Your First Steps with WordPress

Last updated: November 11, 2020
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Estimated reading time: 4 min

This article helps you have a plan before you start playing around with WordPress. After you install the software in your computer or in your web host it seems logical to simply start adding content (posts and pages) and just see how that works out. But a better strategy is to ask yourself a few questions to get an idea of what you want to build.

You can watch the video to see the process or read on for the text version which has a few more details.
Learning WordPress: First steps in building your site

What type of site are you building?

The first thing you should ask yourself is what type of site you are building. Is it a personal site, a blog, a business/brochure site, an e-commerce site, a portfolio or a magazine site? As you will see in the screenshots below each type of site has its own characteristics.

A blog site can be either personal or a professional blog

Personal Blog

A brochure site or business site has 3-7 pages and shows a summary of what your business entails, like services, products and a contact page.

Brochure/Business Site

An E-commerce site contains listings of products (digital or physical) to be sold. WordPress has an e-commerce plugin named WooCommerce that lets you build these types of sites.

E-commerce site

Portfolio sites are very popular amongst professionals like architects, designers, photographers and anyone that has visual representations of their work.

Portfolio site

Magazine type sites have a lot of diverse content so its important to categorize everything properly. Some online magazines and newspapers have a subscription model for their readers.

Magazine type site

Do you have examples of sites that you like?

You should take some time to browse around the internet and see what sites you like the most. You can go to theme marketplaces like Themeforest and view the site demos for inspiration. You can also go to sites where designers show off their designs like Dribble or run a simple google search for “Website design inspiration”.

Dribble – Web design samples

What theme should you use for your site?

Once you have an idea of what you want your site to look like you will have an easier time in choosing your theme. The WordPress theme repository has thousands of free themes for you to try. Some of them will have pro versions that you can upgrade to. Generally the pro versions have more features.

Should you use a free theme or a paid one? If you are just starting out I would suggest to stick to free ones. You will try out many themes and some of them will be easy to configure but some won’t. Some themes to try out are Astra, Ocean WP, Kadence, Hello Elementor (for Elementor page builder) and Neve all free on the WordPress repository.

The WordPress theme repository

Themeforest has many reputable theme developers that publish in their marketplace. When considering a theme, make sure to check on the comments and support questions that the customers make on the product page. This will tell you what issues there are with the theme and how quick the support team take care of these issues.

The WordPress theme repository

What about Super Themes? These are themes that come with their own page builder frameworks. Examples of these are the Enfold theme and the Divi theme. Enfold has many “ready to go” demo sites that can be imported easily.

Enfold Super theme

The Divi theme comes with its own page builder, but the page builder can be used separately (you download a plugin from your subscription at Elegant Themes).

Divi Super theme

What about child themes? Themes like Divi allow for child themes to be created so that entire sites can be configured separately from the Divi parent theme. There are many marketplaces that sell Divi Child themes. The beauty is that they come in a package with all the site pages created for you and you can setup your site in no time.

Divi Space child themes

Elegant Marketplace

Will you be using a page builder with your theme?

What are page builders and why do we need them? Page builders are visual tools that help us design our websites. Most of them are “drag and drop” in nature which makes it easy to work with. They are relatively easy to learn and the more popular ones like Elementor have third party plugins that enhance its capabilities. In no particular order they are Elementor, Beaver Builder, Divi Builder, Oxygen, Brizy, Visual Composer, StudioPress (Genesis framework).

WordPress page builders

Do you have your content/images ready?

This is one thing that you should definitely think about. If you are going to publish a blog, do you have ideas for the articles you are going to publish? If you are building a site for your web design firm do you have the text for the About page?, the Services page?, the Products page?

While its true that you can add this information later, sometimes the design of the site will call for short or long texts that you will have to modify to be able to use so its better to know how much or how little text you are working with.

If you use a paid theme with demo content, this will partially solve your problem but eventually you will have to add your own text.

If you are thinking of taking on clients for your web building business, let me tell you, getting the content from the customer is one of the hardest things to achieve and can sometimes prolong your project by weeks.

Conclusion

That’s it! Now you have a plan to help you guide you as you build your site and you might want to start using the Gutenberg block editor which is WordPress’s default visual builder to get a feel of how it works. Its a little bit limited but it keeps getting better. If you feel you want more control in your page layouts try out the free version of Elementor.

Resources mentioned in this article

Themes ========
Enfold – https://themeforest.net/item/enfold-responsive-multipurpose-theme/4519990
Divi – https://www.elegantthemes.com/affiliates/idevaffiliate.php?id=43349 (affiliate link)
Astra – https://wordpress.org/themes/astra/
Kadence – https://wordpress.org/themes/kadence/

Theme Marketplaces ========
Themeforest – https://themeforest.net/
Elegant themes – https://www.elegantthemes.com/marketplace/
Divi Space – https://divi.space/product/category/child-themes/

Sample Sites ========
Personal Blog – https://kittensandsteam.blogspot.com/
Business/Brochure – https://www.deptagency.com/
E-commerce – https://www.abissag.com/
Portfolio – https://www.cameronmacneil.com/
Magazine – https://www.rollingstone.com/

Page builders ========
Elementor – https://elementor.com/
Beaver Builder – https://www.wpbeaverbuilder.com/
Divi Builder – https://www.elegantthemes.com/gallery/divi/
Oxygen – https://oxygenbuilder.com/
Studiopress (Genesis) – https://www.studiopress.com/genesis-pro/
Brizy – https://www.brizy.io/
Visual Composer – https://visualcomposer.com/

Thank you for reading.

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