Create a WordPress Website Step By Step

In fact, a blog is a website but there’s a strange notion out there that websites and blogs are not both websites. The arrival of custom menus at WordPress.com was very well received as many of us wanted the  flexibility to structure a website for a long time.

The website or blog confusion is expressed when bloggers arrive in the WordPress.com support forums saying words like these:

I am trying create a basic company website as apposed to a blog. I was told you also have a content management system I can install to allow my client to update and change the content of our web site without disturbing the back end code – is that correct?

I just signed up for the $99 upgrade and I’m interested in creating a personal website/resume site. I’m not sure where to start a website, it keeps talking about blogs?

I think I am misunderstanding the word “blog” My knowledge is that it is almost like a diary in which I can write and other people can read it. I don’t want to do that. I just want to purchase a .com domain and design a website with the available themes for my business.

Using WordPress.com to Create a Website

WordPress.com Staff have provided a support documentation entry for those who want to structure a WordPress.com blog like a website. What’s critical is to understand when prior to creating a website structure are the following:

The 5 Blog and Website Differences;
The differences between posts and pages;
The impact of creating a static front page;
The SEO implications of creating a page based structure.

The 5 Blog and Website Differences

  1. The main difference between a blog and website is the communication style. A website has a noticeboard communication style. A blog is a website designed for interactive communication. Collectively blogs create the blogosphere, while websites are like standalone islands.
  2.  Blogs encourage conversation, websites do not and that’s why businesses with websites are adding blogs, and sometimes forums and wikis to them for complaint handling, customer feedback purposes and for collaborative purposes.
  3.  Blogs feature dynamic content and position it front and center. The entries have date and time stamps, and blog entries are customarily displayed on the front page in reverse chronological order. Most most websites do not have dynamic content on their front pages. Many websites have static front pages. The information most websites provide is static, rarely updated, and the sites are often poorly maintained.
  4.  Blogs have RSS feeds, websites ALONE do not.
  5.  Usually but not always, blogs rank higher in Google and as “freshness” is extremely important when it comes to content appearing in the SERPs (search engine page results).

The Differences Between Posts and and Pages

Characteristics of Posts

Posts can have Categories and Tags assigned to them. They do appear in our RSS feeds when published, edited, updated and when comments to them are approved and posted. Posts have date stamps in their URLs. Other bloggers do backlink to Posts in their own published posts. Post structured sites have better opportunities to:

  • secure traffic;
  • secure comments;
  • secure backlinks;
  • achieve authority in the niche;
  • achieve Google PageRank.

Characteristics of Pages

Static Pages sit outside the blog structure. Static pages cannot have Categories and Tags assigned to them. Pages do not appear in RSS feeds. Most Pages do not have date stamps in their URLs. Other bloggers rarely backlink to static Pages in their published posts. Page structured blogs have a very difficult time:

  •   securing traffic;
  •   securing comments;
  •   securing backlinks;
  •   achieving authority in the niche;
  •   achieving Google PageRank.

The impact of creating a static front page

The front page of the blog by default will display your posts (not pages) in reverse chronological order, with the most recently published post on top. If you do not want all the posts to show on the front page, then you can create a static front page “Welcome” page for your site and a “Blog” page for posts. (Note the Page titles can be whatever you want then to be.)

Pages and sub-pages can be used very effectively for several purposes but choosing to create a static front page or “a splash page“, rather than having all posts displaying  on your front page may be a traffic quenching choice. Prior to making the static front page choice bloggers ought to consider:

  • How information in their blogs can be most easily accessed by readers and by search engines;
  • Who their target audience is;
  • What their metrics reveal about who their current readers are and where they are coming from;
  • Whether or not a static home page is likely to result in delivering more readers via search engines;
  • And whether a static home page is likely to result in more conversions from casual passers through to regular blog readers/subscribers.

Disassociating Username Accounts and blogs

When we register a username account here the email address we provide becomes our unique identifier. We can register as many blogs as we wish and provided we are using the same username account then all the blogs will be registered under it and the associated email account. We can change our “display name” but that nickname name will appear on all blogs registered under the same username account.  Read WordPress.com Username Accounts, Logins and More for details. If you have both a business and personal blog disassociating blogs is a choice you can make.

Creating Custom Menus

custom menu topOnly Posts (not Pages) can have Categories and/or Tags assigned to them. Pages are static and are for content that rarely changes. They sit outside of the blog structure and you cannot post to multiple pages in any blog. There is only one main page for posts in a blog and all posts will display on the main blog page. There is no way to exclude posts from the main posts (blog) page.

custom menu orderThough there is only one dynamic page in a blog for posts and we cannot post to more than that one page, we can create the appearance that we have posted to more than one page.

