Domains, Hosting, WordPress, oh my! a.k.a How to build your own WordPress Website part 1

Domains, hosting, WordPress – it all gets our knickers in a twist, am I right? I get emailed a lot about where to start with building your own WordPress website, I know it can be quite daunting, so rather than gorging on all the WordPress articles in the world, you can read this one and receive all the information you need to know to set up your own website and get to grips with right here and now.

First up, did you know there are TWO versions of WordPress.

  1. WordPress.com is the free version that has limited functionality but it’s not good for a professional site.
  2. WordPress.org where you pay for external hosting and you can make into an all-singing-all-dancing website. Or, you know, one that shows off your photos beautifully and will make your couples want to book!

So, here’s how to start:

Sit down with a cuppa and get your notebook, a pen and your wallet out; you’ll need your card to pay for a couple of things.

Do you own a domain name?

Firstly you need to purchase your domain name.

I like to use Namecheap (although there are a gazillion others out there like 123reg, GoDaddy etc). I like Namecheap because it’s super simple and easy to use, plus they have great live support.

So, to see if your desired domain is available, type your desired domain into the search bar.

If it’s available, there will be a number of options available to purchase it such as .com, .co.uk, and many others. The industry standard for commercial businesses is – .com or .co.uk. There is a debate on whether to choose .com or .co.uk as your main domain name. I would always advocate buying both if they are both available in order to protect your brand.

The domains are cheap to buy per year, but it is a ranking factor (albeit not a major one it would seem any more) if you buy for several years at a time, so if you’ve got the cash upgrade to purchase for 5 years, that is best.

Do you have a host?

Now you’ve chosen a name for your house, you need to find some land, i.e. your own corner of the internet on which your website will sit: your hosting.

I recommend Siteground – I host my web design clients on Siteground and they’re brilliant with customer support. Go for the basic package to begin with as you don’t need anything more. Logging into Siteground you’ll be asked to hook up your domain name with your hosting. They’ll walk you through this but they also have an online tutorial and even better, Namecheap also have live chat now so if you do get stuck you can go back to them and ask for help there.

Now that you have hosting, you need to update your domain provider and add the settings that your hosting provider give you – these are called nameservers. In a new tab, if you’re using Siteground, go to My Account, then Manage Account for the domain you’re working on and then the nameservers are on the left hand side. Go back to your domain provider in the previous tab and find “Manage DNS”. This can be a little tricky the first time you do it, which is why I’m so keen on you choosing providers that have good customer support! This will take up to 24 hours to update and then you’re ready for the next stage.

Now it’s time to install WordPress.org

Assuming you’re using Siteground, go to cPanel and under Installers, select WordPress.

Here’s a full guide on how to install WordPress on Siteground – don’t be scared, it’s really not as complicated as it sounds. Like I say, Siteground are very helpful and will walk you through the process.

You’ll be asked to note down your username and password provided by Siteground for your WordPress install. Make a note of these details and so you’ll be able to access your new website backend via yourwebsite/wp-admin

Do you have a look in mind?

Once WordPress is installed, you need to choose a look. I imagine you may have heard of various themes you can purchase like ProPhoto and more. I would personally start off with something cheaper, ideally free as you’re starting out. I’m a recent convert to Divi by Elegant Themes and now design all client sites on this platform, as they’re a drag and drop builder making it easy to build in blocks and they have great customer support.

When you’re researching themes, be sure that the theme:

  • Is fully responsive (not just mobile friendly, actually look for the word ‘responsive’)
  • Has great reviews
  • Is updated regularly
  • Has a good support system
  • Has a clean design (you can add more in if you want to, but it can be harder to take away depending on the theme)
  • Has a flexible layout
  • Has great documentation (because, like Ikea, you may not read the instructions until you’ve tried it once or twice on your own but it’s really great to have them in any case because unlike Ikea they should be useful to you!)

