Running a business in the 21st century comes with certain challenges and requirements. One of them is building and maintaining a website.
When you want to create a solid online presence and grow your endeavor, having a website is simply a necessity that you can’t go without. Among all the options out there, WordPress is the most versatile, reliable, and easy to use.
With WordPress, website development is accessible to individual bloggers, small businesses, and large enterprises alike.
However, even if you do not intend to build a WordPress website from scratch yourself, having basic knowledge of the nitty-gritty will help you better understand your web needs and how to achieve them.
Our WordPress website development step-by-step guide provides everything you need to know, so read on and keep notes.
Why Choose WordPress?
In the beginning of your website creation adventure, you have to choose a platform for your website. Some of the most popular options include using a simple website builder, going for a CMS, or relying on tech-savvy people to build your website from scratch using custom code.
As a WordPress agency, of course, we recommend relying on WordPress. While one might say that we are biased, WP is indeed the best choice – it powers 42.9% of all the websites in the world, that’s almost half the digital population. One simply can’t argue with the numbers.
However, there’s a reason why WordPress is the most popular content management system – it allows you to both use ready to install plugins and themes, and make entirely custom websites. This makes it equally awesome for beginners and professionals alike.
No matter what type of business you’re running, WordPress can help out – SaaS products, eCommerce shops, affiliate marketing, digital publications, blogging, real estate, drop-shipping – you name it. With WordPress, your options are limitless – everything you want for your website, you can have.
In financial terms, the cost to develop a WordPress website ranges from $100 to $100,000+ depending on the functionality and specifications you want.
Naturally, doing everything on your own costs less. However, you need to ask yourself if you will be able to achieve the same results, compared to outsourcing the creation and development of your site to specialists. (Hint: Unless you want a basic, simple solution – you can’t.)
Even though the initial investment might seem like a lot, the end product will guarantee a competitive advantage, and a website that doesn’t crash under heavy traffic. Ultimately, the success or failure of your endeavors depends entirely on your budget, business planning, and website strategy.
Here are some more facts that prove WordPress is the best option to create your website:
- 65.2% of all websites using a CMS are powered by WordPress.
- In 2022, 42.9% of all websites on the internet use WordPress.
- WordPress powers 30.3% of the top 1000 websites.
- WordPress is the best CMS for SEO, with Google SERP sharing 45%.
- WordPress offers almost 60,000 unique plugins.
If these stats are still not enough for you to make your mind, consider this:
WordPress is open-source and 100% free to use. This makes it an ideal choice for new or small businesses with tight budgets. It is highly-customizable, you can choose from hundreds of themes and thousands of plugins that make your website unique.
What’s more, WordPress is easy to install, versatile, and highly-scalable. It is also super SEO friendly, which is a big advantage, given the fact that search engine optimization plays an integral part in every digital business.
WordPress Website Development: 9 Essential Steps
- Pick your niche and strategize
- Purchase a domain name
- Choose web hosting
- Install WordPress
- Select a theme and customize
- Add pages and content
- Install plugins
- Optimize usability and speed
- Configure site settings
In practice, you can install and set up a WordPress website all by yourself, just follow our step-by-step guide.
1. Pick Your Niche and Strategize
The very first thing you need to think about before starting a new website is your business model. What niche are you going to work in? How are you going to monetize your digital business? Which are your target audiences, and so on.
This is especially important if you don’t have an existing business for which you’re creating a website, and are doing things the other way around.
For example, if you want to specialize in selling socks online, and you see there are already hundreds of similar sites in existence, it would probably be wise to re-think your business ideas. Or create a unique value proposition that sets you apart.
Whatever the case, make sure to provide high-quality services, unique products, or strive to be better than your competitors.
2. Purchase a Domain Name
Nowadays, finding a cool, available domain is a hard task. Still, hard does not mean impossible, there are just a couple of important guidelines you need to follow.
