WordPress is a user-friendly platform, but launching your own site can still be scary. In this post, we'll show you how to build a WordPress website step by step!
Approximate read time: 9.5 minutes
WordPress is one of the best blogging platforms, designed to be easy to use. But creating your own website can still seem intimidating. Especially if you've never made one before!
Fortunately, it's possible to build a WordPress site with zero previous web design and development experience. You can do it relatively quickly too, whether you're creating a hobby blog, a business site, or an eCommerce store.
In this guide, we'll show you how to make a website with WordPress from scratch. Along the way, we'll share advice and best practices to set up your new online venture for success. Let's get started!
Step 1: Buy a domain name
The first step in making a WordPress website is to buy a domain name. This is the address people will enter into their internet browser when they want to visit your site.
As you can probably guess, your domain name plays a huge role in your online branding.
So it's essential to choose wisely. While you can change your domain whenever you want, it can hurt your branding. And it may also harm your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) rankings if you don't do it right.
If you're creating a business website, you'll typically want to feature your company name in your domain. Have a short name? You could also add relevant keywords, which can really boost your SEO rankings.
⚠️ Just don't get carried away! Long domain names (aka URLs) are more difficult for customers to remember. They also create more opportunities for spelling mistakes and typos.
If you're feeling uninspired, then entering a few keywords into the BlueHost domain finder may help fire up your imagination.
You can usually expect to pay $8-$20 per year for a domain name. But you can get a free domain with Bluehost.
Step 2: Purchase web hosting
Every website is hosted on a web server. You could set up your own server. However, most WordPress site owners choose to pay a third party for hosting.
Hosting providers are responsible for maintaining the server, including replacing outdated hardware. And depending on your hosting plan, they may even help you with routine maintenance tasks such as regular backups, WordPress updates, and performance monitoring.
There's a wide range of providers, hosting types, and packages to choose from. And finding the best WordPress hosting provider for you depends on factors like budget and the volume of web traffic you're expecting.
But here are a few key criteria to keep in mind when looking for hosting:
- ⬆️ Uptime rates - Downtime is bad news for any website. Looking for a provider that offers high uptime rates and even an uptime guarantee.
- 🛡️ Security - Ideally, a hosting provider will offer built-in security features including firewalls, virus scanners, and a free Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate.
- 🏎️ Performance & Speed - Page speeds can also affect your site's search engine rankings, so performance is important. Find a provider that offers speed-boosting features such as a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
We hope these tips helped take some of the mystery out of web hosting for you.
Now that your site has an address and a server, it's time to get to the fun part! Let's get building your website, shall we?
Step 3: Install WordPress on your website
If you opt for a managed WordPress hosting service, your account will come with WordPress pre-installed. However, depending on your hosting provider and package, you may need to install this popular content management system (CMS) yourself.
The steps to install WordPress on your website will vary depending on your web host.
But as a general rule, you'll need to log into your hosting control panel or dashboard. There, you can search for any options labeled Popular Apps or Popular Software.
And some hosting panels include the Softaculous installer. This application has everything you need to set up WordPress on your site.
After installing WordPress, you'll typically need to answer a few questions.
For example, you'll need to choose the domain you want to use and the directory where you're installing WordPress. Your provider will then get to work and tell you once the installation is complete!
The next step is configuring your primary domain. ⚙️ This is the address that people will see in their address bars when they visit your site.
In your provider's control panel, search for any options labeled Domains. In this section, you can select the custom domain you want to use as your primary URL.
Step 4: Choose a WordPress theme
Whenever you create a website, WordPress applies a default theme automatically. But this is just one option among many.
And we mean many — there are over 11,000 free themes you can choose from on WordPress.org!
As part of the WordPress community, you have access to a wide variety of third-party themes. For example, you can use options designed specifically for different types of websites, such as blogs or eCommerce stores.
From here, you can browse, preview, and install WordPress themes.
Can't find exactly what you want? There are also thousands of premium themes that offer all kinds of additional features and customization options. For example, Astra is designed to work great with page builders like Elementor.
If you do purchase a premium theme, you can download it as a .zip file. Next, navigate to Appearance → Themes → Add New → Upload Theme in your WordPress dashboard. Here you can upload and activate your premium theme. It's a piece of cake! 🍰
When shopping around, it's important to consider each potential candidate carefully. We recommend checking recent reviews and the date of its latest update. An outdated or poorly developed theme can make your site more vulnerable to hackers.
