WordPress has changed the way the Internet works by making it easier than every for absolutely anyone to build great-looking, fully functional websites. Of the over 200 brands that we operate, close to 30 are running on WordPress and that number is increasing every month. While WordPress is easy to use there still is a lot to learn if you want to harness the full power of the platform.
I created the “Learn WordPress” section of my site to help absolutely anyone get started with WordPress. Whether you’ve build a website before or this is your first site, the articles below will help you harness the power of WordPress and build real websites. To keep things simple I’ve created a step-by-step process that you can follow to learn WordPress in just a few hours, if you’re ready to get started the first step is just below!
Step #1: Read My WordPress 101 Primer
The first step I recommend for all new WordPress developers is to read my WordPress 101 Primer. I spent hours putting this article together and it has become a go-to resource for WordPress Developers around the world. Of course it is completely free and takes less than 20 minutes to read. By the time you finish this primer you’ll be ready to dive right in and start building your first site.
Step #2: Installing WordPress
Now that you know enough about WordPress to be dangerous (in a good way) you probably want to get WordPress installed so you can start using it. To install WordPress you’ll need to have a hosting account. My top choice for hosting is Hostgator. There are three reasons that Hostgator has been my top WordPress Hosting pick for years:
- cPanel – this is a graphical user interface that makes it easy for anyone to manage their own hosting account. Don’t worry about typing strange UNIX commands, just point and click. You can install WordPress with a few clicks and never have to worry about FTP or setting-up complicated databases.
- Great Support – I can always get someone on the phone quickly and have found their support to be exceptional. It’s always someone knowledgeable and in the cases where my problem gets too complex I get escalated to a support pro who can solve my problems right-away. Good support is hard to find and it’s this level of support that has kept me with Hostgator for so long.
- Reliability – I have used Hostgator for close to five years and have never had a site go down, their reliability is the best in the business.
BONUS – if you use coupon code “MORGANLINTON25” you will save 25% on shared hosting plans. I also have an added bonus on top of this discount. If you email me after you setup your account I will have a member of our team install five essential WordPress plugins and setup critical SEO options, for free. That’s right, there is no catch here, simply sign-up for a new account at HostGator using my coupon code and you’ll get this bonus.
Installing WordPress on Hostgator is insanely easy, heck – that’s why I recommend it as my go-to solution for WordPress hosting. Simply login to your cPanel (all login info sent upon sign-up) and scroll down to Software/Services. Click on the blue smiley face labeled “Fantastic De Luxe” – this will become your new best friend.
Fantastico De Luxe is a great tool that allows you to install all kinds of great software onto your domains. Of course all we care about right now is WordPress which makes it even easier. You are now only a few clicks away from having WordPress installed!
Next simply select “WordPress” from the menu on the left under “Blogs” – this will take you to the WordPress Installation menu. From here simply select “New Installation” – you are one step away from installing WordPress!
While this might look at bit overwhelming at first, it’s really not! I’ll walk you through each option so you can make it to the bottom and click the button you’ve been waiting for – “Install WordPress”.
Install on Domain – this is an easy one – pick the domain you want to install WordPress on.
Install in Directory – in most cases you will simply leave this blank since you want your blog to appear on www.yourdomain.com.
Administrator Username – pick anything you want but avoid “admin” or “administrator” – these are the most commonly tried logins when hackers attack your site. By using a different admin name you can instantly improve the security of your site.
Password – choose a strong password with both upper and lowercase letters and a few numbers. Try to avoid using basic dictionary words, get creative and make it impossible for a potential hacker to guess.
Admin Nickname – go with your real name if your comfortable, otherwise pick something besides Admin, give your site some character!
Admin Email – put your regular email address in here
Site Name – you can just put your domain here to start – you’ll use a specific plugin to optimize your title tag and meta description later on
Description – feel free to leave this blank for now
Now just click “Install WordPress” and within minutes you will have WordPress up and running on your domain. To access your site all you have to do is go to www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin and enter the login and password you created in this step. Congratulations! You now have WordPress up and running on your domain name, now let’s tackle the design and make your site really shine!
Step #3: Installing A WordPress Theme
The key to building a great-looking WordPress site is harnessing the power of a great theme. There are a zillion different places to get WordPress Themes online but a few that I’ve found to be the most reliable over the years. Below are my three favorite WordPress Theme Designers, pick any of these and you can’t go wrong.
WooThemes comes in at #1 for me as creators of the best-looking and easiest-to-use themes out there. Their themes are absolutely bulletproof and work perfectly all the time. Custom Dashboard panels makes it incredibly easy to add things like a custom logo, favicons, along with tweaking the layout and design of the site. If you are just getting started with WordPress I strongly recommend you start wit ha WooThemes theme – they just work and when you’re starting out this is so darn important. It also doesn’t hurt that they are made by professional designers so they look fantastic!
ElegantThemes is my second-favorite WordPress theme developer out there and definitely the most cost-effective. ElegantThemes features some pretty breathtaking designs and some great niche-specific sites like a slick Real Estate and Review Theme. ElegantThemes does have a custom Dashboard panel for managing your theme but it doesn’t come close to the ease-of-use that WooThemes offers. If you’re new to WordPress there might be a steeper learning curve here as it does take quite a bit of time to understand how to properly configure these themes. I don’t recommend ElegantThemes to first-time developers but instead recommend you move onto this after your first one or two successful WordPress sites have been built.
Thesis is the theme that I use for my own personal blog, so that should tell you what I think of this theme. It is absolutely the most configurable and customizable themes on the planet. The reason why I have it listed as #3 and not #1 is that it’s really better for more advanced WordPress users. Thesis uses something called hooks that allow you to add code snippets into a specific PHP file that customizes the site. I’d imagine that about 80% of the people reading this right now have no idea what the heck a hook is and the word PHP just sounds intimidating. If you’re comfortable with PHP and love WordPress hooks then Thesis is as good as it gets, if this is all a bunch of goobly goop to you, then stick with WooThemes or ElegantThemes to get started.
Where To Go From Here
That’s it – in three easy steps you can now setup a full-scale WordPress site on any domain name that you own. Of course there is a lot more that you can do to hone your WordPress skills. Below are some WordPress resources that I highly recommend to help you take your skills to the next level.
WPBeginner – start here, this is a great resource and can really help you dive-in and go deeper into what WordPress can do.
WordPress Forums – if you want to geek-out with other WordPress users, the Official WordPress Forums is the place to do it.
10 Super Awesome Insider Tips – published by WordPress themselves these are ten great tips you can start using right-away.
Become A Fan Of Morgan on Facebook – I talk about WordPress quite a bit, become a fan and you’ll get the latest and greatest!
Follow Morgan on Twitter – I tweet about WordPress quite a bit too, follow me and get my latest WordPress tweets!