WordPress Design

A Beginners Guide to Designing a WordPress Website

Once you have selected a domain name and a hosting service, the next step to publishing a WordPress website is to design it.

Most people think that in order to design a professional looking website, you either have to know how to code HTML, pay a large lump sum of money for a designer to create the site for you, or pay for a pre-built site.

Actually, with WordPress, it’s quite simple to create a crisp, clean and authoritative website without HTML code knowledge. As long as you follow these steps, your site can be up and running in as little as a few hours.

Installing WordPress

The method you use for installing WordPress for your WordPress design varies depending on your situation. If you go with the self hosted version of WordPress via WordPress.com, then installing WordPress is as simple as completing an online form. However having a web hosting package that you can install the core version of WordPress on will allow you to easily access to many of the plugins and additions available.

If you decide to purchase shared hosting, then there are two different methods of installing WordPress.

You can use a one click installation option which allows the standard WordPress website to be loaded and minimises the steps to completion, or you can opt to customise your website installation features by employing the manual installation process.

In the case that you need to manually root your website to your hosting package, the process still does not require coding knowledge.

Once you download the WordPress software from the main website, you can upload your files, create the database, direct the browser to recognise the domain then follow the easy-to-follow instructions.

Regardless of the installation procedure you undergo, the process is simple and easy enough for virtually anyone to do, even a beginner.

Selecting a Theme

While selecting a theme for the WordPress design may be the most confusing part of the entire process, it is also where all of the creativity comes in to play.

This is the step where the overall design and feel of the website is created. The theme controls the display and appearance of the search page, front page, archived pages and even affects the pace that the website loads.

Having a site that is takes too long to load will cause users to become impatient, and in some cases, abandon the site altogether. All of these components affect the users’ experience, which also affects your bottom line, so the selection of a theme is nothing to take lightly.

Forum Theme

If the goal of your website is to provide a community in which you and your users can post and reply to threads, then the bbPress plugin can be used with any bbPress compatible theme.

You can create categories of discussions based on the theme of your website, and under the administration profile, you can control the content that is displayed in order to prevent the image of your brand becoming tainted by abusive users.

Social Network Theme

With BuddyPress, you could be the next Mark Zuckerberg by creating your own social network with this WordPress plugin!

With this plugin, you can duplicate some of the same features that are utilised on Facebook such as notifications, private messages, public and private groups and profiles.

This is a great plugin for bloggers who want to create their own community so that they have an audience to market to directly.

There are several BuddyPress themes that have been designed with BuddyPress in mind. Any of these should get you off to a good start when starting a social network themed website.

E-Commerce Theme

For those website owners who wish to operate an online store, the WooCommerce plugin is one of the most widely recommended WordPress e-commerce plugins because it has everything you need to start your business right away.

This includes a display page of the items for sale. Here, you can add photos, include a regular and sales price, create a link to a description and even make recommendations for complementing products.

Because WordPress operates on a secure network, you can even set up your own shopping cart and payment page, and it can be easily connected to an online merchant account such as PayPal So that the entire purchase process is automated.

There are over 350 WooCommerce based themes in the official WordPress theme directory. As these themes have strict criteria for display in this directory, you can be assured of their quality.

Publishing Content

Once you have selected the appropriate theme for the goal of your website, it’s time to fill the website with content.

Websites like iWriter are great places to purchase uniquely written content based on any topic of your choosing. These articles can range in cost depending on the word count of the content, the quality of the final product and the writers rates.

If you are on a tight budget you can always write the content yourself, but content generation must be taken into consideration early on, to ensure that it does not delay the success of the website.

Googles algorithms are known to reward websites that have a constant flow of fresh content. By updating the content, you enhance the value of your website and therefore increase your rankings in search engines like Google and Bing.

Once you have the content you wish to publish, adding it to the website is as easy as cutting and pasting. Aside from the content, you also have to create the titles of the navigational links and menu tabs in order to give the page a finished look.

Inserting Photos And Images

With some WordPress themes, you can drag and drop images into place where you want them to appear when the page goes live. With others the image must be uploaded to the page first, then resized and adjusted so that it fits appropriately on the page.

In either case, finding the images is easy. Aside from publishing your own photos, you can use various sources to accumulate your own database of high-quality images with low file sizes.

Unsplash is a great resource for royalty-free photos that are free to use. They give you implied permission to publish their photos on your website without fear of infringing on someone else’s intellectual rights.

