1. Choose a Content Management System (CMS)

What is a CMS?
CMS stands for “Content Management System”, which is a phrase used to describe the platforms on which we use to build websites. There are a large number of platforms that have spent years creating a user-friendly system for the users of all levels.

Choosing the CMS best for your needs.
Our friends at W3Techs have gathered the stats that show WordPress as the #1 most popular CMS platform as they obtain 59% of the websites. Following them is Joomla at 6% while Drupal places third at 5%.

WordPress offers many free themes with various styles suited for specific niches. Many of its plugins are free as well, which helps tremendously in keeping costs low.

— One of the reasons to choose WordPress

Reasons to choose WordPress:

  • The two best words anyone could here: it’s free. Who’s crazy enough to turn down free stuff?
  • Installation is a breeze – Many hosting services are able to install WordPress options with just one click
  • As easy to use as any content management system out there
  • Large, Educated Community of Users + Option to Open Source – A highly helpful community of WordPress users are available to help with the learning curve in case you run into obstacles of any nature. Take us for example. NomNom Sites is always a call or email away to answer any questions that you may have!
  • Perfect for those just starting out – Entrepreneurs who aren’t as tech savvy would be wise to take this path. A large percentage of beginners are not familiar with computer languages such as HTML, CSS, and PHP. That’s where WordPress comes in as the ideal choice with its array of customizable features. A large percentage of WordPress themes and plugins are very easy to use, as well as super helpful.
  • WordPress offers many free themes with various styles suited for specific niches. Many of its plugins are free as well, which helps tremendously in keeping costs low.
  • The platform is built to work with websites with traffic in the low to medium range. Some websites with heavier traffic such as CNN, NBC, or TIME Magazine even use WordPress to host millions of page views on a daily basis.
  • Updates Available Frequently – Updates are a crucial part of any platforms goal to appease customers as they will fix bugs, enhance security, improve on current features, maintain a high level of performance as well as make sure plugins remain compatible with the platform.

Keep It Short – The shorter a domain name is, the easier it will be to remember and type out on a browser. Visitors will appreciate your thoughtfulness in both aspects.

— A pointer when it comes to choosing a great domain name

2. Choose a domain name and purchase it

A domain name is a URL an individual types into the browser’s address bar in order to access a specific website. For example, nomnomsites.com is a domain name. Your business’s domain name is a crucial aspect of its presence as well as the marketing involved.

Some pointers when it comes to choosing a great domain name:

  • Keep It Short – The shorter a domain name is, the easier it will be to remember and type out on a browser. Visitors will appreciate your thoughtfulness in both aspects.  
  • Brandable – Your domain name will play a large role in the likability and ultimate success of your brand. Make sure it sends out the right message to your audience.
  • Memorable Words or Phrases – Living in the Information Age, we’re bound to be overloaded with too much info on an almost daily basis. Thus, we’re likely to forget many new things we learn. So make sure to come up with a domain name that makes, at the least, a decent first impression on visitors.
  • Catchy – People love domain names that sound cool and/or are fun to pronounce. They will remember it and even bring it up during conversations just based on its hilarity or mysteriousness or just because it sounds cool.
  • Including a Major Keyword Can Help (optional) – Look for the proper keyword(s), because the closer it is to your niche, the better it will be for search engine optimization (SEO)

Choosing the proper domain name extension.
The most popular domain name extensions found on the web are .com, .org, .net, yet there are a large number of new domain extensions that have been introduced in recent years. There are quite a few interesting ones out there like .pizza, .green, or .ninja. Nonetheless, we recommend you stick to .com, .net or .org.

Where can you buy domain names?
Domain names are sold by a number of providers, and will typically cost you between $10 to $20 per year. If you’re yet to purchase one, then it would likely save you money and avoid possible inconveniences by purchasing the domain name from your hosting site.

Some popular, trustworthy sites to buy domain names from are:

While free options do exist, it’s wiser to go with a paid host as it ensures quality and control.

— Choosing the right web hosting service

3. Choose the right web hosting service

A hosting service is responsible for “storing” your website’s content and keeping your site up and running all day, everyday. While free options do exist, it’s wiser to go with a paid host as it ensures quality and control. Though you are able to use any host for your WordPress site, only a few specialize in WordPress specifically, which also means the platform comes pre-installed for your use.

Your best choices for web hosting services, in our opinion:

4. Install WordPress

Pretty much any trustworthy, well-known hosting company has 1-click-installation integrated for use with WordPress. You can find yours in the account’s control panel.

5. Configure your WordPress website

  • In your web browser’s address bar, type in your website name followed by:  /wp-admin.
  • Now fill out your WordPress username and password and click ‘Sign In’ in order to be directed to your WordPress site’s Dashboard.

6. Customize your website’s appearance

Themes control what’s displayed on the front end of your sites such as page layout, location, the content of widgets, as well as fonts and colors.  After installing WordPress to your domain, you’ll notice a simple, clean site displayed:

7. Choose a Theme

Under the “Appearances” dashboard item you will find the “Themes” section. Click on that and then click “Add New” (found at the top). You will have a choice of some generic themes that come installed with current Wordpress versions. You can choose one of those or elect to purchase one from a site like ThemeForest.net.  They have a massive library of choices catered for all niches.

