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  1. Web Design
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How to Make a WordPress Website

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Do you want to know how to make a WordPress website? Good choice! WordPress is the most flexible and popular website platform out there.

Creating a WordPress website is easier than you might think. You don't have to spend lots of money, hire a developer, or learn to write code.

In this complete WordPress for beginners tutorial, I’ll show you how you can get started creating your very own WordPress site.

I'll show you how to set up hosting for a WordPress website, how to install a theme for the design, how to install plugins to make your website work the way you want it to, and how to create and manage content.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  1. How to Set Up Hosting 
  2. How to Install WordPress 
  3. How Use a Theme for Your Website's Design
  4. How to Add Content to Your New Site
  5. How to Customize the Look of Your WordPress Site
  6. How to Install Plugins
  7. Learn More About WordPress With Free Courses
  8. Frequently Asked Questions

Ready? Let’s get started.

How to Set up WordPress Hosting

For your WordPress site you can either use free hosting from WordPress.com, or self-managed hosting with a 3rd-party provider. This is sometimes called a WordPress.org setup, because you download the WordPress software from that site. 

Self-managed hosting gives you a lot more flexibility, and the power to install custom themes and plugins, so that is what we'll be using in this guide.

Get a Hosting Account

The first thing you’ll need to do is get yourself a hosting account and domain name. 

A hosting account is space on the internet where your WordPress site lives. You pay a hosting provider a monthly or annual fee to rent some server space from them. Once you’ve done that, the software itself is completely free, meaning that creating your own site with WordPress could be cheaper than you think.

Your domain name is the address your site can be found at. For example, this guide is on tutsplus.com. You’ll need to find a domain name that’s available and reflects your brand name. It could be the name of your business, it might be your own name, or it could describe what you do.

You might find the .com version of your domain name is taken already, in which case you can either find something similar, or use a different TLD (top level domain) such as .net, .biz, .blog or something more relevant to your business.

Discounted WordPress Hosting From SiteGround

You can get free hosting from SiteGround is recommended by WordPress.org as one of the best hosting providers for a WordPress site, and we’ve arranged a 60% discount with them for new hosting accounts—so you can get a WordPress site even cheaper than usual.

Let’s take a look at how you set it up.

Start by going to the SiteGround website (make sure you use this link as it will give you the discount).

Siteground signup page

You have three plans to choose from. If you’re just creating one site, the StartUp plan will meet your needs, but if you want to create more than one site, go for GrowBig (most popular) or GoGeek for even more features.

Click the Get Plan button under the plan you want to sign up for. The next step is to register a domain for your site or provide details of one you already have.

domain registration

Choose the right domain for you (or provide the details for one you already have) and click the Proceed button.

Now follow the steps to provide your payment details and sign up. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive an email with details of your hosting plan and how to log into it. Now you’re ready to install WordPress!

How to Install WordPress

Once you’ve got your hosting and domain set up, the next step is to install WordPress.

You have two options for this:

  • Install WordPress manually.
  • Install WordPress using Siteground’s auto installer.

Using the auto installer is much quicker and easier if you’ve never installed WordPress before. We also have a guide on installing WordPress manually.

Here I’ll show you how to do it using SiteGround’s auto installer, since that’s the easiest method. If you’re with a different hosting provider, you’ll find they probably have their own installer—they might call it WordPress or it might be part of the Softaculous software.

Log into your SiteGround account and select the Services option.

Siteground services screen

Click on the Select button in the Start New Website section, then on Select in the WordPress section, and then type in the username and password you want to use.

siteground add new website

Now wait for the installer to work. You'll either be taken to a screen with details of how to access your site, or if it takes longer, SiteGround will send you an email with the details.

You now have a WordPress site, congratulations!

Now log in and spend some time getting to grips with the admin screens. Our tutorials on how WordPress works and getting to know the WordPress admin screens will help you understand what they all do.

Here's a video that explains how to get started with the WordPress admin dashboard.

 

This video is part of the course A Beginner's Guide to WordPress. You can watch the entire course for free here on Envato Tuts+. It's a great way to learn everything you need to get started building WordPress websites! 

How to Use a Theme for Your Website’s Design

Every WordPress site needs a theme. This determines how your site looks, and how it displays your content.

When you first install WordPress, the default theme will be installed and activated for you. Sticking with the default theme will make your site look just like millions of others, so it’s worth changing it. There are thousands of great themes our there, and many of them are free.

You can install a new theme from one of two places:

  • The Customizer
  • The Themes screen.

