before you go live and help generate a bit o’ buzz before launch!

Speaking of launching, I think that’s another topic for a future Wink!

Let me know in the comments if you’ve got a funny story about starting out or website-y jargon. I’d love to hear from you!!