How to Make a Website with WordPress
A Comprehensive, Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
Welcome to the beginners’ guide to WordPress and all of its features. Follow this guide to the letter and you can have your own custom website up and running in a short period of time.
Made for beginners
Easy to follow
Exact instructions from A to Z
Table of Content
Wordpress Dashboard Overview
Introduction to WordPress
WordPress is a content management system. It allows you to create and deploy professional websites with ease, even if you are a total beginner. Any feature on a website that you can think of is possible with WordPress, and best of all, the platform is free. You can even find free website themes and plugins (customization tools) to make your website go above and beyond, and because of how popular WordPress is, there are a plethora of both for you to choose from.
Basically, WordPress is the best platform to build a website, especially as a beginner. You don’t pay anything. Learning is very easy and we cover everything in just 5,000 words below. We will go over everything from start to finish – at the end, you’ll have a functioning WordPress site and the knowledge/tools to customize it exactly to your liking. Let’s get going.
- Your domain name is your right to own a certain URL like www.lazywebsitecreator.com (I will be using www.lazywebsitecreator.com as the example domain name throughout this article.)
- Your web hosting is where you put your files for the domain name. When someone enters the domain name, what is loaded on the screen comes from these files.
- We will show how to install WordPress on your web hosting with just a few clicks. No tech knowledge is required, and there is even a WordPress installer included in our recommended web hosting. Once WordPress is installed, you use a frontend editor (simple dashboard) to do your work – you don’t have to touch the complicated web hosting interface once installation is complete. You just log in to WordPress and do everything through there. It’s very easy, which is why people love WordPress.
Get Your Domain Name
Congratulations , you now own the .com (or .net, or .org) domain name you purchased. But, nothing will happen if you type it into your address bar yet. We need web hosting next, to make the magic happen.
Get Your Web Hosting
We recommend Hostgator for web hosting. Here is why we recommend it,
Reliable Hosting ProviderHostgator has been in the web hosting industry for a long time and earned a reputation as a reliable hosting provider.
Great Customer SupportThey have a great customer support, which is open 24*7*365 and included even with their cheapest plan
1 Cent for First MonthHostgator’s first month costs a cent, just in case you don’t want to start with a big web hosting bill (most don’t)
Here’s how to get your hosting from HostGator:
Go to hostgator.com and select “Baby” plan (or else you can choose the “Hatchling” plan for the time being, but it only allows one domain) under “Web Hosting” section.
Then, select “I have a domain name” and enter the domain name you just purchased. Use the promo code “blghlp1cent” to get the first month discount.
Follow the rest of the signup instructions and make sure you uncheck all the additional services. Refer the below screenshots as well.
Next thing we have to do is to point the domain to your web host. For the moment, your domain and your web hosting exist separately. We need to link them together by updating the nameservers of your domain name.
Check your email. When you finish signup, you’ll get an email from Hostgator with a subject line similar to “New Account Information”. Look inside until you find your “nameservers”. They will look like XXXXXX.hostgator.com (At times, it may differ).
Once you know your nameservers, follow the instructions below.
- Sign in to your Namecheap.com dashboard.
- Select Domain List from the left hand side bar.
- Click the ‘Manage’ button to the right of the domain you wish to update.
- Next to the Nameservers section, select ‘Custom DNS’ from the drop down menu.
- Enter your name servers on the dotted lines.
Normally it takes a 24-48 hours for the propagation to happen but, often the time will be much shorter. Give a try typing your website URL into your address bar. If something loads, it will be a page with text that says “Index of /”. If not, allow some time and check back later.
Even if it doesn’t load right away, that’s fine. We can still start building the site and get to know WordPress without delay.
If you see the page that says “Index of /” when you type in your URL to the address bar, you can just type in ‘yourdomainname/cpanel’ (e.g. www.lazywebsitecreator.com/cpanel) to get to the next step.
If nothing loads, go to your email and check the “New Account Information” email. You’ll see a line that says “You can use this URL to access your control panel temporarily…” or something along those lines. Click that URL and you will be taken to the same page as you would if your domain name had successfully loaded and you had typed in www.lazywebsitecreator.com/cpanel.
Now, we’re all at the same place. Go back to that “New Account Information” email. You will see your “cPanel” username and password. Enter those into the page you just went to, and a complicated dashboard will load.
No problem. This is the only time we have to access this complicated dashboard, just to install WordPress.
Hold CTRL and F to bring up the search feature in your browser. Type “quickinstall” (no quotes) and you will be brought to an icon that says “quickinstall” underneath it. Click that.
You will be taken to another complicated dashboard. Again, no problem. A big box for “WordPress” will be on that page. Hover over it, then click the “Install” button that appears.
