How to create a WordPress site or blog
Create a WordPress site in stages:
Step 1: The difference between WordPress.org VS WordPress.com
You have opted for WordPress, the most popular website creation platform in the world! Well done! Now it is important not to mix between the two options available to you; WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Several people are confused about these two options. It’s very simple to understand, here is my explanation.
WordPress.com is a turnkey solution that was created by the Automattic company to offer a simplistic solution to the main software, called WordPress.org.
The WordPress.com service is not the one to use to continue in this tutorial. The main reasons why I do not recommend its use to you are that it is a very limited service on several aspects such as visuals (themes) and functionalities (plugins and personalized web development according to your specific needs).
If you are serious in creating a professional and flexible website which will evolve over time and which will follow the organic evolution of your company, using WordPress.com can quickly become a ball for your project which prevents you from advancing at the desired pace. Ultimately, after a few months, you may decide to migrate it to WordPress.org to continue to develop your main web marketing tool, which represents a waste of time, energy and money.
WordPress.org’s service is the real WordPress software. Unlike WordPress.com, it does not impose any limitation on visual or plugin themes. It is this one that is used all over the world for the creation of a WordPress site by the vast majority of web agencies, self-employed workers, designers or people just like you, from a beginner level who wishes create their site by themselves.
For more info on the subject, I encourage you to read my article “Why Use WordPress? “.
Step 2: Choose a domain name and a WordPress accommodation
What is a domain name for?
A domain name is a web address. For example, www.wppourlesnuls.com is my domain name. Choosing a domain name is an art in itself. This can be done hyper quickly or require a period of reflection since it is very often intimately linked to:
- Your company name, project name, your branding.
- Or what you do (ex: www.speed-check.online)
Here are some tips and concepts to know about domain names:
- Unless you already have a accommodation package, do not buy a domain name from GoDaddy or any other registrar. The reason is that at the next stage of this tutorial, we will talk about web hosting and that the majority of hosts offer you free a domain name when purchasing your package.
- I suggest you always opt for the .com extension if it is available. The .com are the best known and most commonly used extensions.
- If the .com is not available, consider using an .fr (if you offer services in France), a .ca (Canada), .org (if you are an organization), .edu (site d university or school), .net , …
- Make sure it is easy to pronounce and spell.
- If possible, keep your domain name simple and short
- Do not add dash, numbers or other types of special characters.
- Be memorable
For more advice on this, read my article on 10 rules for choosing a domain name.
And what is WordPress accommodation for, what is it for?
Web hosting is a space on a computer connected to the Internet that serves as a server to accommodate the files on your WordPress site. For example, your accommodation bridges the WordPress files on your site with your domain name so that users can view your site. This will ensure that when someone writes www.votresite.com in their browser, the domain name will be linked to your web server to display your website.
So when we talk about WordPress v.s. Web hosting is the same thing as different as a WordPress hosting is designed to host a site created specifically with this content management console.
How to choose accommodation? There are tons of companies!
I created a full guide that compares the different most popular WordPress accommodation services best ranked by the WordPress community. Through this, you will be able to identify your needs, compare the advantages and disadvantages of each to make the right choice that is suitable for your project and your portfolio. Here is also a summary table to help you in your choice.
Summary tables for WordPress accommodation services
Best quality / price offer
Support and customer service in French. Servers located in France.
The best prices
Lots of traffic
Step 3: Install WordPress on a web server
Installation of WordPress varies from one hosting company to another. But in general, if you opt for a company that offers accommodation dedicated to the WordPress environment, (all those on our list recommended in the previous step offer this service), the software will be installed automatically when of your purchase.
But you may want to have more than one site installed on your web server. In this case, you will have to follow a clear and precise tutorial which will explain specifically to you how to install WordPress step by step, or using FTP software and your cPanel, with certain specific guidelines for certain WordPress hosts.
Step 4: Choose a theme, install it and import a demo
A paid theme (premium) or a free theme?
