Getting Started With WordPress

- How to get up and running with WordPress

If you are looking to build your first website, WordPress is an excellent choice!

WordPress is an open-source content management system that is free to download. The platform is simple to use, has access to tens of thousands of professional website designs, and its core functionality can be expanded through the use of plugins.

The possibilities with WordPress are limitless; which is why it currently powers around a third of all websites on the internet.

In this guide we are going to walk you through the six steps necessary to build a professional website using WordPress platform.

Step One: Buy a Domain Name

Before you delve deep into the world of website building, you need to register the domain name that your website will use.

Your domain name is your website’s identity and your website’s brand. It should therefore represent you and what you are trying to achieve online.

For example, a personal trainer may wish to use their own name for their domain name, whilst an online shop may prefer to use a brand for marketing purposes.

Take your time to choose the right domain name from the start as it will save yourself from having to rebrand at a later date.

There are thousands of domain registrars online, however the service we recommend for registering your domain names is Google Domains.

The service utilises a clean user-interface and is safe and secure to use. Domains start from only $12 per year and Google provides 24/7 support via chat, email, and telephone.

Step Two: Get Set Up With Hosting

Website hosting companies store your WordPress database and website files so that internet users can access your website 24 hours a day.

A good hosting company will not only host your website, they will also help keep it secure and provide professional support when you need it.

Most professional hosting companies offer hosting plans that are designed specifically for WordPress users and provide useful tools and features such as daily backups, automatic updates, website optimisation, and webite staging.

Great support is especially important to those who are building their first WordPress website. We recommend Siteground and WP Engine for hosting WordPress websites.

Siteground and WP Engine are extremely well respected hosting companies: both will install WordPress for you and their support teams will advise you how to point your domain’s DNS to their hosting space.

Step Three: Select a WordPress Theme

A good website design is vital to your website’s success. It should project a professional image and help visitors navigate your website content.

WordPress themes change your whole website design at the click of a button. You will find themes for blogs, magazines, businesses, online shops, directories, portfolios, and more.

Most modern WordPress themes support the WordPress theme customiser. This allows you to make customisations to your website design and see the changes in real-time.

Astra and Divi are two of the most versatile WordPress themes around (Check out our review of Astra and review of Divi).

Astra is free to download whilst Divi is a premium solution. Both WordPress themes are easy to use and can be used to create professional websites without knowing any code.

Step Four: Enhance Your Website with WordPress Plugins

You will only realise the true power of the WordPress platform when you start utilising plugins. The WordPress plugin system allows you to enhance your website with additional features and functionality.

Plugins can be used to add important functionality to your website such as contact forms, social media sharing buttons, performance enhancements, and more. They can also be used to transform your website into a directory, an online shop, a gallery, or even a discussion forum.

We encourage you to browse the official plugin directory to get an idea of just what is possible with WordPress.

To get you started, we recommend the following four WordPress plugins: Yoast SEO, Akismet, Ninja Forms, and WP Rocket.

Yoast SEO will help you further optimise your website for search engines, Akismet will help you tackle spam, and Ninja Forms can be used to add professional contact forms to your website. Finally, we have WP Rocket, which is a premium performance solution that will drastically reduce the time it takes to load your website pages.

Step Five: Secure Your WordPress Website

A good hosting company will help you keep your WordPress website secure, however you should remain pro-active about security and follow good security practices such as using a difficult password for logins and keeping WordPress, and all WordPress themes and plugins, up to date.

WordPress security plugins can help strengthen your website further by preventing common website attacks. One technique attackers use to gain unauthorised access to websites is called brute force attack. This technique attempts to login to websites using combinations of usernames and passwords until they “Crack the Code”.

A WordPress security plugin can prevent this attack by limiting the number of failed login attempts. For example, after three failed login attempts, a user would be prevented from logging in for six hours.

We recommend installing Sucuri Scanner on your website. The plugin shows you how to secure your website further and it can scan your website database and files for malware and other malicious activity. It can also show you failed login attempts and give you important security alerts.

Step Six: Setup Daily Website Backups

All of your blog posts, pages, and website settings, are stored in your WordPress database. It is therefore vital that you keep a backup in case something goes wrong. In this regard, website owners should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

If you take website security seriously, you will greatly reduce the risk of being attacked, however that is no guarantee that something will not go wrong. This is why external backups are so important.

There are many backup plugins and backup services available online that not only back up your website to a secure location, but also allow you to restore any backup in seconds. This saves you from manually having to restore your WordPress database and files and gets your website back online quicker.

In addition to the website backups provided by your hosting company, we highly recommend backing up to an external location too. The backup plugin UpdraftPlus helps you do this. It is free to download and can be used to backup your website to cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon S3.

Final Thoughts

WordPress is a user-friendly website solution that can be used to create any type of website. If you follow the steps above, we have no doubt that you will be able to publish your first website using the WordPress platform.