WordPress market share on the rise over the last 8 years. Image source: W3Techs.
WordPress comes in handy for all kinds of projects, ranging from personal blogs and portfolios to e-commerce and corporate websites.
As part of the initial setup of AlleoTech, we went through the process of building a quick and simple business website to get us running. It took only a few minutes, but there were a few non-obvious bits, which we want to share with you here.
The obvious bits are easy. Let's have a quick review.
If you don't already have a domain name for your website, you need to find and purchase one. There are plenty of tools and services that can assist you with both finding a domain name which is not taken, and then buying it.
Usually, you would already have at least a few ideas for the domain name. Commonly, it is either a name of your company or a particular product. For a quick check if the domain is taken or not, you can use the search form on the front page of the Register.com.
If you are running out of ideas because all the good domains are taken, Nameboy can help you out. Simply enter one or two words that you want the domain with, and it will generate a long list of possibilities, showing which ones are available and which ones are not.
Most of these tools will allow you to purchase the domain name right there and then. But you can also purchase from a different registrar. GoDaddy and Namecheap are among the most common choices.
Once you have the web hosting, you will need to edit your domain's DNS records and point to the IP address, that the hosting company provided you with.
WordPress is famous for its 5 minute installation process. And many web hosting companies make it even easier, with pre-packaged single-click installations. So there is no need to waste your time on this here.
Now comes the time to choose a WordPress theme. This will define how your website will look and feel. This is usually very time consuming, as there are thousands of great themes to choose from, both free and commercial. WordPress Theme Directory is a good place to start.
For the AlleoTech website we were looking for the best, modern, business themes. And we wanted it all for free too, as we are the lean startup. A few Google searches led us to the following excellent resources:
Login to your freshly installed WordPress as administrator, navigate to Appearence in the main menu, choose Themes, and Add New theme from there. Use the search functionality to find the desired theme by name. Once the theme is installed, you can Activate it and Customize.
Before you start playing around with WordPress and theme options, it's good to publish some content. Empty website is difficult to visualize and review. So add a few Posts and Pages.
The difference between Posts and Pages is often confusing for the new WordPress users. Not to worry, we've got you covered.
WordPress Posts are time-relevant content, such as blog posts, company news, announcements, etc. These will usually be displayed in reverse chronological order (newest first), organized with categories and tags, shared to social media, newsletters, and RSS feeds, and filed in archives based on year, month, and day.
WordPress Pages are non-time-relevant content, such as about us page, contact us page, pages describing products and services, and so on. These are usually organized in hierarchies and made available via the site navigation menus.
If you want to learn more about the Posts and Pages in WordPress, this guide does a great job explaining things.
Homepage and Blog
Now that you have chosen and installed the theme and published some content, you are probably scratching your head as to why your site doesn't look quite like the demo or the screenshots of your chosen theme. In particular, why does the front page of the website shows the blog posts instead of a nicely organized welcome page for your business, and how can you make it work. Here's how.
By default, WordPress shows the latest blog posts on the front page. Often you'd want to have a full featured blog on a separate page, and use the front page for something more exciting and nicer looking.
Login to your WordPress as administrator. Create two new empty pages with just titles. For example, "Welcome" and "Blog". Now choose Settings in the main menu, and select Reading. In this section you can tell WordPress to use particular pages for the home page and blog posts.
When you navigate back to the Pages, you should see that WordPress now knows which page is used for which purpose.
WordPress will also prevent you from editing any content in the "Blog" page. Instead of the page's content, WordPress will use the blog posts on that page. The "Welcome" page content you can now customize. Your chosen theme might already provide a page template for it, you can build your own. That's where the new Gutenberg editor with blocks in WordPress becomes super useful.
WordPress is a powerful CMS with a lot of functionality that comes out of the box. But that is nothing compared to the WordPress which is enriched with plugins. Much like with WordPress themes, choosing the plugins is a time consuming process, due to the huge variety.
We will cover some of our favorite plugins in another post. But you can get started all by yourself in the WordPress Plugin Directory. And don't forget to let us know how it goes. Or if you need any help. We'd love to hear from you!