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How To Create a WordPress Website With a Web Host

How To Create a WordPress Website With a Web Host – Beginner’s Guide

So, you’ve purchased your first hosting package and chosen a fitting domain name. You can’t wait to enter the domain name in the browser and have your very own website pop up – trust us we know. But that won’t quite work just yet. While your excitement is certainly alive and real, your website isn’t just yet. You need to actually develop a website, host it on the server, and only then will it go live.

It could also be that you haven’t even gotten hosting or a domain yet. Hell, you aren’t even sure what those terms mean, but still want to get a website up and running as soon as possible.

Regardless of your situation, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll walk you through the entire process of creating your very own website.

There’re a few different ways you can go about it, some a bit harder than others. In the following sections, we’ll talk about using a Content Management System (CMS) to build your website. It’s a relatively easy process and gets you started in the shortest amount of time. So, let’s dive right in!


Contents

  1. WordPress works best with a local web host
    • WordPress.org vs WordPress.com
  2. Choose a domain and buy hosting
  3. Install and customize WordPress
  4. Configure WordPress
  5. Secure WordPress
  6. Add Content
  7. Set up automated backups
  8. Set up an ecommerce store

WordPress works best with a local web host

CMS is short for Content Management System. It’s the software that allows you to create and manage content on the web via an easy-to-use dashboard. More than 60% of all currently live websites have been built using some kind of CMS. WordPress (WP), Drupal, and Joomla! are some prime examples. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll be using WordPress. Now, you might be confused as to which WordPress we’re talking about.

WordPress.org vs WordPress.com

WordPress.org merely provides the open-source (free) software that powers your website, which means you’ll need to find a website hosting provider (web host) that provides this software to you in a neat package. Besides that, they’ll also need to store your website files on a server so that your website is accessible by the internet.

.org stands for organisation, which means this is the non-profit side of WordPress. .com is short for commercial, so this is how you remember that WordPress.com is the commercial/profit side of WordPress. WordPress.com fulfils the role of a web host that provides the WordPress software on servers hosted in the USA, and around the world.

However, WordPress.com doesn’t have the infrastructure to host all the websites in the world and charges US Dollars. If you’re looking for local support (when your website is having problems you’ll need Support Engineers to assist in your language and time-zone), low latency in your country, and local prices, it’s best to look for a web host that has web servers located in your country.

So why is it ideal to host your website in the same country as your primary target audience?

Google states that your website’s page speed (the time a visitor has to wait for your page to fully load) and server location affects your website’s ranking for certain locations. If you’re looking to have your website favoured by search engines such as Google and have your website load in under 1 second, you need to host your website on servers located in your country.

For example, if you’re a South African looking to have a website that sells products/services to a target market physically located in South Africa, hosting your website on WordPress.com’s servers in the USA will cause your website to load slower for South Africans and, subsequently, you won’t rank well in South African Google search results.


Step 1: Choose a domain and buy hosting

Choose a domain name

Note: if you’ve already purchased a domain, go to Step 2.

Simply put, a domain is your website’s name. It’s the phrase potential visitors/customers will put into their browsers or find in search results to visit your website. For this reason, (and many others) choosing a good domain name is important. Here are a few tips that will help you get it right:

  • Keep it short: Nobody wants to visit Caspersfireworksandotherstuff.com. and it’s hard to remember.
  • Be brand-specific: Your domain name should give people a semblance of an idea regarding what your business does.
  • Use keywords relevant to your niche: if your niche is in solar panels, having solar in your domain name will make it much more likely to show in search results when people search for solar panels to buy.
  • Don’t use special characters or numbers: They make you look unprofessional and you don’t want to leave people wondering how to spell your website’s name.
  • Choose the correct domain extensions: Domain extensions are the part of the domain that comes after the period/full-stop (.). A .com domain is a universal choice but depending on your needs or nature of business, you might have to choose a different option.
  • How does it feel when you pronounce it? Your domain name should be easy to pronounce. This would make it likelier to be brought up in conversations.

Register a domain and buy hosting

Note: if you’ve already registered a domain and purchased a hosting plan, go to Step 2. .

