Once upon a time you needed a web developer to build your entire website. Unless you wanted to learn HTML, CSS, MySQL, jQuery and/or PHP, you had to hire someone to do every piece of your site. With WordPress, however, building a site becomes more of an elementary process. Do this, press that, take off those and keep that – your site is built. OK, maybe it’s not *that* simple, so I will take you through the basics.
Build a Website with WordPress
Step One: Buy a domain name and web hosting. Those are two separate things. I recommend Bluehost for small businesses that use WordPress, but there are many other good options as well.
Step Two: Install WordPress, following the famous 5 minute install. Oh, and read about WordPress security at this time as well. Don’t be surprised if it takes more than five minutes. And if you can get stuck, you can always try contacting someone who has installed WordPress many times.
Step Three: Pick a good theme for your site. Since you are starting from scratch, pick a responsive theme – might as well have your site work on mobile as well as a desktop. If you are confused by the oh so many sites available for WordPress, go with WordPress Twenty Twelve.
Step Four: Install some important plugins for your site. For starters, I would make sure I have a good backup plugin.
Step Five: Put some content on at least three pages. If you want a blog, name a category “blog” and publish a few posts to that category. Do you want to allow comments? Now is the time to decide (although, like much else in WordPress, you can change your mind). If you want to dis-allow comments for new posts, go to Settings->Discussion and make sure ” Allow people to post comments on new articles” is no longer checked. You can edit this setting individually for each post.
Step Six: The default for WordPress is to have posts appear on your home page. Many small businesses prefer to have a static home page. You can accomplish this by going to Settings-> Reading and click in Front Page displays A Static Page (and select the page and save your new settings).
Your New Site
Ah, there! You have a new site. Do you like it? Of course, there is so much more one can do. You will probably want to modify the header. You may decide you prefer the bells-and-whistles of a paid theme (paid themes do not cost *that* much and might work well for your business). You may want to add a contact form. Installing Google Analytics is a common practice for businesses, and optimizing for search engines can be done in a variety of ways.
If you get stuck somewhere along the way, you can also contact an experienced web developer to help build some part of your site. It’s OK to ask for help. And if you are self-motivated, you may then be able to resume working on your site on your own.
Your Turn, Please
Do you use self-hosted WordPress for your site? Did you set up yourself? Did you hire someone to help or to do the whole set up? What do you find easy about WordPress? What scares you?