0Wordpress LogoThe WordPress Guide

Part 1: Getting Started

1.1 Initial installation and configuration

The very basics

1.1.1 Buy hosting

Whilst you can get a free Word­Press site from wordpress.com, you lose some con­trol and you have to serve their ads. I per­son­ally advise obtain­ing your own host­ing. There are lots of hosts out there, and which is most suit­able will depends on your require­ments and pref­er­ences. In the past I have hos­ted my own sites (e.g. jonscaife.com), I’ve used NearlyFreeSpeech.net for some sites (e.g. Premiership-Predictors.co.uk), and for this site I’m cur­rently using TSO­Host. You should find a pack­age that suits you. If you’re a begin­ner, I recom­mend find­ing a host which offers a con­trol pan­el that includes auto­mated install­a­tion of word­press (e.g. via softacu­lous) as TSO­Host does.

1.1.2 Buy a domain

I strongly recom­mend hav­ing a domain name for your site. An appro­pri­ate domain is cheap, looks more pro­fes­sion­al and helps SEO. The easi­est meth­od is to buy this at the same time as your host­ing. I’ve used low-cost-names in the past, but recently I’ve bought most of mine from 123-reg. This should be a straight-for­ward pro­cess. If you choose a domain that doesn’t end in .com then con­sider buy­ing the .com as well (see sec­tion 1.4.13). Also think care­fully about how long you buy the domain for — longer is bet­ter (see sec­tion 2.1.13)

wordpress login screen

1.1.3 Point your domain to your hosting

Once you have a domain name, you need to point it to your host­ing. If you’ve bought your host­ing and domain with the same pro­vider this has prob­ably already been done for you. If not you will need to edit the DNS entry for your domain name and point it to the Name Serv­ers of your host­ing pro­vider. You host­ing pro­vider will tell you what these are. You will usu­ally want to change the nameserv­ers — for example — as my host­ing is with TSO­Host I have my name serv­ers set to ns2.tsohost.co.uk and ns1.tsohost.co.uk

1.1.4 Set up wordpress

Once you have both host­ing and a domain name you need to set up word­press on your host­ing. Ideally this will be done via a con­trol pan­el man­ager like softacu­lous or fant­ast­ico and should take just a few clicks. If you don’t have that option you need to do a manu­al install­a­tion. There is an excel­lent guide to manu­al installs on liquid­web. Once you’ve got word­press installed, log in to your word­press dash­board via the fol­low­ing web address: http://<your.domain>/wp-admin/

1.1.5 Get a custom theme

You don’t want your site to look like a mil­lion and 1 oth­er word­press sites, so you will want an altern­at­ive theme. There are lots of free themes avail­able — for example, when this art­icle was ori­gin­ally pub­lished we were using the mys­tique theme.  Since that time we’ve moved to a cus­tom theme inspired by mys­tique and built on the respons­ive ver­sion of the bones starter theme. Ideally you will want to con­sider a cus­tom theme, but for this you will either need to pay, or invest con­sid­er­able time devel­op­ing your own. Once your site is up and run­ning you can invest­ig­ate cus­tom themes. Word­Press has a very help­ful guide to devel­op­ing themes, but I recom­mend using some of the free “blank”, “bare-bones”, “naked”, “frame­work”, or “tem­plate” themes avail­able. These can get you star­ted on a cus­tom theme much faster, and many offer an excel­lent level of com­pat­ib­il­ity and fea­tures built-in. I recom­mend look­ing for (or cre­at­ing) themes based on HTML5 and CSS3, and with sup­port for microformats/microdata/rich snip­pets included. It is also worth hav­ing a theme which is “respons­ive” — i.e. it can adapt to lots of res­ol­u­tions effect­ively — so it will dis­play on mobile devices cor­rectly. There is extens­ive cov­er­age of such themes else­where which I won’t duplic­ate here, for more inform­a­tion start by look­ing at WP May­or, Design Shack, Specky­Boy, Smash­ing Magas­ine or Specky­Boy (again).

If you decide to cus­tom­ise or devel­op a theme then I strongly recom­mend using HTML5.   This is a much more semant­ic lan­guage than pre­vi­ous ver­sions and intro­duces new tags which have much more sens­ible names than all the “div” tags that design­ers used to use.  Find out about tags like <sec­tion>, <art­icle>, <head­er>, <foot­er>, <nav>, <sec­tion>, and <sum­mary on w3schools

1.1.6 Test & validate your site

Once your site is ready to go, use the W3C val­id­at­ors for html, css, atom/rss and mobile friend­li­ness, use the google rich snip­pets test­ing tool to test your microdata, and con­sider check­ing the access­ib­il­ity of your site. There are many ser­vices out there that will run mul­tiple browser tests and send you back images to veri­fy that your page will render cor­rectly in the huge range of web browsers out there. Use the power­ful fire­bug browser plu­gin to debug any issues you find.

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