WordPress, the web’s most popular content management system, is ever-present in online publishing. It’s free and easy to use for individuals and small startups, but flexible enough to support the complex development needs of major brands such as Disney, Mercedes-Benz, and The New York Times Company.
WordPress currently runs behind the scenes on nearly 30% of websites, and that figure is only increasing. Whether you’re a small-business owner or Beyoncé — who also trusts WordPress to power her brand’s website — the open-source platform has something to offer. The key is creating an effective action plan to make the most of it. Here, we provide the framework to do just that, from selecting a domain name to ensuring top site performance — and everything in between.
Domain Registration and Hosting Options
If you’re starting from scratch, the first thing you’ll need is a domain name. Choose something short, sweet, and to the point — you’ll want it to be memorable and relevant to your brand. While redirecting traffic to a new domain name down the road is possible, it’s risky in terms of SEO and requires strategic planning. Put serious thought into choosing a name, but once that eureka moment comes, jump on it — what’s available today may be snatched up tomorrow. Once you find the perfect domain, there are plenty of registrars to choose from, but it’s always a good bet to start with a host, such as InMotion, that also offers domain services.
The inclusion of a free domain name is a great perk, especially when a host offers an unlimited number of domains that brands can leverage to protect variations of their identities. As an added benefit, many WordPress hosting providers, including InMotion, will waive the registration cost of one domain for the first year of service. If you’ve already established a domain name, you can skip this step and take advantage of the migration and transfer options InMotion offers — this will make your journey that much easier.
If you’re new to WordPress, it’s a good bet to consult a beginners’ guide to determine which host is right for you. Evaluating hosts can be overwhelming, so be sure to narrow down your options based on individual need. A college student building an online résumé a week before a job interview, for example, will have different needs from those of a startup looking to increase online visibility. Determine your top priority, whether it’s low cost, ease of use, time to implementation, etc.
Some providers offer WordPress-specific hosting, where the CMS is pre-installed with automatic security patches and backups. If you choose this option and purchase a domain name from the same provider, using the platform will be a breeze. In many cases, your WordPress site will be installed using your domain name by default. Experts regularly rank InMotion as an industry-leading WordPress host; plans range in price from $4.99 to $11.99 a month, and come bundled with free domain registration, unlimited email, 24/7 support, and the option to install WordPress at checkout.
And while WordPress hosting prices vary, the general consensus is you shouldn’t pay much more than a cup of coffee at best — and a tank of gas at worst — per month to reap the benefits of a hosting provider. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. There are a number of providers in the industry that offer free WordPress hosting, but it’s always a better bet to spend a few bucks on a trusted host with packages specifically tailored to power the CMS.
Building Your Site from the Ground Up
Looking for an intuitive way to design your WordPress site? WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) site builders help flatten the WordPress learning curve. These code-free, drag-and-drop editors make striking, responsive websites an instant reality — and some even come packaged with your hosting plan.
Website builders like BoldGrid, for example, integrate with WordPress to help beginners and seasoned developers alike bring their visions to life while preventing an army of coding headaches. Newbies find that BoldGrid makes the platform more intuitive with pre-built themes and the option to add features through plugins, while experienced users enjoy a streamlined, professional-grade workflow and access to image banks with integrated APIs.
If you’re hosting your site through InMotion or one of BoldGrid’s approved partners, you’ll have access to the full platform for free while retaining 100% ownership of your site. And, unlike other site editors, once you select one of the 200-plus theme and category combinations available, you’ll receive access to all associated text and images in the demo for use at your disposal. This content is relevant to a variety of industries, from marketing and design to real estate and property management.
Once you’ve created a content-rich site, you’ll probably want some visitors. With that in mind, BoldGrid was built to generate SEO-friendly code and maximize online visibility through easy keyword and page title management. Not bad for a site you can build in an hour!
Scale Your WordPress Site by Moving to a Virtual Private Server
If your site has grown out of its basic shared hosting environment, moving to a virtual private server (VPS) is the way to go to ensure top performance. VPS hosting is great for more technically inclined users, such as programmers and web designers, in that it provides access to dedicated, scalable computing resources.
InMotion’s Managed VPS offers business owners the speed, uptime, and security of VPS hosting through a hands-off approach that includes free server management, updates, patching, and a cPanel/WHM license for streamlined server control. Meanwhile, system administrators and developers looking for full root access and complete control are turning to InMotion’s new Self-Managed VPS, which enables them to configure their services to their exact specifications.
All VPS hosting packages feature cloud-powered, real-time redundancy through infrastructure of redundant hardware clusters, which will keep you online if for some reason there’s an error on your server.
The range of options available in this regard speaks to the scalability of WordPress and its suitability for such a wide range of users. Whether you’re a small-business owner or a developer in need of advanced server management, these options create limitless possibilities.
Christine Preusler is a communications specialist with more than 10 years of experience helping clients manage websites, print and digital publications, social media campaigns, and email marketing platforms. Christine is a regular contributor to HostingAdvice, where she keeps readers abreast of the latest online trends and technologies while feeding her interest in web design and learning something new every day.