Whether you find it easy or difficult to build a website using WordPress will really depend on your experience with web design. It may also depend on your experience the last time you used WordPress. Luckily, WordPress is constantly being updated and improved. In fact, if you’re a beginner there is good news because you don’t have to do as much coding these days. Here are some techniques you can use to build your amateur or advanced WordPress site:
1) Review. WordPress provides an orientation in the “Where to Start” section of its Codex, the official shared resource. You should familiarize yourself with the basics and create an outline of your whole site, including how to go back and forth between pages and directories.
There are some useful tutorials with which to brush up on your skills or go over specific pointers. Taking this step first will help your efforts and organization down the road.
2) Basic web set-up. If you want to replace the generic WordPress domain with your own, you’ll need to purchase a new domain and a WordPress hosting account. You’ll also need to download and install the basic WordPress set-up.
3) WordPress tutorials. Because WordPress is used by so many people there are lots of free tutorials on how to design your first website. Our WordPress walkthrough series includes ten videos about how you can use WordPress to design, build, and market your website.
4) Themes. Even if you’ve used WordPress before, it never hurts to practice customizing themes. The Theme Foundry, which offers tips, suggests starting with a “child theme,” which means you can make basic modifications to a page but keep the original elements.
Once you are ready to try other themes, you can browse the official directory or search for feedback from active users. CreativeBloq.com identifies 42 favorite free themes, including Arcade, which helps you program responsive design; Appliance, which creates a series of small panels to display your data rather than a vertical listing; and BigSquare, which offers a large dominant photo on the main page of your site.
5) Plug-ins. As of mid-June 2015, there were more than 38,350 plug-ins in the official directory. Plugins allow you to customize functions and add features to make your website unique to your business and ensure efficient performance.
6) SEO focus. The best SEO WordPress practices of 2015 are different than previous years simply because Google regularly updates what it likes and dislikes on the pages that it indexes. WordPress pages should have code and plug-ins that are modernized to the latest SEO standards, including properly written headings and metatags, and the avoidance of default permalinks (use Pretty Permalinks instead).
Text and photos also should be unique and original with proper heading tags. Noncompliance of white-hat (good) SEO practices can get you banned from Google or result in a loss of ranking.
7) Security. You don’t have to be a major retailer, film studio or government agency to be targeted by hackers. Even a hobby site, blog or small store should include protection to keep your pages from being damaged or having your data stolen.
Fortunately, security is also vital to members of the WordPress community, who regularly discuss products that can block or hinder unwanted hacker attacks. Wordfence, Bulletproof, Simple Firewall , and iThemes Security are all mentioned as helpful tools.
8) E-commerce. WP Explorer recommends combining themes and plug-ins, especially Woocommerce and WooE-commerce, to create a super shop. This will allow you to display products and receive payment, so you’ll also need to determine how your customers can pay and then provide a processing service (like PayPal).
9) Analytics. Google Analytics is still the gold standard for measuring interactions and activity. But making sure it works perfectly with your site isn’t as easy as just inputting the tracking code.
There are a variety of analytic plug-ins available to make sure that Google is properly configured. WordPress.org recommends Google Analytics by Yoast, which tracks your blog to measure many aspects of visitor behavior.
10) Social media. Even if you are not enamored with Twitter or Facebook, your site visitors will be. And if they want to tell people how great your site is or share one of your product pages, why not help them? It’s free advertising for you! Social media plug-ins make it easy for people to share your website and blog with friends.
According to Trovatten, Share Bar, Optin Skin, and Subscribe to Comments were three of the most powerful social-related plug-ins last year. Give them a try and see which works best for you!
WordPress doesn’t tell or guide you how to design your site—it just provides a big digital toolbox. And as a beginner, pre-built themes, plug-ins, and tutorials will enable you to easily design a stylish and functional website.