Regarding the themes, two options are available to you: a free theme or a premium theme. For my part the question does not even arise. After creating a few hundred WordPress sites, in the vast majority of cases, choosing a free theme rhymes with loss of time, energy and money. Especially if you are not a programmer. Any minor serious projects should use a premium theme. For more information, you can consult my article on the choice between a paid WordPress theme or a free theme.
How to choose the WordPress theme that suits my project?
To start, you need to know your needs and the type of website to build. Is it a portfolio site, a corporate site, an online magazine, a blog, an online store (e-commerce)? Here are some links including lists of specialized themes for each of these categories:
You can also visit the most popular premium theme sales sites directly:
What to base my choice on when I shop for a theme?
Here are the points I take into consideration when shopping to find a specific theme for myself or a client:
- all visuals correspond to the look I would like to give to my project
- visual styles are treated and have a current look
- the theme offers features that meet the needs of my website (example, it includes an online appointment tool)
- the number of downloads, ratings and comments from users who use the theme can be good indicators of the quality of the theme
- compatibility with the most popular plugins (WooCommerce for electronic commerce, WPML for a bilingual site, Elementor or Visual Composer as a sitebuilder, GravityForms for contact forms)
- personally, I don’t really look at the price (I prefer to pay $ 60-70 for a complete, reliable and robust theme than $ 25 for a theme with less functionality and fewer possibilities).
Install and activate a WordPress theme
Installing a WordPress theme can be done in two different ways:
- In your content management console: Click on “Appearance -> Themes”, then on the “Add” button at the top of the window. Then select the .zip file containing the folder for your theme.
- By FTP: Connect to your web hosting via FTP software like FileZilla. Add the folder for your theme to the “wp-content -> themes” directory. Then activate it via your WordPress management console, in “Appearance -> Themes”.
Please note: When you download a premium theme via ThemeForest or ElegantThemes or any other site, these provide you with a .zip file containing several folders related to your theme such as source files, license files, etc. Do not add this .zip file directly. Unzip this one on your computer to obtain the specific folder for your theme containing only the files of the theme. Zip the latter if it is not already done. This is the one you will need to download in the WordPress theme installation tool.
Import a demo
Each premium theme has its own way of importing a site demo. I created a video that shows you how to import a demo for all of the following themes: Avada, Bridge, The7 and Enfold. Even if the theme you bought is not one of them, the video will give you a general vision to learn how to import a demo with any theme.
Step 5: Configure the basic parameters of WordPress
For the basic configuration of your WordPress site, we will use the menu “Fixes as well as its submenus” General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media, Permalis “.
General settings (“General” submenu)
Here is a list of the settings that I find relevant to modify:
- Mailing address: The address at which you want to receive notification emails from WordPress (e.g. when an automatic update has been made)
- Registration: Give anyone the possibility of having a subscriber account at your WordPress site (for the vast majority of my sites, this option is unchecked)
- Default role of any new user: In connection with the above point, what level of permissions do you want to assign by default to people who subscribe to your site?
- Language of the site: The default language of your content management platform and the language of your site
- Time zone: Choose the correct time zone so that your article publications are made at the desired time
The only setting I find relevant to modify here is “Fault category of articles” to select the default category of your articles when you create a draft or publish them. Note that you must first create new categories so that you can then choose it from this drop-down menu.
- The home page displays: A widely used option that allows us to determine which page or file of the theme will be defined by default for the home page. If the “Last Articles” option is checked, your site will use the “index.php” file for your activated theme. The option “A static page (choose below)” allows you to define a home page and a personalized page for your blog from a page created via the “Pages” menu.
- The pages of the site must display at most: The number of articles that will be displayed by default in the pages of your blog before seeing a pagination appear
- Syndication flows display the latest: The number of items that will be displayed in your RSS feed
- For each publication of a stream, provide: Still in the RSS stream, option that allows you to display the full version of your articles or only their extract
- Visibility for search engines: Important option for referencing. This should be cleared if you want your site to be indexable and visible to search engines
All the options on this list are quite explicit. If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to add these in the comments module at the end of the article.
