If you’re looking to make money online, having a website is crucial. A website helps you solidify your online presence, build credibility, and be a point of contact for any potential customers or clients.
Whether you’re looking to build a personal brand via a blog, offer your services as a freelancer or agency, start an online store or test your startup idea before spending thousands of dollars, a website is a quick way to build traction as you grow your online business.
The best part is you don’t need coding skills or web developers to create a website, even if you’re a complete newbie. With a little time and effort, you can have a beautiful, professional-looking website up and running in no time without breaking the bank.
This guide will show how you can quickly create your professional website and get it up and running in, even if you’re on a budget.
Let’s get started!
How to create a website in 2023:
- Choose A Platform For Your Website
- Get a Domain Name & Hosting Account.
- Install WordPress on Bluehost
- Log into Your WordPress Dashboard
- Customize Your Basic Site Settings
- Install a WordPress Theme
- Customize Your WordPress Theme
- Add Content to Your Website
- Customize Your Sidebar & Widget Areas
- Install Plugins for Added Functionality
#1: Choose A Platform For Your Website
To build a website, you’ll need a platform on which to create and manage it. A website platform or builder is simply a collection of technologies that allow you to publish pages and posts to your website.
Traditionally, you’d either have to hire a web developer to create a custom website for you, which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on the kind of website you want.
The other alternative is to build your own website from scratch, which can take a lot of time and you’ll need to know some code in order to customize your website and get it to be fully functional.
Website builders are especially useful if you have no coding skills or knowledge. They offer you a solution to build a website without necessarily having to know coding languages like HTML or CSS.
It now becomes a matter of simply dragging and dropping content or a few button clicks.
There are lots of options when it comes to website builders today. Popular builders include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly. The chart below shows how popular these platforms are among website owners and online entrepreneurs.
WordPress is by far one of the most popular website platforms in use today, powering some 37% of all websites. It also is one of the most popular content management systems in use today.
A content management system is simply an application that allows you and other collaborators to create, edit, and publish content to your website e.g photos, blog posts, or videos. This makes WordPress a two-pronged solution to all your website building and management needs.
Why We Love WordPress
WordPress is an awesome website builder because it helps average people create stunning websites with just a few clicks.
From choosing a theme to customizing your site down to the smallest detail all without having to know code, WordPress makes it easy to create and manage a website.
You can use it to create new web pages, menus, headers, and other parts of your website at the same time use it to publish new blog posts and other content.
WordPress also comes with loads of free and premium themes that will help your website look professionally done.
Because it works great as both a website builder and a content management platform, WordPress is our recommended pick for a website builder. Other reasons why we prefer WordPress include
- WordPress is completely free to use. All you need to do is install it on your website after you get a web hosting service and domain name(which we’ll explain in a bit) and you’re good to go. You don’t need to pay anything for using the software.
- It is open-source software. This means it is readily accessible to developers to modify and create custom plugins, themes, and other add-ons. You get access to thousands of free and premium themes, plugins, and add-ons which will give your website added functionality and a more customized feel without having to know any code. Plus its bustling developer community is actively fixing bugs, creating new tools, and constantly releasing updates.
- WordPress is very user-friendly. You don’t need any technical skills to use the platform. Simply download and install WordPress onto your website in minutes and you can start creating content right away.
- It helps your website rank better on search engines. WordPress sites tend to rank higher because the platform is always updated with new tools and plugins that help optimize content for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Apart from that, WordPress itself as a platform is constantly being updated to help websites with ranking.
- Finally, WordPress is flexible. Whether your website is for ecommerce, your podcast, showcasing your portfolio, or simply running a blog, WordPress can handle it.
Whatever your website needs may be, WordPress has a solution for it. That’s why it’s our top pick for the best website building platform.
#2: Get a Domain Name & Hosting Account.
Now that you’ve decided on which platform to use, the next thing you need is a web hosting account and a domain name.
Both will help you to make your website and its content accessible on the internet to other users.
Why You Need Web Hosting and A Domain Name.
A web hosting service allows you to rent space on its equipment (servers) to store all the files that make up your website, like photos, videos, text, and other types of content. The server also makes these available online for anyone on the internet to access.
A domain name is your website’s name and often also doubles as your website address though that is not always the case. A domain name is how people online will be able to call and identify your website name or type it into their web browser to get to your homepage.
For example, our domain name is ‘Abdalslam.com’. That means anyone looking for our website can simply type www.abdalslam.com in their browser and they will find our web site. The kind of domain name you choose is important because it is part of your website’s identity.
