Lesson 3 of 3
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How to Create a WordPress Website

In this module, I will show you how to create a WordPress website. Thanks to its simplicity and ease of use, WordPress is the easiest and, thus, the most popular way to build a website.

Many of the world’s leading companies have leveraged the power of WordPress to create their websites, and after mastering this module, you, too, can stand among them. It is your opportunity to take control and build a website that represents you.

So, let’s get started on this empowering journey!

I will walk you through every step of creating a WordPress website, including the following:

  1. Setting up WordPress for free or with your registered domain name and preferred website hosting service.
  2. Organizing your website and designing it with an appropriate theme, colors, and fonts to best serve your purpose.
  3. How to create new pages and customize the site with addons and extensions.
  4. How to make your website mobile-friendly, which is a massive benefit of using WordPress to build your site.

Feeling a bit intimidated? Don’t worry; the steps are much simpler than they may seem. Even if you’re a complete beginner with no knowledge of programming languages, you can confidently build your own website. Remember, WordPress is renowned for its user-friendly interface and extensive beginner support!

Setting Up a WordPress Website for Free – WordPress.com

Many beginners get confused between WordPress.com and WordPress.org for apparent reasons. They have a similar name and are backed by the same community. However, they are significantly different in practice.

WordPress.com provides built-in website hosting with many integrated features that enable users to launch their websites for free. The platform uses WordPress software to build a website, making it look the same as a WordPress.org website.

To put it simply, WordPress.com is a managed WordPress hosting solution where you can launch a website for free or upgrade to premium plans for additional features like customization, backup, security, etc.

You don’t need to register a domain name to launch your site. Simply visit WordPress.com and click the “Get started” button.

On the next page, you will be prompted to create an account. You can use your Google, Apple, Github, or any other Email account.

After you create a username and password by following the on-screen prompts, you can log in to your account on WordPress.com. Once logged in, click “Create your first site” to build your website.

Next, you will be asked to choose a domain name for your site.

At this stage, you can upgrade to a paid plan to register a professional domain name or connect to another domain purchased elsewhere. Both these options should cost you money.

As our purpose of launching a WordPress.com site is to keep it free, you can choose a generic domain name like “yourwebsite.wordpress.com” for free. Click “Select” next to the free option, then hit “Continue.”

Next, you will be prompted to choose different hosting plans. Once again, let’s choose the Free option by clicking “Start with Free.”

This is primarily for exploration purposes, although you can still use the website for blogging, promoting yourself or your business, and selling things online. So, select one or a few of your goals on the next page.

Next, give your blog a name and a tagline (remember, you want to promote yourself!) and hit “Continue.” Well done! You are almost done setting up your WordPress.com website, which hasn’t cost you a penny.

Next, you can draft your first post, watch some blogging videos, or make your website your own by choosing a design. Time for a break? You can skip to your dashboard and resume working on your site later.

Once you create a post and choose a theme for your site, you will be ready to publish it. Simply click the “Launch” button, and the website will be live in a few seconds.

Don’t forget that WordPress.com is a managed WordPress hosting service with many limitations imposed on the free plan users. You can customize your site with free templates, page organizations, and other features, but it won’t be as powerful as a self-hosted WordPress.org site.

Both platforms (managed and self-hosted) use the same WordPress software to build websites, so the process of designing and customizing your site is pretty similar. To avoid repetition, I will discuss all these in detail under the self-hosted WordPress website section.

So, let’s have fun reading and creating your site from scratch.

Setting Up a Self-Hosted WordPress Website – WordPress.org

The WordPress website-building platform is an open-source platform that you can install and use for free. Going the route will enable you to build your website from scratch and customize it as you want.

Self-hosting the WordPress platform requires more know-how than the managed hosting service offered by WordPress.com.

Nevertheless, you must pay for a hosting plan and register a domain to launch your site. Despite requiring an initial payment, self-hosting WordPress may save you money in the long run, as WordPress.com requires upgrading to a premium plan anyway if you want your site to look professional or perform some deeper customization.