If you use the Customizer, you can preview what your theme will look like before you activate it. However you can only install new themes via the Themes screen. So I recommend using both these screens.

Installing a Theme from the Theme Directory

Start by going to Appearance > Themes. Click the Add New button.

This will take you to the screen for finding and installing themes.

Add Themes screen

Here you have access to thousands of free themes. Finding the right one for you can be a little daunting, as there are so many to choose from.

There are a few options for finding the right theme:

  • Use the Feature Filter to find themes with certain features such as a wide layout or custom background.
  • Use the search field to search for themes with certain characteristics (e.g. the color you want).
  • Use the Popular screen to choose from themes that other wp users have installed.

Take some time to look at some themes and install a few of them on your site. It won’t cost you a penny, and means you can experiment.

The Best WordPress Themes on ThemeForest

While you can do a lot with free themes, if you are creating professional WordPress sites, eventually you will want to explore paid themes. You can discover thousands of the best WordPress themes ever created on ThemeForest. These high-quality WordPress themes will improve your website experience for you and your visitors.  

Here are a few of the best-selling and up-and-coming WordPress themes available on ThemeForest for 2020.

You can also find roundups of themes for specific purposes or business types (such as wedding themes, kindergarten and preschool themes, news themes and more) here on Envato Tuts+.

Installing a Theme From ThemeForest 

To install a theme from ThemeForest, follow these steps:

  • Purchase the theme.
  • In your confirmation email, click the link to download the theme.
  • Download the theme to your computer. It will be in a zip file which is how you want it.
  • In your WordPress admin screens, go to Appearance > Themes.
  • Click the Add New button at the top of the screen, and then click the Upload Theme button on the screen that appears.
  • Click the Choose file button and find the zip file for the theme on your computer, then click the Install Now button.
  • The theme will be installed and you can activate it in the same way as you would a theme you installed from the theme directory.
Theme upload screen

Activating and Customizing Your Theme

Once you’ve installed one or more themes, go to Appearance > Customize. This will open the Customizer, which is a great tool for trying things out on your site.

In the Active Theme section, click the Change button.

Changing a theme in the customizer

From there, you can preview each of the themes you’ve installed and see what they look like in your site. You might also find the theme lets you tweak thing like the fonts and colors. Have fun!

Once you’re ready, click the Publish button to save your changes.

You can make plenty more customizations to your theme, and it’s a good idea to do so once you’ve added some content to your site, as you’ll get a better idea of how things look. We’ll come back to customizations shortly.

How to Add Content to Your WordPress Site

WordPress gives you two main content types: posts and pages. 

Posts are your updates: news items, stories, anything you want to share. This is the content that will be shared to your social media accounts and that people will receive in their inbox if they subscribe to your site.

Pages are different. They’re longer lasting and give people core information about you and your business. They’ll include things like your ‘about me’ page, and your contact page. Pages go in your navigation menu, while posts don’t.

Watch this video and I'll show you how to add pages and posts in WordPress. I'll explain the difference between posts and pages and will also explain featured images, trackbacks, pingbacks, and more.

 

This video is taken from the course A Beginner's Guide to WordPress. You can watch the entire course for free here on Envato Tuts+.

As well as posts and pages, you also have access to some other content types: media and comments. Media are all the files you upload to your site: images, video, PDF files, etc. Comments are added to posts and give your readers the opportunity to comment on your content and interact with you.

Let’s take a look at how you add posts and pages to your site.

How to Create a Post

There are two ways to create a post: either click the + New link at the top right of the screen, or go to Posts > Add New in the admin menu on the left-hand side.

You’ll now see the blank screen for creating your post.

Start by typing in the post title. Then either hit Return on your keyboard or click into the block for your first paragraph. Just type as you normally would. Every time you hit Return, a new block will be created. Each block represents a paragraph of text. You can convert your paragraphs to lists, headings, or other text blocks, or you can create blocks for images or other media. 

Blocks aren’t just for paragraphs: you create a block each time you want to add a new element to your post of any kind, including media and other types of text. Blocks are fairly new in WordPress and will most likely evolve over time.

But for now, here are the block types you’re most likely to use:

  • Text blocks: paragraph, list, quote.
  • Media blocks: image, gallery, file, video.
  • Formatting blocks: table, custom HTML.
  • Layout elements: button, columns, separator.
  • Widgets: shortcode, latest posts, latest comments, categories.
  • Embeds: social media feeds, video.

