How to Create a Website with WordPress

With over 40 million users, WordPress is an extremely popular tool for creating a website quickly and easily, best of all it costs nothing. Which is saves you getting ripped off for £10k like I did 😉 Here I’ll show you how to set it up.

1. Download the WordPress code.

Go to www.wordpress.org, download the Zip file to a temporary folder on your PC/Mac.

2. Create your database.

WordPress is a CMS (content management system). For a CMS you need to set up a MySQL database on your web server.

To do this your web space needs to include the cPanel user interface. Go to www.yourdomain.co.uk/cpanel, obviously replace ‘yourdomain’ with your domain name.

Type in your cPanel username and password. Click the MySQL databases icon and enter a name for your new database, such as ‘wpress’. Click, ‘Create Database’. You also need to create a user account to access the database.

3. Add users.

Further down the same page, assign this user to your database. Select the user from the left-hand drop down menu and the database from the right-hand list, and then click ‘Add User To Database’.

You now need to enter these details into WordPress. Open up the folder on your computer containing the WordPress source files you downloaded. Find a file called ‘wp-config-sample.php’ and rename it to wp-config.php’. Open it in a text editor.

Find this line:

define (DB_NAME’, ‘putyourdatabasenamehere’);

Now replace ‘putyourdatabase name here’ with the name of the database you just created, such as ‘wpress’. Note that you need the single quotation marks shown. On the following lines, replace ‘usernamehere’ with your MySQL username and input your mySQL password. Save the file.

In FileZilla, copy all the files in the /wordpress folder via FTP to the root of your website, or, if you want to set up a blog within a site, create a subfolder.

Run the installer by opening the file /wp-admin/install.php within your website root folder. If you haven’t put the WordPress files in the root folder, you’ll need to add the subfolder to this address, for example yourdomain/blog/wp-admin/install.php.

On the install screen, give your blog a title, enter your email address and click the Install button. If you don’t see this screen, pay attention to any error messages and fix them first.

Before long you’ll see the ‘Success message’. You’ll be given the username ‘admin’ and a random password.

Make a note of it.

When you login you should see a message telling you to change your password into something easier to remember.

4. Apply a theme.

The standard theme for WordPress is very boring indeed. There are thousands of free themes out there to use. If you want a bespoke design then have a look at diythemes.com.

Click Site Admin to go back to the Dashboard, click Appearance, Add New Themes. Use the ‘feature filter’ to reduce the number of themes to choose from; tick some boxes and click ‘Find Themes’.

For most sites a two column layout is perfect, you could also choose an appropriate colour if you wanted. When you’ve found a theme you want, click ‘Preview’ to see how it looks, then Install. You’ll be asked for your FTP information (the same as you used to connect to FileZilla). Click ‘Proceed’.

Sometimes this may not work – it may say it can’t find wp-content, for example, you can do it manually.

Go to http://wordpress.org/extend/themes and type the name of the theme you wanted. Click Download and save the Zip file. Unzip it and copy the folder via FTP into the wp-content/themes folder. Go back to your dashboard and you should see your new theme.

5. Your new site

All you need to do is click Activate and then ‘Visit Site’ and you should see your new website! The final design probably isn’t quite right for you and you’ll need to spend a little time tweaking its setting and appearance. Thankfully, this is quite easy for non-experts to do. You can see how to edit your wordpress design here.

How to edit your WordPress design

WordPress has over 40 million users because it’s easy to use – don’t be afraid!

The majority of WordPress themes are design for blogs, be wary of this if you are creating another kind of site. You’ll need to turn off services such as the RSS feed and comments.

In your WordPress go to the Dashboard and create your home page – remember – it must be a page, not a post….

1. Widgets

Widgets are really useful. They are plugins available with the standard WordPress installation. They usually appear in sidebars on your site and allow you, for example, to list pages and posts.

For a website, you are likely to need a list of pages plus the ‘Meta’ widget, which allows you to log in and edit the site.