Register a Domain Name for Your Website

As you have seen above, all websites need an address (e.g., google.com, bloggingtips.com, etc.). In the tech world, this address is called the domain name. You can buy your preferred domain names (if they are available on the market) from popular domain registrars like Namecheap.com, GoDaddy.com, etc.

Simply navigate to one of these sites and search for the availability of your preferred domain name (I am using hasanmuhtas for this demonstration). Within a few seconds, you will find different options with different extensions (.com, .org, .net, etc.). Choose the one that is more suitable to your business or purpose.

Note that extensions may cost different sums of money, so your decision should also align with your budget. However, you shouldn’t choose an extension like ‘.gov’ just because you can, as extensions like this commonly refer to government organizations.

Generally, you have to pay a yearly fee to use a domain name. Some website hosting providers also offer it for free (at least for the first year) with some of their subscription plans.

Anyway, once you choose a domain name, you can add it to the cart by clicking the designated button next to it. The domain registrar generally suggests many add-on features, but you can skip through them if you want.

Next, click the “Checkout” button at the bottom right corner of your screen. It should take you to the payment page, where you can toggle a few paid and free options. I highly recommend enabling “Domain Privacy,” as it will protect your personal information used to register your domain. Fortunately, Namecheap offers a free first-year subscription for the privacy feature.

Once you’ve done this, confirm your order and fill out the necessary information for payments and registrations as prompted in the next few steps. Your chosen domain name should be reserved for you immediately, but it takes 1-3 days to finalize the registration process with ICANN – the domain registration authority.

You can also register a domain with some of the hosting providers. Doing so may help you avoid the hassle of connecting and managing two things on two different websites.

Subscribe to a WordPress Hosting Provider

With WordPress, you have a plethora of hosting providers available. Each hosting provider offers different features and services at different price points. Some of the most popular hosting providers include:

  • HostGator
  • SiteGround
  • BlueHost
  • Hostinger
  • Kinsta
  • WPEngine
  • Dreamhost

Simply type in any of the names above on Google, and you should find their website. Most of these platforms offer 1-click WordPress installation for your website, which makes the process as straightforward as you have seen on WordPress.com.

Look closely at their plans and offers to find a platform that suits your budget, technical expertise, security, customer service needs, etc.

I recommend SiteGround for beginners, as it has an easy-to-use interface that allows you to install WordPress with a few clicks. You can also opt for Hostinger, which is cheaper than SiteGround (at the time of writing) and still includes a free domain for one year with its premium package.

The subscription process is similar to buying and registering a domain name. You have to:

  1. Select a plan
  2. Add it to the cart
  3. Choose a subscription period
  4. Create an account with a username and password
  5. Provide some personal information
  6. Complete the payment

Once done, log in to your hosting provider to install WordPress. Most hosting providers make installing WordPress easy, so simply follow their on-page instructions. You can also check the following tutorial if you decide to use Hostinger as your hosting provider:

https://youtu.be/72KxCAsjOBY?si=DL_9OXJGn5nfsY66 

While installing WordPress, you must create an administrator username and password. Note this down (or save it on your browser’s password manager), as you must use it to access your website’s administrator dashboard and perform the rest of the steps of creating a WordPress website.

Once your WordPress installation is complete, you can visit the website by typing its domain name into your browser. It will display what your visitors will see, which is just a placeholder at this moment and needs some changes to get up to speed.

Organize Your New WordPress Website

To make changes to your website, you must log in to the WordPress dashboard as an administrator. Remember how I asked you to take note of your administrator username and password? You will need them now.

To log in to your website’s backend, simply type in your website address and then add “/wp-admin.” You should see a page with designated boxes where you should put in your recently created username and password. Then, hit the Log In button and wait for your dashboard to appear.

From the dashboard, you can quickly access the front end of your website by clicking your website name in the top bar. You can also return to your dashboard the same way. This lets you see the changes you will make in the next few steps.

