Step by Step Instructions for how to develop a WordPress website. Yes, even if you’re technologically challenged.
Do you need a website for your small business? Are you launching a coaching or therapy practice and need a site where people can get to know you, join your email list, and sign up for calls? Or maybe you have an Etsy store or TPT store and you want to venture out on your own and have your work available on your own site, as well. Whatever your business, having a website is essential. But you knew that! What you don’t know (yet) is how to develop a WordPress website.
But don’t worry!! I’m going to walk you through it step by step. If you’ve made it far enough to create your own business, you can absolutely handle how to develop a WordPress website. Here’s how to do it:
1. Choose a platform.
First, you need to decide what kind of website you want and how you want to manage it. There are three main options here: a website builder, WordPress & a free theme, or WordPress & a premium theme (like Divi). Check out this article on the pros and cons of the different website platform, and then come back here when you’re ready for step 2.
2. Get hosting & a domain.
Ahhh, no, you said this would be easy!!! These are scary tech words that I don’t know what they mean!
Don’t worry, you can do this, promise. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. But there are two parts here, so make sure you do both together. Make sure you read all of parts A & B before starting on this step, because there are key details that need to be done at the same time.
Hosting = the power behind your website.
The domain is your address, and the website you will build is your house. But wait, you need electricity and water and everything! Otherwise, you’re just off the grid. And while that might be great for Henry Thoreau and Chris McCandless, it’s not great for a website. Your website needs power, and your hosting company will provide that so you can stay online.
You have lots of options here, so don’t get weighed down with decision fatigue. This is not the time when you need to find the absolute best option, I promise. The most basic/ cheapest plan will do. You can always upgrade or change your hosting later, and most hosting companies will do this for you. Just pick one and go.
Domain = the website name.
It’s like the address where you will build your website. For example, my site is chriscadalzo.com . I had to purchase that address from a website company so that I can use it and have my site there. As long as I keep it, it’s mine and no one else can have it.
Many hosting companies will give you a free domain. But, heads up, that you usually have to get the domain at the same time as you purchase the hosting in order for it to be free. If you mess up and forget that part, try contacting the hosting’s customer service and asking for help. But it’s WAY easier to get your domain and hosting at the same time if you can.
I recommend you make a list of possible names you want, and then check to see which ones are available. Don’t be afraid of going with something that’s not a dot com, either! My other website is mywebsite .blog and it works just fine!
3. Make your site secure.
One more annoying step while you’re in your hosting account. We’re almost to the (more) fun stuff, I promise. If you haven’t thrown your laptop out the window yet, you’re doing great.
Okay, so I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but up at the top of the internet, where the name of the website is, there’s usually a little lock. Or, if you’re on a less stable website, there might be a warning saying that the site is not secure. Obviously, we want the lock. Right now, you probably have the warning. That’s not good. Let’s get you a lock.
The thing that makes the lock is called an ‘SSL Certificate.’ It just says that your site is good and secure and an upstanding citizen of the internet.
If you have SiteGround, you can follow these instructions to get a free SSL certificate and make sure your site is secure.
4. Install WordPress.
Okay, now you have an address and electricity and a lock. Now it’s time to frame out your house/ store so you can get to the fun stuff of decorating! Luckily, the internet has been around forever and we can easily add pre-fabricated frames to our website. WordPress is by far the most popular of these. It provides a structure for you so you can get to doing the more fun and creative stuff and not spend the rest of your life coding in frustration. That’s why so many people want to develop a WordPress website, just like you!
Most hosting companies have an easy way to install WordPress onto your site. If you have SiteGround, just follow the instructions here. Or, if you’re using a different hosting company, look around your dashboard and find ‘install WordPress.’ You can also Google ‘install WordPress SiteGround’ or the name of your hosting company and you’ll find plenty of tutorials.
5. Get a theme.
As you’re installing WordPress, it will likely ask you if you want to choose a theme. You can, it’s fine. Nothing is going to break from swapping out themes and testing them out. You can absolutely use a free theme, and that will definitely save you money. The problem with free themes is that they are hard to edit and customize. So it could be difficult to change the colors, fonts, layouts, etc.
I use and recommend the Divi theme instead. It’s much, much easier to use, and your customization options are truly unlimited. Divi has a 30 day money back guarantee, so there’s no risk in trying it out.
If you’re using a free theme, just pick one and you’re done! You’re all set to start adding content to your site and living your best life.
If you’re using Divi, follow these instructions.
Come back here when you’re done and we’ll
have a pizza party to celebrate your incredible achievements keep going with the next step of how to develop a WordPress website!
6. Build your home page.
Okay, finally, the fun stuff!! You did all the annoying tech set up and now you’re ready to make your website a real thing that exists on the internet! Look at you!!
This step can also get way out of control, so let’s try to keep it in check. If you’re the getting out of control going down a whole rabbit hole type, maybe check out this article on the bare minimum you need to do to have a website. You can always add more later!
Basically, you go into your WordPress dashboard, go to pages, and then ‘add new.’
If the blank page is intimidating, you can also choose a layout and then edit that instead. Divi has thousands of them, so just don’t get overwhelmed while you’re in there. Just stay focused on getting something (anything!) up, and you can always change it later.
**Key point: Make sure you PUBLISH your page. If it’s still a draft, it won’t show up on your website and you’ll also be very confused on the next few steps. I’m not sure which is worse, to be honest.
7. Set up your menu.
In Divi, you can customize the style of the menu under appearance > menu.
To set up the pages that are in the menu:
>Go to your WordPress Admin Dashboard, Appearance > Menus
>Click ‘Create a new menu.’
>Give your menu a name (‘Primary Menu’ is the standard) and click ‘Create Menu’.
>Now you can drag pages from the box on the left and add them to the menu structure on the right.
8. Set up (or delete) your footer.
This one is similar to the menu, but in a totally different section because … um, reasons. Still in your WordPress admin dashbord (you live here now), go to Appearance > Widgets. This is where you’ll see all of that content that’s showing up at the bottom of your site. You can edit it or delete. I usually delete it, rather than dealing with it. If you’re using Divi, you can just add whatever you want to the bottom of your page anyway. Problem solved.
9. Go to your website and panic.
(Just kidding, please don’t!)
UH OH. I did everything right, but when I go to my website, a different page shows up. This happens to me, a professional web developer, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I never learn. I always panic.
But you (I) didn’t do anything wrong. WordPress did it. It’s not you (me). You’re (I’m) perfect and amazing and wonderful, and you absolutely can do this and finish building your website on your own.
**Important step. Buckle up, this is a weird one. It’s not hard, it’s just weird. Promise. Just don’t get scared, okay?
Okay, so WordPress automatically sets the home page for your site. So if you go to your website and you see a different page from the one you just built, that’s not because you did something wrong.
There’s one weird trick that developers don’t want you to know. (Just kidding, we absolutely want you to know so you can just fix it yourself and leave us alone.)
Here’s what you need to do:
Go into your WordPress dashboard.
Go down to Settings > Reading.
At the top, you can change what page will display on your home and blog page. Click on ‘static page’ (means it will always be the same page) and choose which page you want to display on the home/ main page of your website. This is what will come up when people type in your domain address. If the page you want doesn’t show up, make sure it’s published!
Make sure to scroll down to the bottom SAVE!!!! Don’t do all that tough tech work for nothing!
Check your website again. You did it!! Amazing. You’re my hero.