Getting Started With WordPress

- How to get up and running with WordPress

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

An open-source content management system that’s free to download, WordPress is simple to use and has access to tens of thousands of professional website designs — while 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.

In this guide, we’re going to walk you through the six steps needed to build a professional-looking website using WordPress.

Step One: Buy a Domain Name

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

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

For example, a personal trainer may wish to use their own name for their domain name, while 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’ll save you from having to rebrand at a later date.

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

It has a clean user-interface, and is safe and secure to use. Domains start from only $12 a 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 internet users can access your site 24 hours a day.

A good hosting company will not only host your website, they’ll also help to 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 website staging.

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

They’re two extremely well respected hosting companies. Both will install WordPress for you, and their support teams will advise you on 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’ll find themes for blogs, magazines, businesses, online shops, directories, portfolios and more.

Most modern WordPress themes support the WordPress theme customiser, which 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, while Divi is a premium solution, but both are easy to use and can help you to create professional-looking websites without knowing any code.

Step Four: Enhance Your Website with WordPress Plugins

You’ll only realise the true power of the WordPress platform when you start using 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’s 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 to further optimise your website for search engines, Akismet will help you to tackle spam and Ninja Forms can be used to add professional contact forms to your website. Finally, WP Rocket 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 to keep your WordPress website secure. However, you should remain proactive 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 to 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 log in 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. 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: Set Up 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’ll greatly reduce the risk of being attacked. However, that’s no guarantee that something won’t go wrong, which 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. Backup plugin UpdraftPlus helps you to do this. It’s 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 you’ll be able to publish your first website using the WordPress platform.