Follow the instructions on the page. Most of it will be self-explanatory. The only thing you need to do (besides entering your details) is make the text box that says “install/path/here” completely blank. By leaving it blank, you make sure that your website will be hosted at www.lazywebsitecreator.com, which is what we want.
Once you install WordPress (it will be over within a short period of time), you’re ready to get started. Go to www.lazywebsitecreator.com/wp-admin, enter your username and password, and continue onto the next section.
Please replace wherever you find “lazywebsitecreator.com” with your domain name.
The WordPress Dashboard, explained
Before we launch in, we need to get a basic understanding of WordPress and its functions under our belts. If you don’t have a basic grasp on the different sections of the dashboard, you will be totally confused when you try to do anything. But don’t worry – it’s incredibly simple and built to be as user-friendly as possible.
The left sidebar is the only part you need to understand beforehand. Everything else will make sense if you understand what the terms on the left side mean!
Themes (in Appearance)
Menus (in Appearance)
Widgets (in Appearance)
You place widgets inside of a sidebar. So, if you want to display a search bar and a list of recent posts, you can drag those elements into your sidebar, and you’re done. There are only a few default widgets included with WordPress, but you can find a widget to display almost anything you want (like a poll, or anything else you can think of). And the vast majority of them are completely free!
Certain themes will include more customization options in the Appearance section, too. These custom sections will differ by theme. If this happens with the theme you choose, check the new ones out, but “Themes”, “Menus”, and “Widgets” are the only primary sections you need to be worried about as a beginner.
Plugins will be very useful to you. A plugin allows you to modify WordPress in a way that is not included in the basic structure you just installed.
- A contact form plugin can let you build a custom contact form and generate a code like [contact form id=1]. You can put this code inside of a page or inside your sidebar, and a contact form will appear there.
- A Facebook box plugin can generate a neat-looking Facebook page that looks much better than the ordinary like box. As another social media example, you can get a plugin that adds cool share buttons to the tops and bottoms of your post.
- A plugin can also serve a more direct purpose. For example, a “Disable Comments” button can get rid of the option to comments on all of your pages and posts, or just pages, or just posts, or just certain pages and posts you select.
Basically, plugins allow you to shape WordPress to your liking, even with no coding knowledge at all. Because WordPress is so popular, there is a plugin that accomplishes pretty much any task, and like widgets, most of them are completely free!
Now that we have the basics down, we’re going to start working on creating our WordPress site. Let’s get going.
Creating Your Site
Finding a Theme
If you go to your website URL after installing WordPress, you’ll see a very bland website theme. That’s the default WordPress theme – and just to be clear, a theme is another name for a website design template.
We are going to find a new theme for our site to get the design exactly as we’d like it.
There are many places to find themes, which is a good thing. But, on each of these portals, you’ll find thousands upon thousands of themes. Here’s how to filter themes for what you’re looking for…
Designers usually create themes based around a certain type of website.
- You have “plumber” themes that will include plumbing pictures, etc.
- You have “local business” themes that are more general, but can be customized for a plumber’s website
- You have “blog” themes that work best for a personal blog
- You have “magazine” themes that work for professional media outlets
- You have “resume” themes that can display your credentials in an organized, professional way
We listed five above, but the sky is the limit. There is a theme for everything. If you have a certain purpose of your site, use that purpose to narrow your search, so that you’re not sifting through resume themes when you’re trying to build a small business site, etc.
How do you want your theme to look?
- Light / dark can be used (e.g. “light magazine WordPress themes”)
- Certain colors can be used if you have a color scheme in mind (e.g. “blue magazine WordPress themes”)
- Adjectives like “professional” or “personal” will help you find themes that are made for businesses or individuals (e.g. “personal blogging WordPress themes”)
You don’t want to get too specific – as in, a search for “cobalt blue WordPress themes” probably won’t be of more use than one for “blue WordPress themes” – but you should try to narrow it so you find all of the themes that are available with your specifications without having to sort through all of them.
Finding the perfect theme might take you anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. But, don’t stop until you find one you love. As a beginner, you can’t make core changes to a theme yourself, but it’s very easy to get your site to mimic the theme you find. So, it’s better to spend more time searching now for a perfect one, rather than paying a designer down the line to make the changes you need on a non-perfect one.
- Google – Google is usually the best option to find really high-quality themes in general. The reason is, you can do a general search using the qualifiers above, and if you use common qualifiers, there’s a good chance that a few bloggers have done all of the work for you. They will have top 10 or top 20 lists of free themes with all of the options you need. Just make sure to include “free” in your search query.
