A Beginners Guide: How To Create a Killer WordPress Site Part Two

In our last post, A Beginner’s Guide: How To Create a Killer WordPress Site, we discussed how to start a WordPress site and the best way to run it. Today we’re going into Part Two. We’ll focus on how to setup a domain, maintain one and how to choose a theme and plugins. We’ll also get into the specific pages that everyone should have on any website. Let’s get started, shall we?

HOW TO SETUP A DOMAIN
The domain needs to direct users to the hosting provider. This way when someone accesses it through their browser, they are directed to the appropriate server. This is often down with nameservers, also known as account DNS. You have to log into the website that you registered your domain with and change the nameservers for said domain. With Media Temple, you are able to add nameservers with a simple form.

WEBSITES AND DOMAINS
With a managed WordPress site, you might be confused by how to add a website to your host. Let’s take a look at the difference between websites and domains. With a new WordPress site you can most likely add multiple websites. You’ll be asked the name of the WordPress installation and your user details. Once the website is created, it can be reached through a subdomain. This allows you to fully set up the website without even owning a domain.

Just make sure that you set the nameservers of your domain to the nameservers of your host. This makes it so users are routed to the correct website when accessing the domain.

You should be able to install WordPress by filling out a simple form. You might be able to add any number of WordPress installations to your account.

WORDPRESS WOES
It’s time to focus on how to set up an actual website from within WordPress. Granted there are people who dislike WordPress for various reasons, like bad security, a theme that isn’t working or a slow website. In reality, WordPress is a great system. This theory of poor security, slow pages or a bad user interface is due to poorly coded plugins and themes.

As a result, the theme ad plugins you choose are important. Therefore you have to make sure you look for a theme and plugin with good reviews, a large user base and an active development team.

HOW TO CHOOSE A THEME AND PLUGINS
It can be difficult to choose a theme. Plugins are typically more specific: you install one in order to perform a single task. Themes simply add the visuals for the front page – though testing them can be more complex.

A theme has parts you might not think of testing. Like the archives, search page, etc. In addition, some themes have a lot of features. It’s important to know that code quality affects the speed of your website and the design. Whether or not you need a plugin depends on the type of website you have (personal blog, store, forum, etc). These work in conjunction with your theme and the backend of WordPress in order to provide specific functionality.

HOW TO SELECT A THEME
Once you choose your plugins, it doesn’t hurt to add some content to the backend. Doing so will help you gauge the theme. One limitation is that you won’t know the capabilities of plugins. Which makes testing nearly impossible. So, if you’re new to WordPress or a particular plugin, always test it with a default theme, like Twenty Fifteen. Twenty Fifteen is a minimal theme that WordPress codes itself. It also supports all plugins.

Not all features will look perfect, but functionality-wise you will be able to test everything. Once you understand the theme and the plugin, you can choose a different theme and test theme. Keep note of ay missing functionality and any unstyled elements. Just remember, that there is no such thing as a perfect theme.

Get a theme that is close enough to what you want. Then tweak it using settings and plugins. You can always switch themes or find a new one later.

The basics for a good theme are:

  • good design, including strong readability and easy navigation
  • solid, secure and speedy code
  • compatibility with the latest version of WordPress
  • active development
  • compatibility with popular plugins
  • support and documentation

PREMIUM AND FREE THEMES
You can find amazing (and awful) themes in both categories. In many cases, the quality of a premium theme is easier. If you’d like to look at some premium theme marketplaces, here are some popular ones:

ESSENTIAL PLUGINS

Below you’ll find some great plugins that many WordPress users install.

ALL IN ONE SEO PACK
You can optimize your content to maximize search engines, but you’ll need an SEO plugin and the All in One SEO Pack is a great choice.

Once it’s installed, you can set a lot of meta information for your website and for individual posts. You’ll be able to preview how a page looks in Google results and various other important bits and pieces as far as optimized content goes.

DROPBOX BACKUP AND RESTORE
Backup and restore is a huge part of your security efforts. Dropbox Backup & Restore  does this for you. It creates a full backup of all your files and your database. Which can be done either locally or to Dropbox. Whatever backup solution you choose, make sure that your backups are stored off the server.

There are thousands of plugins, therefore it pays to try new things and keep your eyes open. Look at reviews, the latest release date, the developer’s website, documentation and the product itself to gauge whether one is right for you. And don’t forget: You can change a plugin any time if you aren’t happy!

KEEP WORDPRESS SECURE
We’ve covered a lot, as far as backups and security plugins. Since hackers typically look for common flaws that are easy to exploit, it’s important to follow these simple rules:

  1. Always keep WordPress and plugins and themes up to date.
  2. Always use strong passwords and change them every few months.

ESSENTIAL PAGES
Now that everything is setup, it’s time to add some content. Naturally, what you add is up to you. However there are a few essential pages that every website should have – no matter what.

  • Home Page – The home page can be difficult to make. WordPress allows you to create a static page or a dynamic page. The default is a dynamic page that lists your ten most recent posts.
  • About Page – There’s typically an “About” page on all websites. For a personal website or blog, use it to tell your story. It allows users to get to know you. For a corporate website, it would contain more information about the company. Don’t underestimate the power of this page.
  • Contact Page – If you want people to reach you, then a contact page is the best way to go.

Creating the perfect website is not an easy task, nor is it a done deal. The perfect website requires time and continual work to keep it that way. You can always find something that needs optimization and there will be security issues to worry about as well. Don’t panic if you don’t have everything in place to make your website perfect. Start out as best you can. Above all, a perfect website requires time and experience.

About the Author

Danielle is a content writer/manager, coffee enthusiast and love of all things digital.