Yours will be yoursite.com or yoursite.org.
Different kinds of domain names exist. Some end with .com, .net, .org and .co to name a few. What you choose to attach to your name can greatly influence how visitors to your website view its credibility.
As much as possible, try to choose a .com domain because it gives your site more credibility. Also, it should be easy to brand and link to what your website is about. A little brainstorming here will help.
Most hosting providers offer a variety of web hosting plans with different price tags and features. For a new online business, a basic shared hosting plan is a good place to start, since you’re now going to build traffic and content on your website.
There are many web hosting service providers today with competitively priced packages and lots of freebies, but Bluehost is your best choice.
Bluehost is popular among bloggers, online store owners, and developers alike because of its ease-of-use and budget-friendly packages.
Get started with Bluehost for $2.95/month (63% off).
Why We Love Bluehost
Bluehost is one of the oldest web hosting providers that is loved by beginners and veterans in the online space. Whether you’re starting a blog, ecommerce store, or simply looking for reliable hosting, Bluehost offers excellent web hosting for your website.
You’ll get a 99% uptime guarantee, meaning your website will almost never go down which is important especially if you want your business to remain online 24/7. Apart from their uptime guarantee, Bluehost comes recommended by WordPress.
This is very important because it means Bluehost works seamlessly with the WordPress platform and supports its full functionality. No need to have any tech know-how to get WordPress running on your Bluehost account.
Aside from that, Bluehost is pretty beginner-friendly and has great customer support. It takes just one-click to install WordPress on your Bluehost account. Their 24/7/365 customer support is always available to hold your hand through any issues.
On top of that, you get a FREE domain name and security for your website for a year for as little as $2.95/month.
Get started with Bluehost for $2.95/month (63% off).
How To Create A Website With Bluehost In Less Than Three Minutes
1. Go to Bluehost.com and click the ‘Get started’ button and select a plan of choice. The Basic Plan is good if you are just getting started and perhaps testing out your online business idea. However, you’re only limited to just one website and 50GB storage.
The Plus and Choice Plus plan gives you unlimited websites, storage, domains and subdomains, security and a year’s subscription of Microsoft 365 Mailbox billed at $5.95 and $6.95/month billed annually.
These are great options if you perhaps have an existing website or domain name that you want to move to Bluehost or have already begun informing your audience about your new website and so are expecting a lot of visitors from the get-go.
Always consider your business’ needs before you choose a subscription plan.
- You’ll be asked to select your domain name of choice. If you already have one you can enter it too.
- Next, you’ll be taken to a page where you‘ll enter your name, location, and other personal details. You’ll also find your subscription package details at the bottom of the screen.
With Bluehost, you get to choose either a 12-month, 24-month, or 36-month billing package.
You can start with the 12-month plan at $5.95 per month, billed annually but for maximum savings, we recommend choosing the 36-month plan billed at $3.95/month paid upfront.
Also, lookout for the add-on features like Codeguard Basic, SEO Tools Start, and SiteLock Security essential.
Codeguard Basic is Bluehost’s native solution for creating backups of your site and saving your content, in case something happens and you lose all the information on your site or it crashes. (Yes, that’s a possibility too).
If you’re just getting your feet wet, you can skip the Codeguard add on.
SiteLock is their native solution for added security on your website, protecting you from malicious attacks, malware removal and keeping you off Google’s Blacklist. It is worth getting if you can afford it to give you peace of mind from hackers.
Usually, when you’re starting out you don’t really need the add-on features as you’re just testing out your skills and ideas.
Check the checkboxes accordingly for the features you’d like to subscribe to. No worries if you can’t get them right away, you can always go back and get them as upgrades when your website starts gaining traction.
Enter your credit card details at the bottom of the screen, read the terms and conditions at the bottom, and click submit. Bluehost gives you a 30-Day money-back guarantee on hosting and domain privacy subscriptions.
Take note also of their auto-renewal terms.
- Once you sign up, you’ll be emailed login details to your cPanel, which is the backend of your website and voila! You are done!
Get started with Bluehost for $2.95/month (63% off).
Alternative Great Web Hosting Services to Launch Your Website
Bluehost is our go-to option, but there are other equally good web hosting providers out there with very affordable plans. Many of them also provide shared hosting plans, responsive customer support, 90%+ uptime guarantees, and fast site loading speeds.