While it's possible to change WordPress themes later, this can potentially break your site 😱 and usually involves a lot of work to get things in order. So, it's worth investing time and effort into finding the best option from the start.
Step 5: Customize your site
After picking your theme, you'll probably want to customize it. The steps vary depending on the type of website you're building as well as the theme itself.
But most WordPress site owners will start by changing the site title.
The site title is an element that appears at the top of every page. Since it has a prime position, you'll typically want to use the name of your business or website.
To edit the title, navigate to Settings → General.
While you're here, you may also want to add a tagline. This is a short phrase or sentence that appears beneath the title.
Still with us? Awesome, you're doing great! 🙌 Now, let's get your homepage looking good.
Set up your homepage
Your WordPress homepage can either be static or dynamic.
- Dynamic - displays all of your content in reverse chronological order. This is a great option for drawing attention to your most recent blog posts or articles.
- Static - creates a dedicated page that is highly customizable and will serve as your homepage. It tends to be a good fit for business websites.
By default, WordPress uses a dynamic homepage. But it's easy to switch to a static homepage by navigating to Settings → Reading.
Next, select A static page. You can then open the dropdown menu and pick your new homepage from the list.
Step 6: Create WordPress pages and posts
WordPress websites consist of posts and pages.
📝 Posts automatically position your most recent content at the top of the screen, making them ideal for WordPress bloggers.
📄 Pages, on the other hand, are static. Since your content remains fixed in the same location, pages are firm favorites for building a business website on WordPress.
To create a post, navigate to Posts → Add New. You can now add a title, embed photos and videos, and insert other elements in blocks:
To save your changes without publishing the page or post, click Save Draft. When you're ready to go live, select Publish.
If you're making a business website, you'll most likely want to create a dedicated static homepage. Head to Page → Add New to create your page. Now you can add content to the page in the same way you'd write a post.
Most WordPress sites are built with a mix of posts and pages. Even if you're creating a blog, you might still benefit from an About or Contact Us page.
Blogging also forms the cornerstone of many businesses' content marketing strategies. So you may want to consider creating a blog on your site too.
Step 7: Install plugins to enhance your WordPress site
Plugins contribute a lot to the WordPress experience. There are WordPress plugins to help you accomplish almost any task imaginable.
And luckily, it only takes one click to install plugins! 🔌
To browse through the thousands of tools available, navigate to Plugins → Add New in the WordPress dashboard.
Get your WordPress website on Google
With a new website, you'll likely want to do everything in your power to appeal to search engines. Combining the power of a good Google Analytics plugin with a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plugin sets you up for success.
Both of these plugins give you actionable advice on how to improve your SEO as you create your content.
Generate leads and make forms
Whether you want to make an email signup form, a contact form, an online payment form, interactive quizzes, or provide personalized product recommendations, a good WordPress form builder can handle it all.
Our favorite is Formidable Forms because it lets you build powerful, data-driven forms using a simple drag-and-drop editor.
Formidable Forms also boasts a wide range of form templates, including donation, contact us, registration, and payment forms.
Thanks to its 225+ templates and an intuitive editor, this plugin makes form-building easy. Plus, it's quick to view and analyze data with this WordPress form maker too.
Create an online store on WordPress
If you're planning to sell your services or products, it's also worth looking at the WooCommerce plugin.
This platform has everything you need to turn your WordPress site into an online store. In fact, WooCommerce is so popular that it powers roughly 20% of the top one million eCommerce sites.
And, in case you're wondering, Formidable Forms integrates with WooCommerce too!
The integration gives you more control over your product pages and WooCommerce registration forms. It also enables you to collect more data from your customers.
Ready to start building your WordPress site?
WordPress is a secure, reliable, and user-friendly platform for launching your own website. It's easy to see why two out of every five websites use this CMS.
If you're wondering how to make a WordPress website, it's wise to put some serious thought into selecting a domain name. Your choice of web hosting provider can also set up your online business for success. Then, you can customize your site with a relevant theme and plugins.
If you want to collect any data from your visitors, Formidable Forms is a must-have WordPress form builder.
Whether you're accepting payments, creating a contact us page, or running a survey, Formidable Forms makes it easy to create responsive, engaging forms in seconds.
And you can give it a try risk-free for 14 days thanks to our money-back guarantee!