That’s not an exhaustive list of the blocks available, but it does include the ones you’re most likely to need. If you want to add a block, click on the + sign at the top of an existing block and you’ll see a list of all the blocks available. Alternatively you can click the + sign at the top left of the screen, or hit the Return key to start a new block and type in a forward slash (/) to see a shortcut menu with the blocks you use the most.

available blocks

If you install a plugin with blocks, you’ll get more blocks from that plugin. So if you install a plugin for forms, it gives you a block to add a form to your post. 

Spend some time adding content to your page. To add paragraphs, just type away. If you want to convert existing paragraphs to a list, select the text, click on the button with the arrows to the top left of the text, and select List

Transform paragraph to list

You can also add media items by clicking the + sign to add a new block, selecting the media type you want and then uploading your media. The most efficient method is to upload images to your site but embed video instead. You can embed a video from YouTube (for example) by simply typing that video’s URL into a block - WordPress will detect it’s a video and embed it for you.

Adding Metadata to Your Post

Your post will also need some metadata, which is data about the post. You add all of this via the Document pane on the right hand side.

Document pane

Metadata for your post could include:

  • Categories: add these via the Categories section on the right hand side, in the Document pane.
  • Tags: you’ll find these with the categories.
  • A featured image: this will show up in your archive pages and act as a link to your post. Add a featured image by clicking the Set Featured Image box in the Document pane.
  • An excerpt: also used in archive pages, this is an excerpt from or taster for your post. If you don’t add one manually, WordPress will use the opening lines from your post.

Once you’re happy with your post, click on the Publish button, which you’ll find at the top right of the screen.

You’ll be presented with a few pre-publish checks. These help you check the post is ready before you publish it. If you’re happy with it, hit the Publish button again.

Now, repeat that to create your second post. To add another post, click the back arrow at the top left of the screen, and go to Posts > Add New or click that + button in the top menu bar.

Add some content to your post and publish it.

To edit a post, open it from the Posts screen and change what you need to. The Publish button will have become an Update button. Click that when you’re happy with your changes.

You now have a blog!

How to Create a Page

Exactly what pages you need will depend on the nature of your business and your site, but let’s start with two common ones: an ‘about’ page and a ‘contact’ page.

Depending on the way your site is set up, you may also need a home page and a page for your blog posts. We’ll look at that shortly. But first, let’s create two basic pages.

Creating Static Pages

To create a page, click on Pages > Add New. You then add your content in just the same way as you do for a post. Call the first page About and add in some information about yourself or your business.

Pages have a few differences from posts. You can’t assign them to categories or give them tags and you can’t add an excerpt for them. But you can use page templates to display them differently, if your theme has these.

Once you’re happy with your page, click the Publish button. Now move on to adding a second page in the same way. Call this one Contact and add your contact details to it. You might want to install a maps plugin that lets you add a map of your office. We’ll look at plugins later in this guide.

You’ll probably find that your site needs different pages, to reflect the kind of site you’re setting up. Here are some guides to creating sites for different business types, including the kinds of pages you’ll need.

Creating a Static Home Page

When it comes to your home page and your blog, you have two options:

  • Display your latest blog posts on your home page.
  • Have a static home page with content you add manually, and a separate blog page with your latest blog posts.

If you want to display your latest posts on your home page you don’t need to do anything to set this up: this is WordPress’s default behaviour. But if you want a separate static home page, you’ll need to create two extra pages.

Start by creating two pages: one called Home and one called Blog. Add content to the home page but leave the blog page blank.

In the admin menu, go to Settings > Reading

the Reading settings page

In the Your homepage displays section, select A static page. Then select Home for the homepage and Blog for the posts page.

Click Save Changes to save your changes.

You can find other posts about adding content to your WordPress site here at Envato Tuts+.

The next step will be to add your pages to your navigation menu—which we’ll cover in the next section.

How to Customize the Look of Your WordPress Site

Once you’ve added some content to your site, you can start customizing it. There are are few ways you can do this:

  • adding a navigation menu
  • adding widgets
  • further tweaking the design and/or layout

Let’s take a look at each of these.

Adding a Navigation Menu 

The navigation menu is an essential tool to help visitors find their way around. Your theme will include a slot for the menu somewhere at the top of the screen, and you can add links to this which will automatically show up on every page.

But what should you add to your menu?

Most sites include a link to the home page first (which you should include even if you link to it from your logo or site title) plus the most important static pages in the site.

If your site has a few pages, add them all to your menu. If it has lots of pages, you can create a hierarchical menu with second-level links that appear below the top-level items when a user hovers their mouse over those. Or you can add links to the less important pages elsewhere.

