You do not have to be a coddling geek these days to be able to build a fully functional website. There are plenty of self-build platforms such as Wix and Weebly. This kind of platform may be offered free at the same start but you need to start paying if you want to use your own domain name. And if you want your site to get noticed and rank in search engines such as Google and Bing, you will want your own domain name. Even then you only get the bare basics. Want a form? You have to add an additional app. A payment button? Same again. These apps are fine if you don’t mind the app developers logos all other your site. If you pay for the apps you can remove the adds but the monthly cost soon escalates. In this post, I am going to explain how easy it is to host and build your very own website using WordPress.
The three things you need to get started.
- A domain name
- A web hosting provider
- A content management system
Don’t be put off by these terms, they are not as scary as they look and I will talk you through each one.
This is the address of your website, what you, your site users/readers will put in the address bar of their web browser on their P.C’s, phones and tablets. The domain name is made up of the following example. “logomojo.co.uk” or “google.com”
As you can see it is made up of two parts. The first is your chosen name for your domain. The second half is the domain suffix, the part that after the “.” as in ,com .co.uk .uk .net .org etc.
When deciding on your domain name think of something memorable that describes yore sites topic(‘s). Keep it as short as possible to make it easier for your potential and returning readers. Avoid using underscores and hyphens. These just make things difficult to type and harder to remember. Most impotent, be original.
You can register a domain name for free when taking out a web hosting package with most hosting services including Planet Hippo.
Web hosting provider.
You will need somewhere to host your website on the internet. This is where a web host comes into play. There are many hosting companies around all offering similar products and services.
My host of chose is Planet Hippo as they are ideal for one-click application installations such as WordPress and their plans are bundled with all the features you may ever need such as email accounts, unlimited traffic data transfer, SSL certificate and optimised for WordPress and eCommerce. Plans start at £1.00 but I recommend starting with the Business Pro or Business unlimited at £3.50 and £5.99 a month. Both include one domain name. With the pro plan, you get 100 GB inclusive web space and can host up to two websites. The unlimited plan, as the name suggests, comes with unlimited space and unlimited sites.
Of course, there are other providers for your hosting needs. Here is why Planet Hipp is my host of choice.
- All hosts show a monthly price on there landing pages. With most of them, you discover at checkout that you only get this price when purchasing a year or two up front. Not so good if you do not have the ready cash in the bank. Not so with Planet Hippo.
- They are UK based. This is good if like me you are operating in the UK
- Customer services are next to none. And I am talking from experience.
For purpose of transparency the links to Planet Hippo from this post are affiliate.
The content management system.
A content management system or CMS for short is a software application used for building and managing your website and its content. There are several available but we are using is WordPress.
Initially developed as for bloggers, WordPress has become the website platform for hobbyist and professional website developers, It currently powers 29% of all the websites on the internet. It has a very easy learning curve. In fact, if you can use a word processing application like the Microsoft Word you can soon get to grips with WordPress.
It is 100% free to use and open source.
There are thousands of free WordPress themes.
Need that extrea functionality?
There is a plugin for everything from contact forms to shopping carts. All available for free.
Don’t confuse the two.
WordPress the CMS is also known as wordpress.org. There is another version that is hosted and is free at sign up but costs add up once you start adding the essentials like a domain name and extra web space.
One click install.
So, once you have setup your web hosting along with your domain name either with Planet Hipp or what another great service you have found, sign into your control panel (Cpanel) and navigate to the Softaculous app installer. Some other Companies may have a different or their own version but basically, they all do the same thing,
And find the WordPress App. As the most popular App is usually the first one you will come to.
Select your domain name.
You can leave the directory section blank if this is your first install on this domain name.
Select your language. and click install
You have just created your own website.
All you need to do now is pick a theme and add some content.
Navigate to your site by the link provided or by entering your domain name + /wp-admin or just admin into the address bar of your web browser https://yourdomain.com /wp-admin.
You will be presented with a WordPress admin login like this.
Welcome to your WordPress admin area. or as often referred to as the backend.
Make sure your permalinks are optimized for easy reading rememberability and S.E.O or Search Engine Optimisation. The day and name setting is good if dates are important to you and your users. otherwise, the post name option is probably the one to go for as the permalinks generated will look more natural and user-friendly.
Choose your theme.
The theme is basically the skin of the website, The overall look and feel. As mentioned, there are literally thousands of themes written by developers and in the WordPress Theme Directory. All of the free to install and use. Also if you a bit of a whiz kid you are allowed to take the code apart and play with it like Lego. But that’s a different story for the more adventures. All WordPress themes are customisable, some more so than others. They are all free because that is the nature of WordPress. It is part of the deal. However, A lot of them also come with bonus features that can be unlocked for a licence fee to the developer but not always kneaded.
Select “Add New Theme”
You can scroll the many themes using the links. Als try the search box. For today’s tutorial, I am using the “Freedom” theme by Theme Directory. Use the search box and install the theme.
Once installed you can activate the theme.
Customise your theme.
I have added the page title “Home” As you can see from this screenshot that the WordPress text editor is very much like a word processor such as Microsft Word or Apple pages. Now, lets enter some tex.
Headers are very important, they are great for S.E.O. in two ways. They separate bundles of paragraphs and make it easier on the eye of the reader thus reducing any negative bounce rate. Second is that search engine crawlers can index relevant information much more efficiently.
Add an image.
Add a meaningful title.
The caption is good for S.E.O. But it will be displayed beside or beneath your image when displayed on the page or post. So only add a caption if you intend to display it amongst your other tex and page contents.
The ALT text is the most important attribute here, even more so than the title. If you are in a hurry this is the one you should not ignore. The purpose of the Alt text is to provide a brief description of the image wherein cannot be displayed. It can be read by tools to help the visibly impaired. At least one image Alt text should contain your focus keyword or phrase. Again for S.E.O.
When all done select “Insert into page”.
All looking good. Now let’s add a contact page complete with form. But before we can do this we will need a plugin. There are many form plugins out there. I use Jetpack as it comes with a form widget that sits inside the editor we will go with that. Jetpack is a whole suite of apps with full of useful features some premium but all the essential stuff is free such as social sharing buttons and web analytics and a web form builder.
So first go to Plugins/add new.
Now let’s create a new page and call it Contact. Just like we did for the Home Page.
As you can now see you have an additional button next to the Add Media button named “Add Contact Form”. Click the button and the premade form will be added to the editor. By clicking on the form you will see the following icons on the top of it.
You can now add, remove and change fields to suit your needs.
A contact form is a great way for your adiance or clience to get intouch with you. It is also a great idea to give aditional contact details such as an email address and phone number. A geographicle postal address will also add trust to your site and these aditional forms of contact infomation are also a leagal reqierment when finantial transactions are invoed either directly or indirectly from your site.
It is very important that you use the blog feature that comes with WordPress. It is so important that I have dedicated a whole post on the subject. Setting up your Word Press blog page and why you should.
See how easy that was.
Here is a link to the demo website featured in this post.
There are a lot more things you can do using WordPress and the numerous themes and plugins that are available. There are plugins and themes for eCommerce such as WooCommerce and you can even have your own social network instaled with bbPress.
I will be including more posts on the subject of WordPress soon to include: adding links, eCommerce, image optimisation, easy SEO and much more.
As usual, this post is open to comments and I will love to hear from you.
Hope you enjoyed this short tutorial on how to build a WordPress website for next to nothing.
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