For each image size (size of miniatures-> thumbnail, medium-> medium size, large size-> large), you have the option of specifying a specific quantity to them. Note that premium themes usually automatically reframe these image formats.
- Date and title or Month and title: Use if you ever have a magazine or online newspaper style website that publishes dozens of articles a day
- Publication title: Most frequently used option, as it is the most “user friendly” for search engines, social networks and your users
Step 6: Add or modify the logo of your WordPress site
Although all WordPress themes are programmed differently, the way to add a custom logo is similar from one theme to another. Check out the video below for a tutorial on how to do it.
How to add a logo in WordPress
- The majority of premium themes use their own customization menu to modify the visual style of the site header and at the same time modify the logo (see the video above).
- For certain free themes, this modification is made via the “Appearance -> Customize” sign. Inside it you will find a “Site Identity” link in which you could possibly find a link to add your own logo.
Step 7: Modify the header and the navigation menu
How to modify the navigation of a WordPress site
The navigation of your WordPress site is generally created in two stages when you use a professional theme.
First, choose the desired visual style. This functionality is often available in the theme preferences modification section, under the “menu” or “header” tab.
In a second step, when you have chosen your navigation style, you must create this by navigating in your WordPress console under “Appearance -> Menu”. See the image below regarding the location of each of these steps:
- Create a new menu by adding a custom name to it
- Check the pages and types of pages you want to add to this one
- Click on “Add to the menu”
- Move the order of your links according to your preferences. You can even create submenus
- Check the location in which you want your navigation to appear (some themes offer several different locations such as: main navigation, top navigation, footer, etc.
- Save your changes by clicking on “Save the menu”
Step 8: Modify the jumper
The ease of adding and customizing a jumper to a WordPress site again depends on the programmer (s) who built the theme you are using. In the majority of cases, the addition of content to the jumper will be done in the “Appearance -> Widgets” menu. What is a widget for? It is actually a block attracted to a specific region of your WordPress site in which you can slip different types of content into it.
So the majority of WordPress themes use widgets to control the contents of the footer. For example, with the theme Avada, you have 3 blocks of widgets attracted to the jumper: Footer Widget 1, Footer Widget 2, Footer Widget 3.
The themes also offer you some control over the visual of your footer. Navigate the theme customization menu and find the “Footer” section. You should be able to choose the number of content columns to display minimally and possibly be able to modify the colors and typographies there.
Step 9: Add or modify the sidebar (side bar)
The contents of the sidebar are controlled via the widgets module (“Apparence -> Widgets). You also have a section dedicated to changing the sidebar visuals in your activated theme customization menu.
For this section of your site, it is not uncommon for web masters to wish to display or hide it depending on the pages or types of pages on our site. For example, it may be useful to have a content area that takes the full width of the frame of our website rather than separating this area in 2 or 3 with the addition of one or two sidebars.
The location of the control of this functionality varies from one theme to another. For several of them, show you or hide the sidebar via the theme customization menu (see the 1st image below). Also, you can have this possibility individually from one page to another (or from one article to another) via a specific module in the page or article (see the 2nd image below).
Step 10: Create pages or articles
Adding new pages and new items to your WordPress site is easy and intuitive.
To add a page, you will find a “Pages” menu in the left menu of your WordPress console. In overflight of it, click on “Add”.
To add an article, always in the left menu, fly over the “Articles” menu, then click “Add”.
In the image below, I have framed in red the relevant menus and buttons to add new pages to your site.
Once your new pages are added, you can add these to the menu on your site, in the main navigation bar or in a secondary navigation bar via the “Appearance -> Menu” button as shared in step 7 of this tutorial on the modification of the header of the site and the menu.
Step 11: Add text, image and video content to your pages
Add text and image content to your WordPress pages:
Adding content to your site and getting the desired layout is a step that requires a little practice. Since each WordPress theme is programmed and designed differently, there are many methods to manage to create visually professional and attractive pages containing the desired content. I share a few ways to get your way in the video below. I also suggest that you read the rest of the content under the video for other additional information that may be useful to you.
