Once you have a solid workflow, it’s not difficult to knock out a WordPress site in under an hour.
Newcomers, of course … especially those with limited knowledge of HTML, CSS, and IT in general … may be surprised at how steep the learning curve is. If you aren’t experienced, it usually takes a lot of hours to get a site working exactly the way you want.
These 10 steps – or tips, however you want to look at them – can help you if:
- You want to learn a bit more about WordPress
- You’re an experienced WordPress user looking for some fresh ideas
- You just want to see what goes into WordPress site creation
While your results may vary, I hope this workflow helps you speed up your website building time.
And, of course, if you’ve never built a website before, then this is a great boilerplate template to start with.
My WordPress Workflow: A 1-Hour WordPress Site in 10 Simple Steps
- Start with a one-page website or a 3-4 page site that includes a Home Page, an About Page, a Contact Page, and a Services Page.
- Feel free to speed up your workflow even more by working with outsourced help from Fiverr, Upwork, or other freelancing sites.
- As mentioned, this workflow will probably take you a bit longer, but the more you do it, the faster you’ll get
Before I get started, there’s one more thing…
This 1-hour exercise is just that … an exercise.
It’s useful for building WordPress skills and testing ideas, but you should never do this for clients.
This exercise is simply designed to show how quickly you can spin up a fully functional WordPress site if you have the right skills, experience, and workflow.
Real website creation … including web design, development, and copywriting … takes much, much longer and requires a lot more work.
Now that that’s out of the way, here is my 1-hour WordPress site workflow in 10 steps:
1. Register your domain on Namecheap.
Simply visit namecheap.com and plug in your domain name until you find one that’s semi-suitable.
It’s geting harder and harder these days to find a decent domain name, but if you’re creative you’ll be able to land something … especially if you choose one of the new top-level domains.
Having trouble finding a good domain name?
Visit namemesh.com, a domain name brainstormer.
Once it’s registered, point the domain name servers (DNS) to your web host.
2. One-click install WordPress on your hosting service.
WordPress is so popular that most hosting companies offer a one-click install option.
Find out where this is inside your hosting provider, click it once, then tell the installer which domain you’d like to install to.
3. Choose a theme.
I tend to use premium WordPress themes from themeforest.net, which is a member of the Envato Marketplace … a paradise for designers, frontend web developers, and creatives.
Recently, however, a few other popular ones have cropped up, such as Avada, which I’m interested in trying out.
Free themes will work if you’re on a budget, but each one has a different theme options setup, so it takes time to learn how to tweak each one to your liking.
And by the time you do learn how to use it, you usually discover some part of the theme that you can’t tweak … meaning you end up choosing another free theme and going through the same cycle.
That being said, I have used Astra on a couple sites this year, because it’s fast and good-looking.
And it’s got a free version.
4. Choose a color scheme.
I am an Adobe user, so I use Adobe for all my design needs, including getting color schemes.
Visit Adobe Color to see a veritable ocean of color schemes that you can pick from.
Coolers.co is another choice that I’ve heard a bit about, but I’ve never used it.
Once you’ve decided on a color scheme, keep it handy – you’ll need the hex codes when you customize your site.
5. Choose a logo.
Graphicriver.net is my favorite place to go for logo ideas.
Whether you choose a pre-made logo, hire a designer to customize one of the templates, or commission a
logo from a professional designer, this site can still give you some good ideas.
I also subscribe to Envato Elements, which has loads of downloadable graphic design assets, from logos to website templates.
For the purposes of this exercise, it’s useful to just go with a logo quickly, then come back later if you’d like to ramp up your branding game.
If you don’t have Adobe Illustrator and are reluctant to use it, just shoot the file over to someone on Fiverr and have them add your text and resize it for cheap.
6. Get photos
Just make sure that you find them from sites that explicitly permit commercial use.
7. Put all your content into your WordPress site
WordPress newbies can expect to spend some hours time learning the admin panel, but you can probably get the bulk of customization done through the Appearance -> Customize menu.
I’ve noticed that in 2017 and 2018, WordPress themes are starting to make heavy use of this panel, allowing you to change most aspects of the site there.
- Add your site colors. This is where you’ll want to have the hex colors handy, so you can change button colors, link colors, and more. Premium themes will give you very fine control over the color scheme, which is why you should get a full color scheme from a site like Adobe Color or Coolers.co. If you want a site done even more quickly, some themes have “skins,” which are essentially pre-built themes. They’re usually simple, but they get the job done.
- Put your logo into the site. If the theme tells you how big the logo should be, make sure you fit your logo into those pixel dimensions. If the site has to resize the logo at all, the logo will probably become a bit fuzzy … and unattractive.
- Add photos. Chances are, the theme you choose will have some sort of pre-fabricated landing page … or even a fully pre-built website. Swap out their placeholder pictures for the stock photos you pulled from Pixabay or another free stock photo site.
I’d advise starting with one of the template pages and using that as your homepage for now. You can always change it later.
8. Install my 10 favorite WordPress plugins
If you use my hand-picked list of 10 WordPress plugins, you can get your site beefed up with some extra useful functionality in under 5 minutes.
Simply search and install.
9. Get copywriting onto your site.
I don’t advocate cheap content or lousy copywriting … at all.
But I do take a pragmatic approach to website development … in other words, I know that perfectionism can be an excuse to procrastinate.
Copywriting, like other elements of your website, should be brought to market quickly, then refined as you have time.
10. Follow this final checklist to tidy up any loose ends
Check these boxes off to clean up your site and make it more presentable:
- Settings -> General. Change the Site Title to your business name and the Tagline to your slogan.
- Settings -> Reading. Make sure the site’s homepage is set correctly.
- Settings -> Permalinks. I use a custom structure that includes the category and postname (/%category%/%postname%/), but the key is to make sure it’s not set to an arbitrary page number. Keywords and dates are good things to include.
- Users -> Your Profile. Make sure your display name is set correctly and you have a bio.
- Appearance -> Menus. Make sure your menu choices match the pages you’ve actually published.
- Appearnce -> Widgets. Get rid of archive posts, calendar, meta, and other irrelevant widgets. I usually choose Search, Recent Posts, Categories, Tags, and a custom text box that includes some “About Us” info. And an email subscription widget if applicable.
- Theme Options -> Bottom Bar. Add copyright info and remove links to the theme creator.
Well, this certainly seems like a lot of work to pack in an hour, but when you’ve hammered out a workflow, it can be done.
These 10 steps are enough to get your site up and running, but there will still likely be a lot left to do. However, I liken this setup to creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or a prototype … it’s a good start but a 1-hour website that’s 1-4 pages certainly won’t have a lot of depth or quality.
However, such a quick build-out can help people push past procrastination and analysis paralysis.
After all, the infinite ocean of WordPress advice leaves many people unsure of where to start.
If you follow this approach, 99% of the time you’ll completely change the website in the following days and weeks.
And that’s okay, because its purpose has been served.
Once you get your initial idea out there, it’s much easier to make adjustments as needed.