As the days pass, we may dread the fact that our age is moving at the speed of light. However, a positive note is that website technology seems to be advancing twice as fast. There are many steps to take to create a website; finding the right provider and knowing the proper options can greatly affect the outcome of your website.
Today, coding still plays an extremely vital role in web development. However, because of how coding has advanced beyond the past programs for websites, it is much easier to create informational or e-commerce websites for the average user. When I say average, I mean your local chiropractor or an online business that sells cell phone accessories. With websites like Wix, Squarespace and WordPress.org, the UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface) have essentially turned into a form best compared to a language translator for website development. Instead of writing lines and lines of codes to create one section in a website, these CMS (Content Management System) tools allow you to simply drag and drop different contents and sections within a GUI (Graphic User Interface) for a website to come alive. When performing these actions, the CMS uses codes to create more codes. However, as easy as it may sound, just like anything in life there is a learning curve to these management systems. The more you know about one specific system (e.g., WordPress), the better you will be with that system. Knowing coding will make you even more of an expert. In this post, I will show you the steps you need to take to get started on your own website with WordPress.
Step 1: What type of website are you planning to create?
The first question you should ask yourself is whether you will be creating an informational or e-commerce website. The reason why this is important is because, depending on what type of site you want, the overall size of your website changes. For example, if you are planning on creating an e-commerce website, you should already know that it will typically be larger in data size than an informational website. This is because an e-commerce site will have all the pages of an informational site – such as About Us, Contact Us and a home page – plus individual products that an informational site will usually not have. As a rule of thumb, e-commerce sites are larger than informational sites in terms of data; however, this is not always true because some e-commerce sites may have only one product to sell. Some informational sites will be larger in size because of the number of pages the site needs and the pictures being displayed. If an informational website has a gallery that is constantly being updated with more pictures, the size will increase. So, by answering this question, you will know whether your website will need a lot of storage and hardware to host it or just a little bit … which takes us to step 2.
Step 2: Choosing a web hosting service.
A website hosting service is a type of service that allows individual users to make their sites accessible to the World Wide Web. Some examples of these services are GoDaddy, Host Gator, AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Inmotion Hosting. When you purchase a hosting plan from one of these companies, you are essentially buying a virtual computer where all the data is stored within a cloud. Your website’s size and amount of traffic will determine which hosting plan best fits your needs. For purposes of this post, the important variables to look for in a hosting plan are disk space and access to cPanel. In most cases I would suggest going with the Power Level Inmotion Business Hosting Plan. This is suitable for most websites with decent traffic and can support typical e-commerce and informational websites. However, just like when you are shopping for a car, it is always a good idea to look at your options and ensure you are getting the proper hosting plan for your needs. Once you have chosen your hosting plan, it is time to move on to step 3.
Step 3: Installing WordPress into your cPanel.
There are many different CMS systems you can use to manage your website, such as Magento, Joomla and Drupal. What we will be focusing on is the WordPress.org CMS, which is my personal favorite to use. WordPress.org is an Open Source project that began in 2003. At first it was used mainly by bloggers but today it has evolved into something much greater. It still has very powerful blogging functionalities but due to its Open Source feature, this CMS system is now capable of creating informational sites, personal blogs and e-commerce stores. It can support websites for the smallest of bloggers to companies to huge corporations like ESPN.
There are two ways to install WordPress, one being to go to wordpress.org and download the software script. Once you download the software script, you will need to upload it into your public_html folder or whichever folder your website is located within your cPanel from your host. However, since most hosts already provide an easy step-by-step process to install WordPress into your cPanel, it is highly recommended that you do so in this way. Another advantage of using the installer from your host is that most likely your host will be able to provide you with support when you run into issues as opposed to them not offering any support when you manually install WordPress. Here I will be covering the most efficient way to install WordPress using the process your hosting company provides. Keep in mind that some companies offer WordPress support and services.
- First log in to your cPanel by going to yourwebsite.com/cpanel
- Once inside your cPanel, look for an icon named “WordPress”.
- When you click the WordPress icon, look for a tab named “Install” and click on it.