Some alternative web hosting service providers with a great reputation include GreenGeeks, DreamHost, iPage, HostGator, Hostinger, HostPapa, and GoDaddy to name a few.
All the hosting providers mentioned here have great hosting plans and offer amazing features. GreenGeeks for example provides eco-friendly hosting with fast site loading speeds and a free domain name for as little as $3.95/month (billed annually).
Hostinger also offers a good variety of hosting plans suited for new businesses and even ecommerce businesses but the best web hosting provider by far is Bluehost.
Check out our full review of the top 15+ web hosting providers.
#3: Install WordPress on Bluehost
WordPress is amazing simply because it’s FREE and Bluehost gives you easy 1-Click installation. It really doesn’t get any simpler. WordPress by itself is also very beginner-friendly.
Plus, you get thousands of free designs, themes, and add-ons that will help make your website look professional and unique. It’s easy to customize without needing any technical know-how.
In recent times, Bluehost has completely revamped its web hosting and made it WordPress oriented. Older versions of Bluehost needed you to manually and install create your blog manually.
Today, Bluehost automatically installs and sets up WordPress for you. All you need to do is purchase hosting and a free domain name from them. There are different ways you can go about installing WordPress on your Bluehost account.
- Simply log in to your Bluehost account
- Select ‘My Sites’ and then click on ‘Create site’.
- Now to get your site created, you’ll need to enter some information about your sites, like your website address and admin, username, and password. Pick a strong password that contains letters, numbers, and special characters.
It is also a good idea not to use the word admin as your account username because it’s an easier guess word for hackers to target. Choose something more customized like your own name or a word you can easily recall as a username.
Also use an email you can quickly access to reset your password and is also not linked to your domain name, in case your server goes down.
- Provide some basic information about your site, and the WordPress installation will start.
- When WordPress is done setting up, Bluehost will show you the details you’ll need to access your website including your username and password. Make sure you save this information somewhere safe and easily retrievable.
- Now you can test to see if your website is actually online and working. If your WordPress installation worked well, you should see a basic homepage. Simply type in your website name in your browser.
You may see something like this (depending on the theme) …
Don’t worry if your website doesn’t look the way you’d like it to look just yet. We’ll look at how to customize your front page so it looks professionally done in a bit.
- Next, you check to see if your website’s secure encryption is working. Ideally, your website should come with a secure connection via an SSL certificate. Any website that has a secure connection shows a padlock icon next to its URL in your web browser.
An SSL certificate guarantees that your visitors are able to access your website securely.
Bluehost adds this feature by default when you create a new website or install WordPress. You can check your site’s secure encryption by
- Logging in to your Bluehost portal
- Go to “My Sites”
- Select your site and then choose “Manage Site”
- Click on the “Security” tab
You will be able to check your “Free SSL Certificate” status by looking under the “Security Certificate,”.
If there were no issues with your installation, you’ll see the padlock icon next to your domain name in the web browser.
SSL setup is not instant and may only be totally complete in a couple of hours, you can still build and customize your site in the meantime.
Congratulations! You have now successfully installed WordPress.
#4: Log into Your WordPress Dashboard
Now that you have successfully installed WordPress, it’s time to go into the backend of your website.
This is where you can start customizing your website by installing themes, boost your site’s performance using plugins, and add content to your webpages.
WordPress provides a user-friendly dashboard that makes it simple to get the basics done even with no tech skills. If you have coding knowledge too, it allows you to make custom changes via HTML or CSS.
You’ll get a simple navigation menu with options like posts, media library, pages, appearance, plugins, tools, and settings on the left side.
These options will come in handy when we start customizing the appearance of your website and also when you want to add content. The quick draft option for example is designed precisely to help you quickly write a blog post or content to post online.
The dashboard also gives you an overview of what’s happening with your blog in terms of comments that need moderating or replies, any needed updates, and also shows your drafts.
If you find your dashboard a bit too cluttered and distracting, you have the option to customize how it looks right from your screen.
You can do this by going to Screen Options and then removing what you don’t need from your dashboard homepage, which you’ll find here:
Clicking on Screen Options will open a settings menu with checkboxes. These boxes are what appear on your dashboard as widgets.
Activity gives you a quick snapshot of any new content you recently published.
At a Glance shows you the number of pages and posts you have published so far and how many comments you’ve gotten.
Welcome is a simple checklist for first-time WordPress users.
WordPress Events and News are meant for developers working in the WordPress space. It may not necessarily be useful for you.