PixelDropr allows you to create your own buttons and icons for instances when creativity suits the brand of the website. If you want to be even more creative and customise the fonts of the icon, IcoMoon is a resource use to create custom fonts to use on the site.

Adding Essential Plugins

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO will enable you to optimise your content so that it is viewed very favourably by search engines, therefore showing up higher in the results when certain keywords are searched. It will also dictate how your website link is presented in the search results, and this can be customised.


There are a lot of spammers who post unwanted material on forms and comment areas, that try to promote their business. This filtering plugin, while already included with the WordPress installation package, is a cloud-based solution to that problem.

Akismet utilises information that it finds and collects about suspected spammers in order to protect your webpage from unwanted and annoying content.


It is a must that you install a backup and restore solution that stores your information in a different location to the server that your website lives.

This ensures that if the server crashes then your backup copies will not be destroyed. The UpdraftPlus plugin automates the task of securing your websites content to help keep your hard work safe.

Connecting Social Media

There are a number of social media plugins available to enhance the connectivity between your website and social media platforms. Social media has emerged as the most powerful method of relating content and extracting a subscriber base.

It is essential that your website offers your visitors easy access to all of your social media profiles such as, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

However social media should be used to bring visitors to your website and to enhance its interactivity, so when it comes to displaying your social media profiles it is a good idea to have them in a non-prominent location such as your websites footer.

There are a number of plugins that have different features. For instance, there are some plugins that allow you to embed videos onto your webpage directly from YouTube and some allow all of your posts from your social media profiles to stream live on your webpage.

You can also embed share icons for all of your social media profiles onto the webpage directly. This allows your readers to like and share your content, thereby substantially increasing your traffic across multiple demographics.

Having these types of tools will allow you to build a powerful marketing campaign, whether it’s for content or with influencers.

By creating content that your readers want to share with their friends and families on their own social media page, you can tap into the markets of the people you already know and multiply the number of readers who become loyal to your brand.

As you can see, this opens up the opportunity to monetise your website in various ways, including affiliate marketing, selling advertising space and even selling your own product.

Installing Analytic Tools

Google analytics is by far second to none of any other analytical tool available for WordPress especially since Google is the most widely used search engine on the Internet. This plugin integrates well with the website and is easy to use and configure.

With this add on, you can perform A/B testing and receive insights on the source of your traffic in real time. You can manage multiple websites and accounts from one platform, and the add-on is free.

Crazy Egg is an interesting plugin that allows you to see where on your page your visitors are clicking the most. This allows you to visualise the ways in which your users are interacting with your page and identify the areas of your website that are the most popular and interesting to your viewers.

Kissmetrics helps with tracking your conversions. Having the information about how far in the sales path your users get allows you to maximise the potential of your sales funnels by enhancing the quality of the areas that need work the most and capitalising on the areas of your website that converts the visitors into customers.

While this add on is best suited for e-commerce themed webpages, it is also useful for other types as the data that is provided is useful when enhancing the quality of your website.

Enhancing Your Website Security

Finally, the last thing that is needed in order to complete the design of your WordPress website is the enhancement of its security.

Wordfence is the most popular plugin. It protects the login security, while providing a firewall, security scanning and IP blocking.

The program performs a deep server scan and compares the code of your site to the official standards, looking for abnormalities and fixing them.

ithemes Security uses more than 30 different ways to prevent an attack on your WordPress website. The software addresses common vulnerabilities and defends websites from automated attacks.

One valuable feature of the software is that it forces the users to use optimally secure passwords and file permissions. This allows the software to authenticate users of the site and easily identify potentially dangerous intruders.

For more advanced security features, BulletProof Security is a popular plugin that secures your page from CRLF, XSS and SQL code injection hackings.

It also formulates an analytic report to allow you to view and monitor the uploading of files, the recorded number of attempted logins and any suspected malicious activity that may cause damage to your webpage.


Once your website is designed, the content is loaded and all of your social media accounts are connected, it will be ready to go live.

With your website connected to multiple social media platforms, it is in a good position to be broadcasted and marketed to your audiences with just a few shares of posts, images and videos that are linked to the website.

Once you have built a subscriber base, depending on your websites goals you can monetise your website by incorporating paid blog posts, affiliated marketing techniques, and by selling advertisement space to other website owners.

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About Steven Watts

Steven WattsSteven is the founder of Newt Labs. He's a WordPress specialist with an interest in building the most effective websites possible. Since 2010, he's been helping businesses with their online goals.

100 Tips for Maintaining Your WordPress Site

Defend your site from hackers, improve speed, and learn tactics used by WordPress experts

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