First, you should choose a domain that is easy to remember and has a nice sound to it. Apply the radio test method – if someone hears your domain name over the radio, would they be able to remember it properly and until they get home?
For example, a domain like www.business.tech would be very easy to remember, and hard to mistake when typing. On the other hand, something like www.businessgr8-tek.com would be difficult to recall and confusing to key, especially if you just heard the name.
Another very important thing to keep in mind about domain names is that you should always double-check that there are no typos. It would be a shame to lose potential customers, due to a misspelled name. After all, it won’t be their fault that your domain name is mistwanted.com, instead of mostwanted.com.
In the case that the typo is a wanted effect, you need to invest time and effort to let people know that is how your brand name is spelled.
Something else you should pay attention to is the TLD (top-level domain), a.k.a. domain extension, you choose. The .com extension is the most famous and widely used TLD, however, other extensions might be more appropriate for your business, depending on location and services.
For example, .auto extension is a perfect fit for an auto parts online shop, .dev is awesome for a software development company, and so on.
In case you are targeting only local markets, consider using a ccTLD (country code top-level domain). Common examples are .co.uk, and .co.za, as well as .cn, and .de
Here’s a list of the most popular TLDs and their meaning:
- .com – “commercial”, appropriate for all websites
- .org – “organization”, appropriate for non-profit and charitable organizations
- .net – “network”, appropriate for technological companies
- .edu – “education”, appropriate for educational institutions
- .xyz – “generic, no implied meaning”, appropriate for everyone
- .info – “information”, appropriate for informational purposes
- .biz – “business”, appropriate for businesses and commercial entities
Last, but not least, make sure to research and implement keywords into your domain, if possible. For instance, a nice keyword-rich domain name example is: jollyjelly.co
This is a website, specialized in jelly gummies, and their domain is both a keyword, and it’s catchy to remember.
How to choose the perfect domain name:
- Make it easy to remember
- Keep it short
- Avoid typos
- Implement keywords
- Choose an appropriate extension
- Research for similar names
- Protect your brand identity
- Be quick to pick
3. Choose Web Hosting
After you’ve purchased a domain, it’s time to think about your hosting provider. First, you need to decide what kind of hosting would be most appropriate for your online business.
Let’s review the most popular WordPress hosting options available, along with their specifics.
Shared hosting features multiple websites on the same server, hence the name. This means that you are sharing resources such as RAM, CPU, storage, and bandwidth with other users on that server.
All this brings the logical conclusion that shared hosting is the cheapest option. It’s also the most convenient one for beginners and small operations running on a budget, because, more often than not, shared hosting plans come with a free SSL certificate, free domain, and automatic backups.
On the downside, shared hosting could be insufficient to meet your needs when your business grows. That’s because if one of your “hosting neighbors” starts getting a lot of traffic, there will be less server resources available to you.
Who is shared hosting best for?
- Small businesses
- Personal blogs
- Companies on a small budget
On the other end of the spectrum, dedicated hosting offers you full control over a web server that is entirely at your disposal. You don’t need to worry about your website struggling with large amounts of traffic, unless you deplete the server capacity, although that can be increased.
However, using a dedicated server means you will be paying the same price, regardless of whether you are using minimal resources or the full extent of your plan. That’s why, you should consider analyzing your needs and making a decision based on the estimates.
In most cases, dedicated hosting also means that you are in charge of security and maintenance. This could be a big issue if you don’t have the technical expertise, as you will be responsible for the server’s operating system installation, infrastructure security tools, and other technical requirements.
It’s good to know that some hosting providers offer separate managed WordPress hosting.
Who is dedicated hosting best for?
- Websites with high traffic
- eCommerce websites
- Large companies with big amounts of data
VPS, or virtual private, hosting is a type of server hosting where you still share physical server space with other websites, with the main difference being that you have your own virtual space on the server.
Who is VPS hosting best for?
