It’s always a day away.
If you’ve been putting off your website, we get it.
It’s a ton of work, right?
Creating a WordPress website is actually very easy – even if it’s your first site. In fact, making a website in 2018 is shockingly simple.
In just a few steps, you can build your own site where you can publish original content, sell products, capture leads – whatever you’d like! We’ll leave that part to you and stick to what we know best: making WordPress sites.
In this guide, you’ll create your first site following three simple steps.
3 simple steps
- Get your site online
- Find & install a theme
- Customize your site
We can keep telling you how easy it is, but why don’t you follow along now and see?
Keep reading to learn the 3 simple steps to launch a WordPress website.
If you already have a WordPress site, click here to skip to step two and learn how to install our themes.
1. Get your site online
The first thing you need to do is choose a domain.
Pick a domain name
Your domain is the address visitors type into their browser to visit your site. For instance, this site’s domain name is competethemes.com.
You include both the domain and top-level domain when selecting your website’s full domain name.
The hardest part of getting a great name is finding one that is actually available. We have some practical tips in this guide on picking a domain name that I think you’ll find especially helpful.
Once you’ve selected your domain name, it’s time to get hosting.
You may want to delay purchasing your domain name until you signup for hosting because some hosts will allow you to register a domain name for free when you signup.
Signup for hosting
Every website needs hosting.
Hosting is like gas for your website. Without gas, your car won’t run, and without hosting, your site won’t load.
A great host will load your site quickly for visitors and allow you to work on it without interruption. We have some hosting recommendations on our resources page if you need help choosing a host.
This step is extremely easy.
Every modern host has a WordPress auto-installer available. You just have to fill out a short form with some info like your site title, username, and password, and the installer will create your WordPress site for you.
These days, some web hosts even auto-create your WP site for you when you make your hosting account.
To summarize, start by picking a great domain name. Then signup for hosting and use the WP installer to create a brand new WordPress site hosted at the domain you’ve selected.
At this point, you’ll have a functioning WP site online and it’s time to start customizing!
2. Choose a theme
If you look at your site now, you’ll see a default theme with some starter content. It’s going to look something like this:
You probably want to edit the sidebar, add some posts, and make a million other changes. Before you change anything, the very next step is to pick a theme.
A new theme will completely change the design of the site and make all your future edits much easier to visualize.
Where to find a new theme
Visit the Appearance menu in your dashboard, and you’ll see a page like this:
To find a new theme, click on the Add New button at the top of the page.
On the next page, you’ll get access to over 5,000+ free WordPress themes. Every theme here has been through a formal code review by the WordPress.org Theme Review Team. You can view popular themes, filter by features, and search for themes by name.
We currently have 18 free themes all of which are available from the Appearance menu in your WordPress dashboard.
To find one of our themes in your dashboard, search for it by name in the search bar. For instance, a quick search for “Startup Blog” will reveal it as the first result.
The great thing about finding themes this way is that you can preview them before you install them. To preview any theme, hover over it and click the “Preview” button.
The previews aren’t fully customized for your site, but they’ll give you a quick look at what to expect.
Install a theme
Another benefit of finding themes this way is that installation is also very simple. When you’re ready to install a theme, hover over it, press the blue Install button, and then press the Activate button to use it on your site.
With your theme picked out, you’re ready to begin customizing.
If you want more guidance for picking the right theme, follow our WordPress theme selection guide. You’ll find some really good tips there for finding the perfect WP theme for your site.
3. Customize your site
There are three steps to customize your site and prep for launch:
- Customize the theme
- Add plugins
- Add content
You’ve just selected a theme, so the next step is to customize it.
Customize your theme
Most WordPress themes add new options in the “Customizer.” To access the Customizer, click the Customize menu item below Appearance.
The settings available will depend on your theme, but in this example, you can see Startup Blog has added quite a few options including colors, slider settings, layouts, and more.
It doesn’t look like much now, but with the settings configured and content added, the site looks like this:
Check out our basic theme customization guide to learn more about setting up your theme.
