How to Make a WordPress Website in 2020

Please bear with me! Here’s why:

  • If you know how to make a website on your own, you will save a ton of money on web developers and designers.
  • This will also allow you to follow the market trends and put new things on your website without needing a programmer’s help.
  • You will effectively stay ahead of your competition because, while they have their projects slowed down by the need to consult developers, you will be able to build most things yourself (within reason, of course).

With that being said, the most important piece of the puzzle here is that you can learn how to make a WordPress website and then create something awesome for your business or project all on your own.

Here’s how to make a website on your own, step by step:

  1. Find a domain name for your site.
  2. Sign up for web hosting (we recommend Bluehost).
  3. Get WordPress installed via the Bluehost interface.
  4. Pick a free WordPress theme from the Bluehost onboarding.
  5. Get some must-have WordPress plugins that will help with your site growth.
  6. Start creating your pages and blog posts.

Make a website – in the bird’s eye view

Okay, here’s the plan for what we’re going to do in the next steps. The important thing to note is that it’s all DIY-able (if that’s a word) and that we’re minimizing the costs wherever possible.

Step 1: Choose WordPress as your website platform

Truth be told, there are many website platforms that you can use when building a new site – Content Management Systems (CMS) is what they’re usually called.

The idea of a CMS is to give you some easy-to-use tools so that you’re able to edit your site’s content without any knowledge of coding.

For the most part – from the user’s point of view – those CMS look much like the familiar interfaces at Facebook or Google Docs. You basically create new pages or documents and then have them published to the web.

Step 2: Pick a name for your website, buy a domain & hosting

When learning how to make a website, picking a name is probably the most fun aspect of the whole process.

After all, you have complete freedom here. You can pick literally any name you wish for your website.

However! There are still some things you need to understand to set yourself up for success later down the road.

First off, there are nearly 2 billion (!) websites online on the web (at the time of writing). Meaning, staying original can be quite challenging.

It’s a really good idea to construct your website’s name (and thus your domain name) around either the name of your organization (the most obvious approach) or a phrase that’s associated with the niche you’re in, but with some added words for better brandability.

In short, a good domain name should be:

  • brandable – unique sounding, like nothing else that’s out there in the market
  • easy to memorize
  • short – those are also easier to memorize
  • easy to type and hard to mix up – you don’t want people to be wondering how to spell your site’s name
  • including niche-related keywords – for instance, if you do anything with pizza, it would be cool to have “pizza” somewhere in the name of the site; it works the same in non-pizza industries as well. 🍕

a) Buying your domain name and hosting

💡 Note. While things like buying a hosting package might sound intimidating at first, there’s really nothing to worry about. The process we’re presenting here is simplified and doesn’t require you to do any technical heavy-lifting.

We’re going to use Bluehost. Here’s why:

  • Bluehost is a reputable web host that’s optimized for WordPress and will make sure that your website operates with no hiccups
  • it’s one of the few companies recommended on the official WordPress.org website
  • it’s cheap (from $2.95/month)
  • it’s easy to use and beginner-friendly
  • you get a domain name for free

b) Telling Bluehost to install WordPress for you

Since you now have signed up to Bluehost and have your hosting setup ready to go, the only element that’s missing is WordPress.

While you technically can install WordPress manually, why would you if you can get other people to do it for you, and for free! Here’s how:

As soon as you completed the sign-up process with Bluehost, you should have received an email from the Bluehost crew with some details on how to log into your customer profile and begin working on your site.

Once you’re logged in, Bluehost will show you an easy to use wizard that takes you through the process of installing WordPress on your hosting setup.

Step 3: Get familiar with the WordPress UI

You can log in to your WordPress user panel if you go to www.YOURDOMAIN.com/wp-admin/

a) Set permalinks

Permalinks define how the individual web page addresses – aka URLs – are structured within your site.

The most optimized structure is to have the page’s title in the URL. For example, your “about” page (more on that page later on) should be available under something as simple as YOURSITE.com/about. Setting the permalinks correctly will allow you to achieve that.

To set your permalinks, go to Settings → Permalinks from the main sidebar in your WP dashboard.

b) Making your site public

I guess you want Google to be able to find and index your website. To make sure that’s the case, go to Settings → Reading, and make sure that the box labeled “Discourage search engines …” is unchecked.

c) Set your website title and tagline

Go to Settings → General and set the Site Title and Tagline fields to what you want.

Your site title and tagline might appear in various places throughout the site. Some WordPress themes display those on the homepage and in the SEO description – which Google uses when listing your website on the results pages.

The tagline is optional – you can leave it blank if you don’t have a tagline for the site.

d) Allow or disable comments

Whether or not you want to accept comments on your website is up to you.

On the one hand, letting readers leave their opinions and questions under your articles/pages can be great for building a community around the website. But, on the other, you’ll also have your hands busy dealing with spam and making sure that there’s no trolling.

Whether you’ll end up allowing or disabling comments, it can be done in Settings → Discussion

e) Disable pingbacks and trackbacks

I don’t know why this setting is even still in WordPress. It’s mostly a leftover from back in the day when pingbacks and trackbacks were a thing.