Keep the widgets you’d like to maintain checked and uncheck any others which you feel may not be relevant. This will clear them from your dashboard homepage
Note that as you add plugins to your website, you may notice update notifications and other changes on your dashboard. You can still remove or hide those from your dashboard if you don’t find them useful using the screen options setting.
Whenever you’re looking to manage your site or make changes, simply login to your WordPress dashboard. You can do that by simply typing your website address into your browser’s address and adding /wp-admin/ to the end of your domain name.
For example yourdomain.com/wp-admin/
#5: Customize Your Basic Site Settings
Now your website is live and accessible online, it is time to personalize it a little bit more.
Things like colors, brand elements, logos, and designs come in now. Hopefully, you already have an idea of how to brand your website, based on what you want to use it for.
Keep in mind if you intend for it to be an ecommerce website, a blog, or a freelance/agency website when you’re picking a design perspective for your site.
Next is to customize your site’s settings. Go to the settings tab on the left panel. This where you’ll find General, Reading, Writing, Discussion, and Privacy settings. The first place you’d want to start with is your general site settings.
Customizing Your General Settings In WordPress
The general settings tab lets you customize general site settings like date, time, language, your site’s title, user roles and membership.
Whether or not you have a logo, be sure to change your site title to something more specific, preferably containing a keyword. The site title appears on top of the site when there’s no site logo yet. It will also appear in the upper left corner of your admin dashboard in WordPress.
Feel free to add a tagline to your site title to help brand your site. Your tagline may appear in different places online and may even end up being the number one way your website gets recognized.
Next, check to make sure the WordPress and site addresses are the same and also match your domain name. If any of them aren’t correct or don’t match your domain name, it may cause issues with your site.
Set your time zone to match your local time zone. Keep your membership box unchecked so you can screen new subscribers.
If you don’t already have existing blog posts or are yet to begin writing and categorizing your blog posts, you can skip Writing Settings.
Once you’re done with these settings, scroll down and click Save Changes.
If you have content already, you can set your homepage to display specific posts. Otherwise, you can maintain the default setting that uses your blog feed as your homepage.
Again you can choose to have a static homepage or a homepage that shows your newest posts.
It is much better to have a status homepage since you can put your best performing content on display and build credibility with your site’s visitors.
You have the option to select which of your pages should be set as a homepage. If you have a blog or shop page, you could use that.
Some themes come with a built-in front page with content. If your theme gives you that option, you could use that too.
More importantly, pay attention to the last two settings.
“For each post in a feed, include” should be set to “Summary”. This is useful not only for visitors who want to scan through the blog topics in your feed but also for improving your site speed which directly improves your conversions and SEO.
Lastly, uncheck the “Search Engine Visibility” box before you save your changes. This tells Google and other search engines that your website exists and helps them find and rank it.
How To Customize WordPress Discussion settings
These settings apply if you intend to run a blog with an open comments section. There is one setting here which however needs to be changed, for security purposes.
You’ll notice in the Default post settings that Allow link notifications from other blogs on new posts have been checked. Uncheck it.
This basically lets you see notifications in your comment section whenever someone links to your blog. It may seem useful but there isn’t really a need to see such notifications in your comments especially.
On the other hand, these notifications are a known security risk and may make your site prey to hackers and spammers so it’s best to turn them off.
Fix Your Permalink Settings
Permalinks are how content on your website will be found. They are the unique URLs you create whenever you publish any content to your website, be it a blog post or a new page.
By default, the “Post Name” option will determine how your links will be structured. This is good because it simplifies your link structure and makes it easier for visitors to your site to remember.
You may choose to modify this and use dates or some other format to determine your link structure but this may only complicate things.
Adjust Your Privacy Settings
This will help you stay compliant to both local and international privacy laws.
#6: Install a WordPress Theme
Now we come to step one of the fun part, making your website look pretty! For someone who is not tech-savvy the easiest way to get your website to look good is through WordPress themes.
Themes are a collection of templates and stylesheets used to modify or fix the appearance and look of a WordPress powered website. They can be changed, managed, edited and added from the WordPress admin area under Appearance.
Each one gives your website a different design, layout, and features. There are specific themes meant for specific kinds of websites, e.g. WordPress Photography Themes are made especially for photography-based websites.
Likewise there are unique themes for ecommerce websites, agency websites, food blogs, news websites and even corporate websites.
