So you’re wanting to build a website with WordPress, but you’re not sure exactly how to get started, or which route to take as nowadays there is a lot to choose from between building a personal blog site, a company website for your business or an online store where you can sell your products or services.
In this free WordPress tutorial we plan to help you with a step by step tutorial on making the right decisions for you or your business, and to choose the best platform to suit the website you are wanting to build.
While this post will contains some affiliate links, besides these links giving you some great ‘starter deals’ or signup discounts on the recommended products, we promise to only provide the best recommendations to the best of our 16+ years experience and will only give you honest, reliable resources to get your website up and running in no time.
As we go, we’ll also explain all the costs involved when setting up your website and provide honest opinions for if we recommend you use a pro version of the plugins we recommend, or if you’ll be fine with simply using the free version… Because most plugins out there offer a free version and will try to get you to upgrade to their pro version by limiting the functionality needed.
If there’s anything you’re unsure of during this “How to build a website with WordPress” tutorial, or there is something we have not explained clearly enough, please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice.
Choosing the right website platform
There is a lot to choose from ! Let us help you decide… Read more on the different platforms available and why we recommend the WordPress.org self-hosted solution above the rest.
Depending on the website you are building, there are quite a few well-known CMS systems out there to choose from, below are some reasons and links on the different options available, with a short description on how they work and roughly what you’ll pay.
WordPress.org: (The one we recommend)
WordPress.org is a self-hosted solution which is the most cost effective and scalable solution, you can build anything from a personal blog to a full online store and lots more. Over 30% of the internet is built with this CMS… That says a lot!
A lot of people will say “To build a website with WordPress is free”, but that’s not entirely true!
Pricing: While the CMS system itself is completely free, you will need to pay for WordPress hosting, and a theme or plugin pro versions if you need them. Using our guide you can get away with spending roughly around $25 per month for your website.
Shopify, Squarespace, Wix, & WordPress.com:
While these systems are easy to use and offer good solutions for building a very basic website… The main reason we suggest WordPress.org self-hosted CMS is because of the costs involved getting set up, costs of running the website, and the scalability of the platform as your business grows and so your website will change with it.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com – WordPress.com costs start at $25+ per month excluding plugins.
WordPress VS Squarespace – Squarespace costs start at $18+ per month + other costs.
WordPress vs Shopify – Shopify costs start at $29+ per month, including 2% transaction fees.
Costs mentioned above are for starting a normal website for you or your business.
Follow our tutorial below and we’ll help you with the WordPress.org way of doing it… The best way to build a website!Kairaweb.com
Paying a developer to build a custom website:
If you’ve got a big budget and need a very custom solution then we recommend finding a good developer to work with that can build you a custom solution… But nowadays you can build anything on the WordPress.org CMS so we recommend finding a good WordPress developer and getting them to build a website with WordPress.
Pricing: Much more expensive.
Right! Lets get started with
“how to build a website with WordPress”!
Step 1: Domain Name and WordPress Hosting:
The first step in getting everything set up is to decide on a domain name that fits you or your business… This is important because it’s a name you will give out and explain to clients or customers all the time… It’s the address of where your website will live.
Once you’ve chosen the name, next is to choose a hosting provider that will host your website on the internet.
With over 14 years of experience in the website business and after dealing with many hosting providers, we only recommend the companies where we’ve had a good experience with from start to finish, and hosting companies that offer support that gets back to you in a timely manner with experienced help.
We recommend one of the 2 following hosting providers:
Nexcess offer great hosting designed for WordPress & WooCommerce at great prices. Their support team is also available to help 24 hours, 7 days a week. We highly recommend Nexcess.
– Free SSL Certificates
– Handled WP & Plugin updates
– Free website migration
– Super Fast Speeds
– Enhanced Security
– Free Nexcess CDN included
– Email Included
– Caching & Daily Backups included
Price: Starting from $19 per month
Cloudways is another top recommendation for all websites, it offers a flexible hosting solution, backed by 24 / 7 support that are there to help. Use the coupon KAIRA to get 20% off your first 2 months.
– Free Trial
– Free SSL Certificates
– Automated Backups
– CDN Add-on
– Free website migration
– Free WordPress Cache Plugin
– Unlimited WordPress Installs
– Regular Security Patching
Price: From $10 per month
Use our promo code KAIRA to get 20% off for the first 2 months.
These WordPress hosts all offer free SSL certificates, meaning your website will be secure… This is a requirement from Google as of January 2017.
