This lesson is a step-by-step guide to installing WordPress in your web host account.

Hi and welcome to lesson 4, where I’ll cover installing WordPress and choosing your theme. By now, you already have a hosting account, so you don’t need to download and install WordPress. Good hosts will make it super simple to install WordPress right from your hosting dashboard. 

Choosing your WordPress theme

When installing WordPress, it comes with the default theme of the year. But you’ll probably want to change things up based on how you want your site to look. Here’s a quick lowdown on WordPress themes. 

WordPress.org theme repository

There are free themes, available online, or through the official WordPress theme repository. These are vetted themes that have been checked for coding standards and that I personally recommend too. They are usually quite simple, though, so not everyone finds exactly what they need among the choices.

Theme marketplace

Anyone can design and sell themes online, so you can also go the route of buying and downloading a theme from a marketplace and uploading it to your website. Make sure you do read reviews and see examples of the theme in action, however, since not all themes have the same quality of code. 

Page builders

The third avenue to consider when picking your theme is to install a page builder plugin. These plugins are usually paid plugins that enhance your theme and add additional features, flexibility, and design options to your website. These are very cool, and I actually use one called Elementor on my travel blog. Other popular ones include Beaver Builder, Divi, and Visual Composer

If this is your first website, I recommend holding off on website builders since these can make your website a little more expensive, and more complicated. WordPress also has some great features out of the box that are worth exploring before you decide to add another set of tools. 

Activating a theme

Once I’ve found one I like, I can demo it on my site by clicking on Live Preview. Now because I don’t have any pages or blog posts yet, it might not look that great. Not to worry, once we add content, it’ll be a lot easier to make the portfolio look like the demo site. 

Is my website live? Can I hide it until I’m ready?

At this point, if you’ve purchased a domain, installed WordPress, and connected your domain, your website is live and fully available to viewers. This means anyone who types in your URL will see your site.

Three options:

  1. Hold off and only connect domain when your site is ready
  2. Build site live but discourage search engines 
  3. Put up a Coming Soon page

Unless you’ve already started sharing your domain name, it’s unlikely many people will look up your site and check it as you add content and build it. For most people, holding off until they connect their domain or building their site live over the course of a few days is fine.

You’ll want to make sure your website settings are set to discourage search engines from indexing your site. This will tell Google “I’m not ready yet, come back later” instead of search engines scanning your site and showing matches to people on the internet.

search engine visibility
Check this box under Settings > Reading to hide your site from search queries online.

If you want to create a Coming Soon page that allows you to show a splash page to visitors while you build your site on the down low, you can install a Coming Soon Page Plugin to do that. You’ll learn how to install plugins in lesson 6.