Because WordPress is such a popular platform, there are literally thousands of free and paid themes e.g Divi builder, Avada and Pixelgrade, which work for websites in any niche. So no matter how simple or sophisticated you want your website to look, there is a free or paid theme for you.
While there are many themes available, not all themes are created equal. Some themes come with paid upgrades for added features like sliders and custom colors e.g Parallax.
Others may also have additional extensions you may need to download and activate in your WordPress dashboard.
WordPress itself after installation comes with two pre-installed themes; Twenty-Seventeen and Twenty Eighteen. These are simple themes which can be used for a blog or text-heavy website.
How To Install WordPress Themes
Installing a WordPress theme is simple. You’ll first need to choose a free theme from WordPress theme library or purchase a premium one from any of the theme marketplaces online like Themeforest, Elegant Themes or Mojo marketplace.
Tips To Choose A Theme for Your Website
WordPress themes are out-the-box design packages that change the way your entire website looks like. WordPress themes are interchangeable – you can switch from theme to theme easily.
Be sure that your theme is both mobile and SEO-friendly and gives you the exact features you need based on your kind of online business. Check reviews and ratings of themes before you download them. Knowing some of these things ahead of time will save you time.
Other important things to consider are
- Features and color you want your site to have, e.g a gallery, slider and content blocks per section.
- Theme speed, responsiveness and ease of navigation
- Easy font readability and customization
- Support for popular WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO, Akismet or WP Super Cache.
- Multilingual and translation support. A lot of WordPress themes aren’t in English.
There are thousands of free and paid WordPress themes available on the web.
If you’re looking for options to choose from, simply log in to your WordPress dashboard.
1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard, then go to Appearance and choose Themes.
2. To add a theme, click Add New. From here you’ll be able to either add an existing theme in the WordPress directory or upload your own. If you know the name of the theme you want, search for it in the Theme directory.
If you don’t know your preferred theme’s name, use the Feature Filter to give you an idea of what you’d like and narrow down your selection.
You can also check any tags and click Apply Filter for suggestions that meet your search criteria.
3. You can choose Preview to see a demo of how the theme looks before installing it. If it’s okay for you, install it by simply clicking the Install button once you’re ready. Once installed, click the Activate link.
Take note that most theme previews are usually pre-customized or are the pro-versions of the theme. It won’t look the same after installation, you’ll still need to further customize it or get upgrades where needed.
4. Once you’re all done, now click preview to see how your site looks.
In case you want custom themes there are lots of places you can check for both free and paid WordPress themes that are both mobile-friendly and SEO optimized.
Best Multi-Purpose Themes for WordPress
Sometimes you may not be sure of the direction you want your website to go before you get started.
Or perhaps you simply want something that allows you freedom to develop your website in any direction, a multipurpose theme is the way to go. Some good options are
These are all examples of great mostly free, multi-purpose WordPress themes with fast-loading times, ecommerce support, and blog support.
Almost all the above options are available for free, some come with paid upgrades and extensions if you want their full features.
Best ecommerce WordPress themes
If your website is mainly intended to be an online store, it will be good to get themes designed to provide the perfect online store experience and customization.
Most also work well with Woocommerce and are optimized for speed and better conversions. Some great options include
In terms of premium themes with the most customizations, templates, and pre-designed web pages, Divi and Avada are the most popular by far. Each one gives you enough options to help you customize your site and maintain your unique personal brand regardless of which niche you’re in.
Themeforest provides lots of premium and unique themes with multiple layouts, pre-designed templates, and easy drag-and-drop page builders to help you create a stunning website, even with zero coding skills.
Another option is Studio Press. StudioPress is one of the best premium WordPress theme hubs on the market. Its themes work seamlessly with the new WordPress editor, Gutenberg, thanks to the framework it is built on.
Gutenberg is the brand new WordPress’ platform editor that makes creating new posts, pages, uploading media, and the likes very easy.
If you purchased a theme from a developer that operates outside of the WordPress themes directory (for example Themeforest), you need to upload it before installing it. Follow these simple instructions to upload and install a theme.
1. Begin by downloading the theme’s .zip file from the source e.g Themeforest or Studio Press, onto your PC.
2. Now head to your WordPress dashboard and go to Appearance. Select Themes and click Add New.
3. Once you select Add New, you’ll see an option to Upload Theme.
4.Your theme upload form will open. Now click Choose File and select the theme .zip file you previously downloaded on your computer and then Install Now.
5. Your theme can now be activated. Go to the Appearance tab and open your Theme library. Select your newly uploaded theme and click Activate. Your new theme is live now!