Lets say you go with Nexcess hosting, so far the cost of your website is $19 per month.
You can go with cheaper hosting such as Bluehost for around $3.95/month, and they are also a great hosting company, but this price might not include email and other certain features, which will increase the cost after you’ve started… So please be sure to check all the features you want are included.
Domain name and hosting sorted ✅
Step 2: Install WordPress & setup the basics:
Next step is to install WordPress which should be pretty straight forward with either of the above hosting providers.
GreenGeeks and Cloudways both have a step by step process where they clearly explain how to install WordPress on your domain… With their intuitive, easy to use control panels, you shouldn’t have any issues getting WordPress set up, because they’ve made it easy by tailoring their hosting plans to suit WordPress users.
If you’re still unsure how to install WordPress or if there’s anything you’re unsure of during the setup process, we recommend contacting your chosen hosting providers support team and they will assist you in getting WordPress up and running.
You can also contact us if you need help on this part of the process and we will help you as quick as we can.
Once that’s done you can go to your domain /wp-admin/ to login to your newly set up WordPress Dashboard:
If you username is admin, and your password is something easy, we recommend changing these to something more complicated, simply because admin is the most used username so hackers already had half the details required to sign in. Making these details more complicated is a recommended tip to ensure your website is not hacked.
Login to your website.
Now you will be in your WordPress Dashboard where you can setup Pages, Posts, add WordPress plugins, customize your website design and more.
WordPress is basically made up of 3 parts… The core Content Management System (CMS) that is WordPress, used to manage your content… WordPress themes which makes up the design and overall look of your website… and WordPress Plugins which are extensions of functionality that can be added on to your site, we’ll go more in-depth on this when we get to the plugins section.
First step we recommend doing, to make your site use what is called “pretty urls”.
Navigate to Settings -> Permalinks and change the Permalink Structure to use Post Name.
This will change your site urls to be neat, easily readable urls which are better for users to see and/or remember, and better for Google to index.
Next… Let’s choose a WordPress theme:
Step 3: Choosing a WordPress theme:
In your WordPress Dashboard, navigate to Appearance -> Themes and there you will see the currently installed themes which come default with WordPress.
In this tutorial we will help you set up a website using our latest WordPress theme called Elation, it’s a fully customizable WordPress theme which is great for most websites, with a big focus on speed and performance, Elation is lightweight and fast loading, and offers lots of design layouts and customization settings to create a professional, great looking website.
Navigate to Appearance -> Themes -> Add New and search for Elation in the search bar, and then click Install (wait for it to finish installing) and then Activate the Elation theme.
A great thing about the Elation WordPress theme is that all the settings are built into the WordPress Customizer, so you can change and edit settings to see exactly what they do, with Elation you can select between multiple blog and footer layouts, edit website fonts and font sizing, change full site-wide colors and lots, lots more.
Elation makes it super simple to build a website with WordPress!
Watch this video on getting started with the Elation theme and how to navigate around using the theme settings:
Go on!… Customize your header and footer as you want it to look, then later, once you’ve added more content, you can always come back to the Customizer and edit the design settings to change it as you want.
Elation Pro goes for only $29 for 1 year of updates, that is only $2.40 per month, so now your website is only costing $21.40 per month so far.
Next up, we’ll add some pages and more content to the site.
Step 4: Setup your website pages & Add content
This is the harder part… Adding all the content and writing the copy for all your pages, so we’ve got recommendations on making the process of building your pages easier, but the actual content copy and images are all up to you 😁
For building your website pages we recommend 2 main options:
Default Gutenberg Editor:
The default WordPress editor (called Gutenberg) is getting better and better with each update, making it easier and easier to build a website with WordPress.
Elementor Page Builder:
The Elementor Page Builder is far ahead of the default editor, for now, and it offers a lot of very useful functionality for building a professional website.
Another reason we recommend the Elation Pro WordPress theme is because it also offers a bunch of Elementor page layouts that you can import and use as a starting point for each page.
We, at Kaira, have an Elementor Expert license because we use Elementor for most of our projects we build, but we also use the Gutenberg editor too, so we jump between the 2 depending on how complex the page or post needs to be.
We use the default editor and the Blockons blocks plugin for the blog posts and simple layouts, and then we use Elementor (Pro) for the more complex layouts with scroll & load animations, and also because Elementor Pro offers the following features which are useful for building pages.