- You will see a form to fill out to set the directory, settings and name of your site.
a) “Choose Protocol” – here you will choose whether your site will be an http or https. If you do not have an SSL certificate, you will be choosing http.
b) “Choose Domain” – here you will choose which domain you want WordPress installed on (e.g., yourwebsite.com).
c) “In Directory” – here is the directory in which you will install your WordPress. If you want it inside the parent directory, leave this field blank (e.g., yourwebsite.com). However, if you want it inside a subdirectory, you may name this whatever you want (e.g., www.yourwebsite.com/subdirectory-name). This area is important because it will determine which link is your homepage. (Think of folders inside a Windows computer. If you install it inside a subdirectory within cPanel, you will be installing all of WordPress inside a specific folder.)
d) “Site Name” – here is where you will put the Meta Title for your website.
e) “Site Description” – here is where you will put the Meta Description for your website.
f) “Admin Username” – here you will create an admin username to log into your WordPress dashboard.
g) “Admin Password” – here you will be creating an admin password to log into your WordPress dashboard.
h) “Admin Email” – here you will set the administrative email.
i) “Select Language” – here you will select the language in which the WordPress dashboard will be displayed.
j) “Select Plugins” – here you will have options to install suggested plugins into your WordPress. It is highly recommended that you install the “Limit Login Attempts (Loginizer)” plugin.
k) “Advanced Option” – when you expand the advanced option tab, you will be able to change the database name and table prefix and set some settings. I suggest leaving the database name and table prefix at their default if you do not know what this is. Also, make sure Auto Upgrade, Auto Upgrade WordPress Plugins and Auto Upgrade WordPress Themes are checked.
Once you have filled out everything according to your preferences, you can go ahead and hit the “Install” button. You will be notified that WordPress is installing. Once it has completed, it will give you the website link and your wp-admin link.
Website link: www.yourwebsite.com
Wp-admin link: www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin
You are going to want to remember the wp-admin link. This link will take you to your WordPress dashboard, where you’ll manage nearly everything about the site. Congratulations, you have just successfully installed WordPress in your website. Easy, right? Now let’s move on to the WordPress Dashboard.
I could write multiple blog posts about the WordPress Dashboard and still not be able to explain the full potential of what you can achieve with your website using this tool. Here I will explain what I think are some of the most important areas of the dashboard with which you should be familiar. To log into wp-admin, go to www.yourwebsite.com/wp-admin. Here you will be prompted with a username and password. Use the same username and password you used when installing WordPress from your cPanel.
Inside yet? Great, now let’s move on to some of the tabs available within the dashboard.
Themes are used to control most of the cosmetics of your website. By default, the WordPress theme will be active and installed. However, if you want to make some serious edits to the overall design of your website, it is recommended that you purchase a theme and install it. What I use and would recommend for purchasing themes is Themeforest. It has a huge selection of themes for $59 or less and its themes are specific to the category of style you are looking for on your website. For example, if you are looking for a Real Estate theme, it will have a category of all the different themes made specifically for Real Estate websites. Be wary of which theme you purchase because some may be buggy and may not be maintained by the developer. Look for themes with high ratings and that have been recently updated. Also, look through the comments for any complaints or bugs you may find annoying.
Plugins are the additional tools that make up the functionality of your website. For example, let’s say you are looking for the following: a way for people to contact you, security from hackers and products to sell. You can achieve all these goals by installing plugins that offer these features. For this example, you will install plugins like Contact Form 7 for contact form integration, Jetpack for WordPress security and Woocommerce for e-commerce features on your site. You can add new plugins by going to Plugins > Add New. Here you can search for the many plugins available and install them directly into your WordPress.
Pages is an area where you can set up individual pages, such as a homepage, About Us, Contact Us or any other page you may need for your website. All the pages are managed within this section; depending on your theme and plugins, you will have different options in terms of what you can do to each page. For example, if you want your homepage to have cool features like flip boxes or parallax effects, you will need a theme that provides those features.
Keep in mind that depending on the theme you go with, the steps when designing your website will be different. Make sure you read the instructions that come with the theme so you understand how it works. The same applies to plugins and their functionalities. Of course, there is still so much more I could explain about working with the WordPress platform, but that will be saved for another article. For common WordPress bugs and fixes, check out this article here.
Every day that passes is an advancement towards the improvement of web development. As technology advances, what once required huge sums of money becomes more affordable. Don’t stay stuck in the past; keep your knowledge up to date with the virtual world.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below.