Learn how to create your own WordPress website and discover tips and tricks that will help you improve your user experience and increase conversions.
The idea of creating your own website can seem overwhelming.
You might even think that this task is impossible for anyone but a developer or someone with a background in web design.
Well, I have good news for you - there is software that is very easy to use, and almost anyone can create a unique and professional looking website for their business, blog or portfolio. It's called WordPress.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that allows you to host and build websites. WordPress has an additional build and template system, so you can customize any website to fit your business, blog, portfolio or online store.
This ultimate guide will cover a basic step-by-step process of creating your own WordPress site as well as a list of tips and tricks to remember while working with WordPress.
But first, let's answer the question most people ask when they start thinking about their new WordPress site: What is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?
Comparison between Wordpress.org and WordPress.com
The difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com has to do with who actually hosts your website.
You host your website or blog on WordPress.org, through a third-party hosting provider. You should also download your own WordPress software, purchase a domain name on a third-party site, and manage your own server. It's a much more hands-on experience than WordPress.com.
WordPress.com offers your website hosting for you. You also don't need to download any software or server management. If you choose WordPress.com, your site URL will look like this: www.mywebsite.wordpress.com.
However, you also have the option to upgrade your WordPress.com account and purchase a custom domain from a third-party provider (which means your URL will look like this: www.mywebsite.com).
How to choose between WordPress.org or WordPress.com
You may be wondering if WordPress.org or WordPress.com would be a better fit. Let's review a few of the pros and cons that come with both options, so you can make an informed decision.
Wordpress.org is ideal if you want complete control over the customization and control of your website. However, there is a lot of responsibility that comes with managing a WordPress.org site. You must purchase and setup your own domain name, download and install plugins and theme, modify your website code, and manage your website security. WordPress.org is free to use, but you have to pay for everything else related to having a website.
WordPress.com is best if you are looking for an all-in-one option that does most of the hard work for you. You will never need to manage your server, pay for your hosting, or buy a domain. There are also a number of customization options that come with the WordPress.com plan to help you make your website look the way you want it to.
WordPress.com has a free and paid version. If you stick with the free version, you won't be able to upload any custom themes or plugins, and you'll have a WordPress subdomain. However, there is always the option to pay for premium upgrades and other plans that give you more features and control, as well as the option to purchase a custom domain through a third-party site.
How to launch a WordPress website
WordPress for Beginners: How to Use WordPress
There are a number of ways to create your dream website with WordPress. Users generally find the software easy to use, but getting started can be understandably intimidating if you're completely new to the process. That's why we built a "WordPress for Beginners" guide. Want a quick introduction before diving deep? Check out this helpful video:
For more resources, we've also rounded up some of the best websites for learning about WordPress - these can be incredibly valuable sources of information as you begin your journey.
Below, we'll take a closer look at how to get started building your own website.
How to build a wordpress website
- Select a WordPress plan (WordPress.com only).
- Set up your own domain name and hosting provider.
- Install WordPress.
- Choose your topic.
- Add posts and pages to your website.
- Customize your website.
- Install plugins.
- Optimize your website to increase page speed.
- Get inspiration from examples of WordPress sites.
WordPress is the most popular content management system today. Its ease of use and versatility allow the majority of users and business owners to create a website that meets their needs. Here's how you can do the same.
1. Select a WordPress plan (WordPress.com only)
To start building your website, select a WordPress plan. As mentioned earlier, with WordPress.org, you only have one (free) plan option - but it requires you to purchase your domain, hosting provider, plugins, themes, and everything else related to your WordPress site.
With WordPress.com, you will have to choose from the five plans they offer.
The main differences between these plans are the monthly fees, types of site customization, and access to marketing tools.
2. Set up your domain name and hosting provider
Setting up your domain name and choosing a hosting provider for WordPress usually happens around the same time in the website creation process.
Before we talk about how to complete these tasks, let's discuss the difference between a domain name and a hosting provider.
Think of your domain name as your home address - it's how visitors locate your website on the Internet. Your domain name will look like this: www.example.com.
Your hosting provider is like your home - where your website files are actually stored. Without a hosting provider, your site would have no space on the server to "live in". Some of the best WordPressing hosting providers are WP Engine, Bluehost, and Kinsta.
How to choose a domain and hosting providers
Again, WordPress.org requires you to create your own domain and find a third-party hosting provider for your website. WordPress.com lets you decide whether or not you want a custom domain based on the plan you choose, but it takes care of the hosting for you.
Your hosting provider is important because it affects the speed, security, and reliability of your website.
There are hundreds of providers to choose from, which is why we've compiled a list of 22 best WordPress hosting providers to help you decide what works best for you. All of these providers meet three WordPress hosting requirements:
- PHP 7.4 or later
- MySQL version 5.6 or later or MariaDB 10.1 or later.
- HTTPS support
When considering hosting providers for your WordPress site, make sure they meet all of the above criteria.
For domain names, getting one is as easy as searching for and buying one through the domain registrar of your choice. If you're new to WordPress.com but have already purchased and created a domain name elsewhere, no problem - you'll have the option to move it or assign it to your WordPress website.
