When it comes to launching a website, WordPress is the most popular platform to use across the globe. Currently, 42.6% of all websites on the internet use WordPress — and it’s no surprise why.
Powerful, flexible, and extremely versatile, WordPress allows its users to quickly create modern websites that are both aesthetically pleasing and fully functional.
WordPress is built on an open-source platform, allowing a diverse range of programmers to contribute to its library of themes and plugins. This means anyone can use this content management system (CMS) without needing advanced coding or web design knowledge.
If you’re unsure how to launch a WordPress site — no matter if you’re a small business owner, a large-scale organization, or an individual — this guide will help you break down all the steps, which include:
7 Steps to Launch a WordPress Site
1. Define Your Purpose
Before you even get started building a WordPress site, it’s important to define your purpose.
Knowing what type of website you want to run — whether it’s for a personal passion project, an ecommerce business, or a travel blog — is a critical step in uncovering your niche and your site goals. This is also a good time to decide who your target audience is, and how it will affect the style, tone, layout, and imagery or design work you choose to include.
2. Choose Your Domain Name
Once you have defined your WordPress site’s purpose, it’s time to choose your unique domain name. Your domain name should be clear and concise while representing your overall brand or site’s purpose. Try to come up with a name that is easy for users to spell, type into a search bar, or recall, as there are billions of websites currently online.
For example, if you are creating a WordPress site for a business, be sure to use the business name as the domain name. If you intend to brand yourself through your site, you should choose your own name (if available) as the domain name. If you’re having a difficult time coming up with a creative domain name, there are several domain name generators you can use to spark ideas.
Once you have your name chosen, it’s time to see if the domain is available. Not only should it be available on the web, but it should also be available on social media sites (you can manually search for your chosen domain name on these sites) in case you would like to create supporting social media accounts. Additionally, your chosen domain name should not be trademarked with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
If the domain name you’d like to use is taken, you might still be able to use it by selecting a different top-level domain name extension. This means that, rather than using “.com” after your domain name, you could use top-level domain names like:
It’s important to note that while you can purchase a domain name from several hosting providers, it’s better to do so with the one that is hosting your website. This makes it easy to manage all the details of your site from one centralized platform. Plus, many hosting providers offer domain registration deals when you sign up for a hosting package.
Now that you’ve landed on your official domain name and confirmed its availability, it’s time to select your preferred web hosting provider.
3. Select Your Web Hosting Provider
Successfully launching your WordPress site means selecting the right web hosting provider. A web hosting provider gives you access to a server — or a portion of a server — where your website will run from. These providers typically offer multiple types of servers you can choose from, including:
- Shared servers: Several websites are hosted on a single shared server. In this model, server access and configuration are more limited, and performance is based on the load each website is putting on the server.
- Virtual private servers (VPSs): A VPS allows multiple websites to run on a single shared server while remaining isolated from one another. Typically, a VPS offers more control and performance than a standard shared server, however, they may require familiarity with server management.
- Dedicated servers: A dedicated server is a completely isolated server dedicated to a single website. This type of server offers higher levels of performance and customization, but it does require more advanced knowledge of server management and maintenance. Typically, larger organizations utilize dedicated servers to meet intense traffic demands.
- Cloud servers: Similar to a dedicated server, a cloud server provides ultimate control and flexibility when it comes to performance and server customization. However, cloud servers provide more scalability, as they do not require changes in hardware to scale up or down.
If you’re launching your first WordPress site, chances are a shared server or a VPS will provide you with enough processing power and customization for your site’s needs. Just be sure to choose a web hosting provider that provides:
- WordPress compatibility and easy installation
- Affordable, scalable hosting plans
- Automatic SSL certificates
- Automatic WordPress and plugin updates
- Malware monitoring
- Instant backups
- Expert customer support
Fully Managed Hosting Plans
On top of these server options, many hosting providers also offer fully managed hosting plans. When it comes to WordPress hosting vs. shared hosting, WordPress hosting allows you to take a hands-off approach when it comes to managing your website and server configuration.
For example, robust web hosting providers like Nexcess ensure your site stays fast, secure, and updated with a fully managed WordPress hosting plan.
4. Install WordPress
Once you have chosen your domain name and web hosting provider, it’s time to install WordPress. Many hosting providers allow you to install WordPress directly into your account within your control panel (cPanel).
If you’re unsure how to do this, be sure to refer to your web host’s WordPress installation documentation or reach out to customer support for assistance. In addition, you can reference the WordPress Codex for more information about the website installation process.