My advice to you is, don’t get too hung up on this part. I know plenty of creatives get stuck on how the theme/template looks, but actually further down the line, when you book a Healthcheck with me then I may suggest you change the layout of the pages to convert your readers to customers better, and I want the best for you and what you do for your website.

Once you’ve bought the theme…

You can download your selected theme, it will be a zip file and you need to install the theme by doing this:

  • Log in WordPress admin.
  • Select the Appearance panel, then Themes.
  • Select Add New.
  • Find the theme that you downloaded just now
  • Use Upload link in the top links row to upload a zipped copy of the theme.

Next is to choose the pages you need on your website to support your clients to trust you and choose to book you – coming up next week!

For now, let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Maddy xo

P.S. Full disclosure – this post contains affiliate links so I get a little bit of moulah if you make a purchase. I do not, however, endorse products I do not use and trust completely.

How to Install a Cookie Notice on your website (Not the eating kind, sadly)

So, now you’ve got Google Analytics all nicely set up on your website tracking the movements of your site users. The important next step that many people don’t realise, is that you need to have a Cookie Notice set up on your site to notify users that you are collecting data from them. This is a requirement by law, but have no fear as this is very very easy to set up and we’ll show you how, step by step.

We’ve all seen the mildly irritating popup notices on major websites where we’re told that we’re being tracked and we may click OK and move on. Actually, many of us may not understand what’s actually happening.

(Not this kind of cookie, sadly)

Cookies help websites remember who you are and store important information about you, an example being when you sign into your Gmail account and it says ‘Welcome Back…Maddy’.  Cookies are really important for marketing to people as it’s how we know more about the customer.

There are two types of cookies:

  1. First party cookie – the cookie data is only accessible by the domain name that’s throwing the cookie. These are “good” cookies.
  2. Third party cookies are a bit scary as you’re sharing your information with all your connecting websites (Google Analytics only relies on 1st party cookies).

For WordPress Users:

  • In your WordPress Dashboard, go to Plugins and search for Cookie Notice by dFactory. Cookie Notice is a great plugin as it allows you to customise your cookie notice to fit the style and layout of your WordPress website.
  • Download and Activate this plugin.
  • Go to Settings > update the Message box with We or I according to whether you’re single person or team business, and you can even customise the OK button (like our client Parrot & Pineapple did) to suit your branding!
  • Scroll down until you see Position and select Top or Bottom, depending on whether you want the notice to appear at the top or bottom of the site.
  • Select Colors > Text – choose the hex code to match your branding and the same for Bar colour.
    Click Save Changes.

For Squarespace Users:

  • In the Home Menu, click Settings, click Advanced, and then click Code Injection.
  • Add the following code to the Header Code Injection box:

<script type=”text/javascript”> Static.EU_COOKIE_POLICY = “top-left”; </script>

  • To replace the sample text in the banner, use this snippet and replace the message:

<script type=”text/javascript”>

Static.EU_COOKIE_POLICY = “top-left”

Static.EU_COOKIE_TEXT = “We use cookies to help us improve, promote, and protect our services. By continuing to use the site, you agree to our cookie policy”

Static.EU_COOKIE_BUTTON_LABEL = ‘Continue’

</script>

The default styling on Squarespace isn’t too pretty, and so if you want to get a custom styling for your cookie notice get in touch and we’d be happy to help you with a quote.

So, you’ve now had your eyes opened to the magic that is Google Analytics, you’ve created an account and installed your tracking code to your website. You’ve also installed a Cookie Notice to your site. Amazing!

UPDATED 2018: Since GDPR regulations came into play in May 2018, you’ll need to link to your Cookie Policy in your Cookie Notice. There’s a box to add a link to this in the Cookie Notice plugin. You need to consult a lawyer regarding the wording, as it may be part of your privacy policy for your site.

All this talk of cookies has made us hungry. Grab a cookie and stick the kettle on.

If you’re thinking “I really don’t want to do this myself, I want you to do it plz” then pop me an email and let’s get it sorted for you.

Maddy & Team Shine xo