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Get your WordPress website up and running with this simple step-by-step guide for beginners. You'll learn how to build a WordPress website from scratch without touching a single line of code.

Why Build Your Website With Wordpress?

WordPress is the world's  #1 blogging platform and the most popular content management system. In 2018, more than 75 million websites are built with WordPress. 

WordPress has become that popular because it's free, user-friendly, and is constantly updated and improved by a huge community of developers.

Even though WordPress has started as a blogging platform, nowadays it's used for different type of websites and powers some of the most popular websites in the world.

Some of the most popular websites using WordPress:

  • Whitehouse.gov
  • TechCrunch
  • BBC America
  • Sony Music
  • Microsoft News Center
  • The Walt Disney Company
  • The New York Times

If you are creating your first website, WordPress is definitely the best option for you. I don't think I exaggerate if I say that anyone can become a WordPress expert in only a few hours.

Besides the user-friendly admin interface, one of the best parts of WordPress is that you can easily change the look of your website by choosing from hundreds of free and premium themes.

If you need a feature that WordPress doesn't have by default, you can easily add it with a plugin. There are thousands of free and premium plugins for WordPress.

I could talk all day about WordPress, but I'm sure you are anxious to start your first website. So, let's start!

What you need

Here's what you need to build your WordPress website.

BIG Discount:  A2Hosting has currently a big discount code and you can get a full year of web hosting at a very good price. The discount code it's automatically applied on the checkout page (click here to claim your discount while it's still available).

I cannot give you any guarantees that the discount code will still be available when you read this guide. You can see if the discount is still available on after you visit A2Hosting official website.

If you wonder why WordPress is not on the requirements list is because A2Hosting (the company I recommend and I'm going to use for this tutorial) has a special web hosting plan for WordPress.

This plan comes with WordPress pre-installed so you don't have to deal with any technical tasks.

I don't want this to be just another guide where you follow me "blindly". Instead, I want you to understand how a website works.

Because I don't know everyone's individual level of knowledge about website creation, I'm going to try to explain the concept of domain name and web hosting a little.

Why do I need a domain name? 

A domain name gives your website a human-readable address.

A domain name is composed of a name and an extension.

Example: websitemaster.org

Websitemaster is the name.

.org is the domain extension.

Why do I need web hosting? 

A web hosting is required to make your website accessible to anyone who visits your domain name.

Websites are made from a multitude of files that are downloaded by the web browser of every person who visits your website.

The role of a web hosting company is to host and deliver your website's files and also to provide all the technologies required for your website to work 24/7.

Now that you know what a domain name and web hosting are, you can start building your website.

Follow the steps below.

Buy a Domain Name

The first step in building your WordPress website from scratch is buying your domain name.

There are many websites where you can register a domain name.

Some of the little companies are just resellers for the bigger companies and usually, these will ask higher prices for the domain names in order to make a little profit.

Most of the web hosting companies also give you the option to register a new domain name when you purchase a web hosting plan. However, I don't recommend buying the domain name from the company you buy your web hosting from.

Here's why:

  • Some of these companies are just resellers for the bigger "players" and they sell the domain names at a higher price in order to make a profit.
  • Some of these websites might register your domain name using their company's details, which basically means that you don't actually own the domain name.

I'm buying my domain names only from the trusted and well-known companies.

My favorite domain name registrar is NameCheap.

I've been using NameCheap to register my domain names for years and I never had any issues. However, I wouldn't recommend them for the web hosting since I never tried their web hosting services.

Have you decided at a name for your website yet? If not, my guide on how to choose a domain name might help you.

Once you have an idea about how your website will be called, head over to NameCheap.

You should see a domain search form right on the first page.

Enter the desired domain name and the preferred extension and click the search button to check if your domain name is available for registration.

If your chosen domain name is available, you will see a checkmark before the domain and an "add to cart" button on the right side, like in the screenshot below.

If your domain is already taken by someone else, you can enter another name, or you can choose one of the hundreds of other domain extensions.

For example, if beautifulgarden.com is already registered, you can register beautiful.garden if it's available.

Once you find a domain name that is available, click the "add to cart" button.

Once your domain name is in the cart, click on "View cart" button from the panel in the right side of the page.

On the next page you will see the registration details, you can choose the period you want to register your domain name for (you can start with one year. You can add more years at any time from your account),

NameCheap also gives you the WhoisGuard service free for life, so just leave the option enabled.

