Setting up a WordPress website from scratch

Setting up A WordPress Website From Scratch

What are the essential things you need?

When you’re setting up a WordPress website from scratch, this post shares everything you need to know about the essential things you’ll need. So let’s get going.

$ denotes paid tools, everything else is free.

A word about website templates

If you want a 'template' or 'done for you' site and are considering a GoDaddy, WIX or Weebly site, my recommendation is NOT TO. Go for Squarespace instead. They have lots of gorgeous templates and the functionality is more along the lines of WordPress than these others I’ve mentioned.

The Key things you need to set up your website

DOMAIN

$$ Namecheap.com
Great site where you can buy your domain name and connect it up to your server really easily.

HOSTING

$$ Siteground.com
Fabulous ultra secure, fast hosting, with great customer service, access to the CPanel (the proper back end of your site where the files are housed), easy to connect up to your domain, and a free WordPress installer and plugin which takes you step by step through the setup process.

PLATFORM

WordPress.org The ultimate blank canvas for anyone wanting full control and unlimited creativity. FREE forever, you just need to make sure you have your own hosting organised. (This is different to WordPress.com which you pay for and includes hosting.)

SET UP

Whatsmydns
Allows you to check that your site has been ‘propagated’ – watch in real time as your new site is picked up by core servers across the globe, it’s really cool!

WORDPRESS THEME AND PAGE BUILDER

$$ Astra Pro
This is down to your own personal preference, and there are thousands of free and paid themes. I happen to love this one!

$$ Elementor
This is a drag and drop page builder and I LOVE it! So easy to use and the paid version has so much cool stuff.

ESSENTIAL STARTER PLUGINS

What the heck is a plugin?

A plugin is a component of software which adds a specific feature to your WordPress site. WordPress plugins can be found at https://engb.wordpress.org/plugins/ and at the time of writing there are over 55,000 to choose from!

WHEN YOU ARE BUILDING YOUR SITE BUT DON’T WANT PEOPLE TO SEE IT YET!!
Seedprod
Enables you to create a simple ‘Coming Soon’ page, should anyone stumble across your brand new site; it’s a customisable cover which hides the real website behind it. Really cool.

SECURITY
Wordfence
The best security plugin, with anti-virus, firewall and malware scanning. Easy to set up, and anytime there’s an issue (for example a plugin needs updating) it will email you.

SITE BACKUP
Updraft Plus
Automatically backs up your site to your G Drive or other place of your choice (though remember to delete earlier backups or your GDrive will soon fill up.) Again, essential for any potential problems when you may need to restore your site. DO NOT rely solely on your hosting for this. Siteground is excellent but this is recommended for a ‘belt and braces’ approach. Note: At the time of writing you cannot back up to the iCloud.

COOKIES
Cookie Notice
An easy to customise standard cookie notice plugin which is 100% essential for websites collecting ANY data from EU visitors.

Search Engine Optimisation 
Yoast Plugin
Yoast offers lots of free tips and suggestions for SEO as well as a ‘traffic light’ system for your content. This is what people can get hung up about. A red or amber light does not mean your content sucks! It’s just a pointer!

ANALYTICS
Monster Analytics
Better than Google in my opinion (though you still need to connect it to your GSuite console) it provides a lovely little dashboard overview of your analytics

BONUS STUFF FOR NOSY PEOPLE LIKE ME

Whois
You can enter a domain name and it will tell you all of the details of the site -who it’s registered to and so on. So if you DON’T want people to see your home address, ensure you have a WHOIS guard set up (you can organise this easily and for free through your Siteground hosting.)

Isitwp
If you see a cool website that you really like, you can enter the domain into this site and it will tell you whether it has been built in WordPress, and also the theme and plugins used, giving you a bit of a leg up, and some inspiration. I use it regularly!

Now You know the essentials for your new WordPress website

If you break down a site into its components you’ll soon see that it starts with domain – host – platform.
We then add in the theme and plugins. Once they are in place you can start adding in content. That’s the fun part!

If you need a new website but don’t want the hassle of doing it yourself, let me design and build your site for you – the way you want it, at an affordable price. I’ll even train you to keep it up to date, boosting your tech skills and your confidence (or I can manage it for you).

Read my post on why it is so important to have a website

Check out my web design services here.

Jackie Salmon

About the author

Jackie Salmon is a freelance web designer & virtual assistant based in Northumberland, England. She offers website design, Mailchimp and online content support & training for people who help people.

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