Add pages and content to WordPress
No matter what theme you have, the default WordPress text editor is always present and usable from site to site. Since a few versions of WordPress, we have seen the new Gutenberg content editing tool appear. Personally, I don’t like it at all and there are few people I know who like it. I find it very limited in its functionalities and therefore, limiting when I wish to arrive at a precise result as a page visual. I even sometimes install the Disable Gutenberg extension which allows me to return to the old WordPress text editing tool so much I find it easier to use.
Note that I only use this old WordPress native content editing tool for the creation of blog articles since their layout is generally quite basic. If I need to create a more visually attractive content page, I usually use a more advanced content editing tool (see below).
Add a video:
Here’s how to add a video with an embed code in your WordPress. This tutorial is relevant for the addition of a YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia video or any other video platform. I also explain to you how to make your videos responsive and suitable for all screen formats.
“Page builder” or “site builder” content editing tools:
There are many professional extensions for more complex layouts which are provided free of charge when purchasing a premium theme or which can be purchased separately if your current theme does not include such a tool. Each of the site builder extensions presented in this list requires a certain learning curve before feeling really comfortable with their use. Fortunately, there are a very large number of videos available on YouTube to continue our learning!
I added some of these relevant videos to our French-speaking WordPress resource page.
If you are a regular in WP For Dummies, you know that I like to put the content editor / Divi theme in the foreground in my articles. Firstly, because it is an ultra powerful tool for the creation of your site and secondly, because it is, in my opinion, the most intuitive and easy to use tool for beginners.
I also like to put Elementor forward since this is the most popular stop page for WordPress and in my opinion, the most complete. However, in comparison with Divi, this site builder is longer to master and more difficult for beginners.e.s.
Our useful articles concerning Divi and Elementor.
Step 12: Add a blog
Here, the question may not be “how to create a blog”, but rather “how to add a blog to an already existing WordPress facility”. For the opening of a blog, we always have these two possible scenarios:
- My blog will be my website. Here, the blog will be the home page and the heart of my website (e.g. for my WP For Dummies website)
- My blog will be part of my website. Involving that the blog will be installed in a specific section of a new website or an already existing site (ex: wwww.monsite.com/blog/)
In the following video, I explain exactly how to do it for each of the two scenarios. Also, I’m flying over how to get your content into pages of blog articles. * Note that the video initially talks about the first steps that we have already seen in chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5 of this article, namely the domain name, accommodation, the WordPress installation and the installation of a theme. You can therefore advance the video to the 13th minute of it.
Make my WordPress site a blog (from the home page)
In your content management console, click on “Fixes -> Reading”. The first modifiable parameter here is entitled “The home page displays… “. By choosing the “The Last Articles” option, you specify on your home page that it will have to display the last articles in your blog and would therefore, in theory, become the main page of your blog.
Add a blog to a specific section of a WordPress site
Same initial step, click on “Fixes -> Reading” and the function “The home page displays… Instead, choose “A static page”. You have the option of choosing a specific page to use as your site home page and also the option of choosing a specific page to display your blog. The pages displayed in the drop-down menu come from those that would have been previously created via the “Pages” module.
Note that by assigning a static page for the blog, this same page will no longer use the “page.php” file of the active theme, but rather your “index.php” page.
Step 13: Add plugins relevant to your needs
The size of the plugin bank available for WordPress is probably one (if not LA) greater strength of the content management console. No matter what you need, you will have the option of adding a free and premium plugin to get there.
You will find all the free WordPress plugins in the official directory in the directory provided for this purpose on the official WordPress website. You can also navigate or find a specific plugin in your WordPress content management console, under the “Extensions -> Add” menu.
I recommend that you consult my guide dedicated to WordPress plugins to also learn how to install a WordPress plugin on your site or blog.
I hope this tutorial may have been useful to you in starting your WordPress site. If you think of ways that I could improve the content of it to help users like you, I still share them with you via the comments section below!
I also encourage you to consult the “Other useful resources” section also located below which could greatly help you answer your various questions and help you continue your learning.