Many other domain name registrars charge you annually for this service (NameCheap also used to charge a fee for this service in the past).

The WhoisGuard will protect your personal information when someone searches for your domain name on a "whois domain" service.

You don't need PremiumDNS so just leave that option disabled.

Click on "confirm order" to proceed with your domain name registration.

On the next page, you will be asked to log in to your account if you are a NameCheap existing customer, or create a new account if you haven't purchased anything yet from their company.

Just use the registration form from the right side of the page to quickly create an account,

You might have to confirm your email address after you create your account.

Pay for your domain using one of the available payment methods (credit/debit card, PayPal, and even Bitcoin if you add the funds to your account before placing your order) and finish the domain name registration.

After your payment is processed (usually in several seconds), you can find your newly registered domain name under "Domain List" menu while logged into your account.

Now that you have registered your domain name, it's time to go to the second step: purchase a web hosting plan.

Buy Web Hosting

The second step in building your WordPress website from scratch is purchasing a web hosting plan for your domain name.

There are many companies that sell web hosting services. However, not all of these are offering good services, and if you are looking to buy the cheapest web hosting (or worst, free hosting), you might end up with a very slow website, or a website that stays more offline than online.

Your website's hosting is really not the area where you should make compromises.

I use and recommend A2Hosting, a well-known company which offers web hosting services at very affordable prices. 

BIG Discount:  A2Hosting has currently a big discount code and you can get a full year of web hosting at a very good price. The discount code it's automatically applied on the checkout page ( click here to claim your discount while it's still available).

Let's choose your web hosting plan.

First of all, head over to A2Hosting (this link will send you to A2Hosting hosting plans that come with WordPress pre-installed so you don't have to install it later).

You'll see the shared hosting plans and the features available for each plan.

Note: The prices displayed in the screenshot might not be accurate at the time you read this article. The correct prices will always be the ones displayed on A2Hosting's website.

If this is your first website and you only need to host a single domain, then I recommend you start with the LITE plan. This is the cheapest shared hosting plan and if you need to host more domains, you can upgrade later at any superior plan.

If you intend to host multiple domain names right from the start, you have to choose between SWIFT and TURBO.

TURBO plan is a bit more expensive, but it has a turbo feature that A2Hosting claims it can make your website up to 20 times faster. 

Again, you don't need an expensive plan if you are just getting started. The LITE plan should be more than enough for you until your website starts to receive a decent volume of traffic.

Once you decide to a plan, click the orange button at the bottom.

If the 51% discount coupon is still available at the time you read this guide, the coupon will be applied automatically and the discounted price will be calculated at checkout.

"Register a new domain" option is selected by default. However, you have already a domain name, so you have to select "I will use my existing domain and update my servers."

In the text input after "www", enter the name of the domain name you have registered at the previous step of this guide.

In the second text box, enter the extension of your domain name (in my case, that's .com).

Click on "Use" to proceed to the next step.

On the next page, you can configure several options.

At the top of the page, you'll see the name of your selected web hosting plan along with its features.

Below that section, there's an option that enables you to choose your billing cycle.

Note that options display the regular price. The discounted price will be applied and displayed on the right side of the page after you select any of those options.

The longer the period you pay for, the more money you will save (and don't forget about the discount coupon).

I recommend you choose at least the 12-month billing cycle.

Next, scroll down the page until you see the "Server Location" option.

Depending on where most of your website's traffic will be coming from, select the location of your server.

For example, if I target an international audience and my website is in English, I will choose the USA as the location for my server. Otherwise, choose another location.

The closer the server is to the visitors of your website, the faster the server response will be and your website will load faster.

Scroll down the page until you see the "additional options" section.

Make sure that "Auto-Install Application" option is set to "WordPress - A2 Optimized." This will install WordPress automatically on your server after your web hosting account is set up and your server will be configured to give WordPress the best performance.

According to the information found in my account, A2 Optimized for WordPress plan includes the following optimizations:

  • Page caching
  • Database caching
  • CSS/JS/HTML minification
  • reCAPTCHA on comment and login forms
  • Move the login page
  • Image compression
  • Compress pages with gzip

Important: Don't forget to copy your username and password to a safe place before going to the next page.

You don't need to edit any other option on that page.

