If you have gone through the process of purchasing a domain, contracting a host and decided on having your website on a WordPress platform, then you are probably trying to figure out what’s next to create a WordPress website.
If you have not decided on WordPress as your platform and want to look at other ideas, read How to Start a Blog to get more information.
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Once you have gotten your domain name and your hosting, the next step will be to install WordPress.
If you opted for shared hosting or hosting that is not so expensive, you will likely need to install WordPress yourself. Don’t worry, most WordPress installations are “one-click”.
One-click just means that with the press of a button, you can fully install wordpress.
To install WordPress, follow these steps:
- Log into your websites cPanel
- Scroll to the section where you can install apps, most of the time it will be Softalicious App Installer
- Look for WordPress
- Click the Install button and follow the on screen instructions
If you’re a little squeamish about installing wordpress because you are not so technical, ask your hosting company to do it for you. Most hosting companies, like Bigscoots, are very accommodating and will do this installation for you among other things. You just need to ask.
If you don’t have access to cPanel, you’re probably on fully managed hosting. In this case, ask your hosting provider to install WordPress for you.
Choosing a WordPress Theme
Once you have installed WordPress you need to decide on a theme. There are many themes out there, some are totally free, some are free with some paid upgrades and some need to be purchased.
Depending on your niche, you may be able to get away with a free theme like the twenty themes from WordPress.org.
Twenty Twenty-Two, and Twenty Twenty-Three are fully responsive themes that are speed oriented and Core Web Vital friendly.
When choosing a theme, make sure that you choose a theme that is easy to use, and has a good user experience for those who are browsing your website.
Look for these qualities in a theme:
- Responsive design: Make sure the theme is designed to work well on different screen sizes and devices, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
- Compatibility: The theme should be compatible with the latest version of WordPress, and the developer should provide regular updates to ensure it stays that way.
- Customization options: Look for a theme that offers a variety of customization options, such as color schemes, fonts, and layout options, so you can make it your own.
- Support: A good developer should provide support and documentation to help you troubleshoot any issues you may encounter. Also, a good theme should have a active community to help you.
- Performance: A theme that loads quickly and optimizes your images and resources will make sure your website runs smoothly.
- Browser compatibility: Make sure that the theme works well on different web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge, and ensure it’s not only testet with modern browser but also with older versions
- Features: Check if the theme has the features you need for your website, such as built-in social media integration, a contact form, and/or WooCommerce compatibility if you are planning to sell products online.
- Design: The theme should be aesthetically pleasing and align with your website’s overall design and purpose.
The majority of theme have demo sites which you can view and test so that you know exactly how the theme will look, what features are available and like and how it will work.
Most themes also come with sample pages to get you started with your website
WordPress Dashboard Settings
Now that you have your WordPress and your theme installed, it’s time to set up your dashboard settings which will affect your website.
Under settings/general, you will want to update the Site Title, Tagline, WordPress Address, Site Address, Administration Email Address, Date Format, Time Format.
Under appearance/editor, you will need to review the templates for the header, footer, pages and posts to ensure that they fit your style.
In the header section, you will also need to add your logo and review the menu making any changes necessary.
Under Settings/writing, you will want to update the default Post Category and the Default Post Format, if necessary.
Under settings/reading, update any fields necessary. Note that for the home page you have the option to choose a static page or a page that shows your latest posts. If you choose a static page, you need to create a “home” page.
You don’t necessarily need a posts page when you select a static page, that’s a personal preference if you want a posts page or not.
Under settings/permalinks, choose post name for the permalink structure. Choosing post name is the best for visitors to remember the post address. Note that a change in the permalink structure at a later time will have negative impact on your website because it can cause issues with search rankings, outdated links from external sites, and broken internal links within your own domain.
Essential WordPress Plug-ins
Plugins are extra add ons that function on their own but with your website. Some examples of plug-ins are Social Widgets, Spam Filters, WooCommerce, Caching, etc.
The more plugins you have, the more likely it will cause your website to become bogged down loading web pages. Keep this in mind because ultimately have a fast responsive website is really important in building traffic to your site as well as keeping your website visitors.
If visitors are waiting for a page to load, they are likely to exit and find what they are looking elsewhere.
Some plugins you may want to add to your website:
- Security: Wordfence Security or iThemes Security are popular options that can help to keep your website secure by blocking malicious traffic and detecting suspicious activity.
