WordPress is the world’s leading content management system (CMS) platform with more than 75 million websites. Businesses choose WordPress because of its vast customization options, making it suitable for nearly any company. It works for small businesses just starting out as well as large, internationally recognized companies. Building a site with WordPress no longer requires technical experience or coding knowledge, but it does involve a handful of steps, so follow along.
Here is how to make a WordPress website in 10 steps:
1. Get Web Hosting
Before you begin designing your WordPress website, you need to purchase web hosting. All WordPress.org websites require third-party web hosting to connect a custom domain name and be available online. By starting with web hosting, you can save money by getting a free domain name, a free SSL certificate, and free business email, and you can save time with one-click WordPress installation that eliminates the need to connect your domain manually to WordPress.
Here are the top web hosting companies:
- Bluehost: Best low-cost, feature-rich web hosting provider that includes everything you need to build a new website for under $3 per month (with a long-term plan).
- DreamHost: Best web hosting provider for those who want fast and reliable web hosting without a commitment or contract.
- HostGator: Best affordable web hosting provider for those building media-heavy sites as plans come with unlimited storage and bandwidth.
Want more help finding the right web host for you? Check out the best web hosting companies.
2. Get a Domain Name
Next, get a domain name, or web address, such as www.yourbusiness.com, to connect to your WordPress website. If you purchased a web hosting plan that includes a free domain name, you will be prompted to select a domain name through your web hosting provider. If you already have web hosting but need a domain name, purchase one through a domain name registrar like GoDaddy or get one free from your web hosting plan.
Here are a few tips to choosing a domain name:
- Keep it short
- Consider different domain extensions
- Add your location or keyword to your domain
Having trouble finding an available domain name? It’s not easy, and if you need help, get more tips on choosing a domain name.
3. Install WordPress
With web hosting and a domain name, the next step is to install WordPress or, in other words, to connect your web host and domain to WordPress. All of the top web hosting providers offer a simple one-click WordPress installation tool that connects your hosting and domain to WordPress automatically. To use this, navigate to your web hosting dashboard and find the “one-click WordPress installation” tool. This will bring you to your WordPress dashboard.
Get the step-by-step details on how to install WordPress from your web host:
4. Choose & Install a Theme
WordPress themes serve as website templates, providing users with a fully designed site that can be updated and customized easily. It’s important to choose a theme that best matches not only how you want your site to look, but how you want it to function, including unique integrations and tools that serve certain website goals or business types. Themes are available directly from WordPress as well as from third-party providers.
Installing a Free Theme From WordPress
Shortcut: From your WordPress dashboard: Appearance > Themes > Install > Activate
A number of themes are available directly from WordPress. The free themes tend to be fairly basic in terms of design and features, so they are best for businesses building a simple website or those that have experience building a WordPress website. To find and install a theme, navigate to “Appearance” from the left-hand menu on your WordPress admin dashboard and click “Themes.” Once you have found a suitable theme, click “Install” and then “Activate.”
Installing a Premium Third-party Theme
Shortcut: Download Theme > WordPress Dashboard > Appearance > Themes > Upload > Upload Theme > Choose File > Install > Activate
Many people find the small upfront cost of a premium theme to be well worth the price, as it not only helps ensure your site looks and functions well, but it also helps reduce the amount of time it takes to make a WordPress site if you choose a theme that comes with everything your site needs, whether that’s built-in event calendars, an online booking or reservation system, or the ability to list, manage, and sell products online.
To find and install a third-party theme, use a platform, such as ThemeForest, that has hundreds of custom-built themes available covering nearly any design and any use case from law firms to education themes, to fitness centers and hotels. From a third-party theme provider, you can purchase and download the theme of your choice.
After downloading your third-party theme, go to your WordPress dashboard. Navigate to “Appearance” from the left-hand menu, click “Themes,” and from the themes page, click the “Upload” button at the top of the page. Click the “Upload Theme” button, select your downloaded theme from your files, and click “Install Now.” When it has finished installing, click “Activate.”