Here’s how you create and add to your navigation menu.

Go to Appearance > Menus, or in the Customizer, click on Menus.

In the Menus screen, click Create a new menu. In the Customizer, click the Create New Menu button.

Select the pages you want to add to your menu. In the Menus screen, these are on the left hand side. In the Customizer, you’ll need to click the Add Items button and then select them.

Add all the pages you need to your menu, and any categories you want as well. Categories are a good way of providing navigation around a site with lots of content.

Once you’re done, click Save Menu in the Menus screen or Publish in the Customizer.

Adding Widgets

Widgets are snippets of content that are displayed on every page in your site but aren’t part of the main content of your posts and pages. They’re normally added to the sidebar and footer. They’re useful for links to your latest blog posts, tag clouds, contact forms and lots more.

The widget areas you have available to you will depend on your theme. To find out what there is, either go to Appearance > Widgets or Appearance > Customize and select the Widgets option.

Widgets editing screen

Here you can select from a range of widgets and add them to the widget areas that are provided in your theme.

A selection of widgets comes with WordPress out of the box, such as a tag cloud, a list of latest posts, a list of categories, a custom menu (useful for items you don’t have space for in your main menu), some text or an image.

You can also add more widgets with plugins. So if you have the Jetpack plugin, for example, you have access to all the widgets from WordPress.com, such as a Facebook feed widget. 

I like to add the following widgets to my sidebar:

  • A list of recent posts.
  • A list of the categories in my blog.
  • A search box.
  • I also like to add social media feeds to the footer of my site, because they can take up too much space in the sidebar.

Your theme might not have widget areas in both the sidebar and the footer, maybe because it’s got a full-width design. Or it might have extra widgets such as home page widgets (which can be great for directing people to other parts of the site). It’ll all depend on your theme.

Further Customizing the Design and Layout

Now that you’ve got some content in your site and you’ve set up your menu and widgets, you might want to go back to the Customizer and make some more tweaks to your settings.

Depending on your theme, you might find that you can customise the colors, fonts and layout. You might also have access to multiple page templates that you can use for different kinds of content, as well as image backgrounds or header options.

the WordPress Customizer

Take some time to play with the settings in the Cusomizer and get things looking exactly as you want them to. Don’t forget you can click links on the preview pages to see how your customizations look on multiple pages, not just the home page. And when you’re happy with your changes, click the Publish button to save them.

How to Install Plugins

Now you’ve got the content and design sorted, it’s time to add some extra functionality to your site, using plugins.

Plugins will make your site do more, as against changing the way it looks (that’s your theme’s job). So if you want to add features like forms, an e-commerce store, galleries, SEO enhancements and more, you’ll need to install plugins.

To install plugins, go to Plugins > Add New

plugin installation screen

From here you can search from thousands of free plugins for a wide variety of tasks. 

You can either browse the Featured or Popular tabs, or search for a plugin by name or functionality. To install a plugin, find it in the list and click the Install button. Once it’s installed, that button will turn into an Activate button: click it to make the plugin active on your site.

Alternatively, you can upload and install a plugin you’ve bought from a third party site like CodeCanyon. To do this, click the Upload Plugin button and upload the zip file containing the plugin (see the guide earlier to installing third party themes for more details).

WordPress will take you to another screen telling you the plugin has been installed. Click the Activate Plugin button to activate it.

activating an uploaded plugin

Choosing Which Plugins to Install

It can be tricky deciding which plugins your site needs: after all, there are so many of them. Here’s a list of recommended free plugins for a new WordPress site:

The Best WordPress Plugins on CodeCanyon

As well as these basic plugins, you’ll also need plugins to enhance your site and give it extra features you need for your business. Premium plugins will often provide more features and be easier to use.

Explore thousands of the best WordPress plugins ever created on CodeCanyon. With a low-cost one time payment, you can purchase these high-quality WordPress plugins and improve your website experience for you and your visitors. 

Here are a few of the best-selling and hot new WordPress plugins available on CodeCanyon for 2020.

Free Course on Essential Free WordPress Plugins

It's so important to choose the right plugins for your WordPress site, but it's hard to know which ones to pick from among the thousands of options. That's why we've made available a free course all about the essential free WordPress plugins that you'll find yourself going back to over and over.

 

You can watch the course for free here on Envato Tuts+.

You don’t have to add all the plugins you need at the beginning. Over time, you may find that your site needs extra functionality, in which case you can add a new plugin. Flexibility like this is one of the best features of WordPress.