- Small or medium-sized businesses
- Content-heavy websites
- Businesses working with sensitive data
The popularity of cloud hosting has been steadily increasing over the last few years. It complements digital sustainability, has a higher uptime, and allows for instant scalability.
Cloud hosting is a great choice for fast-growing businesses that expect traffic surges, as this type of solution allows instant provisioning of resources.
Who is Cloud hosting best for?
- Enterprise websites
- eCommerce stores
- Fast-growing businesses
4. Install WordPress
Now it’s time for the step you’ve all been waiting for – how to build a website with WordPress. Generally, WordPress is easy and fast to install – it only takes around 5 minutes.
Nowadays, many hosting companies offer automated WordPress installation, however, here’s a list of the main steps, in case you decide to do it yourself:
- Download WordPress and unzip the files.
- Create a WordPress database and user.
- Set up wpconfig.php.
- Upload files in the root directory or subdirectory.
- Run the WordPress installation script.
Although the process might be slightly different depending on your hosting provider, generally, you should be okay, if you follow the instructions of the hosting company.
5. Select a Theme and Customize
If you’re not too sure which theme you want for your website, it’s a good idea to discuss it with a designer, or someone who has experience with how WordPress works.
You need to make sure that the theme you select is appropriate for the type of site you have. Think about the type of content you will publish and the layout you want. For example, an eCommerce website and a news website should have an entirely different look and feel.
Once you have selected and installed your theme, you need to create navigation menus. Go to your Dashboard, choose Appearance, and then Menus. When you have created your menus and named them, you need to assign pages that you want to appear under the menu category.
For example, your website is about sports news. You should create pages with different types of sports: basketball, football, tennis, etc. Then do your menus: sports, events, news, etc. Now you can add your sports pages under your menus, so that when you click on a menu, you get a dropdown with the respective sports.
6. Add Pages and Content
The next step is adding content to your website. First, let’s differentiate pages from posts.
A post is a publication on your blog, this is where you write articles and news. A page is usually static and features information about your business, services, and products.
For example, “About Us”, “Contact Us”, “Home” are all pages, while “Our business is opening soon.” is a post. By default, WordPress displays posts on the home page, but you can change settings to have posts appear in a dedicated blog page.
Of course, you can create your website without a blog. Or you can make a featured article slider to display articles on your home, if you’re running a news website, for example.
In all cases, there are some pages that are essential to all types of websites. An “About Us” page, for instance, is a great place to introduce your team, tell the world what your business is all about, introduce your mission statement and core values, and enhance your authority by letting the audience know why you are an expert in your niche.
The “Contact” page is another mandatory one to have as it lists ways users can contact you – phone, email, address. It can also contribute to your Google EAT score, as transparency is vital for it.
There are other specific pages your website may require, depending on your type of business.
Let’s say you are using the affiliate marketing business model, it is good practice to write an “Affiliate disclosure” page to let your customers know when and how you earn commissions. It also makes your business more transparent.
7. Install Plugins
The next WordPress website development phase is to install plugins. Plugins are regarded as sacred items in the land of WordPress – you can, basically, use a plugin for everything, from applying dark mode to your site to observing analytics, enhancing your SEO, and creating online courses.
One very important thing to consider before installing a plugin is to check whether it’s compatible with your version of WordPress. Also, make sure that you are only installing plugins that are safe and trustworthy, meaning that they have been downloaded at least a few hundred times, and have good user ratings and reviews.
It’s better to be suspicious about plugins instead of randomly downloading them and ending up with security issues and malware.
Furthermore, don’t overdo it. When you see the magnitude of plugins in the WordPress directory, it’s easy to get carried away and want them all. We’ve all been there. However, adding up too many plugins can result in performance setbacks.
In case you’re interested, you can take a look at these free plugins developed by DevriX.
We’ll just add that our DX Delete Attached Media plugin has more than 4,000 active installations and a 5-star rating from 25 votes 😉
Now, let’s take a look at some of the more popular plugins by category and how they can help your website.
