In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to build your own WordPress website. You may be asking yourself: “what is a self hosted WordPress website?” The answer is pretty straightforward. It is an installation of the WordPress software running on the web host of your choice. To clarify, WordPress has two separate platforms. WordPress.com is hosted directly on their .com domain (both free and paid). WordPress.org is where you can download their open-source software for use on your own server or hosting account.
Who Uses WordPress?
Bloggers, news sites, retailers, online shops, small businesses, big businesses, artists, and more all use WordPress. According to their own homepage, 35% of all websites online are built using the platform. Of all the CMS (content management system) website builders online 60% of those use the platform. Since over 400 million people visit sites built with WordPress each month there’s a good chance you’ve seen one or two.
Why? Because features are powerful enough for the most demanding needs, yet simple enough anyone who can write an email can create a page in WordPress. While WordPress itself is developed and updated regularly by a small army of developers and contributors they also have a marketplace for third-party themes and plugins which significantly enhance design and functionality. All point and click.
We’ll get to more on themes and plugins in a moment, but for now, the point is anyone who wants a robust, well-documented platform with a reasonable learning curve trusted by novice and expert web developers around the globe uses WordPress.
Hosting and Domain Name
To build a website you’ll need to host it. You could do that on your own computer or private server, but that’s beyond the scope of this article. The easy way is to sign up for an account with a hosting provider like Godaddy who not only offer hosting services but domain registry also (your www.domainname.com). A lot of hosting providers these days have hosting packages specifically for WordPress, but there is little benefit to those packages versus a normal web hosting account. Godaddy for example offers a Deluxe WordPress hosting package that costs more than the regular Deluxe Web Hosting and you only get one website with the WordPress package. The regular web hosting package allows you to have “unlimited” websites, and yes you can install WordPress on it. In fact, if your hosting provider offers cPanel installing WordPress couldn’t be more simple. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Choosing The Right Theme
Whether you’re searching the WordPress Theme Directory or a site like ThemeForest you’ll want to think about the purpose of your website when searching. If you are going to build a real estate site, for example, you would want to search for “real estate” in the theme directory. The reason is that searching this way will not only provide you with a listing of themes that have a real estate design and feel, but many of them come with additional plugins or advanced features. One real estate theme may have location-based directory listings while another does not. Think about what you want your website to do. Look at different themes and compare not only the design but the features and functionality.
In this example, we’re going to use cPanel to install WordPress. As mentioned before, when choosing a hosting provider be sure to choose one that offers cPanel. It will make your life easier, and you’ll be glad you did. To install using cPanel simply log into your hosting account and go to your cPanel.
cPanel can be configured a little differently between hosting providers, so you’ll want to look for a section like “software installer” or “app installer” and look for WordPress as shown in the image below.
After you’ve located the WordPress installer click on it and you will be taken to the WordPress installer. Just look for a button that says something along the lines of “install” or “install now” similar to the image below.
After clicking the install button you are greeted with a set of options. The most important things here are the “installation url” and your admin login user name and password. Everything else can be changed later after installing and logging into WordPress. You can leave everything else as they are, or change them at this point. It’s up to you.
In the image below you’ll see the destination URL options. Option 1 is http: or https: If you purchased an SSL certificate with your hosting package (highly recommended) you’ll want to choose https (with an “s” on the end) otherwise choose just http. I won’t go into heavy detail as to why, but purchasing an SSL certificate during your hosting account creation is going to save you a lot of headaches later on, and installing WordPress with https: from the beginning is the best way to avoid SSL errors later.
Option 2 is your domain name (www.whatever.com). Just make sure the domain that you want to point to your website is in there. Option 3 is at the tail end of the installation URL. In the image below it shows “wp”. Delete anything after the main domain, otherwise, your home page will be located in that folder or directory. So instead of someone typing or clicking www.whateverdomain.com to get to your website, they would have to click or type www.whaterdomain.com/wp/ to get there and in most cases that’s not what we want, so just delete the last bit.
Lastly, you should see a section to create an admin user name and choose or generate a password. Just be sure to write down or copy those details. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to log into a freshly installed version of WordPress only to forget your login details. In most cases, you could log in through cPanel without ever having to type the login details, but it is much easier to just go to www.whateverdomain.com/wp-admin to log into your site. All WordPress admin logins are located at the domain followed by /wp-admin/ by default.