Top reasons we use Elementor Pro:
- It’s a great Page Builder and it makes building your website pages very quick and easy.
- It comes with lots of Page layouts and sections that you can import and use as a starting point.
- Using Elementor Pro reduces the need for lots of other plugins as it has pretty much everything you’ll need to build your site.
- Again reduces the need for lots of plugins so you have less chance of errors from plugin conflicts or slower loading times.
- It offers contact forms, sliders, image galleries, site popups and lots, lots more… See the features below:
– Popup Builder
– Full Motion Effects
– Site Form Builder
– Image Galleries, Carousels & Sliders, Action links, Countdown widgets and lots more
– Fully Customizable Posts Widget
– Integrations with top marketing automation and CRM services.
– Advanced Social Integrations (Share Buttons, Facebook Comments, etc)
Those are just some of the extra features, you get a lot more for only $49 per year.
If you purchase Elementor Pro too, now your monthly cost to build a website with WordPress is only $25.48.
Setting up your website pages:
To start adding pages to your site you can go to Pages -> Add New in your Dashboard, enter the title of the page and click Publish.
We usually start by adding all the basic pages we know the website will have, and you can always come back and add new pages as you need them. Once the basic pages have been added, you can then navigate to Settings -> Reading to set your home page and choose the page to display your blog posts on.
If you want your blog posts to display on your home page, then you can leave the Homepage displays setting as it is.
Otherwise, if you want to build a new home page then set your homepage displays setting to display “A static page” and then set the home page and choose another page to display your blog posts on.
We usually set a different page to be the home page because we will build a new home page using Elementor Pro.
If you are not going to have a blog on your website, then you can simply leave the “Posts page:” as it was, without a page selected.
Now you’re set to go… Add your site content, add new pages if you need, add some blog posts, and once you’re done with the content for your site, lets go to the next step which is adding the plugins that we need, or plugins to improve site performance, speed, run website backups and lots more.
Step 5: Install the needed WordPress plugins:
What is a WordPress plugin?
A WordPress plugin is software that is added to your WordPress website to extend already existing functionality and/or add new features to your WordPress site. A lot of plugins are free, but most of the plugins offered are freemium.
“A business model, especially on the Internet, whereby basic services are provided free of charge while more advanced features must be paid for“Google Dictionary
You don’t always need to purchase the pro version, sometimes you can get away with just using the free version when you build a website with WordPress… Here we will help you with an honest recommendation on whether you can simply use the free version, or if we think the premium version is really worth the purchase for your website.
Where to find the plugins you need:
There are 2 main directories that you can search to find the right plugins to add on the functionality you need.
We recommend first searching WordPress.org as most of those plugins use the freemium model, meaning they will offer a limited free version that you can test out before purchasing the pro version, and lots of the time you may not even need to purchase the pro version.
Or you can search CodeCanyon.net which offers a lot of plugins you can purchase, depending on what you’re needing.
WordPress.org is the biggest directory of WordPress plugins available.
This is where most plugin developers offer a limited free version of their plugin and within the plugin they will prompt you to upgrade to the full pro version for an annual price.
You will receive limited support for the free version & usually better support with the premium version.
CodeCanyon.net is the second biggest or best directory to look for the plugins you need.
These plugin are paid for plugins and do not usually offer a free version.
If the plugin does not work as you expect, you do get support for the product with your purchase or can get a refund if requested through CodeCanyon.
Before trying out or purchasing a plugin, we recommend reading the reviews of other users experiences with the plugin, that way you can gauge if the plugin works well and if the support is responsive to users problems the encounter.
Plugins we highly recommend:
There are a few plugins we highly recommend for your WordPress website we’ve indicated which version you should use:
The Blockons WordPress blocks plugin offers a bunch of advanced blocks for your WordPress editor such as Video Slider, Testimonials, Image Slider or Carousels, Marketing buttons and lots more
It’s really worth trying it out… It also offers some nice Site Addons like a Back to Top button, Page Scroll Indicator & Website Page loader, with the promise of more coming… All for free!
Elementor Page Builder Pro
As mentioned before, we highly recommend Elementor Pro version for building your website pages. Elementor Pro comes with all the elements you need to build your website such as contact forms, maps, sliders, image galleries, site popups and lots more. View Elementor
Premium: $49 per year
WP Mail SMTP
With any website, you need to ensure your emails get to where they are going… WP Mail SMTP will ensure that your site emails are delivered by proper authentication and send via trusted 3rd party mail clients. View WP Mail SMTP
Read more on WP Mail SMTP here.
