Are you looking to create a website but don’t have coding experience? WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system, powering over 30% of all sites on the internet. With its user-friendly interface and abundance of themes and plugins, WordPress allows anyone to quickly build a professional site without needing to know how to code.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn the basics of WordPress, including how to set up a site, customize the design, add content like blog posts and pages, install plugins and more. With step-by-step visuals and easy-to-follow instructions tailored for first-timers, you’ll have your own site up-and-running in no time. Let’s dive in!
Selecting Your Domain Name and Hosting Provider
The first steps in building your WordPress site are choosing a domain name and signing up for web hosting. Your domain name is your site’s address on the internet — for example,
yourbusinessname.com. For hosting, you’ll need a plan that supports WordPress installation.
When picking a domain registrar to buy your domain from, and a hosting provider to host your site’s files and data, make sure to choose reputable companies known for reliability, speed, and good customer service. Stay away from options that seem suspiciously cheap, or you may pay for it later in downtime and lack of support.
Some popular, beginner-friendly options to consider include:
- Bluehost – One of the largest web hosts specifically tailored for WordPress users. Owned by WordPress.org itself.
- SiteGround – Fast speeds and helpful support. Used by over 2 million sites.
- HostGator – Reliable and affordable hosting for individuals and businesses.
- GoDaddy – The world’s largest domain registrar. Also provides hosting plans.
- Namecheap – Budget-friendly domains and hosting with great service.
Once you’ve selected your provider, sign up for web hosting and register your domain name. Your domain should be short, memorable, and describe your site or business.
Installing WordPress and Logging In
With your web hosting account set up and domain name registered, it’s now time to install WordPress using your hosting provider’s auto-installer. This will set up WordPress with your chosen domain in just a few clicks.
Log in to your hosting provider’s control panel. From there, look for the WordPress or auto-installer section. There you’ll see options to install WordPress to your account.
The specifics will vary between hosts, but generally you’ll need to:
- Choose your site’s name and domain
- Select basic settings like language and timezone
- Create an admin username and password
- Add your email for admin account recovery
- Click install
Once the installer finishes setting up your site behind the scenes, you’ll receive an email with a link to visit your new WordPress site’s admin area (also called the WordPress Dashboard).
Click the link, then log in with your admin username and password. Congrats – your site is now running on WordPress! 🎉
Getting Familiar with the WordPress Dashboard
When you log into your site’s WordPress Dashboard for the first time, it can look a bit intimidating with so many menus and options. But don’t worry – we’ll break it down so you can quickly get oriented.
The main sections you’ll want to know are:
- Left-hand menu – Contains links to all areas of your Dashboard. This is how you navigate around.
- Top bar – Has useful shortcuts, notifications, your profile menu, and a link back to your site’s frontend.
- Main content area – Displays the page content for whichever Dashboard link you have open.
- Right-hand sidebar – Shows helpful tips and support resources.
Take a few minutes to poke around the Dashboard by clicking top bar links and exploring left-hand menus. Don’t worry – nothing can break.
As you get familiar with where everything is, you’ll soon feel right at home!
Choosing and Activating a Theme
Now it’s time to makeover your site’s design and personalize the look and feel. In WordPress, you control this with themes.
WordPress themes dictate the appearance of site sections like your homepage, posts, pages, menus, and more. Think of themes like website templates that you can quickly swap out to change your site’s visual styling.
WordPress has thousands of free and premium (paid) themes available. Let’s install and activate one:
- Go to Appearance > Themes
- Filter by featured, popular, or recommended themes
- Preview themes by hovering over them
- Click Activate on your desired theme
That’s it! Your site will now switch over to using your new theme template. Simple, right?
Creating Your First Page
With a theme installed, your site still needs content. Let’s create your first WordPress page:
- Go to Pages > Add New in the left-hand menu
- Enter a descriptive Page Title heading
- Write page content in the text editor box below
- Click Publish when your page is ready
That’s all there is to it!
Repeat the same process to create additional pages for sections like “About Us”, “Contact”, etc. You can create as many pages as you need.
For inspiration, look at other sites in your industry and think about what pages visitors would expect to see. Include basic company info, how you can help customers, contact details, etc.
Adding a Blog to Your Website
Alongside static pages, many sites also have a blog section for news updates, tips & tutorials, behind-the-scenes stories, etc. This helps drive recurring traffic as visitors come back to consume new content.
Just like pages, adding a blog to your WordPress site only takes a few clicks:
- Go to Posts > Add New
- Add a Post Title and write the blog post content
- Click Publish when your post is ready
- To view your blog posts, click “View Site” in the top bar, then navigate to
Make a habit of posting consistently. Over time, your blog content will continue growing and attract more visitors via search engines like Google.
Get creative with blog post ideas tailored to your audience! Product releases, client case studies, industry analysis, and behind-the-scenes stories make for compelling blog content.
Installing Plugins to Expand Functionality
While themes control the design of your WordPress site, plugins enable added functionality beyond core features.
There are over 55,000 free WordPress plugins available, allowing you to easily integrate all types of features without coding. Things like contact forms, galleries, social sharing, SEO tools, security enhancers, and more.
Let’s try installing your first plugin:
- Go to Plugins > Add New
- Search plugins by keyword or tag
- Install your chosen plugin by clicking Install
- When installed, click Activate to enable the plugin
That’s it! Most plugins provide features or display new interface options after they’re activated.