- Yoast SEO. One of the most renowned WordPress SEO plugins, Yoast allows you to optimize your meta descriptions, SEO titles, and featured images with the help of a few clicks.
- RankMath. Another useful SEO tool which helps you run detailed SEO analysis, measure your keyword rankings, and metrics like CTR, search clicks, and search impressions.
- AIOSEO. All in One SEO is an easy and powerful way to boost your SEO. This plugin assists you in generating sitemaps, setting schema markup, and improving your local SEO.
Speed Enhancing Plugins
- WP Rocket. This self-proclaimed number one caching plugin can help you optimize your website for Core Web Vitals, improve your PageSpeed score, and implement image lazy-loading.
- W3 Total Cache. This plugin is well-suited to advanced users, as it supports various methods and options for caching.
- Wordfence Security. The plugin offers advanced security solutions for WordPress, with features such as malware scan, two-factor authentication, and security configuration management.
- Sucuri. This company is so renowned in the cybersecurity industry that the name Sucuri has become a synonym for security. This plugin provides malware scans, core WordPress files integrity check, firewall integration, and much more.
- SecuPress. A relatively new, but rapidly growing, security plugin for WordPress that is open-source and helps prevent brute force attacks, detect vulnerable plugins and themes, and block visits from bad bots.
- WooCommerce. The most popular open-source eCommerce solution. This plugin allows you to create stunning storefronts, customize pages, and showcase various products. You can also configure shipping and payment options, manage subscriptions, memberships, dynamic pricing, and much more.
- BigCommerce. This plugin offers easy scalability, high-performance, and integration across multiple channels, like social media. Additionally, BigCommerce has no transaction charges, and applies a simple catalog management system.
- Easy Digital Downloads. A unique eCommerce plugin which focuses on entirely digital products and services. Easy Digital Downloads delivers a top-notch selling experience with hundreds of available add-ons you can integrate, like payment gateways, and discount codes.
Page Builder Plugins
- Elementor. When it comes to WordPress page builder plugins, Elementor is the most widely used. Elementor is already used by half a million websites, and it’s no wonder, since it offers dozens of widgets, templates, and uses responsive editing. There’s practically no limit to it, except, perhaps, your imagination. Going for the Pro version provides an additional array of website building options.
- WPBakery Page Builder. This plugin used to be called Visual Composer, however, it was split into two separate tools. The page building features remained with WPBakery, offering high-end features such as more than 50 content elements, template library, advanced grid builder, and integration with more than 250 plugins.
- WP Page Builder. One of the best page builder plugins for developers to use, WP Page Builder has a plethora of pre-designed templates and blocks, a live drag and drop page building system, and the option to customize fonts, layouts, colors and styles.
Contact Form Plugins
- WPForms. A powerful WordPress plugin that allows you to create online forms within minutes. There’s an abundance of pre-built templates for you to choose from as well as practical add-ons that offer functionalities such as the option for users to submit their own content to your website. The plugin is very user-friendly, and can gather geolocation data about your visitors.
- Contact Form 7. With more than 1 million active installations, Contact Form 7 is among the leaders in the contact form plugin category. The main advantage of this plugin is its simplicity and customization. You can also easily integrate it with other plugins like Akismet and CAPTCHA.
- Ninja Forms. This drag-and-drop plugin enables you to quickly and easily create website contact forms. With its help, you can create multi-page forms, and conditional forms, and implement PayPal or credit card donation options.
Google Analytics Plugins
- GA Google Analytics. This plugin is super lightweight and GDPR compliant. What it does is to simply connect your existing Google Analytics account to your WordPress website. A great choice for beginners and website owners who are content with having just the standard GA connected with their WordPress dashboard.
- MonsterInsights. The self-proclaimed best analytics plugin, MonsterInsights really does have it all. You can obtain real-time analytics, eCommerce reports, user behavior reports, SEO ranking reports, and much more. On top of that, the plugin is GDPR compliant, and can connect to both Universal Analytics and GA4, so you can analyze your GA metrics directly from your WordPress dashboard. What’s more, this plugin is very easy to use, and there are tons of knowledge base articles, in case you need assistance.