Going Further: Learn More About WordPress With Free courses

Now you have a WordPress site with a theme, some content, menus and widgets and some plugins installed. Well done!

But your work isn’t done there. You’re going to need to make the site work hard for you. 

At Envato Tuts+ we have hundreds of courses and tutorials that can help you get the most from your site. These include guides to creating content, using your site for marketing and working with the admin screens, to more technical guides to customizing your site and writing code for it. Here are some of our favourite WordPress courses—and they're all free!

A Beginner's Guide to Using WordPress

The absolute best way to learn WordPress is by taking our comprehensive, two-hour WordPress tutorial with Adi Purdila which has helped more than 50,000 people learn to use WordPress. Learn to create pages and posts with WordPress Gutenberg, work with themes and plugins, and much more.

A Beginner's Guide to Using WooCommerce

Learn how to create your own online store with WordPress and WooCommerce in our Beginner's Guide. You’ll learn how to install and configure WooCommerce, add products to your store, and get the whole thing set up.

Essential WordPress Plugins

One of the great things about using WordPress is the vibrant plugin ecosystem. There are many thousands of different plugins that promise to improve every aspect of your site. With the right plugins, your WordPress site will run more smoothly, get more visitors, and be less likely to face problems.

In this course, you'll learn how to install and configure free plugins for backup, security, caching, and SEO.

Learn PHP for WordPress

Once you've mastered the essentials, why not get to grips with the WordPress programming language in my free course on learning PHP for WordPress? I'll give you an overview of what PHP is and how it's used for WordPress programming and creating themes and plugins.

We also have hundreds of WordPress tutorials for users and developers. Check out our full list of WordPress tutorials and courses, and you should find what you need.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have we missed something? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about creating a WordPress site.

What are the benefits of using WordPress to create a website?

WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS, or content management system. The software is free, and there’s a huge community of users and developers available to help you. Here’s why we recommend WordPress.

What is hosting?

Hosting is when you rent space on a server to host your website. You pay the hosting provider for this (and also for a domain name), and then install the WordPress software yourself, for free.

We recommend SiteGround for hosting, and thanks to our partnership with SiteGround we can offer our readers up to 70% off on WordPress hosting.

Why do I need hosting?

Every website needs to live somewhere: the files and database that make it work need space to be stored. Your hosting account provides you with this.

Isn’t WordPress just a blogging platform?

WordPress was originally developed as a blogging platform, but it’s come on a long way. It can now be used for just about anything you can think of, from the simplest personal blog or portfolio site to the most complex web application.

Do I need to hire a developer to get a WordPress site?

No. Follow our guide above and you can install WordPress without hiring anyone!

Do I need to learn code to use WordPress?

No. WordPress can be installed and used via the admin screens: no coding required. Of course, if you want to take things further, learning to code is an option. But it’s not essential.

If you do want to learn to code for WordPress, you can check out our free course here on Envato Tuts+.

What are plugins and themes?

Plugins and themes are extra code that’s added to your site. To install them, you don’t need to write the code: just install the files via the WordPress admin.

Plugins add extra functionality to your site, while themes are about the way your site looks. Your site will have just one theme, but could have many plugins.

Can I sell things on my WordPress site?

Yes. An e-commerce plugin like WooCommerce is free and lets you sell products on your site. And CodeCanyon has plugins that will let you take WooCommerce further.

Can I use WordPress to create a social media site like Facebook?

You can. The free BuddyPress plugin is designed to turn your WordPress site into a community. It includes friending, groups, events and more.

Is WordPress secure?

WordPress used to have a reputation for insecurity, but that’s no longer the case. As long as you keep your site up to date by updating WordPress itself and your theme and plugins, you’ll be protected from most potential attacks. Using a security plugin will keep your site even safer.

Is WordPress expensive?

No. The software is free and there are thousands of free themes and plugins. You’ll have to pay for hosting but that isn’t expensive (especially if you use our Siteground discount).

If you want to install premium plugins you can, but again they won’t cost you the earth.

Conclusion

Here at Envato Tuts+, we love WordPress. It’s a content management system that you can use form anything from the simplest website to the most complex application, and anyone can use it. If you follow the steps above, you’ll have your won WordPress website so you can start doing business or building a community online.

The Best WordPress Themes and Plugins on Envato Market

Explore thousands of the best WordPress themes ever created on ThemeForest and leading WordPress plugins CodeCanyon. Purchase these high-quality WordPress themes and plugins can and improve your website experience for you and your visitors. 

Here are a few of the best-selling and up-and-coming WordPress themes and plugins available for 2020.









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