Once you’ve thought of a catchy domain, you’ll need to get it registered. Look for a hosting provider, like us, that offers these essentials, such as a free local .co.za domain, and an SSL Certificate already included in your hosting package, so that there’s no need to buy that separately.

An SSL Certificate is absolutely critical in today’s world because it ensures end-to-end encryption between a website and its clients. This way, no eavesdropping can occur, and a website’s traffic and sensitive information always stay protected.

However, your website will only be as fast and secure as the servers it’s hosted on. Naturally, we go above and beyond to exceed this criteria as a hosting provider and optimise our servers for WordPress hosting. Look for these features to make sure your website can compete on the global market.

Optimised features for WordPress hosting with HOSTAFRICA

Our WordPress hosting includes daily backups and Patchman Automatic Vulnerability patching. The latter ensures that in case any security risks/malware are identified, they get patched automatically and immediately.

All our WordPress hosting comes with an additional speed boost, courtesy of the LiteSpeed Cache installed on their WordPress servers. It uses intelligent caching to massively reduce a local website’s load times to under 1 second.

Litespeed Web Hosting is up to 12 times faster!

Additionally, in an attempt to give website owners complete control over their website’s administration and management, we also offers the gift of cPanel. It’s a powerful web hosting control panel that simplifies the process of website configuration, management, and automation.

cPanel simplifies the process of website configuration, management, and automation.

It’s important that you do research on which control panel your potential hosting provider offers before you buy a package and check if it is up-to-standard, as you’ll have to make do with this to manage everything with respect to your website hosting. In other words, if the interface is messy or difficult to navigate , you’re likely to have a hard time as long as you use that control panel.

Here’s a breakdown of the different WordPress hosting plans currently offered by us:

HOSTAFRICA WordPress hosting price table

Step 2: Install and Customize WordPress

Install WordPress

Here we use a world-leading web host control panel called cPanel. cPanel uses a handy 1-click application installer called Softaculous to make this process a breeze.

Log in to your cPanel dashboard by entering your domain name into your web browser URL bar followed by port 2083. It’ll look like this: 

https://yourdomain.co.za:2083

Scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the section called Softaculous Apps Installer. Look under Scripts for WordPress and click it.

cPanel Softaculous apps installer

Once in the Softaculous installer, hit Install Now at the bottom of the page.

WordPress installation prompts via cPanel HOSTAFRICA

In Software Setup > next to Choose Installation URL, choose https:// for Protocol and choose the domain you want your website to appear on. Leave In Directory blank.

You can choose a theme later, we’ll show you how spice up your website further down in the article.

Lastly, at the bottom of the page, enter your email that you want your login details sent to, then click Install.

Your website will take from 10 minutes to a couple of hours to propagate over the internet and show up on your domain. Henceforth, Bob shall be known as your uncle.

Note: If your host does not use cPanel, follow this guide from WordPress.org on How To Install WordPress, then proceed with the next step.

Customise WordPress

Once your website is available on your domain, you can begin to customise it.

WordPress themes and plugins allow you to customise the look and functionality of your website according to your needs.

After a fresh installation of WordPress, your website will be running a default theme and the plugins installed won’t provide you with the functionality you desire. Let’s look at how you can change it.

WordPress Themes

WordPress has a huge community. The number of available themes (both free and paid) is tremendous. The most famous ones can be found on the official WordPress website. However, there’re plenty of other websites like ThemeForest that also contain a multitude of free and paid themes.

To change/install a theme on WordPress, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress dashboard as an admin user by adding /wp-admin after your domain name in your web browser URL bar. So it will look like this:
https://yourdomain.com/wp-admin
  1. From the menu bar on the left, click Appearance and then Themes.
    From the menu bar on the left, click Appearance and then Themes.
  2. Click Add New.
    Click Add New.
  3. Now, you can either upload a theme (must be in .zip format) or search for it. For the former, follow these steps:
    1. Click Upload Theme and then Choose File.
      Click Upload Theme and then Choose File.
    2. Navigate to the relevant .zip file and click Install Now.
    3. Once installed, you should see the following screen:
      Once installed, you should see the following screen:
    4. Click Activate.
    5. Visit your homepage to see the newly installed theme.
  4. To install a theme by searching, follow these steps:
    1. Search for the theme from the bar on the right.
    2. Click the relevant result and then select Install.
      Click the relevant result and then select Install.
    3. After the installation finishes in a few moments, the Activate button should appear on the left. Click it.
      After the installation finishes in a few moments, the Activate button should appear on the left.
    4. Visit your homepage to see the newly installed theme.