- 10WebAnalytics. This plugin also gives you the ability to easily connect to Google Analytics, however, on top of that, you can also link up your Google Ads and Google AdSense accounts. This way you can gather all your essential data into your dashboard. Furthermore, 10WebAnalytics allows you to track eCommerce reports, manage goals, and filter data to exclude users, IP addresses, or location.
- Akismet. One of the most popular plugins in the entire WordPress repository, with over 5 million active installations. Akismet, which comes as a preinstalled plugin on every WordPress website, automatically checks all comments and contact form submissions, and filters those that look like spam. Of course, you can manually review the messages and recover any that you don’t think are spam. Simple, efficient, and easy.
- Stop Spammers Security. As the name suggests, this plugin stops spammers in all forms and shapes – spam emails, comments, registrations, form submissions. Additionally, you can block certain spam words, suspicious behavior, and even entire countries.
- Antispam Bee. Another top-rated, powerful plugin to annihilate spam. Antispam Bee only allows trusted and appropriate comments. It can also be set up to only allow comments in a certain language, or to block or allow comments from a certain country.
8. Optimize Usability And Speed
Speed optimization may not seem like a priority, at first. Truth is, it’s crucial to make sure your WordPress site is fast-loading, well-optimized and ready for use before you can start showcasing it to clients.
After all, nowadays, the optimal website loading speed is somewhere between 2 and 5 seconds. Furthermore, users have a very short attention span, and chances are, they will not wait for your site to load forever. On the contrary, a 1-second delay in loading results in a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, 11% reduction in page views, and 7% less conversion rate.
In practice, every extra second your website takes to load means less traffic, fewer customers, and less business revenue.
As we mentioned in the previous section, you can achieve website speed optimization via plugins.
Of course, in case you don’t wish to, or simply can’t spend the time optimizing your website on your own, you can always rely on our experience and expertise.
9. Configure Site Settings
Lastly, configure your WordPress website settings. Once you are in your WordPress dashboard, you can see there is a “Settings” menu.
There are a couple of important things you need to take care of there.
First, fix your permalink structure from the “Permalink” tab. This is extremely important, since this is how your website URLs will be displayed, and this affects your SEO rankings.
The best way to do this from an SEO perspective is to input “ /blog/%postname%/ ”, as leaving numbers inside your permalinks doesn’t make too much sense, and will only add confusion.
Of course, the best practices for URL structures differ, depending on your type of business. For instance, an eCommerce website will need a specific approach, due to the large amounts of products.
Continuing, the “General” tab is the place to enter your website’s title and tagline. Note that, if you do not change the title, your website will have the generic “Just another WordPress site”.
You can also adjust information such as your timezone, date format, time format, site language, e-mail address, etc.
“Writing” contains options about formatting such as how emojis will be displayed, configuration of default post category, format, etc.
In the “Discussion” tab, you can enable comments on your site. Although, it’s a good idea to turn on the comment moderation feature by selecting the “Comment must be manually approved” option. Otherwise, you risk tons of spam comments, which you will then need to delete.
The “Reading” settings allow you to customize the way your blog posts are showcased and positioned, including front page displays (static page, inclusion of the latest posts), number of blog posts to be displayed, and more.
Don’t forget to hit the “Save changes” button after every update, or you will have to do everything twice.
You’ve gone through all the main steps of WordPress website development, congratulations! As you can see, the process is not all too complicated, but there are lots of details you need to think about in order to configure your site.
In reality, more often than not, there are various individuals involved in the WordPress web development process – designers, tech people, developers, marketers, SEO experts, etc. This means that you don’t need to go through this all on your own.
In case you need help with developing and maintaining your WordPress website, just give us a call – we are here to help.