#7: Customize Your WordPress Theme
Once you’ve decided on a theme of choice, it’s time to customize your theme and make it look exactly how you want it to .
The exact steps to customize your theme will vary based on the theme you choose but here are some handy basics that cut across most themes.
From your WordPress dashboard, go to the top left menu, select Appearance and select Themes.
This will open a new page with all your downloaded themes including the currently active one. Select Customize.
Here you can now edit things like your site’s tagline under Site Identity.
Other useful customization options to know include:
Customizing Your Site Header
The Header section is for what you’d like to appear at the top part of your website. You can access it from within the WordPress dashboard
Or from the theme’s editor and add an image.
How To Create A Menu With WordPress
The Menu section is where you can choose what options appear beneath your site’s tagline, for example, Blog, Shop or About Us. WordPress themes generally support at least two menus, a primary and a secondary one.
The menu appearance depends on the theme you chose. You can also customize your menu directly from your WordPress dashboard, just go to Appearance and select Menus.
Start adding links to your menu from either the posts, pages or custom links displayed on the left.
The Footer section is where you add details like your contact details or email, business address, social media channels, or email subscription box.
Remember to hit the Publish button anytime you finalize any changes to your website.
Apart from these three, you can further customize other things like a slider (if your theme gives you that option), background images, site logo if you have one and your site’s colours.
#8: Add Content to Your Website
This is one of the most important parts of creating a website. Every website needs content in the form of images, copy or blog posts. Your website’s content is critical to determining how successful the site will be.
First you’ll need to determine how many pages you’ll need for content. By default you’ll have a Homepage which is where visitors to your site will first land. You could set your homepage to your blog too, to save time.
You’ll also need an About Us/About Me page so you can tell people what your website is about.
How To Create A New Page For Your WordPress site
1. From your WordPress admin area go to Pages and click Add New.
This will open up a new WordPress page form where you can add any text/copy, images and other details using the document menu on the right. Once you’re done, you can click Save Draft and then Preview to see how your new page will look like.
If you’re satisfied go ahead and click Publish.
Feel free to add it to your navigation menus either at the top or bottom of your site.
How To Add Your First Blog Post In WordPress
Usually WordPress gives you a default post as a guide to how to create your first blog post. You can edit or delete this post completely.
1. Go to your admin area and click on the Posts tab. This will open a list of any posts currently on your site.
2. Select Trash option under the post titled Hello World which is the default post that comes with new WordPress websites. This will delete that post.
3. Select Add New and a new content editing page will open. WordPress gives you the option to add content blocks to create your post.
You can add title blocks, media blocks that let you choose your image and text wrapping and even embed blocks if you’d like to embed some social media links.
4. After entering your content, be sure to save it as a draft first. Next add tags or categories to your post. Tags are simply keywords which your post revolves around.
Categories on the other hand simply organize posts by subject making them easier to navigate. Both tags and categories help with SEO as well.
5. Finally add a Featured Image by clicking the featured image tab under the document menu on the right. Featured images are important because they appear as your blog posts thumbnail online and wherever you share the link.
6. Also be sure to edit your post’s URL by editing the permalink in WordPress editor. This makes it easy to find your blog post and also boosts SEO if you include the right keywords in the URL.
7. Once you have saved and previewed all your edits, click the Publish button.
Congratulations, you just published your first blog post!
#9: Customize Your Sidebar & Widget Areas
Another big part of creating your website is customizing your sidebar and widgets. Side bars are simply bars that help you show more content on your website without disrupting its landscape.
Widgets on the other hand are pre-built modules designed to add specific features to your site like recent posts, a search bar or subscription box.
Most websites have a sidebar that displays categories, filters or any additional info a website visitor may need to navigate the site’s content more easily. For online stores, the sidebar may simply be a way to display recently viewed items and easy access to a shopping cart.
Sidebars are popular because they allow you to display more content without making your website cluttered or clumsy. Most WordPress themes come with a built-in side bar which may already have widgets or a selection of widgets to choose from.
WordPress makes it easy to customize and add widgets to your sidebar. If you don’t like your theme’s built-in sidebar, you have the option to download plugins that give you even more flexibility over what you put in your sidebar.
How To Customize Your Sidebar
1. Login to your WordPress admin area.
2. In the left-hand menu, go to Appearance >Themes and then go to Customize. This will open the customizer panel.
3. Now select Widgets in the panel. You’ll see a list of all the available widget options for your chosen theme. Different themes may have different widget options and they may even be named differently. But the sidebar section will be titled sidebar in its title, select this option.