For the sake of this guide, let's say you don't have a domain or hosting provider yet. Here's how to get started building your own website with the popular Bluehost hosting service.
First, head over to the Bluehost website and click Get started.
From here, you'll be taken to the Bluehost pricing page to choose from four plans.
Once you select your domain name, you will be taken to a page to complete the account and billing information for your purchase.
Scroll down and under Options and Settings, you will see an area titled Popular Apps. Click on the WordPress application to start the installation.
After installing WordPress, you'll need to answer a few questions about the domain you want to use, the directory you want to install WordPress in, and your admin information.
After about 24 hours, your website will be installed on your hosting account, and GoDaddy will send you a confirmation email.
Now that you have your domain set up and WordPress installed, you will then need to set up your "primary domain" within WordPress, so that your visitors will see your website when they search on your domain.
In WordPress, go to My Site and click on Domains. Select the custom domain that you want to make your primary domain.
Confirm that you intended to make this change by clicking Update base domain.
Verify that the update was successful by looking for a green box with a check mark that says Primary domain.
Now, onto the fourth step: make your website look beautiful.
4. Choose your topic
You can customize your WordPress site with many WordPress themes and templates, each with several layouts, layout styles, colors, fonts, and other visual options.
WordPress automatically applies a default theme that looks fairly ordinary. You can keep it, but your website visitors may not be impressed. A custom WordPress theme, whether paid or free, will make your website look attractive and professional to buyer personas.
Similar to the wide range of hosting providers available, there are also hundreds of themes and templates to choose from.
To help you out, we've put together a guide to 20 of our favorite themes and templates and categorized them by purpose. Whether you are looking for a theme that is versatile enough for multiple different types of business, or a theme suitable for your own e-commerce site, portfolio, blog, or business, there is a theme to suit your specific needs. On top of your theme, you can further customize your pages with a builder like Elementor.
To find a theme that suits you best in WordPress.org, head over to your admin dashboard. Click Appearance, then Themes. You will be taken to another screen where you can browse through the available themes or search for a specific theme that you are considering.
Once you find the perfect theme, simply install it to start customizing. Each theme has different steps that are required during the customization process, so be sure to follow them closely. If the theme has a website (mostly accessible through a WordPress template and template library), check the documentation as you work through the customization process.
5. Add posts and pages to your website
When you add content to your WordPress website, it is usually displayed in the form of posts and pages.
Posts (or "dynamic pages") are typically used for blogs and portfolios because they automatically place the most recent website content on top of your featured content. Pages are static, which is why they are attractive to business owners - the content added stays in the same place.
Posts and Pages are the main post types in WordPress. Additionally, there are other native post types, as well as custom post types. For now, we can only stick to Pages and Posts.
Start by deciding if you want a post or a page to serve as the home page (or any page) for your website. To add a post to your website, go to the admin dashboard, click Posts and then Add New.
You can add a title to your post, place images, change the layout, and insert page elements via blocks and short codes. Click Save Draft to save your changes as a draft, or click Publish to have the post published immediately.
Adding a page to your website is a similar process. In your admin area, click Pages, then Add New.
First, add a title to your page. Then, you can insert images, embed videos, and add content. Follow the same steps to create multiple pages for your website. When done, click Save Draft or Publish.
6. Customize your website
In addition to the theme you choose, there are a number of ways to further customize your website. Let's review some options.
First, let's customize your site address. From the Administrator Control Panel, select Settings > General. Here, add your website address and logo. You can also toggle other basic location information like URL, email, time zone, and more.
Next, let's customize your reading sections. Under Settings > Reading, you can change your home page to a static page.
Consider this if you are a business owner who prefers content to stay in one place on your website. Consider using a dynamic page if you're a blogger who prefers the latest content to appear at the top of your pages. This way, your visitors can easily find your most recent posts.
The navigation bar is also customizable. This allows your visitors to easily find information on your website.
Add a navigation bar by going to the admin dashboard, clicking on Appearance and then menus.
From here, you can decide how you want your ribbon to look, how many pages you want to include, what you want to name those pages, and the order in which you want them to be listed.
Of course, this is just a small part of what you can do in the dashboard - click here for more information on WordPress site settings and customization options.
7. Install plugins
Plugins are pieces of software that add functionality to your WordPress site and enhance the user experience. With over 55,000 plugins available, there are options for most types of websites and users. Some of the more popular plug-ins available include:
- HubSpot WordPress Plugin: Easily add popups, forms, and live chat to your WordPress website. And as an added bonus, pair this plugin, or other CRM plugins, with your HubSpot CRM.
- All in One SEO: A search engine optimization (SEO) plugin that is used by companies to improve their rankings and uncover new SEO opportunities.
- Events calendar: A handy event calendar that makes scheduling events from your location easy.
- Yoast SEO: The go-to plugin to help you with on-page SEO. This application makes sure that you follow the best practices before publishing your site on the Internet.
- TablePress: Need a table on your site? Search no further.
- SEO Framework: Another plugin that can help you master SEO on your site.
- Weglot: A translation plugin for translating WordPress and WooCommerce sites.
To begin the installation, head over to the Accessories section of the Administrator Control Panel. This shows you all the plugins currently installed on your site.
