A lot of people don't know this, but building a website using a WordPress theme can be one of the cheapest ways to launch a website quickly and easily.
In this tutorial you will learn:
- How to choose the right theme
- Where to host your website (free domain name included)
- How to launch and setup your theme yourself
- Where to hire someone to do it for you
- BONUS - The 6 plugins I use on every website & you should too
1. Choosing the right theme
Making sure you pick the right template for your website is going to save you a lot of frustration down the road. I can't tell you the number of times I've made the wrong choice and paid the price. Themes that are not supported well by their developer, or ones that are coded poorly will be a nightmare from the get go.
So let's make things easier
Once you arrive, start by selecting the WordPress option at the top. This will make sure you are only seeing WordPress templates.
2. Hosting your new WordPress theme
To launch a website online there are a few things that you need. One is the site files (which you just bought). The two others are the website domain name (www.mydomain.com), and the web hosting.
In this section I'll talk about the domain name and hosting.
Hosting is the foundation of any website that exists online today. If you have shitty web hosting, your website will likely crash - ALOT!
So it is important to pick a hosting company that will do a good job. Lucky for you, I know just the one for the job.
So let's go ahead and get your hosting account set up
Start by visiting SiteGround, the hosting company I use for my own websites and many others.
For most websites I recommend the Grow Big account.
If you don't expect a whole lot of traffic on your website or you don't plan on launching another website anytime soon, you can get started with the Startup option.
The reason I recommend this company for hosting is because they are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for support.
Godaddy does not offer this.
The second reason is because I've never had to wait more than 2 minutes to talk with someone. Other hosting companies have you on hold forever.
You can read more about why I think they are the best hosting company.
Here are a few screenshots that show which options I recommend selecting during hosting setup.
You get 1-year of domain name registration FOR FREE!
The next step is to enter keywords that have something to do with the website you want to create. Here are some examples:
"membership", "blog", "ecommerce", "dentist", "minimal", "colorful", etc.
I would recommend entering a single word or phrase and then trying a new one if you don't see any results you are interested in.
The final step of choosing the right theme is to look deeper into the activity for each one. You can do this by taking a look at the reviews, number of purchases, and comments for the theme or themes you are interested in.
- High Rated - You want to make sure the theme you choose has high ratings.
- Number of Reviews - More important than high ratings is the number of reviews. A 5 star theme reviewed by 1,000 people is better than one that has been reviewed by 10 people.
- Number of Sales - The more a template has been sold, the more likely the developer is to continue supporting it. If a developer has only sold a handful over a year, they probably won't continue to support the theme.
- Response Frequency - Click the theme to display more information about it. At the top, click the comments tab. You'll be able to see how often the developer responds to comments. The quicker the response time, the better.
- Date Review - Lastly, take a look at the dates next to each comment to compare questions being asked to the date an answer was given. Also use this to see how often people have problems. You want a theme that has high ratings and reviews but less comments. This means the theme is probably easy to use and built well.
Here are some screenshots to help show you how to review these.
3. DIY WordPress theme setup
Setting up a new WordPress theme isn't for everyone, but I'm adding this section because I know there are some of you who are ready to get your hands dirty.
Want to know a secret?
It's not hard.
With your new web hosting account created, the first step is to install WordPress. It is pretty much a simple, 1-click process.
If you get lost, test out SiteGround's chat support or give them a call. They will walk you right through it.
Once WordPress is installed on your domain, it is time to add your theme files.
To start, log in to your website dashboard once you install WordPress. There is a link on the page after a successful WordPress install. It will look something like the image below.
If you messed up or don't see the link, no problem.
There's still hope!
Just type in your domain and add:
at the end of it.
It should look something like this.
Log in to the website using the details you created.
At this point you are just about there. Only a few more steps to getting your WordPress theme online and your new website ready for content.
So let's get to work.
Once you log into your website you will be on the "dashboard". This is also called the "back-end" in nerd speak.
On the left hand side of the dashboard in the dashboard navigation hover over the word appearance.
You will notice that an option for themes pops up, click it.
Once you click you will see the themes that are included with WordPress by default. Most of the time I simply delete these but doing that is a little more advanced.
So, for now, let's just add your new theme.
Click the button at the top of this page that says Add New.
Find your zipped theme file that you downloaded to your computer in the earlier step.
Select it and upload it to the website.
Guess what?! You are just about done! You should be proud.
The final step after you install your theme is to install demo content and settings so it starts looking like the demo on Themeforest.
There are a couple ways to do this.
- The theme probably comes with demo content that you can simply upload. Look in the file that you downloaded from Themeforest. You may see a folder called demo or an XML file.
- You can download the test demo content that WordPress uses to test themes. (I don't recommend this just because it still won't turn on specific settings for your unique theme).
Just like buying something from Ikea, I recommend reading the documentation that came with your theme, this will probably show you exactly how to install the demo content included with the template.
The next step is to use the comments area of the Themeforest theme you purchased and ask the developer how to import and setup the theme content.
If you are STILL having issues...
4. Hiring the professional to do it for you
Let's face it, time is precious and some things in life are best left to the experts. Getting your theme installed by an expert might be one of those things.
hiring someone isn't expensive.
Open a new tab in your internet browser and go to Fiverr.
Once you get there, use the search field at the top and search for
"WordPress theme setup"
You should start seeing results for professionals who will install your new website theme.
Prices vary from $5 - $50.
When I'm hiring a Fiverr professional, I look for someone with good ratings and a lot of reviews. You can also filter by location even though I think half of these are bogus anyways. Lastly, I recommend finding someone who is online (there is a filter for that).
Write them first and as when they can have the install and setup completed.
The great thing about Fiverr is you can request refunds, get your money back, leave bad reviews for bad experiences, etc.
If you hire the right person, this should be a very quick and painless process.
GET THE BONUS!
Find out which 6 plugins I use on every site and so should you!
If you don't know what a plugin is, here is a quick explanation:
A WordPress plugin is a file that you can install on your website to add additional functionality quickly and easily. There are many free plugins that are awesome, and there are also paid plugins that are even MORE awesome!
There you go.
So, let's get to the meat and potatoes
Over the years I've learned (through trial and error), which plugins you should ALWAYS include on your website. Here's my top secret list and links to them.
- EWWW Image Optimizer - optimizes images you upload automagically so you don't have ridiculous photo sizes slowing down your website.
- Simple Mail Address Encoder - If you put your email address on your website (which most people do), you are at risk of it being harvested, sold to the highest bidder, and then overrun with spam in your inbox. This will stop that from happening.
- Slim Stat Analytics - Did you know Google Analytics hides about 70% of your keyword data? Don't believe me? Look at the top of your Google Analytics stats and you will see an "Other" listed. That "Other" is a majority of your traffic and they won't share it with you (unless you pay for it). Slim Stats gives you better analytics and all of it...for free!
- Use Google Libraries - This is a speed thing. I'm not going to try to explain it. Just add it.
- WP-SpamShield - WordPress sites can get spam through many different ways, mostly comments. This will keep that from happening. Add it and see how many it blocks. Amazin'!
- Advanced Database Cleaner - Remember your parents always telling you to keep your room clean? This is the automated WordPress cleaner. It allows you to clean out old cluttered stuff without needing to be a nerd. Just push buttons!
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