- WordPress Repository – Everything in the WordPress theme repository is free, but the themes aren’t as of high quality as the ones you find on third party sites. The reason is that anyone can upload anything to the repository (even if it’s a very ugly design), so you’ll have to sift through more, though you may still find a theme you like.
If you can’t find a free theme you like, either try a different method of searching, or just buy a theme. If you can find a paid theme that looks exactly as you want it to right out of the box, that’s like paying peanuts for a professional designer.
- Google – As with free themes, you can find bloggers who have done the work for you. Just use your search term, but take out “free”.
- Paid directories – Themeforest is the most popular one and there’s a 90% chance you will find your perfect theme on there or through Google. You can try other paid directories, but they’re not as expansive as Themeforest, and the themes are usually of a lower quality. If you can’t find your dream theme through Google or Themeforest, you may have to adjust the keywords you use to search.
Apart from Themeforest, I highly recommend “Divi” theme from elegant themes. Even this site is built using Divi theme. Currently, it’s on version 3.0 and Elegant themes team have done a great job by introducing a very comprehensive and highly capable visual builder.
I am totally a non-technical person when it comes to any web development related work. But even a person like me was able to build a site like this (yeah, it’s appealing to me 🙂 ) using Divi theme. I am very impressed with it.
How to Activate the Theme
If you found a good theme in free theme repository via WordPress dashboard itself (as shown above), then you can install and activate it within two clicks. It’s a no-brainer at all. But, if you have found a theme somewhere else, then you’ll have to follow the below steps to install the theme.
When you download your theme, a .zip file will appear on your computer. Don’t touch this file.
Go to your WordPress dashboard, click “Appearance”, click “Themes”, then click “Add New”.
Use the “Upload Theme” option in the top left to upload the .zip file and click “install now”. WordPress will work for a second, then tell you that theme installation is complete. Once that happens, on this same page, hit “Activate”.
Now, go to your website URL. Your site will look similar to the theme, but not exactly like the preview did when you were checking it out. We have to customize our site to make the theme look as we want it to.
Customize Your Site
Go to “Appearance”, then click “Customize”. You will be able to configure all of the theme’s individual settings from this page.
Or, your theme might display the options in a separate tab called “Theme Options”.
Go through each individual setting until your site looks as you want it to. We can’t give you any specific help on this section because each theme is different, but the developer of the theme will be very clear as to what each customization option does.
After you do this, your theme’s design will be configured correctly. But, we still have to build the rest of your site!
Decide on Site Pages
The first step in building the rest of your site is structuring your site navigation. Go to “Pages”, and click “Add New” for each individual page you want displayed.
Some of the most common pages would be: Home, About, Contact, Blog
If you’re not sure of everything you want to include on your site, just start with those four pages. Enter their names and click “Publish” on each. You do not need to enter any text anywhere on the page – just the page title. We will assume you published just these four pages for the rest of the guide (for tutorial purposes).
Select Your Front Page and Blog Page
A common misconception is thinking that WordPress can only be used for blogs. Blogging is one aspect of WordPress, but you have the option to create a static homepage, just like on a regular site. Or, you can leave it so that your front page displays a list of your recent posts.
If you want a static homepage, go to “Settings”, then “Reading”, and select your Home page from the drop down menu at the top of the page under “Front Page”. Click save at the bottom of the page.
Go back to your site. Now, your main page will be blank, and not filled with posts. We will customize the homepage in just a bit.
If you choose to use a static homepage but you still want the option to blog, that’s no problem. Just choose your Blog page from the drop down menu underneath where you selected your Home page as the Front Page.
Customizing Pages and Posts
If you’d like to format your Home page like your About page, it’s easy. Just use text, images, and other elements (found at the top of the page) to do so.
But, chances are, you found a theme with a really nice homepage that you want to recreate yourself. If this happened, you can do one of three things…
- Do it yourself – use the WordPress editor to figure it out and build the page yourself
- Refer theme developer’s site for the documentation and get assistance if possible
- Pay someone – go on a site like Fiverr and pay someone $5 to make your homepage look exactly like the theme preview does (we cover this more in the next section)
But, we would recommend toughing it out and trying to build the homepage yourself. At first, it won’t look very good, but as you get the hang of your theme, you’ll have complete mastery of the customization elements that you can include. Then, you can take this knowledge to your other pages and your posts to format your site exactly as you’d like, to all the way from A to Z.
WordPress is easy, but it’s not necessarily the fastest thing in the world (at least not right when you start learning). Be prepared to spend a few hours tinkering around with your homepage and other pages. Once you get past the very short learning curve, using WordPress is as easy as pie. You’ll honestly be surprised just how easy it gets in just a few days or weeks (depending on how frequently you tinker).