The theme you go with is gonna have a major impact on the look of your site as well as the user experience. Many themes will give you control over customizing the site without having any coding knowledge. Take some time to browse through themes and taking into account the customer reviews. You will get many ideas about what to do with your site when it comes to visual sensibility and content arrangement. Having to add custom sections that don’t exist in a theme you’ve purchased will probably require coding skills or for you to hire someone.

Do the page templates provide a proper layout for you to insert your content onto?

— Looking for the right WordPress theme for you

Here is a list of helpful guidelines to follow when looking for the right WordPress theme for your site:

  • Do the page templates provide a proper layout for you to insert your content onto? Notice the amount of columns, sidebars, as well as the design of the header and footer. Great themes will have various page templates for you to choose.
  • Are the fonts, colors and heading styles suitable for your type of website? A lot of the time you will have to work with CSS stylesheets to alter these, though some themes do allow you to make changes with a few clicks on the dashboard.
  • Does the home page allow customization to your liking? It’s the most important page on your site so you will want to be able to get it to match what you have in your vision. A lot of themes have unique design options mainly for the home page.
  • How flexible is the theme when it comes to making minor changes without the need for coding? “Theme options” or “theme customizations” are the type of keywords to look for when trying to find the section to answer this question.

8. Install the theme

If the theme you’ve decided to use is in the WordPress dashboard, you just simply click “Install” and then “Activate”.

If you’ve decided to purchase a theme from a website such as ThemeForest, you will have to download the theme files and then install them onto the Wordpress dashboard. Once your purchase is complete, a download button will be displayed on the ThemeForest page. Click on it and wait for the download to complete.

Remember your ThemeForest sign-in credentials in case you need to download the theme again later on or look for help in the theme’s support section. Once logged in, you just hover your mouse cursor over your username at the top right corner and select “Downloads” from the drop-down menu. Once the “Downloads” page opens you will be able to view a list of your purchased items.

Each one of your purchased WordPress themes will have a green “Download” button that displays a dropdown list once clicked on. You will want to click “All files & documentation” in order to download the necessary files to get your theme uploaded and set up on Wordpress.

Your download will appear in “.zip” format (a type of file that contains multiple files you will need to “unzip”). One of the files you’ll find in the .zip file is the main theme file that should be located based on its name as well as its large file compared to the other files in the .zip file. This is the file that will need to be uploaded and installed on the WordPress dashboard now.

In order to install your WordPress theme file, go to “Themes” located under the  “Appearance” area. Now click on “Add New” located at the top of the page.

You will be directed to a page where you’ll find the “Upload Theme” button towards the top which will prompt you to select the main theme .zip file. Once selected, go ahead and click “Install Now”.

If your theme installs properly, you should see a message noting a successful attempt along with an ‘Activate”  link that you will click on now.

9. Install both “required” as well as “recommended” plugins

Once your WordPress theme is installed, you should come across a message towards the top of the page notifying you that the theme requires some plugins to operate properly. These plugins have a variety of benefits such as presenting the options for a portfolio, shop section and contact forms – all which give the WordPress site a more complete look.

Not every single theme will display this notification, but more likely than not, a theme downloaded from ThemeForest will indeed.

If the ‘Begin installing plugins’ notification is displayed, it means the theme both require as well as recommends certain plugins. The required ones need to be installed for the theme to work properly while the recommended ones are optional. We personally think it’s wise to install both types.

To begin this process, click on ‘Begin installing plugins’. You’ll end up on a page where the plugins will be listed. Here, you can check off all the checkboxes and then choose ‘Install’ from the drop-down menu at the top. Next click ‘Apply’ and wait for the installation to complete.

After installation completes, click Return to Required Plugins Installer and you’ll end up on a page where the recently installed plugins are shown. Now you will need to activate these plugins by checking off all the checkboxes, choosing Activate from the drop-down menu, and, finally, clicking Apply.

With your theme and plugins now installed, we can browse through features, options, and elements within the theme. Most themes come with some sort of documentation that will serve as an excellent guide to discovering numerous features within your WordPress theme.

10. Adding your content to the website

With all the important aspects now setup and ready to go, you can now begin the process of adding your custom content.

After logging into your WordPress site, you will arrive to its dashboard. This is where you’ll be coming to perform the most basic tasks such as creating and editing pages and posts among many other things.

Here’s a list of some of the usual items you will find on the dashboard menu:

  • Posts: This area is essentially where you create blogs for your website. You can begin writing one out and not have to ‘publish’ it until it is complete by simply leaving it in ‘draft’ state.
  • Pages: The name says it all. This is where you create new website pages or edit current ones – pages such as ‘About Me’, ‘Contact Us, etc.
  • Appearance: Here you’ll find a section that allows for editing the style of your site. You can change your theme, edit menu items, and customize widgets – just to name a few examples.
  • Plugins: These are extra apps you add to your website that fulfill your specific needs. You’ll find general features such as an e-commerce control center or a plugin that creates contact forms. Many plugins are available to download for free but some charge a small fee or monthly subscription.

