Phase 3: How to Build a Website

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Step #3: Set Up a Website and Start Designing
If you have any questions/suggestions for this guide don’t hesitate to contact me. Remember: I’m here to help!

  1. Install WordPress Site
    There are two possible ways to install WordPress, one MUCH easier than the other.
  2. TO CREATE A WEBSITE WITH WORDPRESS, USE ONE-CLICK-INSTALLATION:
    Almost all well-established and reliable web hosting companies have integrated one-click installation for WordPress these days.

If you chose to sign up with Bluehost or any other similar hosting company, you should find your “one-click installation” either in the account creation process or in your account control panel.

For example, these are the steps you need to follow to install WordPress on Bluehost (the process is very similar or even the same on all the most popular web hosting companies):

Go to Bluehost.com
Choose your hosting plan (cheapest plan is fine)
If you already have a domain, type it there
Fill in your information and choose your hosting length (you can remove the “Extras”).
Go through the payment process and create your account
Log in to Bluehost use “one-click WordPress install” to Install WordPress

If you’re unable to locate it, look here: How to Install WordPress on Bluehost.

  1. MANUAL INSTALL (if your web hosting provider doesn’t have an easy way to do it)
    If for some odd reason (some hosting companies don’t provide one-click-install for WordPress) you don’t have the option to install WordPress automatically, look at this manual guide below:

Installing WordPress Manually (Click to expand)

  1. Choose a Theme for Your Site (Free or Premium)
    For the next step, we’ll be diving into WordPress themes and how to use and customize them.

WordPress themes are design templates that make changing your site’s looks a lot quicker and easier.

Luckily, WordPress has loads of themes to choose from. The official WordPress theme directory alone contains more than 8,000, which are completely free to use.

You can access themes directly from within WordPress without having to navigate to an external site.

For that, simply go to Appearance > Themes, and click the large + sign that says Add New Theme.

Add New Theme WordPress

Then use the search bar to find a theme that suits your site.

Finding a new theme

You can click on any theme in the listing to view a demo of it and read more about its features on its Details & Preview screen.

Once you find a theme you like, install it by clicking the Install button in the Details & Preview screen.

Install New Theme

Once the install process is complete, click the Activate button that appears where the Install button used to be.

If what’s available in the official theme directory doesn’t suit your needs, check out premium theme markets such as:

ThemeForest
Creative Market
MOJO Marketplace
Elegant Themes
Themify
StudioPress

  1. Add Content (Pages and Posts)
    Before getting to site customization, you need to have some content on your site.

After all, it’s hard to customize your site when there’s nothing on it to show the changes. What you need in terms of content will vary depending on the subject matter of your site and your goals.

However, there are a few key pages that nearly every site has:

Homepage
About page
Contact page
In deciding which pages to add, consider what information would be most helpful to your visitors. You’ll also need to think about visual content, such as photos.

To make things easier, some WordPress themes come with page templates for specific page types. Others also come with more than one layout option for each page.

To take advantage of these, go to Appearance > Customize.

In this example, we’re using the latest WordPress default theme, Twenty Twenty-One to create a site. By default, it uses a static page as the homepage that you can configure under Homepage Settings. Use the dropdown menu to select which page you want to serve as your website’s homepage.

homepage displays latest posts

Alternatively, if you want your homepage to feature your latest blog posts, check choose the option Your latest posts.

Confirm your choices by clicking Publish in the upper left corner.

After that, you can move on to creating new pages for your site. For that, in the main dashboard, go to Pages > Add New.

Add New Page WordPress

The Twenty Twenty-One theme relies on the Gutenberg editor, so here I can add page titles and content.

2021 theme gutenberg editor

Within this page, you can add features like images and formatting.

Repeat this process to add additional pages to your site.

  1. Make Sure Your Website is Well-Organized
    Think of your website as a library.

Your website structure will become increasingly important the more content you add to your website.

When learning how to create a website, you need to get expert at organizing your site in a way that makes sense to your visitors and easy for them to get around it.

A crucial part here is the navigation menu. Once you’ve created some pages, it’s time to make them available to your visitors on the site. You can do that under Appearance > Menus.

WordPress Setup a Menu

The first step here, is to give your new menu a name, then click Create Menu.

After that, you can choose which content to add to it on the left. For example, tick the boxes next to pages you want to appear in the menu, then click Add to Menu.

You can drag and drop menu items to your desired order and even turn them into sub-items by moving them underneath others like below. Once you are satisfied, choose the menu position where you’d like for this menu to appear (in this case Primary menu).

Click Save Menu again and go to your site’s front end to see the new menu in action.

new wordpress website preview

Ultimately, you want to reflect a structure that makes sense for your site and helps visitors get to where they need to go.

