Not sure what a WordPress website is exactly? We discuss all of its features and functionalities and why 500+ new WordPress websites are built each day.
If you’re looking to build or update a website, you may have heard the term “WordPress” get kicked around. Who knows, maybe you heard it from us because we love building WordPress websites.
We’re not alone. Every day, 500+ new WordPress websites are created. Safe to say, the tool has reached Ferris Bueller status. WordPress is a righteous dude.
But maybe you’re not sure what a WordPress website is exactly. How do you create a website using WordPress? What is the process like? Is WordPress a good fit for your website? What will the final product look like?
In this blog, we break down all the ins and outs of using WordPress to build a website. We’ll cover:
So let’s dive in, shall we?
You may only know WordPress as a website for bloggers, but it’s also great for professional and business websites too. Today, WordPress powers over 28% of all sites on the internet.
WordPress is what’s known as a free, open-source content management system. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so let’s break that down.
A content management system (CMS) is software that’s used to create, store, and manage digital content. WordPress is one of many CMSs out there, but it has historically been more user-friendly since it doesn’t require users to know how to code.
WordPress is also an open-source CMS, meaning that the source code is accessible for anyone to see and/or modify. This means it’s a lot easier to adjust the code and add new functionalities to your website.
WordPress is different from tools like Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace, which are website builders. Website builders are tools that help you build a site using pre-configured components (i.e. “drag and drop” builders). While they are very easy to use, you cannot change or modify the source code. So there may be functions or features you cannot customize.
The takeaway here is that WordPress is more flexible in terms of customizing your website.
WordPress has long held the CMS MVP title for a few reasons:
WordPress is free and accessible to anyone who wants to use its software to build a website. To be clear, we are NOT saying you can build a WordPress website for $0. (Hold tight, we’ll get to costs soon enough). WordPress is free in that you can use, modify, and build upon its software without having to pay any fees.
It’s Easy to Use
WordPress has an intuitive interface, making it quick and easy to add new pages, blog posts, or images. Whether you use a theme-based or custom-coded website, WordPress keeps items neatly organized in a backend sidebar so you can always find what you need.
“Within the WordPress dashboard, there’s an easy-to-navigate menu on the left. This is where you can add new blog posts, web pages, images, etc.
Like Gumby, WordPress is flexible and can bend (metaphorically speaking) into whatever you want it to. You can build your WordPress site with thousands of plugins and themes or completely from scratch. We will explain these in more detail later, but in a nutshell, there are endless ways to customize your website so that it looks unique and compliments your brand.
Like a 4-star meal or great work of art, building a WordPress website requires a little prep work before the creating can begin.
Domain Name & Web Host
To create a WordPress website, you must first acquire a domain name and web host. This is usually when our clients start to get that deer-in-the-headlights look. Stay calm!
Every website needs a home, a place where it can kick off its shoes and settle down. Web hosts are like houses where websites live. In more formal terms, a web host is the physical location of your website on the Internet. Websites are hosted on special computers called servers. Web hosting service providers maintain those servers. Just as you have to pay for a house, you have to pay a web host.
The domain name is the address of your house, or in this case, your website (i.e. www.moonlightcreative.com). Domain names also have a cost and must be renewed. The good news is that you can purchase a domain name and web host at the same time by using a service like Bluehost. Their web hosting packages include the cost of a domain. Bluehost is a WordPress-focused hosting provider and includes SSL services too.
Quick Sidebar: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.Org
This is a good place to talk about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Why? Because the primary difference between the two is where the website is hosted. With WordPress.com, WordPress hosts your site for free. With a WordPress.org site, you pay for a host, like Bluehost.
But beware! Although WordPress.com sites include free hosting, there are a lot of limitations. The first is that you cannot add plugins or backend code, so there is very little ability to customize your site. So WordPress.com sites are generally best for starter blogs and not for robust websites.
Planning for Your Needs
You go to an architect and say, “Build me a house!” Naturally, he’ll have some questions. He’ll want to know how many rooms and bathrooms you want, but he’ll also want to know what you need from the house. If you have kids, you’ll need a big backyard. If you cook a lot, you’ll need a nice oven.
Think of yourself as the architect and ask yourself, “What do I need from my website?”
In addition to listing out the types of pages you need (i.e. blog page, portfolio page, gallery page), this can also include event calendars, job postings, and donation capabilities. Your list of needs will help you identify if a theme, custom coding, or a combination of both makes sense for your website.
Building a WordPress website is already an involved process. So if you’re building a WordPress website and building your brand at the same time… it looks a lot like one of the creations from the Netflix show NailedIt.
On NailedIt, a bunch of amateurs try to create gorgeous edible creations but without any instructions or culinary knowledge. That’s what building your website without a brand is like.
A clear brand identity is at the heart of every successful marketing strategy. It ensures that your brand experience is consistent and clear across every channel. In order for your website to align with your brand and support your goals, you need to have completed the brand work first. This includes everything from your logo, to your mission statement, to the tone and style of your written and visual content.
Once you’ve got your domain, web host, and WordPress account set up, you’re ready to build and customize your website. There are two approaches to creating a WordPress website.
The first is creating a custom-built website, usually completed by a web designer and code developer. The pros are that you can build the exact website you want, including very specific design and interactive features like a custom interactive map with a hover-text display. The cons of custom coding your WordPress site is that it’s very time consuming to build a website from scratch and, therefore, more expensive.
Enter option two: theme websites. Themes provide the code and overall layout for a website. They’re kind of like prefab houses: the structure has already been built, and it’s ready for you to customize. A lot of our clients choose to build a WordPress theme website because it’s more cost-effective and quicker than paying for a custom-coded website.
Themes are very flexible in terms of customization, but you are still working within code that someone else built. There can be some limitations. Websites requiring a ton of customized features might be better served with a fully custom coded site. But on the whole, themes are a great cost-effective option for anyone who needs a website with basic functionality.
Of the many website building options out there, our team always turns to WordPress first. It’s easy to use and allows for both custom coding and themes. When building your website, you want to do it right, and WordPress is a great tool to get the sophisticated site you want.
Of course, building a WordPress site is a lot to manage. That’s where any agency can come in handy. We know how to quickly build the site of your dreams thanks to our coding and user experience skills. And we can bring other skills to the table, like copywriting website content and designing web graphics. Drop us a line if you want to talk more about the web development process!
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