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How to set up a WordPress website

WordPress is by far the best Content Management System (CMS) for your website. There are many others, each with their own devotees but Drupal, Joomla etc. aren’t in the same league as WordPress for ease of use, flexibility, security and reliability.

WordPress [powers over 27% (and growing) of the world’s websites already so that alone declares its status.

Here is a checklist to help you create the perfect WordPress website.

Choose a Domain

Choose an effective domain (also known as web address, URL, website name) preferably a name that says who you are, what you do and where you do it.

A good domain should be concise, memorable, unique, easy to spell and easy to pronounce. From our UK standpoint, unless there is a good reason not to, we would always suggest using co.uk. It is the cheapest option and there is no advantage at all in using any other suffix. Of course if your co.uk domain has already been taken then by all means consider other suffixes (.com, .uk etc.) but expect to pay a lot more for these.

Where to buy a domain

We always recommend www.123-reg.co.uk for fair pricing but most importantly for the full and free access to all admin areas.

Choose a Hosting Package

Choosing the right host and package is extremely important. Get it wrong and your website will suffer. A host should empower you, never limit you. Of course we are going to suggest you host here at artworks unlimited!

The benefits to you are:

  • Discounted prices
  • FREE BackupBuddy backup software worth £80 per annum
  • FREE any time, unlimited telephone and email help
  • Friendly and personal service at all times
  • 24/7 FREE technical support
  • Flexible packages to suit your business as it grows
  • State of the art, fully managed, VPS Cloud servers
  • Guaranteed Continuity of Service Agreement
  • Zero down time

Ironically if you want total flexibility do not host with wordpress.com. Their hosting is extremely restrictive and will put a limit to what you can do with your site.

Configure the Nameservers

Once you have both a domain and hosting account, you will need to point the domain to your host’s nameservers, to connect the domain name to the server. The nameservers for artworks unlimited are:

  • ns1.artworks-unlimited.co.uk
  • ns2.artworks-unlimited.co.uk

Login to your domain’s control panel, and look for Manage DNS or Change Nameservers. Enter the new nameservers. You may have to wait up to 24 hours for the change to propagate. However another reason for using 123-reg.co.uk is; that change usually happens within 30 minutes or so. You will know when the nameserver change has propagated around the world if your domain shows your host’s landing page when you enter your URL in a browser.

If you need help with this process just contact us on 07788 931 511

Upload WordPress

Download and unzip the latest version of WordPress, and then upload it to your hosting account using File Transfer Protocol (FTP) software such as the excellent (and free) Filezilla.

Once you connect to your server via FTP, you will see a list of folders. The one you want is public_html. This is where you will upload WordPress.

Create a Database

A database (MySQL) is where your WordPress site is stored. Every time your page loads, WordPress queries the database for all the content it needs to create a page “on the fly”.

  • Using cPanel, create and name a new database, a database user name and a database password.
  • Modify wp-config-sample.php

When you have created the database, its user name and password, you then need to edit the wp-config-sample.php file.

First, rename the file to wp-config.php (i.e. remove “sample”). Then, using a text editor such as Notepad++, open the file and enter the details of the database:

  • define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘database_name_here’);
  • define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username_here’);
  • define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password_here’);

Save the wp-config.php file and upload it to your server

Install WordPress

Go to your domain. WordPress will step you through the installation procedure. The process is very easy and quick.

PLEASE NOTE: Do not leave the user name as “admin” because it is too well known by hackers!

Once you have installed WordPress, you will be able to log into your website admin panel at yourdomain.com/wp-admin. You will also receive a confirmation email.

Choose a Theme

Your WordPress theme is what defines the look, layout and style of your website. There are thousands of free and premium themes available, some good some bad and some terrible! For a unique site you can also have one custom designed, although this option is more expensive.

Themes can be installed and activated without any of your content changing, rather like choosing clothes from your wardrobe. Put on a different suit at Christmas, summer, etc.? What you are really looking for in a theme is functionality and flexibility. Don’t be swayed by seductive, hi-res, full screen images alone.