Now that we’ve changed the design of our website, let’s look at some of the features/customisations we can add via WordPress plugins.

WordPress plugins

Plugins add functionality to your website without your having to write code or change any configuration files. Just like themes, there’re thousands of free and paid WordPress plugins available. From anti-malware to sitemap generators; from search engine optimisation (SEO) to lead generation; from automatic backups to customised word editors; there’s a plugin for virtually anything you may need. Expect a plugin telling you when to have your next cuppa joe in the near future.

To install a plugin on WordPress, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress dashboard as an admin user.
  2. Select Plugins from the left-hand sidebar and then Add New.
    Select Plugins from the left-hand sidebar and then Add New.
  3. Now, you can either upload a plugin (must be in .zip format) or search for it. For the former, follow these steps:
    1. Click Upload Plugin and then Choose File.
      Click Upload Plugin and then Choose File.
    2. Navigate to the relevant .zip file and click Install Now.
    3. Once installed, you should see the following screen:
      You should see this screen once installed.
    4. Click Activate Plugin.
  4. To install a plugin by searching, follow these steps:
    1. Search for the plugin from the search bar on the right.
    2. For the relevant result, select Install Now.
      Click 'Install Now' from the relevant result.
    3. After the installation finishes in a few moments, the Activate button should appear. Click it.
      Click activate once installed.

Step 3: Configure WordPress

Configure WordPress

Before you actually start creating content on your website, there’re a few basic tweaks you should make to configure your website properly. Let’s go through them:

Delete the default page, post, and comment

By default, WordPress creates a dummy page and post after installation. It’s a good idea to delete or replace them.

To delete the post, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress admin dashboard.
  2. Now, select Posts and then All Posts.
    Select Posts and then All Posts.
  3. Hover over the post, and select Trash.
    Hover over the post, and select Trash.

If you bought a WordPress Hosting package with HOSTAFRICA, our auto-install parks a default holding page on new domains while you get your website ready. Follow the steps below to delete it.

Our auto install parks a default holding page on new domains while you get your website ready.
  1. Log in to your cPanel Dashboard by entering your domain into your web browser URL bar followed by port 2083. It will look like this: https://yourdomain.co.za:2083. Once you’re in, select File Manager.
    Select File Manager.
  2. Browse to public_html folder and double-click on blue icon.
    Browse to public_html folder and double-click on blue icon.
  3. Remove the file by clicking on index.html to highlight it in blue, then press Delete. Confirm the prompt.

To delete the page on WP, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress admin dashboard.
  2. Now, select Pages -> All Pages.
    Select Pages -> All Pages.
  3. Hover over the page, and select Trash.
    Hover over the page, and select Trash.

Configure Permalinks:

Permalinks define how URLs of different posts and pages are structured on your website. You can either choose from the 5 available permalinks (plain, day and name, month and name, numeric, post name) or create a customised permalink.

E.g. https://myblog/?p=123 is an example of the plain permalink which just appends the post ID at the end of the link. By default, WordPress chooses the Day and name permalink, but it’s recommended to create a customised one for your website, or use post name because it’s more reader-friendly, and therefore more trustworthy to visitors and search engines, improving CTR and SERP rank.

To change your permalink settings, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress admin dashboard.
  2. Now, select Settings -> Permalinks.
    Select Settings -> Permalinks.
  3. Now choose the permalink and save the changes.
    (Note: We created a simple but visitor-friendly permalink selecting the category and postname boxes at the bottom of the screenshot.)
    Now choose the permalink and save the changes.

Ensure that your website is public

Even though your website should be public by default, to ensure that it is, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress admin dashboard.
  2. Go to Settings -> Reading.
    Go to Settings -> Reading.
  3. Make sure that the box next to Search engine visibility is unchecked.