On the right side of the page, you will see the total price. If the discount coupon code is still available at the time you purchase your web hosting plan, you should see the discounted price.

If you live in Europe, or you are from a country for which A2 Hosting has to collect VAT, you might also have to pay the VAT tax rate applicable in your country (you can see that rate under order summary panel).

Here's how my order summary looks like.

A2Hosting also has an "anytime money back guarantee" policy. If for any reason you are not happy with A2Hosting services, you can cancel at any time and ask for a refund.

I've never seen any other web hosting company that offers an "anytime money back guarantee." Most of the companies have a 30-day money back period or something like that.

Proceed to the checkout page by clicking the "Continue" button.

On the next page, you can review your order details. If everything is correct, click the "Checkout" button.

On the next page, you'll have to enter your personal and billing details. 

If you are an existing customer of A2Hosting, you can log in by clicking the "Already Registered?" button on the top-right of the page.

Choose the preferred payment method after you enter the required details. You have multiple payment options, including Skrill.

Don't forget to check the terms and conditions and check the agreement box.

Click on "Complete Order" to have your customer account created and place your order.

After you submit this page, you should see the following message.

In order to prevent fraud, A2Hosting team manually verify and process every order. It took about 30 minutes for me to have my account verified (of course, this time might vary). 

In the meantime, you can log in into your A2Hosting account.

Your services will be in "Pending" mode until your order is verified and approved.

An invoice has also been generated automatically. You can see your invoices under "Billing-->My Invoices." 

Keep in mind that you haven't been charged yet. You can only pay for your services after your order is verified and approved.

After your order has been verified and approved, you can pay your unpaid invoice and your web hosting server will be automatically set up after.

 

Connect Your Domain With Your Web Hosting Server

Now that you have a domain name and web hosting for your new WordPress website, the next step is to make the connexion between these two.

To do that, you need to change your domain's default nameservers with the ones provided by your web hosting provider. Don't worry, this is not as complicated as it may sound and I'll guide you every step of the way.

This task will be performed in your NameCheap account, so go ahead and log in to your NameCheap account.

Once you are logged in, go to Domain List menu.

Next to your domain name, in the right side, you should see a "Manage" button. Click it.

Find a section called "Nameservers" and switch its current option to "Custom DNS."

Two text fields should appear.

Now, log in to your A2Hosting account in another browser tab and go to "Services-->My Services" menu.

In the list of services, click the "Manage" button next to your active web hosting plan.

On the next page, you will see the information associated with your hosting service.

For now, you only need to look for the "Nameservers" section.

Copy every nameserver from the list and paste the nameservers address into your Namecheap account.

By default, there are only two text fields. Click on "Add Nameservers" to add additional fields.

Now, just click the tiny checkmark button on the top-right of the form to save the nameservers.

If the nameservers have been saved, you will see the following notification appear at the top of the page.

Now your domain name should be connected with your web hosting server. However, it might take up to 48 hours for the changes to nameservers to take place and your website to become accessible.

Sometimes, the changes take place in several minutes, sometimes in a few hours, sometimes in 24 hours or more.

It never took 48 hours for any of my domain names.

To check if the changes to your nameservers have been applied, just type your domain name in your web browser and access the website.

If you've accessed your domain name before updating the nameservers, you should open your website in a private (Firefox)  or incognito mode (Google Chrome) to see the changes faster. Otherwise, your web browser might display a cached version of the NameCheap's parked domain page.

This time, the changes were applied almost instantly for my domain name and my website is accessible.

If your website is accessible and you see WordPress installed, then your nameservers have been successfully updated. Otherwise, you have to wait until your nameservers are changed.

Configure WordPress

Congratulations! At this stage, you have a fully operational WordPress website.

The first thing I do after I install WordPress is to configure several settings and delete the sample post and page.

So let's do that.

Log in to your WordPress website

First, log in to your website using the credentials saved before you've ordered your web hosting plan.

You can find the WordPress login page at https://webskoop.com/wp-login.php. Just replace webskoop.com with your own domain name.

If you haven't saved these credentials or if these don't work, you can use WordPress' password recovery page.

You can find this page at https://webskoop.com/wp-login.php?action=lostpassword. Replace webskoop.com with your own domain name.

Type the email you are using for your A2Hosting customer account and click on "Get new password". Within several minutes, you should receive an email with a link to a page where you can set a new password. 