Creating and editing new pages

Chances are you will want a page for your website dedicated to listing your services or talking about what you do i.e. ‘Services’ or ‘About Us’ page.

  1. When you click on Pages on your WordPress Dashboard, you’ll see Add New listed below it. Click on it and you’ll be directed to the back end of your new page.
  2. This area is essentially the word processor of your WordPress page. You’ll see boxes to fill out with the title of the page, as well as content such as text, images, etc.
  3. Make sure to click Publish or Save Draft in order for your work to be saved. If you forget to, you will thankfully get a notification to remind you.

Adding your new pages to the website’s menu

  1. After a page is published or saved as a draft, you will be able to find it in the left sidebar of your Appearance > Menu page. If you don’t see it there, try refreshing the page.
  2. Make sure you have the correct menu selected in the Select a menu to edit drop-down list. Once you find the page in the sidebar, check off the checkbox, then click Add to Menu.

Using ‘Categories’ For Posts

If your WordPress site contains a blog section, you will go to your dashboard’s Posts area in order to work on it. Using Categories you will be able to group together posts that are similar in content.

To accomplish this, you can take two routes:

  1.  Click on the Posts sublabel named Categories. Then click on Add New Category.
  2. While on your post’s edit page, you will see the Categories section located on the right sidebar. You can even add new categories here by clicking Add New Category. A text box will open up allowing you to type the name of the new category. Then click Add New Category to finish the process. Remember to save the post in order to save your categorization.

Setting Up Your ‘Static’ Home Page

One of the first things that confuses any first-time WordPress user is their homepage looking more like a blog post then the homepage they’d seen in their theme preview. There is a simple fix to this: make your homepage ‘static’.

The simple way to answer ‘what is a static page?’ is to look at it like a page that doesn’t change with the addition of new posts. The contrast to this is the “blog”-style homepage where,the addition of a new blog post will be added to the page – just like with news sites or forums. A ‘static’ page displays whatever content you’ve edited onto it and saved for publishing.

How to set up a page to be ‘static’:

  1. On your WordPress dashboard go to the Settings -> Reading section.
  2. Under Front Page Displays choose the radio button titled A Static Page. Then, from the Front Page dropbox select the page which you would like to make your home page.

If a static page is not selected, WordPress will make your list of latest posts show up on your page in a specific order – usually by date.

11. Checking for quality and errors

Now that the main settings have been properly set, and assuming all your content is loaded, you’re getting excitingly close to pushing your site live. But before you do, it’s important to review the way your pages are displayed on various screen sizes such as desktop, phone device, as well as the major browsers such as Safari and Chrome. The more features and elements a WordPress site has, the higher the likelihood of needing some more polishing.

To help you, we’ve compiled a list of 10 steps to ensure a successful website launch:

  1. Check text content for spelling and grammar errors. The content, especially main points in large text should definitely be consistent with font styles/sizes,, grammatically correct, and as error-free as possible.
  2. Test the site the four most widely-used web browsers out there today. Your site should look similar on the various browsers, and more importantly, function properly no matter the web browser being used. The four browsers to test on are Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox. These browsers have new version coming out all the time. We recommend testing on the three most recent versions. For this task we recommend browserstack.com for their ability to create screenshots of your page across all browsers as well as multiple versions at once.
  3. Test you site on most widely-used devices around on the market. You want user experience to be consistent across all devices used to view your website. It’s a good idea to test on iPhone, iPad, Android devices like the Pixel, as well as Nexus tablets. We’d recommend performing this check on www.responsinator.com.
  4. Check for any possible “dead links”. All links on your WordPress website should be labeled correctly and taking you to the area of the page they promise to. Errors here would cause much-avoidable confusion for your visitors.
  5. Check for consistency in font sizes and styles. Fonts should all fall within the 6 or 7 ‘heading’ sizes plus the ‘paragraph’ size. Most themes come with predetermined sizes and font families that we would avoid tinkering with.
  6. Test your site security. All pages on your site should be “secure”, which is key especially for sites lenient on obtaining sensitive personal information from visitors and potential customers.
  7. Make sure all forms are working properly. Test it out by filling out a form yourself and pressing the submit button. Then check to see all the data entered is collected and stored in the database.
  8. Check to see if the email notifications are being sent properly. When a visitor fills out a form, they should get a confirmation email almost immediately in their inbox. Also make sure it is the proper notification as websites are likely to have multiple types of forms to fill out.
  9. Check the functionality of plugins and any other custom features. Make sure they are working as expected or else you are putting your visitors in line for a negative user experience that can be detrimental to the process of gaining their trust.
  10. And much more…Every website is different, and there are more things that could and should be tested.

12. Push your WordPress site “live”

Creating your ideal site is quite a large task. No website is ever perfect at first, and always a work in progress. To get it to a level that completely satisfies you is something that requires much time and a dedication to continue to work on it for as long as it takes.