Set your time-zone:

Ideally, you should either synchronise WordPress with your local time-zone or with that of your target audience. To change/set your time zone, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress admin dashboard.
  2. Then select Settings -> General.
    Select Settings -> General.
  3. Select the appropriate time zone from the dropdown and save the changes.
    Select the appropriate time-zone from the dropdown and save the changes.

Set the website title and tagline

Now would be a good time to brainstorm a catchy title and tagline for your website. Once you are ready to change the default values, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress admin dashboard.
  2. Then select Settings -> General.
    Select Settings -> General.
  3. Enter the title and the tagline at the top. Save the changes.
    Enter the title and the tagline at the top. Save the changes.

Enable/disable comments

Comments are a great way to engage with your audience. To enable or disable them, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress admin dashboard.
  2. Then select Settings -> Discussion.
  3. Check or uncheck the box that says Allow people to submit comments on new posts to enable or disable comments.
    Check or uncheck the box that says Allow people to submit comments on new posts to enable or disable comments.

You may also want to check out other comment settings below.

  • To force users to log in before commenting, check the Users must be registered and logged in to comment box.
  • To change comment notifications, look at the Email me whenever section.
  • You may also add comment moderation settings using the Before a comment appears, Comment Moderation, and Disallowed Comment Keys sections.

Tweaking multimedia settings

You may also want to change (or at least check) the default cropping sizes for any-and-all images you may upload to your media library. Follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WordPress admin dashboard.
  2. Then select Settings -> Media.
  3. Select or vet the pixel values for the thumbnail, medium, and large sizes.
    Select or vet the pixel values for the thumbnail, medium, and large sizes.

Step 4: Securing WordPress

Secure WordPress

Wordfence reports that every minute, almost 90,000 hacking attempts are made on WordPress websites worldwide. This fact alone should make you take WordPress security very seriously. However, daunting as it may seem, if you follow the best security practices and stay vigilant and pre-emptive, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.

There’re many ways your WordPress site can get compromised. You could either be running an outdated WordPress version that’s full of vulnerabilities. Or you could’ve downloaded a fake/malicious plugin that injected code into your core WordPress files. Or because your traffic wasn’t encrypted (no SSL certificate) and you became a victim of an eavesdropping attack. Or simply because you chose a very weak password. The list goes on…

Most of the time, after a successful hack, even your database is compromised, which means that all your data has been lost, and your site has been rendered inaccessible. Even if you somehow get it back, there’s no way to be 100% sure that the hacker didn’t leave another backdoor open for later. Thus, prevention is better than cure. In fact, there might be no cure. You might have to redo all the hard work of building a website. So, let’s prevent that from happening by following these steps:

Weekly Malware Scans:

The most dangerous thing about malware is that it comes unannounced. That’s why it’s an absolute must to run malware scans every week. Cerber is an excellent security plugin that can be used for this purpose. It protects against hacker attacks, malware, Trojan, and spam. It also puts a limit on the number of consecutive failed login attempts (from a certain IP or subnet) to prevent brute force attacks.

The free version detects infections but doesn’t remove them. So, we recommend obtaining the pro license for $29/quarter if you are running just one website ($39/month for up to 5 websites). The automatic malware scans, integrity checks, and infection recovery are well worth the money.

Another top security plugin, with an impressive 4+ million installations and stellar rating, is Wordfence Security.

Randomise WP Login URL:

By default, the WordPress admin login page is always http://yourblog.com/wp-login.php. And if you don’t change it, hackers can easily gain access to your website by cracking your password. However, using Cerber, you can easily change the URL to something random. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to your WP admin dashboard.
  2. From the left sidebar, select “WP Cerber”.
    From the left sidebar, select “WP Cerber”.
  3. Then select Main Settings tab.
    Then select Main Settings tab.
  4. Scroll down to the Custom login page section to define a Custom login URL for your website. Save the changes.
    (Note: Make sure this doesn’t overlap with the URL of any existing page. Also bear in mind that if you forget the custom URL, you will be locked out of your website)
    Scroll down to the Custom login page section to define a Custom login URL for your website.

