Building a custom WordPress website is a great way to express yourself creatively while adding another stream of revenue to your income or boosting the performance of an existing business.
That said, there are almost 2 billion websites in existence across the web, so it’s important to know what you’re doing before you start if you want to create a successful site. Regardless of your chosen niche, you’re going to have a lot of competition!
To help you in this endeavor, we’ve created a complete guide to designing the ultimate WordPress website. By following these steps, your website will have a healthy following in no time.
Keep reading to learn more!
Choose a Web Host
Before you can begin building your website, you need to choose a web hosting service, as WordPress is simply a content management system, it doesn’t host websites.
As long as your chosen service meets the minimum hosting requirements set by WordPress, you can use any web hosting provider you like. That said, WordPress recommends the use of one of the following: Bluehost, DreamHost, and SiteGround.
When you’ve chosen your company, you’ll need to pick a plan. This will depend on the level of resources your site will require. If you’re unsure, go smaller rather than larger. You can always upgrade down the road if you need to.
Pick a Theme
Once you have your WordPress and hosting accounts and thus have access to the backend of your website, you’re ready to start building. The first step you’ll need to take is to pick a theme. There are thousands upon thousands of themes to choose from, and it’s an important decision, so take your time making it.
Start by narrowing down the selection of themes by the type of website you have. If you’re building an e-commerce website, the theme you need will be much different than someone running a blog.
Pro tip: always browse the live demos of potential themes. Your finished website probably won’t be exactly like the demo, but you can get a good idea of how that specific theme looks and functions.
Install Your Plugins
When making a custom WordPress website, your theme is just the jumping-off point. You’ll make tweaks here and there to make the theme suit your style and install plugins to enhance both your experience and your users’.
Now, like themes, there are a wide variety of plugins to choose from, and you don’t want to overdo it. You can do a lot with your site without them, you can even create a WordPress redirect page without plugin.
Bogging your site down with too many plugins can negatively affect its speed and even put your security at risk.
Instead, only install plugins that you think will truly benefit you and your users. And when making your selections, remember that plugins are only vetted for security, not quality. Check out the reviews of each plugin before you download it.
The two plugins you absolutely have to have are an SEO plugin and an analytics plugin.
Benefits of an SEO Plugin
Without a solid SEO strategy, you can’t hope to have a successful website. That said, SEO can be a bit overwhelming when you’re first starting out, so a plugin to help optimize your site can be a lifesaver.
Yoast SEO, for example, will analyze your keywords and content and give you a report at the end of each post, making suggestions for improvement. This SEO plugin also helps with more technical processes such as managing sitemaps and robots.txt files.
Benefits of an Analytics Plugin
In order to track the performance and growth of your website, you need access to analytics. WordPress offers certain performance metrics, but they’re often inaccurate, not to mention they aren’t detailed enough to be very helpful.
Your best bet is to install a Google Analytics plugin. This plugin will give you insight into how visitors use your site, which posts and pages are most popular, and how long the average user spends on each.
The best part about this plugin is that you’ll be able to see all of this information right from your dashboard! You won’t have to switch between websites and services to get the full picture.
Keep Your Site Safe
After all the time and hard work it took to build your own WordPress website, the last thing you want to happen is for it to fall into the hands of hackers and bugs. Because WordPress is such a popular platform, it’s a common target for hackers.
One of the best, and simplest, things you can do for your website is to keep it updated. Whenever a new version of WordPress or your specific theme comes out, download it immediately. It can be helpful to give WordPress permission to install them automatically.
You also need to get an SSL certificate. This is included free with most hosting services, all you have to do is opt-in. An SSL certificate will encrypt all of the information on your site, including your and your users’ data.
In addition, take care to make frequent backups of your site. If something happens to your website, you’ll be able to download the latest backup instead of starting over from the beginning.
Start Building Your Custom WordPress Website Today
Building a custom WordPress website can feel complicated, but by knowing the basics, you can focus less on the initial setup and more on the creative (and fun) aspect of web design.
Use this guide to get your site started, then get to work customizing a WordPress template to make it your own. Before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful, thriving website that you can be proud of.
For more web design tips and tricks, take a look at our blog!