5. Find & Install Plugins
Shortcut: Plugins > Add New > Install Now > Activate
The next foundational step before designing your site is to install WordPress plugins, which give a website additional functionalities for everything from added security and search engine optimization (SEO) to the ability to sell tickets to events. No matter which type of business website you’re building, there are plugins you should use—and the good news is that most are available for free.
Here are seven plugins every business website should use:
- Akismet: This is a security plugin that helps reduce spam―something all websites are susceptible to and, therefore, need to work to protect against.
- Jetpack: One of the most used plugins, Jetpack is a WordPress toolkit plugin that includes a breadth of features from web design to added security and site analytics.
- Yoast SEO: Build your site so that it not only gets found in search but ranks highly. This plugin helps take the guesswork out of SEO and gives users a way to create sites easily that are optimized for search.
- Google XML Sitemap: This plugin creates a Google sitemap so that Google can scan, read, and understand your site’s content more easily, enabling it to get found in search.
- Elementor Page Builder: If you want to easily create a professional-looking website, use a drag-and-drop site builder plugin, such as Elementor.
- WP Super Cache: A fast way to lose site visitors is by having a site that doesn’t load quickly enough. This plugin helps avoid this and ensures your site has a fast load time.
- WPForms: Every WordPress website should include a contact form of sorts, and it can be difficult to build a form without coding, so there are contact form plugins, such as WPForms, which make it easy for anyone to create a form.
To find and install plugins, find “Plugins” from the left-hand menu on the WordPress dashboard, and select “Add New.” Browse or search for your desired plugins. After finding the plugin you want to install, click the corresponding “Install Now” button, and then click “Activate.”
6. Add & Customize Pages
Shortcut: Pages > Add Pages > Edit with Elementor
Websites are the culmination of individual web pages. These include your homepage and pages such as products or services, about us, and contact us. Each page is created individually. Add a new web page for each of the pages you want your site to consist of. To do this, navigate to “Pages” from the left-hand menu and select “Add Pages.”
Optional: Build out pages easily by clicking “Edit with Elementor” for those who installed the drag-and-drop site editor plugin.
Learn about how to strategically design your site for user experience (UX) so that your site serves as a marketing tool for your business. Check out these nine UX web design principles to improve your site.
7. Build Navigation & Menus
Shortcut: Appearance > Menus > Select “Main Menu” from drop-down > Drag and drop pages to menu > Save Menu
Next, customize your site’s menus, which serve as its navigation. Traditionally, menus appear in both the header and footer of a website so that site visitors can navigate around a site whether they are at the top or the bottom of any given webpage. To create your menus, go to “Appearance,” click on “Menus,” and select “Main Menu” from the drop-down menu. From there, you can drag, drop, and reorder your menu to suit your business website.
Note: Not all templates enable users to customize the design of site navigation. If you wish to change your theme’s navigation but it does not allow for it, then you will need to install a new theme that matches the navigation style you’re looking for or choose one that allows for customizations.
8. Customize Your Header & Footer
Shortcut: Appearance > Header > Edit Settings
Using Elementor: Templates > Theme Builder > Header > Add New > Select “Header” from the drop-down and select “Create Template”
9. Prepare Your Site to Launch
As tempted as you may be to go ahead and get your new site live, it’s important to do your due diligence and ensure your site is ready to go live. To do this, run through the site checking for any grammatical errors, design inconsistencies (like color variations outside the color scheme or random fonts), check all links, create a 404 page, test your site on different device types, and double-check that your site is optimized for search.
