Launch Your WordPress Website in Five Steps

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My dear reader, I could go on and on about why WordPress is the best platform for building your small business website…and I did, in last week’s post. So now, this week, I’m delving into what you’ll need to do (or hire someone to do for you), to get your site up and running on WordPress.

Whether it will be your first-ever web presence, or you’ll be switching from another website or blog platform, I’ve got you covered with these five simple steps.

WordPress Launch Strategy

  1. WordPressFirst things first, to use WordPress.org, you need to have a web hosting account. {If you already have a great web host, skip to step two}. If you don’t have one already, or you’re unhappy with your current host, I totally recommend Bluehost*. But whatever hosting company you go with, make sure that they are reliable, and provide excellent service & support…because switching from one host to another is a pain, and your business site will hum along much smoother and easier if you can stay & be happy with the same host for the long-term. (In case you’re wondering, I’ve been with Bluehost* for about four years now, and I couldn’t be happier with them.)
  2. Install WordPress on your hosting account. Most major hosting companies, including Bluehost, make this super-easy; just find the WP install link in your control panel, and it’ll walk you through it in as few as one or two steps.
  3. Log into your newly created WordPress dashboard, and start creating pages. Don’t worry about how it looks yet, or even filling every page full with content at first; you can do that incrementally as your website evolves.
    A TIP: If you’re switching from another website or blog platform, check out this help page to find out if/how you can import your existing pages and blog posts to your new site.
    ANOTHER TIP: It’s a good idea to plan beforehand what pages you need. Write or type up an MS Word document with a list of pages, including the hierarchy you plan to have (for example, you could have a top-level “Shop/Store” page, with individual product pages or category pages listed under it).

  4. Once you have your basic page structure laid out, determine how you want your website to look. (Or if you already have a certain appearance in mind, you could do this step before you create any pages. What's the plan?To be honest, I sometimes intermix steps three & four – designing, adding pages and content, tweaking the design a bit, add more pages and content – so, it’s totally okay to do steps 3 and 4, and also step 5, in whatever order works for you).

    In WordPress, site designs are packaged as “themes”. You can: A) Go all out, and hire a web developer to custom-built a theme for you completely from scratch; B) Buy a pre-fab template theme to use as-is with a few minor changes to colors or fonts; or, C) Buy a more versatile theme framework (like Thesis*, which is what I use) and go to town customizing it to exactly how you want.

    Whichever option you choose, though, it’s important to think about what look you’re aiming for, before you buy a theme or hire a designer or developer. The options are endless, from colors, to style, to layout, not to mention deeper considerations like “What does my website need to look and function like, to both capture the heart and soul of my business brand, and to also resonate with my target customers?”.

  5. Finally, outfit your site with some great plugins, to enhance it’s functionality, and add useful features like contact forms and shopping carts to your website.

    Essential plugins include Google Analyticator (it sets up GA tracking for you, easy as pie), WP Spam-Free or other comment-spam-busting plugin, and a social sharing plugin like Flare (see the social sharing buttons at the bottom-right of this post, and the floating share bar to the left? That’s the Flare plugin at work…pretty nifty, right?).

Overall, the best practices for getting started in WordPress are research, and planning. Read articles like this one, watch video tutorials, and so forth, to get a handle on the steps; then, formulate your plan; decide what pages you’ll need, what content each page will have, think about what your site needs to look like, and what essential functions it needs to have. Then, you can focus on getting your site up and running faster and more efficiently, with the details already hashed out. (Or, just kick your feet up and hire me to do it for you!)

*Starred links are my affiliate links. My policy is to only be an affiliate for products or services that I personally use and LOVE, or that I know enough about from other business owners who use and love it, that I can recommend it to you with utmost confidence.

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About Barbara Austin

As the graphic designer & founder of Sweet Dreamz Design, Barbara loves working with women entrepreneurs to brand their businesses. She shares a variety of small business advice and anecdotes here on the blog. Check back every week for new tips, inspirations, and how-to articles, or subscribe to get regular updates in your inbox each week!

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