You shouldn’t touch the Blog page. Your theme will automatically display your posts in a neat manner on the page you selected for blog posts (either Home, or Blog if you used Home as a static page).
If you’d like to edit a blog post, you do that by clicking Posts, and then finding the individual one you want to edit. Again, do not edit the Blog page unless you know what you’re doing.
Your Contact page is a good example of a page where a plugin will be very useful. On the left sidebar, go to Plugins, click “Add New”, then search for “Contact Form 7” in the sidebar on the top right of the page.
Click ‘install’ once it appeared on the search results page. Once installed, click ‘Activate’, and then you’re done.
Check the left sidebar in your WordPress dashboard. You will see a new panel called “Contact”. Click it, and click “Add New”.
An editor for a contact form will appear. You can play around with the specifics of your contact form later. For now, once you click “Add New”, just click “Save” right away and grab the shortcode that is outputted. It should look something like [contact id=1].
Take that shortcode (in WordPress, anything surrounded by brackets is called a shortcode) and copy/paste it into the text section of your Contact page. Put it in the same place where you typed text for your About page.
Click Update on the page, then go to your contact page. Ta-da! There’s a formatted, professional contact page there for you. You can add text above or below the form, too – for example – “Thanks for visiting our site! Fill out the form below to send us a message.”
That’s the power of a plugin. You have no idea how to create a contact form if you were coding from scratch, but with WordPress plugins, you don’t have to. You can even go back to your form and edit it to customize to your liking – you’ll find that Contact Form 7 has a lot of features (like being able to add dropdown lists, etc.), despite the plugin being completely free and requiring no technical expertise.
Your About page is a very basic page that you can get started on immediately. All you really have to do is type text into the big box, and add/align any images you want to include in your story.
Putting text in is self-explanatory. You can use the formatting options at the top of the editor (assuming you are on the Visual tab) to edit your words similar to as if you were using a Word processor. If you know HTML, you can click off the Visual tab and edit like that, but we would recommend sticking with WordPress’ integrated text editor.
To add an image, click “Add Media” – the button is slightly above the text editor. Upload an image, and when you click Insert, the image will appear wherever you last clicked in the editor. You can resize images before inserting them, and you can also choose alignment – for example, if you wanted to put a picture of yourself on your About page, you might click at the start of the text, upload a picture of yourself, click “Medium” as the display size, and align the picture to the left. Try it!
Finding Plugins and Widgets
Last but not least, we will briefly cover where you can find free plugins and widgets that help you with whatever you’re trying to do.
If you use Google, be sure to be very specific in what you need from the plugin. For example, “social media plugin” is far too vague. But, “social sharing plugin” will bring up quite a few different plugins that display share buttons around your site (wherever you please). If your first search isn’t getting you what you need, you may be using the incorrect terminology.
If you use the WordPress plugin repository, pay attention to following things before installing a particular plugin.
- Minimum requirement and Version compatibility – check whether the plugin is compatible with the version of your site’s WordPress installation
- Number of active installs – Good indicator about the popularity of the plugin
- Ratings by users – Listen what the crowd say about the functionality of the plugin
- Last updated date – this will tell whether the developer of the plugin is actively doing updates to the plugin to improve the overall performance and maintain the compatibility of it with the latest WordPress version
A plugin doesn’t need to work well to be in the WordPress repository. So, look for 5-star ratings, and if there are too many 1-star ratings, move on to another plugin. There are plenty to pick from.
If you install a plugin and it doesn’t work as you’d like it to, that plugin might just not be for you. And, some plugins with 5-star ratings might not work for you or your theme, either. Most of the time, they will – but if they don’t, you shouldn’t go crazy – just find another plugin.
Lastly, it’s important to understand that you can’t technically download a widget. You download a plugin, and when activated, that plugin will create new widgets that can be used for your sidebar. So, you can search for something like “Facebook like box widget”, but you’re always going to be downloading and installing a plugin.
You now have all of the knowledge you need to get started on your first WordPress site. So, as you have seen in this tutorial, it is not difficult to get things started. But when moving on, you will need to refer more tutorials, articles, videos etc. to get a deeper understanding about customizing WordPress.
One great aspect of using WordPress is that there are plenty of resources available online. If you come across any issues, just Google it. There is a great chance that you may find the correct answer to the problem within 1,2 clicks.
Just buy a domain name and a web hosting account as the first step of creating your website. It feels really good (special) to have a website on your own, even if it does not look perfect right away. Practice makes perfect, and if you stick long at it for a short amount of time, your site will eventually look perfect.
You can download this tutorial in a PDF format(Yeah, it’s FREE!) and keep it for your future reference. Just let us know your email and I will send it right in to your inbox.