Under ‘Appearance’ in your WordPress Dashboard, you can see a list of Widgets on the left and where they can appear on the right.

wordpress widgets

Because of the way WP themes work, you may find some Widgets appear by default. If you want to remove all Widgets from a location, the only way to do it may be adding a blank Widget to override the default one. The best choice is the Text Widget. Drag and drop this into any locations that you want to be blank; as long as you don’t enter any text into the Widget, nothing will be visible.

2. The CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

With WordPress you can edit the CSS through the dashboard. Take a look at your site by clicking ‘Visit Site’. Open it up in a new tab for your convenience.

By default, WP allows visitors to add comments on any page. This isn’t appropriate to a sales website, so go to Settings >>> Discussion and make sure, ‘Allow people to post comments on new articles’ is un-selected. The only problem is that, ‘Comments are closed’ will appear on your page, so you’ll need to go into the CSS to get rid of it.

On the web developer toolbar in Firefox (found at http://addons.mozilla.org). Click the CSS button and choose ‘View Style Information’. An info bar will appear under the toolbar, and when you move your mouse over the web page, the Web Developer toolbar shows the CSS style name of the area nuder your mouse. Clicking brings up the specific CSS rules that apply to it.

3. No comments

Use the ‘Find in page’ function in Firefox to find the CSS file name; search for ‘nocomments’.

We’re looking for a rule that applies only to .nocomments. If it’s a combined rule, with other elements alongside it, don’t modify it because it will change all those elements. Modify the line to this:

.no comments { display:none; }

4. Voila!

Click ‘Update File’. Reload your homepage and you should see the comment message has disappeared. In my experience, this technique of hiding unwanted elements using CSS is one you’ll use quite often. You can edit the main CSS file in the same way to make other changes to the style rules.

 

The WordPress plugins to add to your site

If you don’t know what a plugin is, think of it like an app. You’re ‘plugging in app’ to make your website more functional. These apps (plugins!) can be pretty useful to making your website work better.

These are the plugins every site should have. They can be added via Plugins >> Add New in your WP dashboard. Enter the search term and select the plugin, then click Install.

The majority of plugins can be installed automatically by WP but if not, in most cases all you have to do is download a zip file, unzip it, then upload it via FTP to your /wp-contant/plugins folder.

Once this is done, you’ll find the plugin listed under Plugins > Installed. Click Activate and it will begin working. In most cases you’ll have to configure it, and this is done in Settings in the Dashboard.

All in one SEO

Install the plugin, enable it and set the Home Title, Home Description and Home Keywords. Just use natural, everyday language to being with. Click here for more details on SEO.

Akismet

This plugin helps you stop spam if you have comments on your blog. Extremely useful as many other bloggers may use it to link to their blog (in a spammy way) or try and sell viagra via your site 😉

Register plus

You may want to click here to see HOW TO SET UP AN EMAIL LIST. But if you don’t want to set that up right away (which I recommend) then you can still register people on your site at least.

When you go to Settings >>> Register Plus Settings you’ll see a whole host of options. For now, make sure you tick ‘Allow New Registrations to set their own Password’ and ‘Enable Password Strength Meter’.

If you have a logo, upload it in here. Also, make sure you tick ‘Prevent fake email address registrations’. You can alternatively use the Captcha image verifications, which is commonly used on websites.

Exclude pages

You will end up creating pages that you don’t need to include in the standard site navigation. These will include ‘thank you’ pages for customers of any products or services you might be selling.

This plugin will help you do just that.

All you need to do is deselect, ‘Include this page in user menus.’

Customer Meta

The default Widget that contains the ‘login/register’ link isn’t customisable and contains several options that aren’t appropriate to a standard website.

Install the Custom Meta plugin and it will appear in your Dashboard under Appearance/Widgets. Find the Meta Widget and remove it, replacing it with the new Custom Meta widget. Give it a title, ‘Log in will do and select, ‘Show Register/SiteAdmin’ and ‘Show Log in/Log out’ since these are the only relevant options.

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