Depending on your host, you may have several plugins already installed. Note that for the plugin to work, you must activate it after installation.
To add a new plugin, click Add New. Find the plugin you want, click Install Now, wait a few seconds, and then click Activate.
8. Optimize your website to increase page speed
Website performance is an important part of the user experience. If the page takes too long to load, your visitors will quickly move to another site. You don't want to frustrate your visitors with slow speeds.
You can improve your website performance by enabling browser caching. Browser caching is the process of temporarily storing your website data on visitors' browsers. This way, your content does not have to be sent from the web server for it to appear in the browser, which increases the speed of the website.
To enable caching for your website, install and activate a caching plugin with the process described above.
For example, WP Rocket is a WordPress caching plugin that will make your site faster in just a few clicks. With powerful options like Remove Unused CSS and Delay JS Execution, you'll save time and effort while optimizing your Core Web Vitals score, PageSpeed Insights score, and overall load time.
9. Get inspiration from WordPress site examples
When you start customizing your website, you may feel overwhelmed by all the options you have. Instead of starting completely from scratch, it helps to get some inspiration from other typical WordPress sites. Here are some of our favourites:
99% Invisible is a popular podcast focused on design and architecture. Their website is sleek, modern and provides easy navigation for visitors to quickly access every podcast episode.
The Houston Zoo website displays its main attraction on the homepage. The magnifying glass icon in the top menu bar makes searching the site easy.
Awesome Motive, the creators of several WordPress projects, attract their visitors with a simple and polished website. It features subtle animations to grab people's attention.
WordPress tips and tricks
There are a number of WordPress tips and tricks to make your website as impactful and easy to use as possible - we've listed 20 of them below to help you do just that.
- Focus on the basics and create a great user experience with a WordPress theme that complements your business content and website.
- Use dashes, not underscores, when naming your WordPress files. Google looks like underscores like carpenters, which means your file will look like one big word. It will not help you with SEO. Use dashes to indicate that there are separate words. (For example, use www.example.com/this-is-an-example, not www.example.com/this_is_an_example).
- Use WordPress online support for any questions or concerns you may have while creating or using your website. There are a number of forums and ways to reach WordPress experts listed on their website.
- Use the alt text image to your advantage. Image Alt Text can be used to improve Google rankings and SEO.
- Keep the sidebar as organized as possible. Stick to the basics and think about what your website visitors and buyer personas really need for quick and easy access.
- Back up your website regularly, so if you lose access or experience technical difficulties, you have everything you need to fully restore your content. There are a number of plugins, such as Snapshot Pro, that are specifically designed to back up your WordPress content.
- Learn and understand the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to ensure your website is fully optimized so you can increase your conversions.
- Create a custom home page. As mentioned earlier, WordPress will provide you with a default home page. Take the time to create your own theme with one that fits your business - remember that this is a visitor's first impression of your business, blog or portfolio.
- Monitor your website's performance and learn what works for your visitors and what doesn't. There are a number of useful WordPress plugins, in addition to Google Analytics, to help with this performance.
- Include an "About Us" page on your website to show your visitors that you are a trustworthy person and/or company. About us pages are known as the second most visited pages on websites (after home pages) - so getting to know yourself is important.
- Make sure your site is secure to ensure hackers don't get in. Again, there are plenty of plugins like WP Defender to help you with security.
- Create custom permalinks. Permalinks are permanent URLs that you plan to keep persistent for the foreseeable future. They are important because they improve the user experience and boost SEO on your Wordpress site.
- Create a custom navigation bar (as we reviewed earlier) to make your site user-friendly for your visitors.
- Include snippets in your blog posts so people don't get to your blog page and see your entire article at once. By including excerpts only on your blog page, you make way for all your blogs to be listed in one place. Visitors can then read the snippets and click through to read the posts that interest them the most.
- Build your website in a way that makes sense for your business, visitors, and buyer personas. For example, use posts if you're a blogger and use Pages if you're a business owner.
- Remove the Comment and Share buttons from certain pages of your website. You do not need (or want) a "Comment" or "Share" button on the About Us page, or any of your Service pages for that matter.
- Consider how your website looks on mobile. It's no secret that people search the internet while using phones, tablets, and other mobile devices these days. Consider using a plugin to help you achieve a responsive mobile WordPress design.
- Use visuals and video content when possible to break up the text on your website pages.
- Update your WordPress site and plugins regularly. WordPress will notify you when updates are released. This will keep your website looking fresh and running efficiently.
- Use social proof to show your new website visitors how many other people have already viewed your site and content. There are plugins to help you do that in a matter of minutes.
- Choose a CRM that works with your WordPress site. CRM can help you track the way users interact with your website and your company. Here is a list of some of the best WordPress CRM options.
Create a website with WordPress
Having a great website is important. It's how you connect with visitors and potential customers, create a positive first impression with new users, and increase conversions. The good news is that creating your own website doesn't have to be a tedious process...at least not with WordPress.
This easy-to-use CMS offers fully customizable plans suitable for all needs. With no prior knowledge required, you can start creating your own website for your business, blog, portfolio or online store right away.