WordPress Hosting & WordPress Setup Guide
Did you know that global Internet users have reached more than 2 billion people, which means 30% of the world’s total population?
Global Internet users spend an average time of 16 hours per month, while in the USA, internet users spend 32 hours per month. On average, Google searches reach 4.7 billion a day.
So now you know where your next “big” business opportunity is – the internet!
But is it easy to compete with 100’s and 1000’s of other competitors on the internet? After all, on average, 380 new sites are created every minute!
The answer is yes and no – because to all intents and purposes, it depends on your willingness, dedication, and hard work.
Let me decrypt my wording for you!
Willingness – Are you ready to invest your time and energy to create a site for your business?
Dedication – Theirs’s no shortcut to success. You need to consistently provide your customers and visitors with quality service and content.
Hard work – Creating quality content or a service that entices your readers and customers is not an easy task. It needs a lot of planning, data curation, and knowledge of the concerned niche. Apart from content creation, you’ll have to spend significant time and energy on promotion, SEO, and performance optimization.
If you are a business owner who has issues with staying up to date on current technologies, you might have no idea that it takes only 5-seconds for your site’s visitors to form an opinion about your website and decide if your business is legit and professional. They are basing this on three critical factors: your site’s design, speed, and quality.
So, today in this guide, I will be discussing the steps you must take to fix these three essential factors in your WordPress site.
But first, let’s start with the basics – what is WordPress?
What Is WordPress?
Creating a website was once a tough job, but today, it is as easy as preparing a word document. Today there are hundreds of 100% free-to-use and open-source content management and blogging platforms on the internet. They all are good, and some of them are super user-friendly, but not all of them are optimized for speed, search engine optimization, and scalability.
Fortunately, to your rescue, there is a platform with all these features, and still free to use – its WordPress!
There is no denying the fact that WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world today. In fact, statistics suggest that close to 1/4 of the websites online are powered by WordPress. What started as a blogging system has now evolved into a huge CMS that is used for making all kinds of sites, including e-commerce stores, portfolio websites, big company websites, blogs, and many other types of websites.
If you plan to start a website or want to future-proof your existing website, then WordPress should be your choice.
While it might not seem like it at face value, WordPress is a user-friendly platform that can help you build a website. But if you haven’t played around with it yet, and you are still in the process of just getting familiar with the dashboard, you definitely want to test with a free theme first. But what exactly are free WordPress themes?
No Theme – No Website
For a website to function, it needs to have a theme or design. As you get more familiar with hosting a website, you’ll notice there are many terms which all aim at one thing – the design. For example, you might read about a template or custom design, or in this case, we’ll be using “theme” and follow WordPress.
Okay, so it is clear that you need a theme for the site, and before you can do any tweaking or posting, you have to search for one. Luckily, WordPress makes this incredibly easy and guides you through the process when you get started.
Not only can you go to a section where hundreds of free WordPress themes are waiting for you, but the downloading and installation of the theme should only take one click. Basically, it’s a matter of testing the theme you like and making it stick.
Testing Different Themes
When you browse through all the free WordPress themes, you will get the opportunity to see them as previews. This means you don’t have to download and install each one that looks remotely interesting.
If you want to save yourself some time, short-list the 3 themes you like the most and physically test them. From there you can choose which one you like the most.
A Specific Theme for A Specific Purpose
You will notice that some themes were designed for more specific purposes. For example, there will be themes geared towards showcasing photos or other media, and there are themes for news-style websites.
For the most part, the theme’s author will point out if the theme can benefit anyone in particular and keep this in mind before installing it. You want to make sure the theme works well with the ultimate purpose of your site.
You Are Limited Creatively
Even though it is great that there are so many free WordPress themes to choose from, there are limitations involved. Of course, you can still do a lot of tweaking and make significant changes, but a free theme only allows changes up to a certain point.
And chances are, if you want to personalize the theme further, you will have to invest in the premium version of the site. This usually comes with extra support from the author and several other goodies.
In the end, a free WordPress theme can serve as the perfect starting point for you to cut your teeth on. You don’t have to invest any money while you get some perspective on whether you are really cut out for running a website in the first place.
How to Install A Free Theme in WordPress?
Installing a WordPress theme is as easy as searching for a topic on Google. Follow the steps enlisted below in sequence, and you will have a new website design in no time:
- Go to your site’s administration panel. Example: yoursite.com/wp-admin.
- Enter the right username and password to log in.
- Put your cursor on “Appearance,” and from the on-hover menu, click on “Themes.”
- Click on the “Add New” button at the top.
- On this page, you will have five distant ways to search for a “free” theme on WordPress’s official theme repository.
- You can also use the “search bar” to search for any specific template. For example, let’s say you are looking for a blogging template. So, type “blogging” and press enter to see the list of available free templates.
- Once you have decided, put your cursor on the respected theme and click on the “install” button.
Congratulations, you have successfully installed a free theme on your WordPress site.
A Bit About Premium Theme
What’s a good trick to getting an amazing website without breaking the bank?
Get a premium WordPress theme!
Premium themes are professionally designed to take your sites to the next level. They will give your site an instant boost in quality because they are created by experts. They typically feature great customization options, and some even include support services supported by a development team. And the best part, premium professional themes are not expensive. You can get one for about 50 bucks or less. It’s like hiring an agency or web designer, but you get all the benefits in seconds for next to nothing.