After you log in to your website, you should see the WordPress dashboard.

General Settings

Go to "Settings-->General" and enter a new site title and tagline (a short description of your website. Some themes are going to show this under the title).

Save the changes.

Permalinks Settings

The next thing you want to do is to set the structure of your website's permalinks. To do that, go to "Settings-->Permalinks."

Look for "Common Settings" section and select "Post name."

This option will give your website shorter, cleaner, and more SEO-friendly URLs.

Don't forget to click the "Save Changes" button at the bottom of the page for the changes to be saved.

Remove WordPress Sample Data

When it's installed, WordPress creates some sample data. You don't want this to be indexed by the search engines, so I recommend you to remove all the useless data.

Delete the "Hello World" post

Go to "Posts-->All Posts" and place your mouse cursor over the "Hello World" post title.

Several options should appear. Click on "Trash" to remove the post.

Delete the "Sample page"

Repeat the action to delete the sample page.

Go to "Pages-->All Pages" and send the sample page to trash.

Remove the sample plugin

Head to "Plugins-->Installed Plugins" and delete the plugin called "Hello Dolly."

Remove the default themes

WordPress comes with three themes pre-installed. I usually just leave the active theme and delete the other two because I do not intend to use them.

There's no reason to keep these if I don't use them. These themes just occupy my server's storage space with no use. 

You can skip this step if you like any of those themes. 

If you decide to remove them, head over to "Appearance-->Themes." Click on the thumbnail image of the theme you want to remove.

Next, click the red "Delete" link from the bottom-right side of the page.

Repeat the process for every theme you want to delete.

Install a WordPress Theme

Even though WordPress comes with three pre-installed themes, I never use them.

I always either make a custom theme for my website (that's the advantage of knowing how to code), I buy a custom theme based on my needs, or I just install a free theme from the official WordPress theme repository.

There's no need to spend money on a premium or a custom theme when you are just starting a website. The beauty of WordPress is that you can easily change your theme later.

I'm going to cover how to install a theme from WordPress.org and how to install a custom theme.

Install a free theme from WordPress.org

There are many free themes listed on WordPress.org that you can install to your WordPress website with just a few clicks. 

Here's how to do that.

Go to "Appearance-->Themes" and click the "Add New" button on the top-left of the page.

You can filter the themes by clicking on the tabs at the top, or you can search for a specific theme or keyword using the search form on the top-right of the page.

Once you decide what theme you want to use, put the cursor of your mouse on the thumbnail image of the theme and click the "Install" button once it appears.

It will take several seconds until the chosen theme is downloaded to your server. When it's ready, click on "Activate."

Your theme is now installed and active and you should visit your website to see its new look.

Install a theme from a ZIP archive

Not all the WordPress themes are listed on WordPress.org.

The premium themes will usually come packed in a .zip archive. In order to use those themes, you have to upload that ZIP archive to your web server and activate the theme.

Fortunately, WordPress has made this very easy for us.

To upload a custom/premium theme from a ZIP archive, head over to "Appearance-->Themes" and click on "Add New."

Now, instead of browsing through the existing themes, click the "Upload Theme" button from the top-left side of the page.

Click on "Choose File" and locate theme's .ZIP archive from your computer (make sure the archive is in ZIP format. Otherwise, it won't work). Once you select the theme, click on "Install Now."

Wait until the theme is uploaded to your web server. 

If the theme has been installed, you should see a "Theme installed successfully" message.

Now your theme has been installed and activated successfully.

Most of the WordPress themes have customizable options.

Usually, you can find theme's settings pages under "Appearance->Customize," as a submenu of "Appearance," or as a separate menu.

Install WordPress Plugins

Plugins are a very important part of WordPress.

While the themes handle the appearance of your WordPress website, the plugins add new features to WordPress.

You can build almost any type of website with WordPress and the right plugins (online stores, forums, social networks, etc.). 

There are many free and paid plugins for WordPress.

Just as the themes, you can install plugins straight from your WordPress dashboard. You can either choose to install a free plugin listed in the official WordPress plugin directory, or you can upload a plugin as a ZIP archive.

The process of installing plugins to your WordPress website is very similar with installing themes.

Install a free plugin from WordPress.org

To install a plugin, go to "Plugins-->Add New."

Browse through the plugins using the tabs at the top of the page or enter the name of a particular plugin or a keyword in the search form on the top-right side of the page.