- Backup: UpdraftPlus or BackupBuddy are popular plugins that can help to create regular backups of your website’s files and database, so you can restore your website in case anything goes wrong.
- SEO: Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack are popular plugins that can help to optimize your website for search engines and improve your search engine rankings.
- Caching: WPRocket, W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache are popular caching plugins that can speed up your website by caching pages and reducing the number of requests to your server.
- Contact Form: Contact Form 7 or Gravity Forms are popular plugins that can help you to create forms on your website, such as contact forms, registration forms and more.
- Performance Optimization: Autoptimize or Optimole are popular plugins that can help to optimize images and other resources on your website to improve performance
- Analytics: Google Analytics for WordPress or MonsterInsights are popular plugins that can help you to track your website’s traffic and user engagement.
- Social Media: Jetpack or Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons are popular plugins that can help you to share your website’s content on social media platforms
Keep in mind that it’s best to only use the plugins that are essential for your website and remove the ones that you don’t use. Also, note that like themes, some plugins are free while others are paid or are by subscription.
Plugins for Recipe Blog
In addition to the plugins above, if you are in the food recipe niche, you will also want to consider some of the following plugins:
- Recipe plugin: WP Recipe Maker or Easy Recipe are popular recipe plugins that can help you to create and display recipes on your website in a professional and organized way, with features such as ingredient lists, instructions, nutrition information, and more.
- Recipe indexing: Food and Recipe Rich Snippets or Recipe Schema Creator are popular plugins that can help to improve your website’s search engine visibility by creating schema markup for recipes, which helps search engines like Google to understand and display your recipes more effectively in search results.
- Recipe rating and reviews: WP Product Review or YASR – Yet Another Stars Rating are popular plugins that can help you to allow users to rate your recipes and leave comments, which can improve user engagement and help to build your website’s reputation and credibility
- Meal planning: Meal Planner Pro or Meal Planner & Diet is popular plugin that can help you to create meal plans and allow users to download them or use them on their website to plan their meals
- Nutrition information : Nutritional Information for Recipes or NutriData are popular plugin that can help you to add the nutritional information for your recipe, which is important for health conscious people
- Shopping list : Meal Planner & Diet or Shopping List for Recipes are popular plugin that help you to create a shopping list from the ingredients of your recipe and allow users to download it
- Recipe indexing and search : WP Recipe Index or Recipe Card are popular plugins that help you to create a searchable recipe index, so users can find and filter your recipes based on different criteria, such as ingredients, cuisine, or skill level.
- FeastPlugin: A highly responsive plugin which replaces 5 themes, specifically designed for the food blogger in mind.
There are many more food blog oriented plugins available. Always remember to read the reviews before you use a plugin as well as make sure that it is compatible with your version of WordPress.
Plugins to help Monitor Website Performance
You will want to sign up for a few things to monitor your website, like monitoring your visits or monitoring your search performance so that you know what posts are ranking and potentially you could write more about.
Here is a list (non-exclusive) of services you may want to sign up for or research:
- Google Analytics: A free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic, user behavior and provides in-depth insights on how to improve the website.
- Matomo (formerly Piwik): An open-source web analytics platform that can be self-hosted. It provides similar data as GA.
- Adobe Analytics: A web analytics service offered by Adobe that provides advanced analytics and reporting capabilities.
- Google Search Console: A free web service by Google for webmasters which provides them detailed information about their website including its search performance, potential technical issues and also helps to submit a sitemap for crawling.
- SEMrush: A digital marketing toolkit that can be used for website analytics, keyword research, and competitor analysis.
- Ahrefs: A web analytics tool that provides in-depth information on backlinks, organic search, and referral traffic.
- Pi data: A website monitoring service that checks website uptime, tracks performance metrics, and sends alerts when issues are detected.
- Clicky: A web analytics platform that provides real-time tracking and reporting, including heat maps and session replay.
- Hotjar: A website analytics tool that uses heat maps, session recordings, and survey tools to gather data on user behavior and website performance.
Remember that some of these services may not fit your goals or in what case you might use them. Evaluate each service and the cost before you decide to register for the service.
Once you have setup WordPress default settings, activated a theme and installed your plugins, it’s time to write your first blog post.
Writing your first post is easy if you follow the steps outlined in Writing Your First Blog Post, Step by Step.
Conclusion: There are many available resources available for users of WordPress. Always check compatibility and reviews before downloading and using any plugin.