Building your website by putting in content is a methodical process. The content itself is as individual as you are, but the structure of most information websites will be the same. There are other types of sites, such as e-Commerce, but those are animals of a different strip. We are dealing specifically with informational websites and using WordPress themes for the structure of your website.
Steps for Building Your Website
Step 1: Choose your theme
Login to your web host control panel, and then at their WordPress section. You will have to register an admin and password to work within WordPress. Within your host, look for free WordPress themes. Most hosts will have a number of the free and most popular themes for their clients. Look at how each theme is structured. Do you like a big banner (heading) at the top? Do you like 1, 2, 3, or more columns in the body? Do you want a sidebar? Which side? Some of these free themes will allow you to customize the theme to your liking, but others are less user-friendly. Pick one.
The first page of every theme will be shown, and as you hover over the image, you will see several links appear: theme details, activate, and live preview. THEME DETAILS will show you the “structure” of the theme, LIVE PREVIEW will show you how your website would look in it (if you already have content in a theme), and ACTIVATE means that you are choosing that theme and you are ready to insert content into it.
If you don’t like any of the available themes, you can google “free wordpress themes” to find others. If you find one that you like during this search, download it to your computer, place it in a zip file, and upload it to your host (they should have a place to “Add New Theme.”) Once there, you can treat it like any of the other visible themes, doing a preview or activating it.
Step 2: Customize your theme
Once you have chosen a theme, look under Appearance and click CUSTOMIZE. You have a bit of data to insert here and a number of choices. For Site Identity, you put your title, tagline, and if you have an icon for your site, you would upload it here. Depending upon the theme, you have some color choices, both for text and background. You can upload a header image, background image, and choose to have a static front page (recommended).
A very important choice here, however, is Menus. This determines your navigation for the site. At the beginning, you really can’t determine your menus in this Customize section, but as you write your content—always consulting your Design pages—you can determine which topics will be your pages, and which will be your posts. You want your Pages to be your main menu. Wait until your content is created, BUT before publishing, to create your menus.
Step 3. Write your Pages
Go to Pages in the WP menu, choose ADD NEW, and you will have a template in front of you that looks something like this. Enter your title, then write your text. (Trick here: don’t copy from Word into this box. Save your text in Notebook–cleans out all of the formatting of Word–and then add it in your text box. Sometimes Word does really strange things to your copy when published.) When done, at the right, click SAVE DRAFT.
Step 4: Add an image
Most of the time, you are going to want an image to enhance your text. To make things easier, have your image cropped and sized before you upload. Go to Media in the WP menu, ADD NEW, and select or drag your file there. It will then go into your Media Library.
When you choose an image from your media library, be sure to write an Alt Text for it and that really should be your keyword(s) for the page you are adding it to. You can edit the image, but you also can choose different sizes to use, where the picture should be located, etc.
To add to your page, simply place your cursor where you want the image to appear. Go to ADD MEDIA, choose your picture, and add it. If you want to edit or delete it, just click on the image and an edit box will appear.
With many themes, you can add a Featured Image to any Page or Post. This image will appear in any listings and this usually is the image you have used for the pages or posts.
Step 5: Write a post
Basically writing a post is done the same way as writing a page, but you are in a different part of your website. Click ADD NEW under Posts and you will see the same type of template as for Add Page. Don’t forget to do your SEO on posts also. Posts can appear under your different categories (topics in your navigation bar) or under Blog in navigation, depending upon how you set up your menus.
Step 6: Do Your SEO
At this point, I do my Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of my page. I didn’t mention it before because I did not want to throw too many things at you at once, but SEO is how the search engines find your site on the internet. I have uploaded a Plugin to help me with this. My preference is Yoast SEO and it is a free plugin that works quite easily and well. I also use another plugin, Rich Snippets, for searches. NOTE: A plugin is a little module of pre-written software that helps you to do a certain chore.
Directions (these directions work for all new plugins): go to the plugin page in your WP menu. Your theme will have some plugins preloaded. Click ADD NEW, write Yoast SEO in the “Search Plugins” box. Look for the Yoast plugin that has been tested with your version of WordPress. Before you Install Now, look at More Details to see what you are getting. If this is what you want, click INSTALL NOW. A page will appear with the plugin information on it and you will see ACTIVATE NOW. Do so. You can do the same for Rich Snippet. Then head back to the page you were working on.
Back on the Page you are creating, scroll down below your text and you will see a box called Yoast SEO. The snippet here is a short description of what this page is about. Edit the snippet. Then determine a keyword. Think of it like this: what will your readers search for. That is your keyword—in one word or just a few more, you are describing your text. SAVE DRAFT. Now examine the Content Analysis and you will see how well you have done for SEO. Yoast tells you by color and text how well you have done. Fix your problems as best you can (none of this will be perfect), and SAVE DRAFT.
Step 7: Create Your Menu
On your WP menu, go back to Appearance, and click on Menus. As you can see, the Pages I have created for my website are listed in the box Pages. Below that is a box called Categories. Each time I created a Page or Post, I assigned it to one of my categories. Next to those is a box called Menu Structure. I dragged each category that I wanted to appear in my Navigation Buttons over into Menu Structure. I then, by dragging, organized them into how I wished them to appear. I named the Menu “kcg website” so that I would know it is my primary menu. SAVE MENU. My website is primarily blogs or articles, and that is why I use categories for my navigation bar. You can do it anyway you wish.
At this same time, I also created a menu called “Private Pages” which is for the info that is located on my footer (the bar at the bottom of my pages). I then dragged the specific pages I wanted on that footer into that Menu, organized them, and SAVE MENU.
Step 8: Publish
When you think you have done everything properly, PREVIEW your page. If you are satisfied, click PUBLISH and you are up and running. Look at your site on the web. Have others do so and critique it. They will see things that you don’t. Don’t be discouraged if you find there are things in the wrong place or you don’t like the look of something. Go back into your Website Dashboard and fix it. Manipulate this site until it is the way you want it.
Step 9 and Beyond
This is an extremely simplistic explanation for building your website. Especially at the beginning, you will make mistakes, find plugins you like, discover methods of adding and deleting material that work for you. This is enough information to get you started on your website journey, but your learning should never cease. A website is a very complex creation which will continue to evolve as the coders find better ways of doing things. I HIGHLY recommend that you continue to do additional reading on creating a WordPress website and join www.WordPress.org for their support.
My last words of advice: This is not rocket science, and you are a smart person. You can do this. Just remember to think logically. That is what your website will demand of you. Everything in a website is created in a logical, methodical manner, and if you think there might be shortcuts, you are wrong. In coding, which we are not doing, even a misplaced period can destroy the work. In placing content, you have to follow the rules of the theme and of WordPress or it doesn’t work. Go slowly, think of how your actions will affect other things within your site, and keep good records.
We will spend some time on recommended plugins, in the future, for there are many which will help you along.
Sources of more WordPress information and you can find much more with an internet search:
https://wordpress.org/ Join this group—it is an invaluable resource for you.
https://codex.wordpress.org/New_To_WordPress_-_Where_to_Start A multitude of articles on how to get started in WordPress.
http://calug.net/wordpress-tutorial-beginners/ Great beginner website worth consulting
http://1stwebdesigner.com/wordpress-for-beginners/ Another guide to building your website; he goes into a bit more of the technical aspects.
http://websitesetup.org/ Another guide which may give you a different perspective