Here are some beginner-friendly plugins to help grow your site:
- Yoast SEO -optimize pages for search engines
- WPForms – create contact forms, surveys and more
- Smush – compress images for faster load times
- Mailchimp – capture email subscribers
Don’t go overboard installing every plugin under the sun! Start with essentials for your needs, and add more later on as necessary.
Customizing Site Settings
Beyond visual design and content, WordPress empowers you to customize all aspects of your site’s settings and functionality:
Head to the Settings section to tweak things like:
- General details like site title, admin email, timezone
- Reading settings for blog posts and pages
- Media uploads to manage images/files
- Permalinks to customize URL structures for SEO
- And hundreds more advanced options…
Explore each setting section to empower yourself as the site owner. Adjust any defaults needed to match your requirements.
Pro tip: Take it slow, and only change what you understand. You can always revert back if something breaks!
Adding a Forms-Capable Email Service
Now let’s tackle one of the most important areas for usability and conversions – setting up email capabilities.
While WordPress sends admin notifications about things like new user registrations, it doesn’t handle general email sending functionality out the box.
So to enable forms, newsletters, and other email needs, you’ll need to connect an SMTP service. Popular options include:
For this guide, we’ll use SendinBlue to demonstrate setup. First, sign up for a free SendinBlue account.
Then install the SendinBlue SMTP plugin in your WordPress Dashboard at Plugins > Add New. Activate it.
Next, head to Settings > SendinBlue and enter your SendinBlue SMTP credentials:
That’s it! You can now use plugins like WPForms to send email via your SendinBlue account.
Let’s quickly test it out…
Creating a Contact Form with WPForms
Contact forms allow visitors to get in touch by sending you messages. This helps convert website traffic into quality leads and sales.
WPForms is the most beginner-friendly WordPress contact form plugin. After installing it from your Dashboard, follow these steps to create your first contact form:
- Go to WPForms > Add New
- Select the Contact Form template
- Customize form fields as needed
- Set notification and confirmation options
- Get a shortcode to display the form by adding it to a page
You can embed contact forms anywhere pages using the shortcode. Do this by pasting it into the WordPress text editor of any post or page.
Make sure your forms are prominently positioned site-wide with easy-to-find access. This removes friction for visitors reaching out to you.
Now test sending a message through your live form to confirm the emails are delivering via SendinBlue successfully. Exciting! 🙌
Accepting Payments by Integrating Ecommerce
Do you plan to sell products or services through your WordPress site? Setting up ecommerce capabilities allows you to easily accept online payments.
WordPress natively supports the popular WooCommerce ecommerce plugin. After installing it, WooCommerce transforms your site into a customizable online store with just a few clicks.
You’re able to create products, payment options, shipping methods, and more while handling orders and inventory directly within WordPress.
To collect payments, WooCommerce integrates with processors like Stripe or PayPal. Transactions are securely handled via the provider of your choice.
Let’s quickly run through adding WooCommerce store functionality:
- Install/activate the WooCommerce plugin
- Run through the setup wizard prompts
- Add your products, shipping zones, taxes, etc.
- Configure payments by adding Stripe/PayPal keys
- Test purchases end-to-end as customers
Your online store is now merchandise-ready! 🛍️
Going forward, customize your storefront design using Storefront or popular WooCommerce-specific themes. The possibilities are endless for showcasing your products/services.
Speeding Up WordPress Performance
As a new WordPress site owner, you want your pages to load quickly for the best visitor experience. Slowly-loading sites lead to high bounce rates and less conversions.
Here are 3 easy tweaks to speed up WordPress performance:
1. Enable Browser Caching
Browser caching allows pages to load faster by storing files locally on visitor devices. Install the free W3 Total Cache plugin then enable caching options under Performance.
2. Optimize Images
Large, unoptimized images slow down load times. Use EWWW Image Optimizer to compress images and convert file formats. Strip unnecessary metadata too.
3. Upgrade Web Hosting
Entry-level shared hosts often have resource constraints affecting site speed. For faster load times, upgrade to a managed WordPress host like WP Engine or Kinsta.
Work through common speed optimizations to keep your site performing for the best visitor experience. Monitor page load times and make improvements consistently.
Backing Up Your WordPress Site
No site owner wants to worry about losing their hard work. Backups give you peace of mind by allowing you to easily restore your site if disaster strikes.
Let’s properly back up your WordPress site:
- Install UpdraftPlus backup plugin
- Schedule automatic backups to cloud storage
- Download backups to local devices
- Test restoring from backups to confirm
With reliable backups in place, you now have insurance against data loss from security breaches, host outages, accidental deletions, and any other scenario.
Make a habit of manually downloading backups before making major site changes too. That way you can revert back if something breaks along the way.
Securing Your WordPress Site
Security vulnerabilities can lead to hacked sites and tragic data loss. Prevent this outcome by installing a few key plugins:
- iThemes Security – firewall and malware scanner
- Wordfence – blocks attackers and malicious traffic
- Sucuri – malware detection and removal
- Google reCAPTCHA – spam prevention for forms
Reduce risk by keeping WordPress and plugins updated. Never use “admin” for usernames, weak passwords, or outdated extensions.
Harden site security by limiting login attempts, requiring strong passwords, and restricting file permissions.
Learn more WordPress security best practices to lock down your site like Fort Knox. Applying core web security principles will help you sleep easy!
And that wraps up our beginner’s guide to getting up and running with WordPress!
As you can see, WordPress makes building a functional site surprisingly easy thanks to its intuitive UI and ecosystem of themes/plugins.
You’re now set up with a content management system that can power your online presence for years to come. As your needs grow over time, WordPress will scale to match your dreams.