Delete Unnecessary Plugins, Pages, and Posts

Once you access your website’s dashboard, the first thing you would want to do is scroll around the different options. It will help you understand different categories like Posts, Pages, Appearances, Plugins, Settings, etc. The menu section is usually stacked on the left-hand side of your screen.

After that, you can focus on making your website organized and clutter-free. You see, hosting providers tend to load up WordPress with some plugins and pages you don’t necessarily need. It is similar to how smartphone manufacturers pre-install some not-so-useful apps on your phone. Fortunately, you can fix it pretty quickly.

Let’s start with plugins. Head to your dashboard’s “Plugins” section and check the box before “Plugin.” It should select all your plugins at once. Then, hit the “Bulk actions” tab. A number of options should appear. From there, click “Deactivate” and then “Apply.” 

Once all your plugins are deactivated, select all your plugins once more. Then, click “Delete” from the bulk actions tab and hit “Apply.” Click “OK” if you are asked to confirm your action. It should remove all the plugins on your site.

Now, let’s do the same for all the default pages and posts so you can start afresh. Simply head to the “Pages” tab, select all the pages, and choose “Move to Trash” from the bulk actions before hitting “Apply.” After that, hit the “Trash” option and delete the pages permanently from the bulk actions.

Next, go to your dashboard’s “Posts” section and repeat the same process for all your posts. You should also clean your post trash.

Well done! Your website is now super clean and free from any clatter. It’s not yet ready for your visitors, but soon it will be.

Make a Clean Backup of Your Website

It’s time to back up your website in mint condition. This step will help you safeguard your clean WordPress setup. Even if you make wild changes later, you can always return to this stage by restoring your backup.

To make a backup, you will need to install a plugin. Head to the “Plugins” section and click “Add New Plugin.” This is how you install a plugin to your WordPress site.

Next, type “All in One WP migration” in the search bar and hit “Enter.” As the search result appears, click the “Install Now” button next to this particular plugin. Once done, hit the “Activate” button the same way.

Head back to your Dashboard, and you should now see an “All-in-One WP Migration” menu item. Hover over it to find the options, then hit “Export.” Next, hit the “EXPORT TO” option to find various options for backing up your file.

Let’s choose “FILE” for this instance. This makes things quick. The backup file will be created within seconds, prompting you to “Download” it. Simply click the animated button and save the file at a preferred destination on your computer.

If you mess up anything while designing it, you can always choose the “IMPORT” option from the “All-in-One WP Migration” menu and import the file you just saved on your computer to restore your website to its clean condition.

Give Your Site a Title and a Tagline

The final step of organizing your site is to give it a proper name and a tagline. This is particularly important for your site’s search engine optimization, as the title and tagline will tell people what it is about and whether they should click on it.

So, go to the “Settings” tab from your Dashboard menu bar and choose “General.” You can change many general things here, including your site title and tagline. Do it as you please; however, it should align with your business name and purpose.

You can also add a site icon from here, which is usually a miniature version of your logo that sits beside the title on your browser tab.

Once done, you can scroll down and click “Save Changes” to make your changes permanent. While at it, don’t mess with the WordPress Address and Site Address, as any changes there will break your website.

Design Your WordPress Website

You might be wondering why your website doesn’t look as glamorous as some of the other websites you see online. It’s because you haven’t installed a theme yet.

A WordPress theme is a template you can install to control the appearance of your website. It gives your content an aesthetic base. Themes also massively impact with a massive impact on visitor’s experience.

Hundreds (if not thousands) of free and paid themes are available for WordPress, which you can install in a few clicks. There are plenty of categories for marketers, bloggers, e-commerce, etc. Therefore, finding a template specifically for your purpose is no big deal.

On the dashboard, head to your website’s “Appearance” section and click “Themes.” You should find a few basic themes to install there.

Instead of installing any of these simpletons, click the “Add New Theme” button to explore more options. You will get thousands of templates to choose from, many of which are available for free.