4. Now you’ll see all the widget options available in your sidebar. You can now rearrange how your widgets appear by simply clicking on and holding a widget and then dragging it to its new position.
After you are done simply click Publish
5. If you don’t like the widget’s title you can change the text that appears on top of it or even delete the widget altogether. Simply click on the widget you want to edit and make your edits to the Title Text.
Select Done afterwards and click Publish to finalize your changes.
How To Delete a Widget
6. To remove a widget from the sidebar, click it to expand its section and then select the red Remove text beneath the widget.
The selected widget will now be deleted. To make this change permanent, click Publish.
How To Add More Widgets to Your Sidebar In WordPress
If your sidebar is looking a little lean, you can add more widgets to make it more useful to your visitor. Go to widgets in your theme customizer panel or under the Appearance tab in your WordPress dashboard.
- Click the Add a widget button.
- Select your widgets
- Configure your widget settings on the left-hand panel.
- Repeat the same process for every new widget that you want to add.
- Once you’re okay with your choice(s), click Done.
- To save your changes, click Publish.
The sidebar will now update to include all your new widgets.
If you want more widgets than those that are built-in to your theme, you can try a WordPress widget plugin.
#10: Install Plugins for Added Functionality
One thing that WordPress is known for is its wide selection of plugins. Because it is open-source and one of the most popular website builders available, lots of plugins have been created just for it.
A plugin is simply a small software that lets you add a group of unique functions to your WordPress website. Think of it as done-for-you-code which lets you get your website to do more.
The alternative would have been to write code yourself to add that functionality to your website. Plugins are the solution to that.
WordPress plugins are written in programming language to work seamlessly with the platform, making it easy for both beginners and experts alike to use.
These tools improve your overall website function because there are some critical functions that the WordPress platform by itself may simply not have. So downloading and installing a plugin is the only way to get that added function on your website.
We’ll take a look at the plugins which you absolutely need to have to boost the overall performance of your website.
1. Akismet Anti Spam.
Ever wondered how bloggers keep their comments section clean and free of any unwanted or spammy comments? Akismet Anti Spam plugin does exactly that.
It is the only plugin that can automatically review and filter every comment shared on your site, letting you know which one is suspected to be spam by the software or moderator.
You can also review approved comments per user, URLs and delete anything you simply don’t want in your comments section.
Akismet is FREE to download and use for any personal website, making it perfect for newbies and startups. There is a premium version which costs a little bit but is well worth it, especially if you have a very active comment section.
2. WordFence Security.
Securing your website’s connection is one thing, but the real deal is in protecting your website from being taken over by hackers and protecting it from malicious attacks. WordFence security is your go-to plugin for website security and protection.
Offering both free and paid version WordFence security offers a large selection of tools all designed to protect your website on all fronts. You’ll get
- Malware, virus and backdoor screening.
- Firewall protection that blocks fake Google crawlers and IPs.
- Email alerts or warnings of suspicious login attempts including the countries from which these login attempts came and critical problems.
- Brute force attacks and hack protection.
For security and integrity of your website, simply download, install and activate WordFence security plugin in your WordPress dashboard.
3. Yoast SEO.
One of the biggest goals of a website is to get traffic from visitors and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) makes this possible. SEO helps you get more visitors from search engines to your website.
WordPress lends itself to SEO friendliness, but there are a number of other tactics you can employ to improve your page ranking and Yoast SEO is one them.
If you have no idea what SEO is or how to go about it, Yoast SEO is the best comprehensive and beginner-friendly SEO plugin solution available. It provides helpful tools and features like keyword and readability scores to help improve your page rank.
You can also add meta tags, edit your web content, optimize it for social media and more.
4. WP Forms Lite.
Forms are an integral part of collecting information on your website from email to subscriptions or even surveys and polls. WP Forms is a simple online form builder that lets you create forms using a drag-and-drop builder in a few clicks.
The best part is it integrates with many popular marketing and payment platforms, so you can build powerful, custom forms for any platform in just a few minutes.
WP Forms is the premium version but you can get the free version which is WP Forms Lite
Woocommerce is the go-to solution for many WordPress users looking to add the ecommerce store functionality to their website for free. It is used by 4 million+ websites and counting.
From adding products and prices, product descriptions, managing inventory, calculating shipping, running discounts and adding photos, Woocommerce offers everything you’ll need to run an online store for free.