Just click on "Install Now" button to install a plugin.

Install a plugin from a ZIP archive

To install a plugin that's not listed on WordPress.org, click the "Upload Plugin" button from the top-left of the page.

Click on "Choose File" and select the plugin's .zip archive from your computer. Click on "Install Now" to upload the plugin to your web server.

After the plugin has been uploaded, you should click on "Activate Plugin" button to activate it.

Most of the WordPress plugins have a settings page where you can configure various options. You can usually find these pages as a submenu of "Settings," as a submenu of "Tools," or as a separate menu.

What plugins to install?

One of the most common problems related to WordPress plugins is that website owners oftenly use too many.

Too many plugins will make your website slow and will affect the overall performance of your web server. 

In fact, the performance drop is not caused directly by the number of plugins, but by what these plugins do and the way these are coded. One plugin might sometimes affect the performance of your website more than a hundred plugins.

There's not a rule of thumb concerning the number of plugins you can use simultaneously. However, the fewer plugins you use, the better.

Based on your needs, you might need different plugins.

Here are several plugins that I'm using for almost any WordPress website I build.

  1. Yoast SEO
  2. W3 Total Cache
  3. Akismet Anti-Spam
  4. Optimus
  5. Reduce Bounce Rate
  6. Pretty Links
  7. Clean and Simple Contact Form

How to add content to WordPress

You have now created your WordPress website, configured WordPress, installed a cool theme and the needed plugins.

The last step is to start adding content to your website.

WordPress was built with content in mind, so adding and managing your posts and pages with WordPress is a simple task. The hardest job is creating the content, but I'm sure you are going to find a solution for that. After all, if you are not good at writing content, you can always outsource this task.

Add post categories

After I build a new WordPress website, before I start adding content, I like to start by adding several post categories.

Categories are a good way of keeping your posts grouped.

For example, you can have a "WordPress" category for all your posts related to WordPress, an "SEO" category for all the posts about search engine optimization, a "Blogging" for any posts related to blogging in general, and so on.

When someone visits your website, he might be interested in only a specific category (for example someone wants to learn everything about WordPress). He can click on your "WordPress" category and he will see only the posts related to WordPress.

To add a list of post categories, go to "Posts-->Categories."

WordPress also gives you the ability to add particular tags for each post.

I see tags as a way to filter the posts in a category even more.

For example, you can have two posts about WordPress that both belong to the "WordPress" category.

One post is about WordPress themes and the other is about WordPress plugins.

You can add "WordPress plugins" tag to the post about plugins and "WordPress themes" to the post about themes.

If someone clicks a specific tag, will only see the posts that have the same tag.

Unlike categories, where you have to define specific post categories, you don't have to specify a list of tags. Once you'll add a tag to each post, that tag will be created automatically.

Add a new post/page

WordPress has several post types registered by default. Themes and plugins can register more post types.

Posts are usually used for articles (blog posts, guides, tutorials, etc.), while pages are used to create basic website pages (for example a privacy policy page, a contact page, about us, etc.).

Only the posts can have a category and tags. 

Add a new post by going to "Posts-->Add New."

The WordPress editor has two modes and you can switch between these by clicking the tabs displayed before the editor.

The "Publish" panel from the right of the content editor enables you to save the post as a draft (a version of the post that will only be visible to you), allows you to schedule a post to be published to a future date, display the post at the top of the front page, protect the post with a password, preview the post before going live, etc.

Below this panel, there are two other sections where you can choose the post category/categories and assign certain tags to your posts.

You can add multiple tags at once, separated by a comma.

The last panel visible by default is the "Featured Image."

A featured image is a representative image for each post. Themes display this image in the posts list.

 

Final Word

Congratulations! You are one of the few people that took their time to read the full guide! Leave a comment so I can know you are here.

You now know how to build a WordPress website from scratch. By the way, did you realize that you can create a website without having to write a single line of code?

Don't waste your knowledge! Put it into practice and start your website today.

Start your dream blog, make a presentation website for your small business, you can create a portfolio website, etc. The possibilities are endless.

You can now even become a freelancer earn money from making simple websites for other people. If you decide to go that route, you can start providing your services on a marketplace like Fiverr.

If you have any questions, issues, or ideas about how I can improve this guide, leave a comment below. I will answer all the comments.

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