A computer and phone showing the landing page on wordpress.org

How to get started with WordPress? That’s a question that I have heard a lot. However, over the past few years, the WordPress team has made it effortless to pick up and get started with WordPress. Now, with its popularity, there has never been a better time to start!

WordPress Comes in 2 Flavors!

After taking the leap and deciding to start your next web project in WordPress, you must decide what kind of WordPress is right for you! There are two kinds. The first is WordPress.com and then the second is WordPress.org. Each is very similar but there are a few differences.

  • At its core, it is a hosting environment. The .com offers free and paid plans.
  • The user can’t do much with adding custom themes from 3rd party sites unless you pay a fee.
  • Lots of paid upgrades available to help you build the site of your dreams.
  • No storefronts or membership sites are allowed, unfortunately.
  • WordPress.com offers a full support team to help you if you get stuck.
  • WordPress.com offers to keep your site up to date with the plugins and themes!
  • You find your own hosting services like SiteGround or Flywheel.
  • No support from a team of folks like behind WordPress.com, but there are several help sites.
  • Your host or person you had build your site can sometimes help!
  • Can use 3rd party tools and plugins
  • Can create membership and storefront sites.
  • The site owner is responsible for upkeep. Make sure to ask your dev about support plans!

There are some differences, but at its core, they are very similar web platforms!

After you select which flavor of WordPress fits your need, it is time to install it and get into the fun stuff!

Selecting your Themes

Your theme is one of the most important pieces to your WordPress site. It controls the way your site looks and if you use the .org version, can include a lot of functionality. (For the majority of my projects, I use Beaver Builder. It works well and is great for any site. Check out my article here on it!) Using a 3rd party theme, like Beaver Builder, is a great way to get some neat extra features. However, some of the ones in the WordPress repository are great for basic websites as well. If you have the knowledge of CSS, you can do some style changes to any theme! The theme is what controls the main look of the overall site, so it is crucial!

After selecting what theme works for you, if you are using the .ORG version, is there any specific functionality needed? You can do a store using WooCommerce, or even build out a membership site. You may also need an event calendar plugin. There are endless amounts of plugins. (Kinda like the old saying of “There’s an app for that!” but with plugins). After getting your plugins installed and your functionality decided on, its time to start adding your content.

Adding your content and getting it to look great on all device sizes and types (known as responsive design) will be where a lot of time is spent! The content in a responsive design is “fluid”. That means it reshapes with the screen. The majority of themes are responsive. This makes it easy for the person who doesn’t know how to write CSS. After that is all added to the various pages, and then pages are styled. It’s time to take a quick break as you are almost done!

The final steps

After installing the theme, installing plugins, getting the site populated with content, and looking good, its time to finish it out! The final steps would be adding your social media channels and perhaps sharing the word. Also, do any 301 redirects if your new site is replacing your old one. (If you’re on the .ORG site you can do this through a plugin). Also, if you’re on the .ORG service, reach out to your host and see if you can install your own security plugin. Using one such as iThemes will help ensure another level of protection. Remember to submit your site to Google and Bing so it can start indexing your site. Then take a break or throw a party as you’re done.

It might sound like a lot, but it’s really not too difficult. With Gutenberg coming soon to both WordPress platforms, it’ll get easier! Knowing this and knowing how easy it is now, getting started with WordPress is very easy and with its popularity, there has never been a better time to start!

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