After you’ve got the important bits of your install information filled out just look for a link or button that says “install” then click it. That could be located in different spots on different hosts but they all do the same thing. Just find it, click it, sit back and watch the magic.
It should only take a few seconds for WordPress to install. Once it is finished installing you can launch your WordPress admin panel from within cPanel which will probably log you in automatically, or go to whateverdomain.com/wp-admin (whatever domain is whatever your domain actually is) and enter your login details. You should see a login page that looks like the image below. Congratulations, you just installed WordPress. Now onto the fun stuff.
Staging The Environment
At its bare roots, WordPress has two main publishing functions. Creating pages and posts. An example of a page would be your main page or home page. An example of a post would be a post you make in your blog. Once you’ve logged into WordPress one of the first things you’ll want to do is create a homepage (as a page) and create a blog page (as a page). To create a home page look in the left sidebar menu for “page”. Hover over it and click new page (pictured below). All you need to do here, for now, is enter a title “Home” for example and click “publish”. Follow these steps again but this time give the the page the title of “Blog” or something that reflects this is your blog page.
The reason you need to do this is that in the same left-side menu where you found “pages” you’ll also see “settings further down. Hover your cursor over settings and click “Reading”. You’ll see two dropdown boxes (pictured below) one for “Homepage” where you’ll select the homepage you just created and one for “Posts page” where you’ll select the blog page you just created. Scroll to the bottom of the “Reading Setting” page and click the “Save Changes” button.
Now whatever you put on the homepage you just created will be the first thing people see when they go to your domain name / url (www.whateverdomain.com) and anytime you create a new blog post it will show up on the blog page you created along with all the others. I’ll talk a little more about creating pages and posts in just a moment.
Creating Pages and Posts
If you’ve read through Staging The Environment above you already know how to create a page in WordPress. You can add pictures, video, change font colors, and add other elements to any page you’ve created. Have fun experimenting with all of the things you can add and do.
Posts require at least one category. WordPress creates one for you called “Uncategorized”. When creating a post if you don’t choose a category that post will be assigned to “Uncategorized” by default. To add more categories find “Blog Posts” in the left-side WordPress menu. Hover your cursor over it and click “Categories”. Give it a name and a description and click the “Add New Category” button at the bottom. Easy! Now when you create a post you can select the category you created for your post to be assigned to.
To create a post follow the same instructions you used to create a page, only this time find “Blog Posts” in the left-side WordPress menu. Hover your cursor over it and click “Add New” in the menu. Give it a title, and start writing. You can also add a featured image that will show up as the thumbnail image in your blog post archives.
There’s more you can do with posts and pages but this article is just a primer to get you started. Get in there and experiment. Have some fun.
Installing a Theme
There are a few ways to do this, but I’m only going to cover installing a theme through the WordPress interface. The first and easiest way is to just look for “Appearance” in the left-side menu of WordPress. Hover over appearance with your mouse and click “Themes”. Then click “Add New” in the top left corner of that page. This brings you to the area where you can “Add Themes” either by searching for them and installing the one you want or by uploading a theme zip file.
You’ll see in the image below I searched for “Real Estate” which brought up a bunch of real estate themes. Once you find the theme you want just click install and follow the instructions. Easy. You’ll also notice an “Upload” button in the top left of the image below. If you have a zip file from a premium theme store for example that is what you would click to upload and install that theme. Easy!
Installing a Plugin
Plugins are basically bits of code that add functionality to your website like email forms so people can send you email messages from your website, or photo albums so you can show off those vacation pictures. Installing a plugin is very similar to installing a theme as mentioned above. In the left-side WordPress menu find “Plugins”. Hover your mouse over that and click “Add New” which brings you to the WordPress Add Plugins page.
Just like you did when searching for a theme you can search for a plugin and click “Install” to install the one you want. You can also click “Upload Plugin” in the top left corner to upload a zipped plugin file. You’ll see in the image below I searched for “Email” which brought up a bunch of email plugins I could just click to install. Many of these are free, or free with options to upgrade.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and I hope it helps you get your own WordPress website up and running. If you have questions or need help leave a comment below, or head on over to the forums and post your question. If this article helped you the very best way to say thank you is to share. Until next time!