Here are the absolute minimum requirements for a good theme:

  • Great design
  • Valid HTML and CSS
  • Compliant code
  • Compatibility with the latest version of WordPress
  • Compatibility with the most popular plugins
  • Extensive support and documentation
  • Responsive design
  • Continued development and updating

The theme market is extremely competitive so all reputable providers will offer these features as standard.

Configure the WordPress Settings

Once you have installed WordPress and activated your chosen theme you need to change some settings in the admin dashboard.

Activate Akismet

Akismet is the most well known software for detecting spam comments. It comes built into WordPress and all you need to do is to follow the instructions to activate it.

Disable comments

If you don’t want to allow comments, navigate to Settings → Discussion, and uncheck “Allow people to post comments on new articles.” This setting can be overridden in each post.

Configure permalinks

By default, WordPress URLs look like example.com?p=232. Change the permalink type to “post” (Settings → Permalinks).

Add Gravatar

If you want to use Gravatars then leave the default option as it is.

 WordPress Security

WordPress is pretty secure out of the box, and any weaknesses can be easily dealt with. BUT no website is 100% secure. Your aim is to make it as hard as possible for a hacker to get into your website. No matter how much you invest in security there is still a chance that it will be attacked and compromised at some point. For that reason backup is crucial.

Keep WordPress updated.

Many WordPress updates contain new features as well as security fixes. Do not leave yourself open to known exploits – keep WordPress (and all plugins) up to date.

Do not use wp_ as the database table’s prefix.

Many WordPress users leave the database table’s prefix as the default, wp_, allowing hackers an easier time getting viruses and malware into your code. Change the prefix to something unique and make your site less vulnerable.

Remove the WordPress version from the website’s header.

By telling hackers which version of WordPress you are running, you are again helping them to break in!

Change the default admin user name.

Hackers know that many people don’t bother to change the user admin name, again leaving it at the default is helping them get in!

Create your pages

Create your basic page names (Home, Contact, About etc.) and make others as simple and logical as possible. This will help visitors to navigate your site easily.

Home page

This is your landing page an introduction to who you are and what you provide

About page

This often servers the same purpose as your home page so if it’s not needed, leave it out or use it to give information about your company, its founding, personnel etc. Present yourself in the best possible light by saying who are you, where you come from and why that should matter to visitors. Make the copy on this page informative , interesting and factual.

Contact page

You want visitors to your website to get in touch so give them every possible means: email addresses, contact forms, telephone and mobile numbers, fax numbers, skype and so on.

Products, services or “hire me” page

If you are a business, your website is a work horse or a shop front and the aim is to make new contacts and sales. Your services or products page needs to present your “wares” in the best possible light, clearly and concisely. Don’t make visitors struggle to see a price or make a purchase. Give them all the information they need and make easy to order or buy. If anything is confusing you will lose custom.

Optimize For Search Engines

Search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to ensuring that your website attracts as much targeted traffic as possible. Probably one of the best SEO tools available is WordPress SEO by Yoast.

XML site map

A site map is designed to speak to search engines in a language they understand and that will help your site to get indexed more quickly and accurately so always create one.

Back Up, back up, back up!

It cannot be overstated how vital backing up your site is. If your site crashes and it cannot be repaired you may lose everything! All gone… never to return. How disastrous would that be when you have spent hundreds of hours and countless pounds creating it? If something goes wrong and you haven’t got a recent back-up, you could lose all of your online assets.

Here at artworks unlimited we give you, completely free of charge BackupBuddy, a premium site and database backup software that would cost you £80 per annum to buy yourself. What more reason do you need to host with us?

This has just been a taster of what is involved in setting up your WordPress website and there is plenty more involved but we hope it has helped to clarify a few points.

If you need help with installing WordPress or any of the features mentioned Call Paul on 07788 931 511

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