Beginners

WordPress is relatively easy compared to other content management systems, like Drupal or Joomla. And it’s certainly easier to build a site with WordPress than it is to write all the code from scratch. But if you’re just starting out, there’s still a lot to learn!

This page is currently a work in progress. Our goal is to make it a compilation of useful resources for novice WordPress users. Is there something you’d like to see added to this page? Leave a suggestion in the comments below.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is free software that you can use to build all sorts of websites. While WordPress is most well-known for powering blogs, you can also use it to build large online publications, private membership sites, online stores, and even sophisticated web apps.

What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

WordPress.com is a service run by Automattic, the company founded and run by WordPress co-creator Matt Mullenweg. WordPress.com is built using the free and open source WordPress software.

  • WordPress.com is a freemium service aimed at bloggers and small businesses. You don’t need to pay for a free wordpress.com account. Instead, you pay to unlock additional features.
  • WordPress.com has limited support for 3rd party plugins and themes.
  • WordPress.com has limited support for custom development. E.g. you can’t install a custom theme or plugin.
  • WordPress.com offers user support via email and forums.

WordPress.org is the community-run website where you can download, discuss, and contribute to the WordPress open source software project. The name WordPress.org is often used to differentiate the free software from the WordPress.com service.

  • WordPress.org includes the Make WordPress blogs, where different aspects of the WordPress project are discussed and planned, ranging from core development to community meetups.
  • The WordPress software downloaded from WordPress.org must be installed on a hosting provider before you can use it.
  • WordPress.org, including the support forums, is run by volunteers. Do not expect the same level of responsiveness that you’d get from a paid support team.

What types of WordPress hosting should you use?

If you’re looking to use the version of WordPress available from WordPress.org, you’ll need to install it on a hosting provider. There are a number of different hosting options to choose from, and debates over which is the “best” solution can get quite heated.

Generally speaking, there are a handful of different hosting types to choose from:

  • Shared hosting is the affordable hosting tier that most WordPress users start out with. Prices can be as low as $5/mo, depending on your provider. Performance isn’t the greatest, so shared hosting is good for personal sites and if you’re just starting to experiment with WordPress.
  • VPS hosting is more expensive than shared hosting and more complicated to manage, but offers better performance and greater control over how the server is configured. It’s a good fit for moderately popular websites.
  • Cloud hosting is popular with developers because of the low cost. You only pay for the system resources you use. The trade-off is that cloud hosting generally requires you to be comfortable with server administration and working with the command line.
  • Managed WordPress hosting is a niche solution tailored specifically to WordPress websites, offering WordPress-specific features like staging sites or performance optimization. Pricing is often closer to that of a VPS hosting plan, but some providers offer cheaper managed WordPress hosting.

If you’re new to WordPress and not comfortable in the command line, look for shared hosting that’s optimized for WordPress, or for managed WordPress hosting from a reputable hosting provider.

How do you get started with WordPress?

The fastest and most affordable way to get started with WordPress is to sign up for a cheap month-to-month shared hosting plan. These hosting plans often include a free domain name registration with your account setup.

Most shared hosting providers use cPanel to let you manage your hosting account. cPanel includes a tool for running one-click installs of popular software, i.e. WordPress.

Use the installer to install WordPress on your hosting account and connect it with your domain name. If you get stuck, refer to your hosting provider’s documentation or customer support.

Tip: Make sure to get an SSL certificate for your hosting plan and domain, so you can enable https:// on your WordPress website.

What first steps should you take with WordPress?

After you’ve got WordPress installed and running on your hosting plan, you should:

  • Install a plugin to run scheduled backups of your site.
  • Install a security plugin to scan and protect your site.

Your next steps are entirely dependent on the type of site you’re building.

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