WordPress is perfect for the DIY minded who are just looking for a start-up guide to get started. A lot of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and startup owners have a DIY mindset. This includes building their own WordPress website. There are plenty of reasons why you may want to build the website yourself. From tighter control of the website project, to not having a lot of cash to spend on developers, or just need something simple to get your name on the internet, this can be a smart way to go in the beginning phase of your business. So, we put together a quick WordPress start-up guide for business owners who want to save money or have more control over their website by building the website themselves.
- Set up hosting (for self-hosting WordPress.org sites.) Choose a reliable hosting service. Recommendation: Choose a managed WP Hosting if you are planning to build a small to medium site. If you are planning to build a large site for something like a course site or large community site and you can afford it, I recommend a dedicated server.
- Choose domain options. Many managed WordPress hosting companies such as WP Engine and FlyWheel will give you a temporary development URL. You can either choose to use this and buy the domain later when you are close to launch, or buy the domain and install, then use a maintenance or coming soon plugin as the face of the site while you build.
- Install WordPress. Most hosting packages have a one-click install or will have the installation done once you have signed up. Follow the instructions per hosting.
- Theme – WP comes with one pre-loaded theme. To change themes, go to Appearance » Themes.
Note on Themes: There are thousands of themes. My Criteria for choosing a theme breaks down into 3 parts:
- Page Builder
- Good Reviews and Updateable
Pro Tip: Child Theme.
If you ever think you’re going to make custom changes to the theme, then it is recommended to use a Child Theme. A child theme is simply a theme that copies the theme you want but allows you to make customizations. When you update your parent theme (as you should always do) you won’t lose any of your customizations when you update the parent theme! If you directly edit the style.css or functions.php files of your theme, the update will just delete everything.
There are 3 ways to create a Child Theme:
- Plugin (Download and activate the Childify Me plugin)
- Ready-Made Child Theme
Creating WordPress Pages
At this point, you should know what pages you need. To create a page, go to Pages » Add New page in the WordPress admin area.
A quick note about page building. The how-to’s on adding content to the page itself will largely depend on what page builder if any, your theme has. WordPress comes with Gutenberg as default, but Gutenberg is not especially smooth on page building just yet.
The 3 most popular page builders to date are:
- Beaver Builder
Setting up a Static Front Page
You need to visit the Settings » Reading page in your WordPress admin area. Under the ‘Front page displays’ option, click on the static front page and then select ‘Pages’ that you created earlier for your home and blog pages.
- On the Appearance » Menus page enter a name for your navigation menu and click on the ‘Create menu’ button.
- Select the pages you want to display in your menu and then click the ‘Add to menu’ button.
- Select a display location defined by your WordPress theme. Usually, most WordPress themes have a primary menu that appears on top.
Choosing WordPress Plugins
Plugins are similar to apps for your website.
Depending on the hosting you have, you have some default plugins already installed.
- Go through the installed plugins, see what you need and what can be deleted.
- Delete what you don’t need.
- Make sure your basics are covered either by default plugins or installing plugins. Your basics will include:
To install a plugin, go to Plugins » Add New
Quick Note: Use the ones that are popular, with good reviews and seem to be updated regularly. The last thing you want is a plugin that breaks the site when you update WordPress.
Quick Tips: WordPress Tips for Business Owners
Pay close attention to the hosting company you pick.
This is an area where the cheapest hosting offer is not necessarily the best idea. A cheap host can cost you in site speed, hurting your site traffic and conversions. Also, if there becomes an issue you need support for, you need a company with reliable support that will help you to quickly take care of your needs.
Choose themes with demo content.
If you don’t have a lot of time to figure out layouts, one possibility is to choose a WordPress theme or page builder that has demo content and layouts that you can switch out with your content and customize the layout the way you want it to look. This can save you lots of time from having to figure out the layouts and color schemes from scratch.
Yoast, our SEO plugin of choice.
If you are trying to build your WordPress site on your own, you probably already know that onsite SEO is important for building traffic to your site and converting that traffic into leads and sales. For onsite SEO, I always recommend Yoast SEO. This incredibly powerful tool will analyze any post, page, or product and give you clever intuitive advice to help your content rank in search engines. It also grades your performance for the chosen keyword(s) across the site and across your meta tags. Yoast SEO will also give you a readability score for your content and advise you on how to ‘dumb it down’ or improve the reading age of your content.
Make sure you’re using Google Analytics.
If you are a business owner that is bootstrapping, it is easy to forget to install Google Analytics. Yet it is extremely important to gather data that is crucial to your website’s success. This data includes information on who is going on your website, which pages they are going to and how long are they staying on your website. Google Analytics only reports from the date you set it up forward, so even if you don’t know what or how you want to measure yet, you should still start collecting data immediately. If you do not know how to install it, go to the Google Analytic website and sign up. Once you do, go into your WordPress Dashboard and go to ‘Install new plugin’ and look up Monster Insights. Follow the instructions from there.
Make note of your website changes.
When you make changes to your website, including testing plugins or a new theme, make your own changelog. If something goes wrong such as a plugin conflict, you can backtrack the changes made to help you or support fix the issues
PRO TIP: Plugin Conflict
If you have installed a plugin and it causes the website to break, it may mean you have a website plugin conflict. Don’t worry, you can bring your website back on your own. If you know how to use FTP, login into your site via FTP. Alternatively, if you have Cpanel, log in and find ‘file manager’. Locate your WP Content folder and find the plugin folder. Change the name of the last plugin you installed by adding _old. That should bring your website back up.
Don’t be afraid to reach out.
If you run into issues or just want some good advice, Facebook Groups and Reddit are two great places to join and get answers and advice. There are a ton of WordPress Facebook groups as well as WordPress Sub-Reddits where you can post and get your questions answered. Another place you might look for answers is your local WordPress Meetup. WordPress meetups are where WordPress professionals and users of WordPress meet to discuss different topics. You can find the one closest to you on meetup.com.
Last word on starting a WordPress website for your business.
If you plan to build a site on your own, look up some sites you respect. Search around for successful designs. Make note of what makes them work. Your website should be more than a business card. Using a theme with demo content will get you started, but you will want to change the content, layout, etc. to match your business. You will want an idea of what works. This will give you a head start on building a successful WordPress Site.
Hughbanks Design, owned by Chris Hughbanks, is a WordPress and digital marketing company in Houston, TX