We organize posts by assigning Categories to them and when we publish the software automatically displays the posts on dynamic Categories pages. Once you create a Category and assign it to your posts,  you can create a custom menu and add the Category page to your custom menu. Then each time you publish a post with that Category assigned to it the post will display on the dynamic Category page.

custom menu bottomNote that custom menus can be used to create drop-down menu tabs (sub-menus) in a hierarchical structure. Category pages are not the only items you can add to a custom menu. if you have another related site you would like to link to you can add it to your custom menu as a custom link. Here’s a link to a custom menu walk-through. Lastly, note  there are many common errors, misunderstandings and misconceptions when creating custom menus and there are some tweaks you can use to improve your custom menu as well.

Jerry Bates: How to Create a Custom Navigation Menu

Enabling and Disabling Comments

All WordPress blogs by default have comments open on all Pages and Posts. Discussion settings is where you set up defaults for comments.

You can also override the default settings and enable or disable future comments on any individual post or pages. Any existing posts or pages will need to have comments disabled manually via editing. You can use the bulk edit feature in the all posts and all pages screen to make that quicker.

Note: By default, new blogs on WordPress.com will have the Discussion hidden. You can reveal it by clicking on Screen Options  on the top right corner of your Admin page, and checking the box that says Discussion so the module is included.

Domain Mapping

In order to map to a domain one must have an underlying .wordpress.com subdomain blog to map from. If you have registered a .wordpress.com blog you log in under the exact same username account that registered the blog and purchase a domain name by purchasing an annually renewable domain mapping upgrade for the blog.

Note that WordPress.com does not accept incoming domain transfers, but if you already own a domain name and you would like to use your domain to map to from your free hosted wordpress.com blog to it, then you will first need to set up domain mapping.

Dashboard > Store > My Upgrades is where you do the primary blog set up knowing it can take between 24 – 72 hours for domain name propagation to take place throughout the internet. You can view the DNS changeshttp://www.whatsmydns.net/ What’s important during that stage is to be patient.

Custom Design

There is no FTP access to free hosted WordPress.com blogs and we bloggers cannot install any plugins or upload any third party themes or software. The only themes we can use on WordPress.com blogs are found here > Appearance > Themes.  Most but not all themes have a top horizontal menu bar. This is where tabs to static pages or custom menu tabs are displayed. The majority of themes have custom header and custom background features. Some have featured images in featured posts and some have featured post sliders.

If building your own theme or uploading themes is your intention then you will need to purchase web hosting and set up your own WordPress.org install. Here’s a comparison of free hosted WordPress.com blogs and WordPress.org installs. Here’s a link to the Custom Design FAQs.

Note that none of the characteristic “blog” features likes categories, tags, authors, dates, etc. can be removed from a free hosted WordPress.com blog without purchasing an annually renewable custom design upgrade and doing the required CSS editing. But one can edit WordPress.org theme free of charge.

33 thoughts on “Create a WordPress Website Step By Step

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  6. Hello there. I had need, tonight, to change the format of my Sticky Post on a WP site. I’m fairly new to WP and to CSS in general, and it’s been rather trying, but everyday, I learn more which means as time goes by, our site looks less and less crappy. One day it won’t look crappy at all. I’ll bookmark your blog for helpful tips. The reason for my comment, however, is to tell you that in searching for tips on how to fix a sticky note appearance problem, I stumbled on a long, contentious thread and literally read through, mouth agape. At one point I read “Take your ego for a long walk” and I stood up from my desk and CHEERED. Side note: The fixes worked for me and I know diddly about CSS. I just want to commend you, and your fellow tipster, for so much patience with someone who was so busy being resentful of the help, she wasn’t using it properly. Feel free to delete my comment but just know I cheered for you. Hard.

  7. I have a predicament!
    I have a basic .com WordPress blog site with lots of posts. What I’m wanting to do is to take (map?) my domain name from a static hosted website that I own and map it to the previously mentioned WordPress.com Blog site. How do I do this? And by mapping the domain will I achieve the same ranking level in in the WordPress site that my static hosted website has consistently achieved?