This is just one example – there are tons of themes to choose from!
You can review all of our themes and see their live demos here: browse our themes.
Customizing your theme is mostly a process of going through the Customizer and updating the settings as you see fit.
Step-by-step setup instructions
If you want step-by-step instructions for customizing your theme, all of our themes have setup guides in the Support Center you can follow along with. You’ll learn how to create menus, add social icons, and much more – all with plenty of detail and screenshots along the way.
When you’re happy with how your site looks, it’s time to update how it works. In general, themes change how your site looks and plugins change how your site works.
For instance, if you want to add new functionality like social sharing buttons visitors can click to share your posts or sliders that display images from Instagram, you’ll want to add plugins for these features. The way our themes are designed, they work flawlessly with thousands of free WordPress plugins.
Where to find new plugins
Finding new plugins is very similar to finding themes. If you click on the Plugins menu item, you’ll see an Add New button at the top.
Click this button, and you’ll find a menu where you can browse thousands of plugins all sourced from the WordPress.org plugin repository.
Adding a new plugin is just like adding a new theme – click Install and Activate and you’re done!
Finding your first few plugins can be daunting, so if you need some guidance, check out our resources page. We feature only the best plugins and tools we’ve come to love over years of using WordPress.
You’ll find recommended plugins for SEO, social sharing buttons, image galleries, and more.
Your site won’t look complete until you get the content in place. The final step is to outline and publish the content your site needs.
This will depend largely on the type of site you’re creating, but a few essential pages you’ll want to create are:
- Terms of Service
You can publish a standard WordPress “Page” for each of these pages.
Every website needs a good “About” page.
Your About page should include some background on you and/or your team, why your site exists, and why people should visit. It’s a great place to position yourself and explain why your website is different than other websites in your niche.
The About page always gets a lot of traffic, so use it as an opportunity to get your message across.
A contact page needs little more than an introduction and a contact form. Since you’ve created your WordPress site with Bluehost, it comes with the WPForms Lite plugin pre-installed.
This plugin is great for creating simple forms, such as the one you’ll need for your contact form. WPForms is a 5-star rated plugin, but you can deactivate it and install another plugin if you’d like to add forms to your site.
You’ll want to hire a lawyer to write these policies for you eventually, but most new webmasters choose to use a TOS generator to get started.
You can copy and paste this content into a regular page to publish it on your site.
Add your original content
At this point, you have a live site customized to your liking ready with the essential pages. Now it’s up to you to add the original content that makes your site different.
Adding your content may be as simple as writing a fresh blog post or as complex as creating eCommerce products. Either way, you’re well equipped to publish whatever content you need.
Your journey starts today
Once your site is filled with great content, you’re ready to launch!
Launching your first website can be intimidating, but there’s no time like the present!
You have access to the best tools ever made for building sites, like WordPress which has been in development for over 10 years now (and it’s FREE). Nothing stands in your path beside a little know-how and elbow grease.
In summary, here are the steps you can take right now to create your first site:
1. Get your site online
Pick a domain and signup for a hosting account. You can find our preferred hosts here.
The whole process takes just a few minutes, and you can follow along with the steps above.
2. Choose a theme
You can browse our themes here or wait until you create your site to preview them straight from your WP dashboard. Every one of them is free, professionally designed, and effective on both mobile and desktop devices.
3. Customize your site
You can find extensive “Getting Started” guides for each one of our themes in the Support Center. When you’re ready to customize your site further, you can use our resources page to find the best plugins available.
You can also find more ways to customize your site in our WordPress customization guide.
WordPress is a valuable tool for making websites, and you’ll likely use it for years to come. Who knows what kind of sites you’ll end up making!
We’ve published nearly 100 WordPress tutorials you can follow to learn everything about using WordPress as you build and run your website(s).
If you’ve got any questions about using WordPress or one of our themes, you can reach our founder directly at [email protected], and he’ll be happy to help you out.
Until next time, happy site building!