Though, if you want to learn how to make a website in this day and age, you can simply deactivate them by deselecting the following setting in Settings → Discussion.

f) Set your time zone

Setting your time zone correctly will make publishing new pages and posts more predictable.

Generally, you want to set the time zone to either where you’re at or where your target audience is at. Whichever makes more sense.

You can set the time zone in Settings → General.

With the basic settings out of the way, we can get to the fun stuff:

Step 4: Pick a theme/design for your website

The great thing about WordPress is that it works with interchangeable designs – called themes.

Meaning, you can switch the way your WordPress website looks with just one click.

a) Pick a theme that you like

As I mentioned, WordPress themes are out-the-box design packages that define the way your website looks. You can install them quickly and then change them in the future if need be.

The critical detail here is that themes don’t change the contents of your site but only alter the presentation.

There’s a huge abundance of WordPress themes out there. Just looking into the official directory at WordPress.org, there are hundreds of themes there.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot more free themes on the web on third-party sites (like JustFreeThemes), and there’s also a whole other world of paid themes that are distributed by independent theme stores (like ThemeIsle or aThemes) and even theme marketplaces (like ThemeForest).

Even though there are myriads of paid themes out there, for most users, free themes are a great option to start with. The surprising thing about some of the best free themes is how many impressive features they bring to the table without asking for anything in return.

So, how to pick a theme that’s right for you? Here are some tips if you want to give this a more in-depth look. Generally, though, you don’t need to spend too much time on this and go a simple route instead.

We can do that because the theme you choose today doesn’t have to be your final decision. You can always come back to it later on and change it in a matter of minutes.

Therefore, we’re going to go for a safe bet and use one of the most popular free themes in the market today to demonstrate how WordPress themes work. That theme is the aforementioned Hestia.

🎨 Note. While we will use Hestia as the example in the following section, it’s not the only free theme that you can use. Here’s our collection of theme roundups for multiple purposes, starting from business websites to blogs, travel, food, personal sites, and more. You can use any one of those themes. The procedure is the same.

b) Install your theme

If the theme you’ve chosen is available in the official directory at WordPress.org then the only thing you need in order to install it is the theme’s name. Yep. That’s it.

Here’s how theme installation is done:

Go to Appearance → Themes from your WordPress dashboard and then click on “Add New.”

c) Customize the theme

While the out-the-box look of your theme might be already quite nice, you should still do some basic customizations to make it fit your needs hand-in-glove.

To begin, go to Appearance → Customize. You’ll see the main WordPress Customizer interface.

Step 5: Get plugins to extend your website’s abilities

Plugins are to your WordPress site what apps are to your iPhone. 📱

In other words, they extend the standard functionality of your site by adding some much-needed features. Essentially, as you’re figuring out how to make a website on your own, plugins are how you can get some great features without knowing any coding.

Here are the plugins you should consider getting – best of all, they are all free:

  • Yoast SEO – helps you make search engine optimization tweaks and make your site more accessible to the search engines in general.
  • Google Analytics for WordPress – this one integrates your website with the most popular traffic analysis solution on the web.
  • Wordfence Security – improves the security of your WordPress site.
  • UpdraftPlus – does automatic backups of your website.
  • Optimole – optimizes your images.
  • WPForms – lets you add interactive contact forms to your website, which your visitors can use to reach you directly – much better than displaying your email in plain text on your site.
  • Also look through this list of the most popular WordPress plugins of all time. You might find something interesting there as well.

Installing plugins is simple. If it’s a free plugin that we’re dealing with, then all you need is the plugin’s name.

Go to your WordPress dashboard and then to Plugins → Add New. From there, input the name of the plugin that you want into the search field, and then click on “Install” and “Activate.”

Step 6: Create basic pages

There are some pages that all websites should have, regardless of their purpose or goal.

But first, how to even create a page in the first place:

Step 7: Consider starting a blog

A blog (as well as marketing through content – aka “content marketing” in general) is among the most effective ways to promote not only your website but also any products that you might want to sell through that website.

And it’s not just me saying this; there’s raw data proving that blogs are a superior tool for marketing online, with 55% of marketers saying that blogging is their top inbound marketing priority.

Running a blog is a straightforward concept. What you do is publish articles related to the topic of your website and do it regularly.

From a technical point of view, WordPress has blogging tools built right into it from the get-go. In fact, WordPress started as a blogging platform.

To create a new blog post, all you need to do is go to Posts → Add New (from your WordPress dashboard).

With all your key pages online (and perhaps your blog started as well), it’s now a good moment to adjust your site’s navigation and make it overall easier to consume for the visitors.

We’ll focus on two elements here:

a) Menus

Menus are the primary vehicle through which visitors navigate your site, thus they’re crucial when figuring out how to make a website.

Depending on your theme, you will have a couple of options to choose from regarding menu settings. Here’s what you can usually do (on Hestia’s example):

First, go to Appearance → Menus in your WordPress dashboard.

b) Widgets

Widgets are an old-school feature in WordPress. In simple terms, a widget is a small block of content that can be displayed in various places around the website.

The usual placement of those blocks is in the sidebar or the footer of the site.

To see what this might look like and to set your widgets, go to Appearance → Widgets

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