Creating Your First WordPress Site
1. Why Use WordPress?
From the endless options for publishing online, we use and recommend a self-hosted WordPress site because it's the best open-source option for independently publishing, owning and controlling what you share online.
WordPress is free, easy to use, secure, open source, independent, scalable, powerful, versitile, maintained and well supported.
The official mission statement of WordPress reads as follows:
"WordPress is software designed for everyone, emphasizing accessibility, performance, security, and ease of use. We believe great software should work with minimum set up, so you can focus on sharing your story, product, or services freely. The basic WordPress software is simple and predictable so you can easily get started. It also offers powerful features for growth and success." —WordPress.org
2. WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
It's crucial to understand the difference between a WordPress.com site and a self hosted WordPress.org site. If you're just getting started, make sure to watch this before setting up your first WordPress site. We strongly recommend using a self-hosted WordPress.org site that you own and control.
3. WordPress Security
Keeping your site secure is not the most sexy topic, but hugely important. The best option is to avoid the frustrations of having your site get hacked. In this section I explain how WordPress sites get compromised and I share the 10 most important tips for keeping your site safe.
4. Your WordPress Stack
When we talk about the WordPress Stack, we're referring to the different pieces you'll combine to create the site that you need. Like the ingredients of a cake you bake, these pieces will include your hosting provider, the core WordPress files, the theme you use, the plugins you install and any other related add-ons you might want to use to create what you need.
We highly recommend making sure to keep your stack simple and premium. In other words, don't overcomplicate things and make sure to use service providers, themes and plugins that are reliable, effective and well maintained. Rather pay a bit extra for premium options (hosting, themes and plugins). It's tempting to rely purely on free options, but from our experience, this usually ends up being a lot more expensive down the road — the cost being time, money and frustration.
A blank self-hosted WordPress site will need the following:
Setting up these initial requirements, will result in a fully functional self-hosted WordPress site ready for you to publish content to.
Keep reading as we cover all three of these initial requirements in more detail.
5. WordPress Hosting
We recommend using a reliable web host that provides everything you need to host a WordPress site and that offers great customer support.
We strongly recommend the following providers — we've had a great experience using both of these providers:
Beware of Super Cheap Hosting Providers: You will always find cheaper hosting providers, but from our experience you get what you pay for. What we've often experienced has been unreliable hosting combined with terrible customer support, which ends up being really frustrating combination. Some hosts might also lock you into their platform.
6. Domain Name Registration
There are many domain registrars that will let you register your domain name for a small annual fee.
We use and highly recommend Dreamhost. If you sign up for your hosting plan with Dreamhost, then you'll be able to register your domain name free of charge for the first year.
Make sure to choose a domain name that is descriptive, fairly short and memorable. A .com name is usually desirable, but if you're operating are limited to a specific country, then consider registering the region specific extension — for example .co.za for South Africa, .de for Germany, .co.uk for the United Kingdom, etc. And if you're setting up an organisation, then register .org (International), or .org.za (South Africa), etc.
There are countless other domain name extensions to choose from, as long as the domain name applies to your brand.
Beware of Cheap Domain Registrars: You don't want to use an unreliable domain registrar, as your domain name will become one of your most valuable online assets that you do not want to loose control of.
7. WordPress Installation
Once you've signed up for your hosting plan and registered your domain name, you will need to install WordPress. Like many other hosting companies, Dreamhost offers the simple 1-Click WordPress Installer which is really simple to use.