Welcome to my first ever blog post on this slightly mad website!
I hope you like it. This post is all about WordPress and goes from basic to advanced in 10 minutes.
“WordPress started in 2003 with a single bit of code to enhance the typography of everyday writing and with fewer users than you can count on your fingers and toes. Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.”
Imagine you have just put countless hours of work into a new business venture.
You created your branded prototype.
You created a business plan, and you registered the business.
You ordered business cards, and paid someone to create a logo.
And you’re just about to start building the website with WordPress.
And then it turns out the Domain name you needed is unavailable…
…in fact, you can’t even find anything appropriate that’s close to it.
That would suck! Big time.
(You also didn’t read up on MVP’s, but that’s a different story)
When I have a (business or blog) idea I pick a domain name first.
Only after that I confirm the company name.
I typically use Hover.com to find domain names.
Mostly because of the reasonable prices.
And it gives me great alternative suggestions when my preferred name is unavailable.
I also like how easy it is to manage an account with multiple domains on that site,
and how it connects into other services such as Shopify.com
Hover comes third in this top 5 Domain Name Registrar list.
When you’re looking for a .com it will often be taken.
That is no surprise. It’s been the preferred option for an entire generation.
However, domains like .co and .io are also becoming increasingly popular.
But ask yourself this:
How often do you find yourself typing in a URL vs just clicking a link…?
Right! So don’t worry too much about it.
A domain name just needs to be memorable, short and easy to spell.
Memorable, short and easy to spell. No hyphons or numbers.
Take a look at these “geniuses” while you’re at it.
Just remember to check if you are not infringing on anyone’s Copyright and/or trademarks before you pick the final domain.
No need to over-do it. A simple Google search will probably suffice.
(When picking a new domain name, please note that updating DNS servers globally can take up to 72 hours)
Before you start building, it is important to understand this:
- WordPress.org is an open-source initiative.
- WordPress.com is a commercial company.They are different and separate.
Many people have heard the name WordPress and associate it (correctly) with a tool for building a blog or website. Without much further research they would start building their site on WordPress.com.
It’s a common mistake.
This WordPress.org vs WordPress.com Infographic explains it better than I could.
So IF you choose WordPress.com, please bare in mind they will restrict some (key) options.
I always choose to install WordPress.Org on another host instead.
So I am free to choose the themes and plugins I want.
If you want to do the same, you will need another company to host your website.
Picking the right host is important because of:
- Speed. Wordpress, for all its wonders, was originally known to be a bit slow compared to other sites. And slowness reduces return visitors. However, as long as you pick the right host and the right theme there shouldn’t be any issues. The good hosts have already built an infrastructure for you to support speedy global traffic. Read up on these other speed tips also.
- Scale. The host should be able to scale easily when your traffic increases. Let’s say your blog gets 1000 unique visitors per month, and your host works perfectly fine.
But one day you study this post, and your own post about superficial kittens banter goes super-viral. It attracts more than 1 Million visitors that month from all over the world. Great news. But not if your site goes down. You need a big, scalable host to account for this traffic.
- Ease of use. Some hosts are just much more user-friendly than others. My host allows me to very easily add services under their one-click model. WordPress install is just one of these services.
- Backups. Some hosts do not offer automated backup services. You will definitely need a backup one day. And why would you go through the trouble of doing this yourself if someone else can do it for you?
- Security. Cyber-security is an obvious threat. No host will ever be 100% safe, but the larger players pay a lot of attention to this.
Most first-timers do a web search and end up picking Go-Daddy.
I did the same, there is no shame in this, but I want to warn you.
They are very aggressive advertisers and always come up #1 in search results.
Having tried other services, I would not recommend them anymore.
Go-Daddy block certain plugins they don’t like,
and has been the only host so far where I have experienced downtime.
Their chat support often doesn’t provide quick results in the UK either.
And their basic package may be cheap but is also slow.
And people hate slow! (See point 1)
So what is my recommendation?
WP Engine is the best of the best for WordPress hosting.
They are a great choice.
However, I found them a little expensive for my needs. So I use Dreamhost instead.
I have found Dreamhost to be very reliable, and they score high on all the points mentioned above.
So my website is live, now what?
First consider the following two definitions:
- A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software.
- A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress.
- Pick a theme.
There is a 50/50 chance someone is reading your work on their tablet or mobile phone. Therefore, Always check if your theme is a responsive theme.
If you want a free theme, WordPress Twenty Sixteen theme is light, quick and customisable. I use the free Responsive theme by Cyberchimps on my site, which is also light, quick and customisable. But in addition, it is really good on mobile and tablets. Without any additional work.
IF you are ok with a paid theme, the Thesis theme can be brilliant for ease of use and being super customisable.
- Be selective on plugins. Do not install plugins that you don’t need, and uninstall them if you don’t use them. Check if they.
- Install Google Analytics, a plugin for detailed site traffic stats. Don’t worry about analysing the data just yet. The important thing is that you register a Google Analytics ID, so that you can use it to analyse your traffic in detail. Why is this important? You will want to know your customer one day, to tailor your message or your advertising
- Install a Child Theme. Child themes are important to tailor your site’s appearance without messing with the theme’s files. It is super easy to set up. Just install the plugin Child Theme Configurator and follow the instruction videos. Unless you choose the Thesis theme, you really need to do this to customise your site with ease.
- Install Yoast SEO. This Search Engine Optimization plugin helps you write your SEO tags, search snippets etc. It also helps you write better, more attractive text.
- Read up on these speed tips
If you closely follow the above steps for hosting and setup, you are well on your way to becoming a professional web developer.
Now for some further inspiration
Review some of my favorite tutorials, infographics and plugins below to get a better understanding of the types of things you can do with WordPress.
Learn about SEO
Search Engine Optimization is important, but good content comes first!
Learn some basic CSS
Honestly. You don’t need to know that much. Just try to understand the fundamental building blocks of CSS.
The most advanced front-end drag & drop page builder. Create high-end, pixel perfect websites at record speeds. Any theme, any page, any design.