There’s no doubt that Page Speed is important when you have a website. A fast site helps you rank higher in search results, drives traffic, and improves your visitor’s overall experience. Clearly, visitors are happier when they don’t have to sit around waiting for your site to load.
So, you know, having a fast site is important, but how exactly do you speed it up. It’s actually not as complex as you might think.
Let’s go for six simple things you can do to improve the speed of the WordPress site.
Clean It Up
A Website is just like anything else. It works a lot better when it’s organized and not slow down by clutter. So, get rid of spam and old files you’re not using anymore. Delete unused plugins and themes to the end key point here. Do all this regularly. Getting rid of digital clutter makes it easier for your server to keep your site running fast. Second, keep your plugins and themes updated as well as the website itself. This keeps your site secure, more efficient, and improves stability too.
But before installing a new theme or plugin, make sure to do your homework. Look for the following factors before installing any new template or plugin:
- How many times has it been downloaded?
- Are people leaving good reviews?
- Has a new version been released lately?
These kinds of questions help identify add-ons that are likely to help your site and not hurt it.
Caching and Minification
Now let’s talk about caching for a moment.
Concerning WordPress sites, there are mainly two types of caching. The first one is on server caching, and the second one is browser-based caching.
Server-based: Basically, caching is a process by which a certain plug-in creates a site static HTML file of the dynamic block post, page, archive, and other pages of your WordPress site.
Now, when a visitor visits your site, instead of running the PHP script to render a blog post, the generated HTML file of the concerned blog post will be shown to the visitor. This way, your site loads faster, and there is no overhead on your CPU or RAM, which results in faster performance and improves user experience.
Browser-based: Browser caching is the process by which certain files of a site are stored within a visitor’s browser for future use. That way, their browser doesn’t have to re-download the files from scratch every time they visit.
Now let’s discuss a bit about minification.
Minification is important because it helps to reduce the initial size of your site’s essential static assets, thus helping your site render and load faster. It’s also a critical factor considered by Google’s Page Speed score algorithm, which gives websites a score out of a hundred based on their performance and implemented optimizations.
To create a cache and to minify your static assets, you can install a plugin like W3 total cache or WP rocket. Both of these plug-ins are used by thousands if not millions of websites all around the world and are known for their powerful cache mechanism and speed optimization features.
Remember, you don’t need to install both of the plug-ins. You need one that fits your needs. If you have a technical background and want to have access to all sorts of customizable features, then you must install the W3 total cache. If you want powerful functionality but easy to use interface, then WP rocket is a perfect choice for you.
The right plugin will clearly define what file should and should not be cached, thus delivering your content faster to returning visitors.
Embed media from other sources
Most web servers aren’t designed to store and deliver media (especially videos and audio) to visitors. Doing so slows your site down and leaves users frustrated. So instead, upload the video, music, or podcasts you want to embed in your blog posts to services designed for that purpose.
For example, upload videos to YouTube and then use the oEmbed or Iframe tags to embed them within your page. It looks just as if you uploaded the video right to your site, except it loads a lot faster and is optimized for playback too.
For audio, you could use a service such as Soundcloud, and for podcasts, you could use Podbean or something similar.
It’s also suggested to host massive pictures on 3rd-party sites such as Flicker, Imgur, or similar. These sites serve images via their powerful CDNs, and so your “big” images will load much faster for your visitors when served via their services.
Now there may be instances where you’ll want to upload photos directly to your site. But images can be a major trigger for slowing it down, which leads us to top number five.
Compress Your Media Files
When you need to host media directly on your site, make sure to compress it first. For audio-only upload a compressed file such as MP3s, and for images, you should compress them and make sure to specify their dimensions.
Two compress the images; you can either use third-party tools such as TinyPNG, OptinPNG, etc., or can install plug-ins such as Ewww image optimizer, smush-it, etc.
Here’s why when a visitor comes to your site, their browser has to determine how exactly to display your content. If you haven’t already specified the size of your images, the browser has to calculate it itself – which takes time. So, help speed up the process by providing the proper dimensions from the get-go. Great media can make a website vibrant and engaging, but don’t let it be the reason your traffic leaves.
The last tip for maintaining a speedy site is choosing the right hosting solution.
This is a big one!
You can do everything right, but if the server hosting your site is underpowered, your site’s speed will still suffer. So be sure to select a service that not only provides plenty of resources like CPU and RAM but lets you easily add more as your traffic increases.
Your host should also provide the flexibility to upgrade to more powerful platforms as you grow. Some of the most recommended hosting services include Bluehost, SiteGround, DigitalOcean, Linode, etc. These hosting services allow you advanced stuff such as scaling resources, IPv6, nightly backups, DDOS protections, and upgrading your account for access to more resources literally takes just a couple of clicks.
They also offer their customers VPS, dedicated, and cloud solution so you can select the platform that provides just the right amount of power to guarantee your site delivers fast.
If you have questions or want to learn more about the tips and steps we just covered in this guide, get in touch with our experts. They can answer your questions or even do all of this for you. So, give us a call or contact us via our site, and we’ll get your site up to speed fast.