What makes it better is that Woocommerce has its own ecosystem of optimized themes, plugins and hosting designed specifically to work with the platform to boost the performance of your online store.
For example, TrustPulse is a companion plugin to Woocommerce that helps you convert more customers by building trust, using social proof and countdown timers.
6. An Email Plugin (MailChimp, ConvertKit, Aweber)
If you’re building a mailing list of subscribers, it’s critical that you get the plugin of your email marketing service provider. Using free webmail emails to reach customers simply doesn’t help your brand plus your emails are more likely to end up in the spam folder.
That’s why you need a domain name email address i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org. It builds credibility and increases your email open rate. Usually your hosting provider gives you the option to create one (or many) from your cPanel account.
This also helps with building your site’s authority and makes your email address less likely to get blacklisted and also improves the delivery rate of your emails in general.
There are lots of email service providers to choose. You can find a few good options below.
- Aweber – most template rich choice for beginners
- ConvertKit – best choice for advanced tracking metrics and marketing segmentation
- MailChimp – gives you up to 2000 contacts and 10,000 emails free
- Moosend – most beginner-friendly user interface
- GetResponse – budget-friendly option with webinar integration
Your service provider will give you an API key to enter on your WordPress site to link your site to your account.
You can find your API key in your email service provider account under the setting tab.
Once you find your API key, simply go to the WordPress plugin directory and search for your service provider’s plugin. Next download and activate the plugin.
Under the plugin’s settings you will find an option to link to your website. Enter the API key and any other needed details for the configuration and save your settings.
Site speed is a big part of boosting your ranking on search engines and one of the things that can quickly drag your site speed down is large and poorly optimized images.
You’ll need a plugin to help compress your images without losing quality to boost site speed.
Smush helps you do just that by compressing, resizing and boosting all your website images in no time. Best part is, it’s completely free.
Sometimes things can go wrong online and you may lose all the information on your website.
That’s why backing up content on your site is important. UpdraftPlus allows you to set up automatic backups that safely store your site data securely and remotely in the cloud.
This means in case something happens and you lose your site data, either through a code glitch, botched update or malicious attack, you can easily retrieve your website data in a jiffy.
UpdraftPlus basic is free, but for more features and priority support you can choose the premium version.
9. WP Super Cache.
Another plugin that helps with site speed, WP super cache helps you increase your site with a few clicks and in seconds.
It does this by creating quicker and easier to access HTML files of your WordPress site for your server to use instead of the fuller and heavier PHP scripts that take longer to load.
It also comes in free and premium versions and makes a great addition to any site owner’s plugin list especially if you’re looking to reduce site loading times even further
Stackable is worth mentioning even though it may not exactly be critical for your website’s performance. It gives you more flexibility and variety when it comes to creating posts and new webpages.
WordPress already comes with the Gutenberg editor, which allows you to create simple content through building blocks. Stackable expands the range of functions of Gutenberg by adding essential custom blocks to give you a true page builder experience within the WordPress block editor.
You’ll get over 50 custom building blocks on top of Gutenberg, including block options for video pop-ups, pricings, cards, icons, feature grids and much more.
Like the other plugins mentioned here, it has both free and paid versions which all give great added functionality.
Plerdy – CRO & SEO tools help you identify the thresholds and improve your conversion.
With the following products in Plerdy’s arsenal (Heatmap, SEO-Checker, Session Recording, Event & Goal Tracking, E-commerce Sales Performance, Conversion Funnel), you can find basic hypotheses about possible errors on the site and make a plan to improve them.
Plerdy has more than 100 unique features compared to its competitors (such as HotJar or Screaming frog). Here are some benefits:
- Data accuracy 99%
- Record clicks from dynamic elements
- Data recording of SPA sites
- Record and display real-time data on the site
- 0% load on the server
- Separation of data by traffic channels, device types, by a sequence of clicks.
I’ve Launched My Website and Blog. What’s Next?
If you made it this far and have launched your website and blog, congratulations! You’re on your way to creating a potentially life-changing stream of income and revenue.
Now it’s time to focus over the next few months on creating consistently valuable and useful content to keep your blog fresh. Work on discovering and fine-tuning which SEO strategies work for your website and publicizing your website either through free or paid methods.
The thing with creating a website is that initially it may take a lot of work to populate and begin driving traffic to it, but once everything gets in motion you would have potentially created a passive stream of income that will keep flowing for years to come.