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  1. Additional Customization Options
    For additional customization options, go back to Appearance > Customize. When you look around, you will see that it offers a lot more options to make changes to your site. You are able to modify other parts of your site like:

Title and tagline
Colors
Typography
Background image
Menus
Widgets
You can also make adjustments to your homepage, blog page, and add custom code. The options that appear will vary depending on which theme you’ve installed.

Customizing WordPress Theme

Beyond theme customization, there are many plugins available for WordPress, both free and premium. In the official WordPress plugin directory alone, you can find close to 60,000 plugins that can add all kinds of new features and functionality to your site. Plus, there are many more available from third-party marketplaces.

To install new plugins, navigate to Plugins > Add New.

Adding Plugins WordPress

You’ll be presented with a list of some of the most popular plugins currently available. Use the search field to find anything else you are looking for.

To get plugins onto your site, hit the Install Now button. Wait until it has been downloaded and then click Activate. You can find all plugins on your site plus the possibility to activate, deactivate, and delete them under Plugins in the WordPress main menu.

As to what plugins you should install, some choices worth considering include:

Yoast SEO – A top search engine optimization plugin that adds on-page optimization prompts to every page and post plus the option to customize Open Graph social media tags.
Jetpack – Includes a wide range of features to improve website speed, optimization, social media integration, digital marketing, contact forms, and site search.
Smush – This plugin compresses images that are uploaded to WordPress, which saves storage space, and speeds up page load times.
WooCommerce – This is the most popular e-commerce store plugin for WordPress and makes it easy to set up an online store. More on it further below.
MonsterInsights – This plugin adds Google Analytics to your WordPress dashboard.
If you want even more control over how your website looks, you can install a page builder plugin. These plugins add drag-and-drop functionality to your site, which means you can visually build entire web designs — not just individual pages and posts. A few popular choices include:

Elementor – This all-in-one website builder offers visual website editing, fast load times, and a vast selection of templates to choose from.
Divi – Developed by Elegant Themes, Divi provides another straightforward way to customize websites.
Beaver Builder – An easy-to-use page builder plugin that speeds up website design considerably.

  1. Add a Blog (Optional)
    Not every website needs a blog. However, creating one can be a good idea to regularly publish fresh content, display your expertise, and provide additional value for your visitors.

To add a blog in WordPress, you first have to select a blog page. Above, I have already covered that you can configure your homepage to automatically display your latest posts. However, if you want a dedicated blog page instead and keep your homepage static, you first need to create it.

This is as simple as setting up an empty page (Pages > Add New), naming it Blog (or whatever you want but Blog makes sense because it will automatically create the address yoursite.com/blog for your blog page), and publishing it. Then, pick it as your Posts Page either under Appearance > Customize > Homepage Settings or under Settings > Reading.

When saved, all blog posts will automatically appear on your chosen page. Don’t forget to add it to your navigation menu!

To add blog posts to your website go to Posts > Add New.

WordPress adding a new blog post

This will get you to the same content editor that you used earlier for your pages. Add a title and content to your blog post. Include images and formatting, headers, lists, and anything else it needs. In the sidebar on the right you also find options to apply categories and tags, define an excerpt, and set up a featured image.

WordPress adding content to your blog

Once you’re done making changes, click Publish. Your first post is completed, well done!

  1. Adding an Online Store (Optional)
    Not every website needs an ecommerce store. But if you want to know how to make a website and include an online store, keeping reading.

The most popular plugin for this purpose is WooCommerce.

You can set it up quickly, it offers many payment options, and a wide range of optimized themes to create an online shop. Plus, it has a variety of extensions available for purchase to customize your e-commerce site and adapt it to many purposes.

Woocommerce

To learn how to add an online store to your website, follow this guide.

  1. Configure SSL
    A secure sockets layer (SSL) on your website means data sent to your website’s visitors is kept secure. SSL is an important search ranking factor, and it’s essential to ensure a positive user experience by prioritizing user privacy and security.

To check that SSL is active on your new website with Bluehost, do the following:

Log into Bluehost.
Go to My Sites.
Click Manage Site.
Find the Security tab on the next screen.
Under the section that says Security Certificate, verify your Free SSL Certificate or SSL Certificate: Let’s Encrypt status. The toggle should be switched to On.
Verify SSL is set up by visiting your site again. A lock icon should appear next to the domain name in your web browser’s address bar.Configure SSL

  1. Launch Your WordPress Website
    Once your site is ready, it’s time to officially launch it. Make sure to double-check your settings and proofread your posts and pages one more time. If everything looks good, click the link at the top of the dashboard that says Coming Soon Active.

launching wordpress website coming soon live

After that, scroll down and hit the button that says Launch your site.

website pre-publishing

Now you can check your live website.

live wordpress website

Click through each page to make sure all links work, your text looks good, and your images are formatted properly (you can use this checklist for reference).