How to build a WordPress website

These days, more and more people want to update their own websites. To do this, the tool that has become most popular is WordPress. You may think of it as a blogging platform, but you can also use it to add, edit and delete static pages, text and images, with or without a blog.

Confusingly, there are two flavours of WordPress:

– WordPress.com is free. Hosted by WordPress, there are a limited number of templates you can choose (they call them ‘themes’) and a limited amount of functionality. Another downside is that anyone without an ad blocker on their browser, and anyone viewing on a smartphone, will see ads e.g. ‘One tip of a flat belly’. You can pay $30pa to customise the themes somewhat.

– WordPress.org is also free. You have a multitude of themes to choose from (some paid, some free), and can add plugins/widgets to add whatever functionality you want (some paid, some free). You or your web developer can access the code to make the site look exactly as you wish. You have to buy web hosting, download the software, and do your own updates and backups — be warned that WordPress does get hacked from time to time, so it’s important to do this. You do need a bit of techie knowledge to make sure you don’t accidentally overwrite your entire database and delete everything when you do your backups.

In each case, the default web address will be yoursitename.wordpress.xxx, however, you can pay WordPress $13pa to use your own domain name (it’s called ‘domain mapping’), or pay $17pa to buy a domain name from WordPress.

It’s not completely intuitive, but, like anything, WordPress is easy to use when you know how. Here are some of the key things to know that aren’t obvious.

First, navigate your way to the Dashboard or Site Admin link.

Posts and pages
This is where WordPress language gets slightly confusing. Pages are static pages, as you’d expect. So far, so simple. Posts are blog posts (entries). You have to create a Page and tell WordPress that will be your ‘posts page’. You do that under Settings > Reading. That’s also where you tell WordPress which page is to be your home page (the dropdown menu calls it ‘front page’).

“Order!”
Pages will appear in alphabetical order by default. To change that, go to Appearance > Menus.

Turning comments off
By default, WordPress assumes you want comments on every page and post. To change this, go to Pages > All pages > Quick edit > Untick ‘allow comments’ (you have to do this page by page). You can also reorder the way your pages appear by typing a number in the ‘order’ box.

Home Home
Some themes have a default home page called ‘home’. If you add another page called ‘home’, your site ends up with duplicate home pages, and you can spend hours Googling to find a solution. In these cases, the secret is to give your home page a blank title. The theme then shows one home page only, called home.

Sign out
Hover the cursor over your name (top right).

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

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