Here are seven things to do to prepare your site to launch:
- Proofread every page of the site
- Check for missing or broken links
- Create a 404 redirect page
- Check that the site is responsive
- Use the Yoast SEO tool to ensure your site is optimized for search
- Secure your site with an SSL certificate
- Set up a lead generation form
10. Go Live
Shortcut: Pages > Publish
Once you have built your site and prepared it for launch, it’s time to go live. To do that, navigate to your pages and click the “Publish” button for each. This will trigger your site to go live. You can confirm this by typing in your URL to see your site online. Even after your site has successfully been launched, your work isn’t over. Now is the time to submit your website to be indexed by Google, create social pages such as a Google My Business page, schedule site backups, market and promote your site, and create a content calendar.
Here are five things to do after publishing your WordPress website:
- Submit your site to be indexed by the Google Search Console
- Create social pages like Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook Business Page
- Safeguard your site by scheduling website backups
- Get traffic by marketing your website
- Create a content calendar
The most important thing to do after your site is launched is to market it so your site actually gets traffic or visitors. Follow these easy website marketing strategies to start generating traffic.
5 WordPress Website Examples
Need some design ideas and features inspiration? Looking at examples is a good way to get ideas that you can apply to your WordPress site to build not only a beautiful-looking site, but one that serves as a marketing tool to build awareness, generate leads, and drive sales.
Here are five examples of WordPress websites and what they can do to promote a business.
Looking for more design ideas and inspiration? Get the full list of WordPress tips and tricks.
WordPress isn’t the only option when it comes to building a business website, and it’s definitely not the easiest. It’s worth taking the time to determine if WordPress is the best fit for your business and website needs. For example, those who have not built a WordPress site who are looking for a fast and painless way of getting a site up quickly may want to consider all-in-one site builders like Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, or GoDaddy. On the other hand, if you’re not new to web design, consider Joomla.
In the past, site builders were not as SEO-friendly as WordPress, and therefore many believed WordPress reigned supreme. Now, however, site builders are designed to get found in search, so not only are they far easier to build a website with, but they also get found in search. Learn more about the best WordPress alternatives to easily build your site.
How Much Does WordPress Cost?
WordPress is a free CMS, though that does not mean there are no costs involved with building and maintaining a WordPress website—even if you make it yourself. Those looking to make a WordPress website for professional use will need to get web hosting ($3 to $10 per month), a custom domain name ($12 to $15 per year), a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate, and for many, a premium theme, premium plugins, and even development of custom code.
Here are the costs involved with building and managing a WordPress website:
- Web hosting (approximately $3 to $10 per month)
- Domain name (approximately $12 to $15 per year)
- Premium theme (approximately $20 to $80)
- Premium plugins (approximately $5 to $15 per month)
How much a WordPress website will cost varies greatly from business to business. The largest factor in cost is whether or not the site is built in-house or built by a web designer. A professionally designed site could cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a simple website to tens of thousands of dollars for a complex and highly customized site with unique functionality. We’ve created a breakdown of how much WordPress sites cost.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which is better: WordPress or Squarespace?
You might be wondering whether you really need to build a site with WordPress or if Squarespace will be sufficient. If you’re looking for a headache-free way of building a site affordably and quickly, then consider using Squarespace. Like WordPress, it can be optimized for search, and it’s one of the easiest ways to build just about any type of site. Check out the complete comparison on Squarespace vs WordPress.
What’s the best WordPress drag & drop page builder plugin?
With so many drag-and-drop site builders suddenly available, it can be difficult to choose one. To help, the overall best include Elementor, WP Bakery, and Beaver Builder. Before installing a page builder plugin, be sure that it’s compatible with your theme, as some themes—especially premium themes—are designed to be used with certain page builder plugins and therefore are not compatible with all plugins. Read more about the best WordPress website builders.
What is SEO & how do I use it to get traffic to my WordPress site?
SEO is short for search engine optimization, which is the process of building a website strategically so that it ranks in search. If you have a site that you want to get found in search, such as Google, then you should use SEO. There are a number of SEO practices, from using keywords correctly within a site, its pages, posts, and images to building links with authoritative sites. Learn more about how to rank higher on Google.