WordPress has become insanely popular for building blogs and websites, because it is just so simple to use!
However, when you get deeper inside, there are a lot of things that are confusing or not so obvious for the beginner.
So in this post I want to go over some of the fundamentals to make your life simpler when creating your first WordPress website.
1. Where Should You Put Your WordPress Website?
Many people become confused with WordPress.com versus WordPress.org.
Let’s make it simple:
- WordPress.com is where you can go to use WordPress as a subdomain for free (Result:. mywebsite.wordpress.com)
- WordPress.org is where you can download the WordPress files to use with your hosting account (Result: mywebsite.com)
I recommend sticking with using the WordPress.org option (ie. owning and running your own website).
Because you get to choose:
- Where your website will be hosted (a website hosting provider such as Bluehost, SiteGround or Traffic Planet)
- What your website will be called (choose a domain name like yourcompany.com, your own space online)
- What exactly will be installed with WordPress (eg. what plugins/functionality your site will have – social share buttons, contact form, membership site etc)
While this may sound like the most difficult option, most hosting providers can walk you through the process either through their live support or through the support files on their website.
If you are serious about your blog or website (or business) you will want to have your own hosting, domain name and NOT choose WordPress.com!
2. Don’t Use The ‘Admin’ User
When you first install it, WordPress will prompt you to set up an admin username and password.
Many people stick with the username they suggest: ‘admin’.
While this can save you a few seconds in the beginning, it opens a big hole in your website’s security.
Why? Since so many people keep this username, hackers know to use it when hacking into WordPress websites.
When installing WordPress create an admin username no one would be able to guess. Avoid names, common words or anything related to your website name.
And use a secure password: try a tool like Password Generator and keep a copy offline somewhere.
3. Add Users With The Correct Permissions
If more than one person needs to access your site, you will need to add additional users.
Whether it is to do design work or simply posting blog posts, you want to make sure that each person only gets the access they need.
Every user type in WordPress has different security levels and permissions. By giving your users the correct permissions they need, you reduce the possibility of being hacked or someone doing something wrong in your site.
Here is a quick overview of all the roles from the WordPress Manual:
WordPress User Roles and Permissions
Super Admin – somebody with access to the site network administration features and all other features. See the Create a Network article.
Administrator – somebody who has access to all the administration features within a single site.
Editor – somebody who can publish and manage posts including the posts of other users.
Author – somebody who can publish and manage their own posts.
Contributor – somebody who can write and manage their own posts but cannot publish them.
Subscriber – somebody who can only manage their profile.
4. Setting Your Permalink Structure
Once you have your WordPress site set up you will want to start configuring the settings to get things up and running.
One of the first places you should go to is the Permalink Settings.
(I know, it sounds like a foreign language, but bear with me)
Setting up permalinks is something many first time WordPress users don’t understand, but it is extremely important. That is why you should head here very early on.
To get to the Permalink Settings go to:
- your website Dashboard
- click on Settings
- now click Permalinks
A permalink is the way WordPress names your links for your posts and pages. Especially the last part (after yourwebsite.com/)
You can set these links to end in:
- Random numbers
- The current date (plus post or page title)
- Post or Page title
Personally, I recommend using the page/post title. As it is the easiest to read, the shortest and the best for SEO (aka Google).
When you are editing your page or post, you can also edit the permalink underneath where you set the title to be something completely custom. Simply click on the end, and edit that part how you like.
The overall structure is still defined in the Permalinks Settings though
Once you set a Permalink it should never be changed. Because once that link is shared on other websites or on social media, it will be a broken link and will not work, causing you to lose potential traffic.
5. The Difference Between Pages and Posts
WordPress uses two ways of categorizing the content you create: pages and posts.
Each of these have their own section in your dashboard where you can get an overview of each.
But what is the difference between the two?
- posts as all of the content you put on your blog.
- pages as the main sections of your website such as your home page, about me page and contact page.
Pages are often referred to as “static” because they don’t usually change so much.
Blog posts on the other hand, have a date, and are always being added to.
They all go onto one page called your blog. This page displays them all in chronological order, with the newest at the top.
Create a blog post when you want to write something on a topic that is not going to go in your menu or other fixed location.
Create a page when it is more permanent or structural content like About Us, Contact, Services etc.
6. Adding menus to your site
Once you have your WordPress site set up, you will definitely want some sort of menu on your site.
While the placement will normally be determined by your theme, you do have the option to add all sorts of links to your menu.
You can add:
- Post Categories
- Custom Links (to any page on the web)
anywhere in your menu.
To create and edit menus go to your WordPress dashboard and then go to
- Then to Menus
From here you can select a menu to edit and choose pages, categories and custom links to add and change the look of those links.
You can also create sub-menus by dragging the menu items slightly to the right of the one above. Watch the dotted gray boxes that appear, they will guide you as to whether it is a sub-menu or still the same level as the one above.
7. Setting the blog and home page
Our last tip for getting started with WordPress is how to set your home page and your blog page.
While some people have their blog page as the home page, others like to give each of these pages their own specific location.
To do this you want to go to
- Go to the Dashboard
- Then to Settings
- Lastly go to Reading
From here you will see two options:
- The Font Page (which will be the Home Page)
- The Post Page (which will be your blog)
By choosing from the dropdown list, you can assign any of the pages you have previously created as the home or blog page.
Just be careful that the page you choose is actually set up to function as that kind of page (like the blog) otherwise you might be in for a surprise!
Although having the blog page as your home page seems like the "only" choice for a blogger. Have a serious think about what you want people to do most on your website.
That is what you should focus on on your home page.
eg. If you are focusing on email signups, have an optin box at the top of your homepage.
If you are selling something, focus on that.
WordPress sites often have the blog as the home page, but it does not have to be that way!
Are you considering using WordPress for your website already? You might want to learn the basics first
What are top WordPress struggles that you would love for us to cover?
We can’t wait to hear and we can’t wait to help.