5. Pick Out your WordPress Theme
With WordPress successfully installed within your web hosting account, you can now focus on choosing your site’s theme and activating it. WordPress offers several themes for all types of websites that require minimal knowledge of coding or web design, including both free and premium themes.
To browse through WordPress’s library of themes for your site, hover your cursor over the “Appearance” tab in your WordPress dashboard and click on “Themes.” Here, click “Add New” and you can search for a theme that fits your site’s aesthetic and goals. When you’ve chosen a theme, navigate to the “Activate” button and click it.
Note: Before committing to a theme, WordPress gives you the option to see a preview of what your site would look like with any theme offered. Simply hover your cursor over a theme and select “Live Preview.”
Because WordPress offers so many theme options, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one for your site’s needs. Be sure to list out all the features and functionalities you want your site to have before browsing the theme library, and double-check what widgets come with the themes you like. Also, it’s important to select a mobile-friendly WordPress theme that automatically optimizes your site for mobile devices.
6. Install WordPress Plugins
When launching a WordPress site, you’ll have the option to select and install WordPress plugins. These plugins add extended functionality to your site, such as enhanced security features, ecommerce tools, and search engine optimization (SEO) tools. Currently, some of the most popular WordPress plugins include:
- Contact Form 7
- Yoast SEO
- Elementor Website Builder
To install a WordPress plugin, simply navigate to the “Plugins” tab of your WordPress dashboard and click on it. Here, select “Add New” at the top of the page. Once you have searched for and selected a plugin you would like to use, click “Install Now” and then “Activate.” After you’ve activated your plugin, WordPress will walk you through the setup and configuration process.
Note: You can download third-party plugins from sites other than WordPress and upload them to your WordPress dashboard. To do this, simply click “Add New” and choose the option that says, “Upload Plugin.”
7. Customize Your WordPress Site
Before officially launching your WordPress site, it’s important to customize it based on what information you would like to include and how you want your site to look. This includes making changes to the theme you’ve chosen, adding product pages, or writing a handful of blog posts prior to publishing your site. A few of the most important pages you should add and customize before launch include:
- Contact Us
- Products or services
- Service areas
If you’re having a difficult time coming up with pages your website should feature, be sure to take a closer look at businesses or individuals in your niche and the websites they run. These sites can provide you with inspiration for creating your own unique WordPress content.
5 Tips to Try Before Launching Your WordPress Website
Once you are satisfied with your theme design and content, it’s important to review these five tips to clean up your WordPress site before you click the “Publish” button.
1. Download a Backup Solution
If your hosting provider doesn’t offer an automatic WordPress site backup solution, it’s important to download your own prior to launch. There are several WordPress backup plugins you can utilize, with some of the most popular being UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, and Duplicator. Just be sure your backups are automatically scheduled and are saved on a cloud storage service provider for ultimate assurance.
2. Secure Your Site
WordPress offers several security plugins that work to protect your site from cybercriminals. Prior to launch, be sure to select a security plugin — such as Sucuri or iThemes Security Pro — to safeguard your site from cyber-attacks and keep it secure. This is also when you can establish WordPress user permissions to ensure you or other designated users can access the backend of your site.
3. Check for 404 Errors
404 errors can easily interrupt the user experience, so be sure to comb through your site and eliminate any that exist. The easiest way to check your site for 404 errors is to add it to Google Search Console (GSC) and run a crawl report. If your site hasn’t been added to GSC, you can manually look through your site and ensure that all links are working as expected and pages are loading properly.
4. Inspect All Forms and Media
Just like you need to look through your site for 404 errors, you must inspect all web forms and media prior to publishing. Manually test all your contact forms to ensure they are working properly, and be sure your images, videos, or sliders/carousels are loading correctly.
5. Review Social Integrations
If your WordPress site features a social sharing plugin or other social media integrations, it’s important to check them to ensure they are linking to the appropriate social media accounts.
Once you have completed this checklist, your new WordPress website is ready to publish.
Partner with Nexcess for Managed WordPress Hosting
WordPress is one of the most user-friendly CMS platforms out there, which makes it a great choice for individuals or businesses who are looking to launch their first site. Featuring a wide range of themes, plugins, and an easy setup process, WordPress makes it possible for anyone to create and run a functioning website without needing advancing coding or web design skills.
Interested in getting even more out of your new WordPress site? With fully managed WordPress hosting plans from Nexcess, you gain access to a scalable, secure, and fast hosting solution. With Nexcess, you receive 24/7 WordPress support from a team of experts, always-on security monitoring, and no overage fees, traffic limits, or metered pageviews.
Explore how you can build and run a better WordPress site with Nexcess today.
Check out our fully managed WordPress hosting plans to get started.