How to Build a “Regular” Website With WordPress

Grab your cup of coffee, and let’s have a chat.  In today’s blog post I want to answer one of the questions I am asked most frequently.  I recommend WordPress for just about everything.  And that includes non-blog websites (although I also recommend just about everyone blog!).

I get that for most of us entrepreneurs, especially when we’re just getting started, we’re bootstrapping and funds are tight.  That’s what you need to jump in and use WordPress to build your website.  So, here’s how to make a “regular” (non-blog) website using WordPress.  To see a larger version of any image below, just click on it.

Over the next few days I’ll be posting about WordPress and how to get the most out of it.  But back to setting up your site…

First, you’ll need to install WordPress on your hosting space.  This is not as scary as it sounds – really, it’s not!  Most website hosts will even install it for free for you if you open a support ticket and ask.  Here’s a video showing how to install WordPress using Fantastico (will open in a new window so you don’t lose this post).

After you’ve installed WordPress on your domain’s hosting space, the next step is to choose a theme. “Theme” refers to the code and images that make up the overall design of the website.  WordPress is highly customizable with themes and there are many choices. Look for a theme which has the general layout you like. For example if you want to create a website with a header, then a menu below it, and then a sidebar and content, you’ll want to pick a theme with that layout. Some themes are more flexible than others so you’ll want to look at the live demos of the themes.  You can find lots of free themes here: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/

Here’s how to install a theme on your WordPress site, a video tutorial from WooThemes (the process works the same for other themes,  just without those extra steps at the end for configuring WooThemes).  Basically you just go to “Appearance” then “themes” then “Add New” and either search there and choose or upload your chosen theme and then activate it.  That’s it.

Once you’ve chosen a theme and installed it on your website, the next step is to create what will be your “home” or “welcome” page. Under “Pages” click “Add New” and create your page by giving it a title and putting some text in the box, then click the “Save” button.

Next you want to tell WordPress to display that page as your site’s home page, instead of the default listing of the newest blog posts. To do this, go to “Settings” then click “Reading.” You’ll see a choice labeled “Front page displays” and this is where you want to click “A static page” and then choose your front page in the drop down. Save your changes with the button at the bottom of the page.

Now you can change your sidebar widgets. Under “Appearance” click “Widgets” and you’ll see where you can drag and drop your choices of things to appear on the sidebar of your website. Since you’re not creating a blog, you don’t want to include widgets like “Categories” or “Recent Posts.” Instead use “Pages.” (Tip: If you want to add a subscribe form for your newsletter you can use a “Text” widget and paste in the code that your newsletter service gives you.)

You may want to install and activate the plugin “Page Mash” to make it easier to manage your navigation. It will allow you to easily organize the order the pages appear in and hide pages as needed.  Or, you may find custom navigation built into your theme (WooThemes and StudioPress both include it).

Depending on the theme you’ve chosen you may find you want to make additional customizations or changes. This is where a premium theme can be handy. If you purchase a premium theme from a company like StudioPress, WooThemes, iThemes or Thesis they will sometimes assist you in further customizations to your website.

That’s the quick version.  Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, you’ve just got to get started.  You can always improve it as you go!

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19 Comments

  1. How did you know I was planning to do this??? This article came along at the PERFECT time for me – I am moving from a FrontPage-based theme that I’ve used for a while, and combining my blog and web pages on the WordPress platform.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! It seemed more difficult – not sure why – and I’m reasonably tech-savvy!

    Have a terrific weekend!
    Dianne M. Daniels recently posted… New Season – New Inspiration – New Body! Planning Your Wardrobe Update…My Profile

    1. Hey Dianne, glad this is good timing! :) It’s really not as difficult as it seems to do – just a matter of tweaking those couple of settings and it does make the website so much easier to manage. You’ll love it!

  2. OK, you took the scary out of it! WordPress Rocks! (as do you!)
    Martha Giffen recently posted… Gimme Gimme Gimme Good WritingMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Martha. And YES, WordPress does rock!

  3. Michelle, I discovered you via a tweet from darling Martha Giffen. I see that you have an email list, but I would prefer simply subscribing to your blog. Is such a thing possible?
    Kay Ballard recently posted… This Is Not a Hair Blog This Is Not a Mommy BlogMy Profile

    1. I was just thinking this morning I need to make that easier to find in the new design. :) Thanks for confirming my suspicions! LOL

  4. Oh my! I AM blonde. Found the subscribe button and did so.
    Kay Ballard recently posted… This Is Not a Hair Blog This Is Not a Mommy BlogMy Profile

    1. Thanks for subscribing, Kay. Sorry to make you play hide and seek for the button. ;)

  5. Michelle, you make WordPress easy with your excellent explanations an images. Thanks.
    Robyn McMaster recently posted… Handshakes Reveal More than You Think!My Profile

  6. WordPress set-up is so much easier now that it was when I set up my first blog 4 years ago. Now, with instructions like you’ve shared, it can be set up in less than an hour.

    Your explanation and video are excellent. It makes us all great webmasters. Thanks!

    1. It’s definitely easier than 4 years ago. One of my favorite things about WordPress is how much they put into making it better. :)

  7. hey, nice blog…really like it and added to bookmarks. keep up with good work

  8. I am a big fan of WordPress too. I even use it for my optin pages.

    I agree with Kathy….very good explanation.

    I like the looks of “Page Mash”. I will have to give it a try.
    Sheila Atwood recently posted… Is Your Article Marketing Like An Oil PumpMy Profile

    1. I like PageMash a lot for themes that don’t have the custom menus built in. Makes it easier to manage what shows up and what doesn’t.

      Off to read your article – that title with “oil pump” in it got my attention!

  9. You have got excellent info here, Thank you because I find this highly compelling. I’ve sincerely enjoyed reading your writing.

  10. […] today in my theme of how to build a “regular” website with WordPress, and why you should build your site with WordPress, here are three ways WordPress will help your […]

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