Get your business site up and running on WordPress by selecting a hosting plan and using the WordPress 1-click installer. Find the best hosting plan for your business here.
If you have spent any time at all researching the internet for tips on how to build a new website for your business, there is no doubt that you have heard WordPress mentioned several times. But what is WordPress and how can you use it to build your own website? Let us investigate WordPress and how we can use it to help you establish your online presence.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source CMS, or Content Management System. In simpler terms, WordPress is software that you (or a tool or script) install on your web hosting server that allows you to manage your website. This is done online using your internet browser, without needing to know how to code.
Websites are built using several different coding languages, from simple HTML to more advanced PHP and Java, typically with a mix of several different languages. Your internet browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) interprets this code to construct the website that you (or your customers) see when visiting your site. While you can build your site using these languages, and some people (mostly professional web developers) do, most small business owners do not have the time to learn coding languages just to have a website but may not be willing to pay to have a professional developer create a website for them. This is where a CMS, such as WordPress, comes in. You can use a CMS to build and maintain a modern looking website using a simple web-based interface. No coding experience is needed.
Why should I use WordPress?
There are many different CMS available that can be used to build and maintain your website, but WordPress is by far the most common. Most polls on the subject show close to two-thirds of all CMS-based sites use WordPress. This can be true for many reasons, but mostly because of the strong community surrounding WordPress. Because WordPress is open source, meaning anyone can see the software source code and create plugins for it, there are countless plugins and themes that you can use to customize your website. This includes many free plugins and themes, however there are also several paid options that provide more advanced options and typically support. There is also the WordPress forum where you can find information on everything WordPress related, from finding new plugins and features to fixing common issues.
So, it sounds like you should go out and install WordPress right away. Well, not just yet. Because of the huge popularity and availability of WordPress plugins and themes, the software is also a prime target for hackers and thieves. Spammers are working 24/7/365 looking for new vulnerabilities to break into your website so that they can attempt to defraud your customers or steal your information. They may even hide one of their spoofed websites on your server to defraud other potential victims.
While most web servers and the WordPress core coding are very secure (WordPress is constantly being updated by the developers), most hackers gain entry to your site through WordPress plugins and themes. Due to their very nature, the plugins must be allowed to access the core of the WordPress site to function as intended. There have been instances of vulnerabilities in plugins or themes being exploited to infiltrate and compromise a WordPress site. Once hackers are in, it can be difficult to get them out.
So now you are thinking, because of the constant treat of hacking, you should not use WordPress, correct? Absolutely not! While it may seem scary, the sad fact of today’s online world is that there is always someone or something out there looking to take advantage of anyone who has their guard down. The best way to prevent this is to keep your guard up. Sounds easier said then done? Well, it may not be as bad as you think. As with any battle, knowledge is power. And it is here where the WordPress community is your secret weapon. The WordPress forum are your best method of finding out what plugins and themes are safe to use, and which ones to avoid at all costs.
So, how do I keep my WordPress site secure?
In general, the fewer plugins you use for your site, the better. You should also check out any themes you plan to use before loading them up on your website. Get an understanding for how frequently a theme may be updated and if it has a reputation for being breeched. A little proactive research here can save you a lot of pain later.
Be sure to install a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) digital certificate to encrypt visitor connections to your website. SiteLock also scans your site daily and informs you of vulnerabilities. Wordfence is also a popular WordPress security plugin.
Finally, be sure to keep the site software up to date. This includes everything from the core WordPress installation, plugins and themes (especially the plugins and themes) to your web hosting servers PHP version. Most of these updates are security updates, patching know vulnerabilities and potential attack vectors. Keeping all your software up to date is your best defense against all the hackers, thieves and crooks out there looking to steal your money, information, and time. You can update all your WordPress software from your dashboard. You can manage your server PHP version from your cPanel.
The main take away from this is that WordPress is not a “once and done” service or website. If you do not maintain your website, hackers will compromise your site eventually. It is a matter of when, not if. And a compromised website can be disastrous to your brand. But, if you are diligent and keep on top of your updates, plugins and themes, WordPress should perform flawlessly for you for years to come.
If you do decide to use WordPress for your website management, there are a few options available to you to install WordPress on you web hosting server. How you will proceed depends on your skill level and comfortability with web hosting and general computer usage.
The default method of installing WordPress is by downloading the latest version of WordPress from https://wordpress.org/download/wordpress.org, uploading the installation archive to your website document root (the folder where your website files are stored), and then extracting it manually. You can find a great guide on installing WordPress on the WordPress support website as well. You will also need to create a MySQL database in your web hosting service and link it to your WordPress installation. While this is not too difficult (you can find guides on this process online for most web hosting services), it can take more time and can be intimidating. It also has a larger potential for failure. Most WordPress issues are database issues, as WordPress (as well as most CMS) store all your website content in a database.
If this seems like a lot of work, well you are not alone. Even with all the guides available that can help you through the process, if you are not comfortable with uploading, downloading, and extracting archives, it may be overwhelming. Luckily, most web hosting services (including ours) provide tools or scripts that you can use to install WordPress for you. Most of these services only require that you provide the tool with some basic information, such as your preferred username and password, as well as where you with to install the site, and it will take care of the rest for you. The tool or script will download the files for you, create your database, and connect the two for you. In most cases, these tools will also help you manage and maintain your installation. Use it to install and manage your plugins and themes and keep them all up to date.
The WordPress Toolkit found in cPanel (the web hosting service we use) can back up your site. It is always a good idea to have a recent back up of both your website files and your database, in case of a disaster situation. It can also be used to create a staging site, so you can make substantial changes to your website without affecting your current live website. We should have more information on these on the Knowledgebase soon.
I have WordPress installed, what do I do now?
Congratulations, you now have a WordPress site! Now, the fun part starts. If you go to your website, you will see an example page. This will let you know that the WordPress installation has been installed successfully. Now you can log into your WordPress back end and begin building your website. In most cases, your log in page can be found at https://[yourdomain]/wp-admin or https://[yourdomain]/wp-login.php, however, depending on what plugins you installed, the login page may be hidden by the plugin. If this is the case, you will need to check with the plugin documentation to find the login page.
Once logged into your WordPress dashboard, you will be able to begin building your website. Using the WordPress tools, you can create everything from a simple informational website to a complex e-store, and everything in between. While we cannot provide a guide on building your website, there are thousands of guides, sites and videos that will help you get started. Once again, the WordPress forums are a wonderful place to start.
Be sure to keep on your plugins and themes updated so that your website continues to perform for you, year after year. If you do decide you wish to change your website, you already have the base tools in place to create an entirely new site. Using the staging tools built into your cPanel WordPress Toolkit, you can start building your new website without changing your existing live site.
Deluxe Hosting offers a 1-click installer for WordPress with all hosting plans. Hosting plans are available here.