While choosing a theme, you should base your decision on the layout and purpose of your website, not the graphics you see presented on it. You can always change the graphics to something that represents your brand. Changing the layout—from a storefront to a blog or vice versa—is slightly more complicated.

I also recommend using a free theme to begin with. This way, you can learn more about what you need and upgrade to a premium theme later. At the same time, installing a “Block Editor” supported theme would give you greater control over the appearance and enable you to customize the layout and texts effortlessly.

Hovering over a thumbnail will allow you to explore the details and preview your choice. Once you find a suitable one, click the “Install” button. Once done, hit the “Activate” button, and your website appearance should change to the theme you just installed.

As shown above, I recommend using the Vermeer theme for portfolio websites. This theme has a modern, lightweight design and is easily customizable with the default block editor.

Customize Your WordPress Theme

Thanks to the power of modern WordPress, you can customize your block-supported theme as you please. Block editing replaced the classic editor feature in WordPress, which enables administrators/ builders to build an entire website simply by dragging and dropping different elements into different places. You don’t need to write a single line of code.

To see it in practice, visit your website by clicking its name at the header of your WordPress Dashboard. It should now appear with the theme you installed in the last step, with all the demo texts and buttons as seen on the thumbnail.

To change these to your own, click the “Edit site” button at the top of the website to access the block editor. Here, you can customize pretty much the entire site to your liking.

First, click over the homepage text and edit it to your liking. You can do it simply as any text document with some text formatting options. Adding hyperlinks is also possible by clicking the link button above the text block. Once done, click “Save” from the top left corner of your display.

You can change or remove the navigation buttons (My Blog, My Flicks, etc.) and link to your specific social pages by clicking over each and entering the necessary texts or links. Just try it out. However, to link your pages, you first have to create them. I will discuss this in detail a little later.

The same applies to replacing the image of your website’s home. Simply click on the image and hit “Replace.” You can choose one from your media library or upload one from your computer.

It is also possible to change the style of your theme, including fonts, typography, layout, and blocks. To do that, click the “Styles” icon from the top right corner of your screen. Here, you will find options to change the appearance of each element on your site.

Play with them and see what happens, but it’s best to leave some changes for when you add more content to your site. This will save you from having to redo your design multiple times.

Add or Remove Blocks

Since the introduction of the block editor in WordPress, making sitewide changes has become super easy. If you want to add or remove anything from the template, you can do so in a few clicks.

For example, you can remove the block with social media buttons from your homepage. To do so:

  • Select the particular block by clicking over it.
  • Hit the vertical three dots from the floating menu.
  • Click “Delete” from the option slider.

Adding a block is also straightforward. Simply click “+” near the top right corner of your editor and choose the type of content block you want to add. Once added, you can drag it around to drop it precisely where you want it.

Build Your Site Like a Pro

If you want more control over the look and feel of your WordPress site, you can install a third-party drag-and-drop page builder. These WordPress plugins offer creators the chance to build their site from scratch. You can use one of the supported themes or can create your own. Creating pages with custom layouts becomes a breeze, too.

Several excellent options are available, including:

  1. SeedProd: Best for creating a custom site with no more than a single click.
  2. Divi: Loved by professionals, this live page builder displays the final output right when building your site.
  3. Elementor: Another live page-building plugin with a massive library of templates and widgets.

You can install any of these plugins by navigating to “Plugins>Add New Plugin.” This will enable pro-level customization, including an effortless way to customize your website’s header and footer.

Populate Your Site with Content

Now that you have implemented some basic design structure and layout to your site, it’s time to populate it with content. By default, WordPress comes with two general types of content – Pages and Posts.

Add New Pages

Pages are seemingly static sections that help categorize and organize important information about your site. Examples include the contact page, about page, portfolio page, service or product page, etc.

You can create pages by clicking “Pages” from your Dashboard and then hitting the “Add New Page” button.

First, give it a title (i.e., My Flickr). Then, let’s create a media gallery to display some designs or pictures on the site.

