A huge proportion of websites on the internet run on WordPress, and it’s an incredibly popular blogging and content management system (CMS). It is both free and open source, and offers a large number of themes and plugins that allow you to customize your site.
It started out as a blogging service installed on your own hosting platform, and while that’s still how you can get the most out of it, WordPress now rivals the best website builders available, through the wide range of website builders available for WordPress.
In this step by step guide, we walk you through and show you how to build a website with WordPress.
How to Build a Website Using WordPress: Your Options
There are several ways to get started with WordPress.
First of all, understand that WordPress is free, open source software that you can download from WordPress.org and install on your own web hosting. This is what we are going to do in this guide. But most of the best web hosting companies have a one-click installer, so all you need to do is click a button and WordPress will be installed on your web hosting.
Another option is third party hosting from the best WordPress hosting providers. When you buy WordPress hosting, you get an optimized WordPress site that’s ready to go. If your WordPress hosting is managed, many day-to-day tasks – such as software upgrades and backups – are taken care of for you by the web host.
Enterprise WordPress, meanwhile, is WordPress on a larger scale, which we explore in more detail in our feature asking if WordPress is the way forward for enterprise content management.
Finally, you can use the website builder at WordPress.com. Installing WordPress here is immediate and you can start building your site in no time. You can host your WordPress website here for free, and as your needs change, you can upgrade to one of four paid plans.
In this guide, we’ll be installing WordPress on our own hosting. This is the most complex installation procedure, but it gives you the highest level of customization on your WordPress site.
Step 1: Choose a web hosting provider
Your WordPress site must be hosted somewhere. There are thousands of web hosts vying for your business, so be sure to refer to our guides to the best web hosting services and the best WordPress hosting to help you choose.
Almost all web hosts will support WordPress, but you need a web host that supports scripting languages and protocols, including PHP 7.4 (or higher), HTTPS, and MySQL or database management systems. MariaDB. You will probably want to upload files to the server, so support for FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is also useful.
Step 2: Download WordPress from WordPress.org
To install WordPress on your web hosting manually, you must first download it to your own computer. Go to WordPress.org and click on “Get WordPress”. You will be presented with the latest version of WordPress to download in a zip file. Download this file and extract it to your computer.
Step 3: Upload the WordPress files to your web hosting
Next, you need to place your WordPress files on your web hosting. Your web host may have a web-based file manager that you can use for this purpose.
A quick way to download all the files is to use an FTP client like FileZilla. Enter your web hosting provider‘s FTP details (host, username and password) into your client and upload all the WordPress files to your web hosting space.
Step 4: Create a database for WordPress
WordPress requires a MySQL or MariaDB database. Log into the admin panel of your web hosting provider and find the databases section. Each hosting provider’s interface is different, but you will typically need to set a database name, username, and password. Write down these details for the next step.
Step 5: Enter your database details in the WordPress wizard
Now that the files are uploaded to your web host and an empty database has been created, it’s time to visit your website URL. If this is your first time running WordPress, you will be taken to the setup wizard. First, you are asked for the language of the site, then you are asked for the database details. Enter the details of the database you created earlier and click “Submit”.
Step 6: Continue through the WordPress installer
Once WordPress has confirmed that your database is accessible, you are asked a few more details about your site. Enter a site title, administrator username, password, and email address. Tap “Install WordPress” to install the program. It should only take a few minutes.
Step 7: Basic Site Setup
WordPress installation is now complete. Start configuring your site by going to the “General” menu in the settings. You can set the title, subtitles, time zone and date format of your website. Click “Save” when finished.
Step 8: Choose a theme
In the “Appearance” menu on the left, you will find “Themes”. Here you can choose from a range of templates that shape the look of your website. Click “Add New Theme” to search for hundreds of predefined themes. When you are satisfied with your selection, choose “Customize”.
Step 9: Edit Site Blog Posts
By default, your WordPress site will have multiple posts. Articles are blog content displayed in reverse chronological order. To get used to the interface, click on “Messages” and edit one of the examples.
You are not just limited to text. By clicking on the plus sign, you can add rich media such as galleries, videos, music, and social media widgets.
Step 10: add pages
Step 11: Browse and Add Site Plugins
To unleash the full potential of your WordPress site, choose “Add New” from the “Plugins” menu. Here you will find thousands of plugins that add functionality to your site. Some plugins can drastically change the way your website works, for example by adding forums, contact forms, online stores, or additional administration features.
How to Build a Website with WordPress: Summary
WordPress is a powerful content management system with a versatile website builder. There is so much you can do with your site to make it perfect now that you know the user interface. We’ve introduced the different ways you can use WordPress and showed you its most important features. Now it’s up to you to create the best WordPress site possible.
Further reading on website builders
Learn more about WordPress in our WordPress review, our comparison of web hosting vs. website builders, and our feature exploring the most common WordPress website mistakes and how to fix them.