Looking for a way to get a website up and running on your own with little fuss? WordPress may be the answer. WordPress is a content management system that lets you build a website and add content without knowing HTML, CSS or any other technical acronyms.
The basic WordPress website is a blog format, but you can use WordPress to create static Web pages (pages that never or rarely need to be updated) as well. The benefit of WordPress is its flexibility and ease of use. As an added bonus, the software is open source, which means it is free. There is also a large community of users who can provide advice and help.
To get started, you need to download the latest WordPress software from http://wordpress.org/. You will then need to install WordPress on your host server. Some Web hosts will automatically install WordPress for you at the click of a button. Word Press has a few hosts that it recommends, but there are many others that offer automatic installation. If you decide to do it manually, WordPress has a detailed guide on how to do this.
Once the software is installed, you will need to choose a theme. The theme sets your website’s design and layout. Picking a theme may be one of the most difficult tasks because there are thousands of free and premium themes available. WordPress has a directory of free themes, but many companies offer premium themes for sale. The benefit of a premium theme is that you may be able to get support setting it up. WordPress provides a list of commercial theme vendors that provide extra paid services. Other popular vendors include http://www.studiopress.com, http://themeforest.net, and http://diythemes.com.
One of your first priorities is to find a theme that looks good but is also functional for your purposes. Do you want it to be professional looking? Should it load quickly? Should it have room for lots of articles? Other things to look for in a theme include flexibility, browser compatibility, built-in search engine optimization, and unlimited support and updates. Some themes have options that allow you to easily adjust colors and layouts without knowledge of HTML. If you do have HTML knowledge and want to make changes to your site manually, you may not want a theme with a lot of built-in options. For more information about how to choose a theme, click here.
Before you start adding content to your website, you need to understand the difference between pages and posts. A post is a blog entry that usually appears in reverse chronological order on the blog page. A page is static and doesn’t appear in the chronology. It usually contains timeless information, such as how to contact you. For more information about how to create pages, click here.
The admin panel allows you to add content and configure your site. To access it, go to http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin and enter the username and password you used when you set up the site. You will need to configure some items to improve the website. You can make the following changes through your WordPress dashboard:
- Permalinks. By default WordPress blog URLs have question marks and numbers in them – hard for both visitors and search engines to find. You can change the URL structure by selecting the “Post Name” option in settings > permalinks. Alternatively, you can choose Custom Structure and put the following into the box: /%postname%/. Either of these options will be more user- and search engine-friendly than the default setting. To learn more about permalinks, click here.
- Website Name. You can set the website name and tagline by going to settings > general. You can also set the correct time zone in the same location.
- Comments. Determine whether you want to allow comments on your posts. You can enable or disable comments in the settings >discussion section.
Once your site is set up, it is time to figure out what plug-ins you want to install. WordPress plug-ins offer added functionality to your site, and there are thousands of plug-ins to choose from that do everything from optimizing your site for search engines and blocking spam comments to creating a Web store and optimizing your site for a mobile device. But choose judiciously; adding plug-ins will make your site slower. The following are some plug-ins you may want to consider:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast. https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/ A free plug-in that helps optimize your site for search engines. This plug-in allows you to create a search engine-friendly site map of all your pages and control the title and description of your pages along with many other functions.
- Akismet. http://akismet.com/ If you are planning to allow comments on your site, you will attract spam. Akismet filters out comments that look like spam.
- Jetpack. http://jetpack.me/ This plug-in offers a number of features, including integration with social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
- Google Analytics Dashboard. http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-dashboard-for-wp/ This plug-in displays Google analytics information about site visitors, searches, and pages visited directly in your WordPress dashboard. It allows you to monitor site traffic without leaving WordPress.
The large community of WordPress users means there is a lot of help available when setting up a site. For more information, click here.