To do that, click “+” just below the title and select the “Gallery” block from the sidebar (or the dropdown menu). Then, upload pictures from your computer to display on this page. You can choose photos from your media library if you already have some uploaded.

Once uploaded, select the pictures and click “Create a new gallery.” You can add captions to your photographs or simply hit “Insert Gallery.” It should now appear on your page.

Similarly, you can add paragraphs, quotes, audio, files, and other things by adding specific blocks to your page. Once done, hit “Publish” from the top right corner of your page, and it will go live. You can also save and return to a draft later by hitting “Save draft.”

Now, create a couple more blank pages with titles like Home, My Blogs, etc. This will help you follow the next few steps.

Add New Posts

Unlike pages, WordPress posts are part of the blogging features that are displayed in reverse chronological order. You can organize your posts based on categories and using tags.

To add a post, navigate to “Posts” and click “Add New Post.” Like pages, you can give the post a title and add various blocks by hitting the “+” button underneath it. To add texts, simply type into the block and create a new one by hitting “Enter.”

Once done, hit the “Publish” button from the top or “Save draft” if you don’t want to publish immediately. Clicking the publish button will let you assign categories and tags to your post. You can also schedule your post from the publishing menu.

When you publish a post, it automatically goes to the front of your website, with the newest displayed at the top. Nevertheless, you can tweak your WordPress settings to display a static page (as we have customized in our theme), with the posts going to a different page.

Setting Homepage and Adding Navigation Menu

As you have created a page and published a post, we can now focus on setting your homepage. You can skip this step if you want to write and publish blogs. For any other purpose, your homepage should welcome visitors and offer a way around your site.

Set Your Homepage and Posts Page

From your Dashboard, hover over “Settings” and click “Reading.” Then, select “A static page” next to “Your homepage displays.” Two previously muted boxes should now be active.

Next, select the box for the homepage and posts page and choose the pages according to your preference. You can also toggle the other settings to fix the number of posts displayed on your blog page and if it should be displayed in full or just the excerpts. Finally, hit “Save Changes” to get it done.

Some themes, like the one I am using on my Example site, override this default WordPress setting. Therefore, I didn’t change the box next to “Homepage” in the reading settings.

Update Buttons on Your Homepage

As promised in the Customize Your WordPress Theme section, let’s revisit the homepage and try to add some links to your navigation buttons (My Blog, My Flickr, etc.).

So, click on your site’s name at the top and visit your site. Next, click “Edit site” from the top menu bar and access the theme editor. From there:

  1. Select the “My Blog” block and hit the hyperlink icon from the floating menu.
  2. Hit the “Edit Link” icon and remove the “#” from the “LINK” box.
  3. Choose the “My Blog” page, which we have previously set as the Blog home.

Repeat the same steps for the “My Flickr” button, except this time, choose the page with the same name as your hyperlink. Finally, hit “Save” from the top right corner of your page to make these changes permanent.

Now, both these buttons should be clickable, directing your visitors to the specific pages linked to them.

Add Navigation Menu to Your Site

Although we have created some buttons on your homepage, your design may not have them by default. In such cases, how do your visitors navigate across the pages of your WordPress site? The answer is adding a navigation menu.

The classic WordPress editor has a powerful navigation tool, which you can access by clicking Appearance>Menus. Then, you must add the pages you want on your menu and hit the “Create Menu” button. Finish the setup by hitting “Save Menu.”

The steps are slightly different as we use a theme with block editor support. Here, you have to navigate to “Appearance>Editor.” Next, select the “Navigation” option.

Choose the pre-designed menu option you want(e.g., Navigation) and click on it. The pages will be listed one after another, and the menu will appear on the preview pane. To rearrange the menu items, select one and drag and drop it where you want.

Editing the menu items requires hovering your mouse over each page’s name and clicking the three vertical dots next to your selection. You will then find the option to remove the specific element. Finally, hit the “Save” button to make your changes permanent.

Congratulations! You have successfully created your first WordPress site. You can now focus on improving it and making it exactly how you want to express yourself online.