Set a strong password

Arguably the easiest way to strengthen your defences, and also the most important, is to set a strong password. Read this extensive guide about all the best practices for creating strong passwords.

Avoid dodgy plugins and themes

Plugins and themes are a great way to make your website more feature-rich and reader-friendly. However, they must always be downloaded/purchased from reputable, trusted sources. E.g. CodeCanyon is a trustworthy website with thousands of safe plugins and themes. Whatever you do, don’t download free/premium themes or plugins from shady websites.

Keep all plugins, themes, and WordPress up-to-date

Most of the time, if a piece of software is labelled outdated or obsolete, it’s because it’s full of potential bugs or vulnerabilities. In 2019, almost 60% of breaches occurred due to vulnerabilities that had already been patched with previous updates. This is why it’s critical to keep your plugins, themes, and WordPress core up to date at all times. Fortunately for us, WordPress always notifies/alerts us whenever an update is available; we just need to be vigilant in applying it.

Moreover, as a rule of thumb, only install plugins that are really necessary, and uninstall anything that you don’t use anymore. This will decrease your potential attack surface (all security vulnerabilities that can be exploited).


Step 5: Adding Content

Add content to WordPress

Now that we’ve designed, configured, and secured our website, we’re ready to start adding content to it. WordPress content can be added in two ways: a post or a page. The main difference between the two is that posts can be divided into categories, and can be tagged and/or archived. Posts are normally time-sensitive content (blog entries or articles) that are displayed in chronological order on your website. On the other hand, pages contain static, one-off content like privacy policies, contact us forms, and about us pages etc.

Add a new post

To add a new post to WordPress, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WP dashboard.
  2. Select Posts -> Add New
    Select Posts -> Add New
  3. Create a title for your post, and enter content in the body.
    Create a title for your post, and enter content in the body.
  4. You can use the sidebars on the right to adjust typography, change colour or text settings, add tags/excerpts/permalinks/categories, or set a featured image for your post.
  5. To add an image or video to your post, click the plus icon on the top left and select Image or Video.
    To add an image or video to your post, click the plus icon on the top left and select Image or Video.
  6. Once you’re all done, you can publish using the button on the top right.

Add a new page

To add a new page to WordPress, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the WP dashboard.
  2. Select Pages -> Add New.
    Select Pages -> Add New.
  3. Create a title for your page, and enter content in the body.
    Create a title for your page, and enter content in the body.
  4. You can use the sidebars on the right to adjust typography, change colour or text settings, add permalinks/page attributes, or set a featured image for your page.
  5. To add an image or video to your page, click the plus icon on the top left and select Image or Video.
    To add an image or video to your page, click the plus icon on the top left and select Image or Video.
  6. Once you’re all done, you can publish using the button on the top right.

Step 6: Create Backups

Set up automated backups

We’ll wrap things up by enabling automated backups for our website. Follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the cPanel dashboard by entering https://yourdomain.co.za:2083 in your web browser URL bar.
  2. Select WordPress Manager by Softaculous under SOFTWARE.
    Select WordPress Manager by Softaculous under SOFTWARE.
  3. For the desired WordPress installation, press the pencil icon to edit.
    For the desired WordPress installation, press the pencil icon to edit.
  4. Scroll down. From the Automated backups dropdown, select the desired backup frequency. Also, choose the Backup rotation number which will be the maximum limit for created backups. If this limit is reached, Softaculous will delete the oldest backup before creating a new one.
    Scroll down. From the Automated backups dropdown, select the desired backup frequency. Also choose the Backup rotation number which will be maximum limit for created backups.
  5. Click the Save Installation Details button at the bottom.

Step 7: WooCommerce

Set up an ecommerce store

Now that your website is all set up, it’s time to get your store online. There’re plenty of ways to build an online store, but WooCommerce is, by far the best choice, and best of all – it’s free.

Set Up a WooCommerce Store on your WordPress Website
How to set up WooCommerce Store blog cover

Now that you’ve set up your WordPress website you should have a solid foundation to work from and make your website truly amazing. We hope this helped!

Happy hosting!



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