WordPress SEO Plugin – Rank Math
Rank Math is a powerful WordPress tool to improve you Search Engine Optimization, they make it easy to optimize your content with built in suggestions based on widely-accepted best practices. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of WordPress SEO. View Rank Math
Offers Free & Premium versions
Site Kit by Google
A must have in our opinion… Built by Google, this Site Kit plugin will connect your WordPress Dashboard to Google Analytics, Search Console, Google Ads and more and let you view your stats all from within WordPress. View Site Kit by Google
The Plugin is Free
And for if you’re building an online eCommerce Store:
Building an online store can increase the cost of your website because the business model WooCommerce uses is that the core WooCommerce plugin is completely free, but you pay for WooCommerce extensions depending on what you’re needing.
The most used eCommerce platform in the world… WooCommerce will turn your WordPress website into a full online store in just a few clicks. WooCommerce ecosystem has all the extensions needed for any type of online sales system. View WooCommerce
The Plugin is Free
WooCommerce comes with a lot of built in hooks and filters to customize your WooCommerce store… StoreCustomizer (previously WooCustomizer) lets you edit your store easily from a visual interface, in the WordPress Customizer. Plus it offers extra enhancing functionality for your eCommerce store. View StoreCustomizer
The Plugin is Free… But StoreCustomizer Pro version offers extra advanced WooCommerce functionality for only $29
If you’re looking for a full CRM to capture, organize and engage web visitors with free forms, live chat, full contact management, email marketing, and analytics all built into one, we suggest trying out the HubSpot plugin.
HubSpot’s WordPress plugin provides a ton of marketing value, giving you all of the features you need to grow your site. With HubSpot, capture, organize and engage with web visitors through free forms, live chat, CRM (contact management), email marketing, analytics, and more. It’s free to use — and it’s easy to get started. View HubSpot.
Our list contains all sorts of plugins from site migration to import/exporting WP data to other plugins used to increase sales, etc.
Then depending on what you’re needing exactly, we’ve curated 2 other lists of plugin you will find useful, or Top WooCommerce plugins that will help to drive sales or further enhance your WooCommerce store:
Step 6: Optimize your website for speed & performance:
One of the main steps to improving website loading speed is to reduce the amount of plugins that are added to your website (also one of the reasons we recommend Elementor Pro page builder), and to optimize your images before you upload them.
You can add an image compression plugin to your site which will reduce the image size a lot without losing image quality, but we recommend optimizing all images to the correct size and quality before you upload them to your site.
WP Super Cache
Caching your WordPress website is important, and now very easy, simply install and activate the WP Super Cache plugin built by Automattic (the company who makes WordPress) and let it do the job.
Read more on WordPress Caching here.
The Plugin is Free
WordFence offers a bunch of extra security layers to your website such as WordPress Firewall, security scanner, login security & extra security tools. We use Wordfence on a lot of our WordPress websites. View Wordfence
We don’t usually use an image compression plugin on our sites as we optimize all images before uploading them and then let the caching plugin improve the speed, but if you aren’t optimizing your images before upload then you can use a plugin like Smush to optimize your images.
Smush – Image Optimizer
Optimize your images, turn on lazy load, resize, compress and improve your Google Page Speed with the incredibly powerful Smush Image Optimization plugin.
View Smush – Image Optimizer
Those are all great plugins to get you started… As mentioned, if you find other plugins you think are useful or can add extra, needed functionality… First read the reviews and you decide if the plugin developers are offering a great product and/or good support.
With those recommended plugins, your website price should be around $25 per month!
If you’re building an online store, WooCommerce extensions can cost anywhere from $0 – $249 per year, depending on the extra WooCommerce functionality you’re needing, then your website build will cost you more, but as it’s an online store that is designed and built to make you money, then spending more money on the build shouldn’t be a problem… Think of it as a business expense.
“Setting up a WooCommerce Store”.
WordPress tutorial – Conclusion:
Building a website these days is a lot easier than it used to be, but there are still quite a few speed bumps in building your own site that you might get stuck on… With this online tutorial on how to build a website with WordPress, we’ve hopefully covered the main parts in getting set up and starting your site.
We specialize in building WordPress themes and Plugins and have been in the web industry for over 14 years now… If you’re still unsure or you’d like some advice on any of these steps we’ve gone through in this free WordPress setup guide, – feel free to contact us here.