Setting Up Your First Web Site – part 2

Installing WordPress

We’re now going to actually start setting up a website (or two). You’ll need the email you got from your web host and depending on what else you want to do, you may want some good quality, niche related pictures that you have permission to use.

This last factor is very important. Just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s free for you to use. Either use pictures you’ve taken yourself, buy some from a royalty free photo sales site or buy a disk of them at your local computer store. Don’t give anyone a reason to chase you with lawyers. You have been warned.

Type your new domain name into the address bar or your browser then /cpanel at the end. It will look like this… http://www.yourdomainname.com/cpanel then press enter. The browser will now go to a page that requests your login details, which should be on the email that the web hosting company sent to you.

Once you’ve logged in your browser should display something like this:

cpanel

Don’t worry if it’s not absolutely identical. CPanel is customisable by web hosts and you may see variations on the theme above. Different colours and maybe some different icons, but all the essential stuff should be there.

Scroll down to the bottom and look for an icon that says either Softaculous or Fantastico (They both do similar things) and click on that icon. From there search through all the options until you find the one that says WordPress. Select that and then select install. Pick a login name and password, make sure that the box that says folder name is empty and the rest is pretty much done for you with minimum involvement.

If you now open another browser tab or window and type in your domain name (only) you will now be taken to a ‘welcome to wordpress’ page. Your website is now growing! But it looks a little dull and there’s a few things you’ll want to do to really get it going.

To make changes to your blog, both for content and appearances you need to log into the WordPress admin area. This will be at http://www.yourdomainname.com/wp-admin where you’ll be taken to (another) login page and use the username and password that you selected when you set up WordPress. You’ll then be taken to the WordPress Dashboard which may not look like much fun, but you’ll be spending a lot of time here, so get used to it.

Down the left side – about half way down is the word ‘Appearance’ and when you hover over it, you’ll get a pop out menu. Select ‘Themes’. There will be a small selection of the WordPress default themes (that some people never get beyond) but there is a whole new exciting world out there and you should explore it.

At the very top there is a button that says ‘Add New’ where you’ll be taken to the latest selection of free themes that WordPress offers… and there are thousands! To add to the confusion you can also install premium themes that you have to pay for, anything from a few dollars to a few hundred, and some that do very clever stuff that means your site wouldn’t even be recognised as being WordPress based. Best leave those for later. This is a K.I.S.S. program!

Pick a theme that seems to fit in well with your niche or what the people who visit your niche would like to see. If you’re talking about video games then strong colours would be OK, but if your target market is young women then softer pastel colours might be more appropriate. I’m not trying to be sexist here, but you do want your audience to feel comfortable at your place.

If you’re doing something more personal then keep it simple. Your choice is not final either. For the most part, if another theme comes along later that you like more than your current theme then you can easily switch back and forward to see which you’d prefer, so no need to deliberate too long over your choice as you can change your mind later with minimal problems.

Once you’ve picked a theme (for now) then go just under Appearance and select Plugins. Plugins can add all sorts of functionality to WordPress and are part of its real power. Again plugins come free or paid and are just as easy to install as themes.

You will come across a huge number of discussions as to what could be considered ‘essential’ and I don’t wish to add to the debate. Here’s my list of free plugins that I think you should consider.

  • Akismet – is there by default. Pop along to the home site (it’s linked) and get the API key. Akismet does its best to block spammy comments.
  • Wordfence – it won’t hack-proof your blog but it will deter the casual hacker.
  • Google Sitemaps – creates a Google friendly sitemap with every new post.
  • Quickshare – A social media links plugin. There are a few others to choose from. All you need is something so that visitors can share your posts on their social media sites.

Don’t add too many plugins to start with. Some of them conflict with each other and some will also slow your site down if too many are added. Add them one at a time and re-test your site each time.

Also remove ones that you added to test and then find you are not using. They should not have too much effect if they are merely deactivated, but always best to remove them once finished with.

The last place to go on this first visit is at the top of the left hand menu. Posts, Media, Pages and Comments.

Posts are where you will add your blog posts. There is a visual editor and text editor tab. The visual editor is not fully ‘what you see is what you get’ but you will get a good impression of the layout. The text tab is for those who know their way around HTML coding. You’ll probably learn how to use that tab as you need to.

Media is where you add your own pictures and videos that you want to include in your posts. It’s either drag and drop from your folder to the media area or browse the traditional way. 20Mb is the current maximum media size so if you want bigger videos you may have to put them up on YouTube and link to them from your post (A YouTube link should automatically be picked up and the video inserted into your post).

Pages are another form of a Post but will appear in the menu if the theme you have chosen provides one.

Comments are where you will approve the hundreds of comments that visitors will leave after they have visited your magnificent site.

Now there are a lot of settings in other places and some themes and plugins will give you more when they are activated. The best thing to do with them is experiment to see what you think your visitors would like. Give them an opportunity to comment by switching the comments on. Have your home page show a selection of clips of your last few blog posts or just the latest one. These things and more are now under your control.

Have fun playing and discovering. You’ll learn so much more that way than me just telling you.

If you really get stuck there is an official WordPress forum at wordpress.com and many out there available just by searching. The answer you seek will be out there.

Go back to Part 1 – HERE

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