  8. Thanks for all your help. I have learnt so much in a short time from you and I have saved so much time now that I actually know what I am doing! I just published a lovely free pattern for people to enjoy! :)

  9. I am looking to start a business (well actually it has started without a logo, or name – just by being out there and taking to people). I can’t afford a website and in reading The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott have been thinking about using a blog as my website.

    This article has been most helpful and I am thinking this really could work as I could blog my progress in starting my business. I am only sorry I do not have more than an email to leave as from reading know it would be more helpful to have more!

    Thank you for blogging!

  10. hola como esta? espero que bien, soy nuevo en esto y no tengo mucha idea. por ej: como hacer para que vean lo que publico, buscar blog que sean de mi interés, etc.) leí tu publicación y la verdad que es muy buena información para tener en cuenta, pero todavía no le agarro la mano, mas aun que lo hice hoy el blog. bueno queria pasar y saludarte y si te intereza pasar y ver lo que he publicado seria genial :D … en mi blog vas a encontrar opiniones mias sobre cosas, de todo un poco… saludos y muy buen post!!!

    ignaciobotana84.wordpress.com/

    English from Google translate: added by timethief
    hola como esta? I hope well, I’m new to this and I have not much idea. eg: how to make my stuff look, looking blog that are of interest to me, etc..) read your post and really very good information to keep in mind. wanted to go and greet you and if you go and see intereza what I posted that would be great: D … in my blog you will find my opinions on things around a bit … greetings and a very good post!

    • I’m happy to know you think that my article is a useful one for you and your readers. Thank you.

      Estoy feliz de saber que usted piensa que mi artículo es un útil para usted y sus lectores. Gracias.

  11. Wow! What a comprehensive guide to all things a newbie needs to know to set up a blog/webpage. The custom menu info is SO helpful! I muddled my way through doing it on my own, and wish I had this guidance when i was doing it. Thanks again, TT, for your info.

  12. It took a while to get my head around the idea that posts were time-stamped sections of one continuous page.

    I just ran a test to see whether there is a downside to setting a very high number of posts to show without having to click to see older posts?

    I set the number of posts at 30 in ‘Blog pages set at most ‘x’ posts’ and ran Google’s page-speed insight test.

    I did it on a self-hosted site, but I guess the result would be the same with WP.com

    The score went from 79 to ‘error – try again later’. So that would seem to confirm that there is a downside to having a lot of posts showing.

    Also, I wonder whether it is worth putting some evergreen content on pages as opposed to posts? When the content is very long, for example?

    • Hi David,

      The score went from 79 to ‘error – try again later’. So that would seem to confirm that there is a downside to having a lot of posts showing.

      That’s informative. I used to have 7 posts on the front page and I’m now reverting to that again ie. disabling infinite scroll.

      Also, I wonder whether it is worth putting some evergreen content on pages as opposed to posts? When the content is very long, for example?

      Evergreen content is usually found in posts but that may be a good idea depending on what the content is.

  13. Your help is invaluable. No one has been able to explain the Posts v Pages conundrum satisfactorily up till now. I have a music blog with two pages, About Me, and a new Music News drop down which doesn’t really work, but I can’t think where else to put it. Anyway, I feel better armed with information after reading this post.

    • Hi Gunta,
      The ability we have to create custom menus was a giant leap forward. We can use it to improve navigation for our visitors so they can get to where they want to go quickly and easily. I find that it’s easy to provide the how to instructions but it’s not as easy to explain why one choice may be better than another, given the purpose of the blog and the audience it’s aimed at.

  14. Absolutely stellar! I learned a few key things today, and already implemented them on my blog. I went for a more “traditional” website design with a static Home page that appears first, and the Posts page is accessible through a custom menu. However, I learned a few things about custom menus today, so thanks once again!

    • Hi Kerwyn,
      Your blog is a business blog and a static front page is the traditional “website” style” choice. It’s good to know I provided some custom menus tips your weren’t aware of. Thanks so much for letting me know you benefited.

  15. Another very informative post. I appreciate how much time and effort you put in to make things easier for us-bloggers. These are very valuable tips and if one follows them then blogging becomes a very interesting experience. I have learnt with time, but initially I would turn to support section for everything and that’s where I found all my answers. Your post has further educated me about blogging and I feel happy that I made the right choices. Thank you so much for today’s post as well. I have learnt some very valuable tips about almost everything to do with good blogging. Take care, and have a lovely day.

    • Hello there,
      It’s good to know you are happy with the choices you have made. I try to provide timely and helpful information and your comment assures me I’m doing that. Thank you so much for your supportive comment. I hope you have a great weekend.

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