What is WordPress?
Whether creating a simple blog or developing a complete website (showcase or e-commerce), WordPress has become over the years an essential solution for choosing a CMS (Content Management System).
A CMS is a kind of software or online interface that allows you to create, edit, and manage the content of your website. The text editor of WordPress will be familiar to most computer users, from what it looks like in its major functions to Microsoft’s “Word” text editor. This simplicity of approach is the key to its success.
Indeed, created in 2003 by the WordPress Foundation, the system has never stopped growing on the Internet, mobilizing an incredibly creative community.
How big is WordPress on the internet?
WordPress continues to be the most popular content management system (CMS) in 2023, with a market share of 42.3%, according to W3Techs. This is a significant increase from 31.5% in 2021.
Joomla! remains in second place with a market share of 2.6%, followed by Drupal with 1.9%, Squarespace with 1.8%, and Wix with 1.6%.
WordPress is used by a diverse range of websites, including internet giants such as TechCrunch, The New Yorker, and BBC America. It is also used by big brands like Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Toyota, as well as institutional sites such as Harvard University, the United Nations, and the National Football League (NFL).
How to install a WordPress website?
There are two different WordPress solutions to distinguish.
First, there is the free WordPress solution, all integrated online allowing you to have a web address of this type: http://yourdomainname.wordpress.com. Accessible to all on the site https://wordpress.com/, this solution is however limited in its functionalities. Just create an account, and WordPress will give you access to a workspace to familiarize you with its software and post your first articles. The hosting and domain name of this solution is both free!
This solution is relevant for creating personal blogs. WordPress.com now offers paid services with a monthly subscription, but in the long run, this solution may cost you more than buying the web services separately…
The second WordPress solution is also free but requires that you have a domain name and hosting, which are not free. In this second case, you will have to install WordPress by yourself on the hosting which you own. To do this, two possibilities exist:
#1: Quick Installation of WordPress
Nowadays, most Internet hosts offer a “simplified” WordPress installation function, available in just a few clicks, from the control panel (cPanel or other) of your service.
This optimization saves time, even if you later need to build and configure your website.
#2: WordPress installation via FTP
The second WordPress installation solution is more restrictive. As a first step, you need to download a .ZIP archive containing the WordPress files, available on the WordPress Foundation website.
In the second step, you must upload the files contained in the archive to your FTP server, then follow a detailed installation procedure here.
The main concern of this CMS installation procedure is that it will often be necessary for you to ask for the assistance of your host or to ask them for some specific information.
How to use a WordPress site?
Once your WordPress site is installed, this is where the real work begins … Below, discover all the necessary steps to build a WordPress site!
#1: Choose a WordPress Theme
Selecting a “WordPress Theme” is one of your first steps. Also called “WordPress Template“, this is a downloadable file that includes a “Design” that will be the backbone of your website. Take the time to choose it carefully! Because once the choice is made, changing the theme can be a nightmare! Many free WordPress themes will satisfy the most basic needs.
The most demanding will turn to Premium WordPress theme solutions, that are not free. These are more graphically developed and offer more customization options.
This is one of the solutions we use at LesMichels.fr to design your websites. We use these advanced themes, then we reshape them to best fit your web project. These are a basis and are in no way the final product delivered by us to transcribe your identity and stand out from the competition. Alternatively, we can also start from scratch with an empty theme (such as Hello Elementor) and create everything ourselves from there!
If you want to create an e-commerce website, be sure to choose a Premium theme that includes E-Commerce options such as WooCommerce.
#2: Set up your free or paid WordPress Theme
Then comes the customization of your WordPress Template. Location of your logo, choice of your color palette, your typography (fonts, sizes, etc …), the format of your URLs, the appearance of your menu, your footer, etc, etc … And that’s where it gets complicated. This is a process that requires extensive knowledge to ensure the best result. Because if it is within the reach of almost everyone to create a website on WordPress, getting a professional result is a different story.
#3: Choose the necessary plug-ins
WordPress “plug-ins” or “Extensions” are additional elements that you have added to your WordPress platform to personalize it more to better match your goals, optimize your website, add new features, etc, etc …
Again, the work is spoiled: There are lots of WordPress plugins, free or paid, which will be more or less useful or relevant to you. The offer is rich with thousands of extensions, which sometimes makes the choice very complicated, and above all, requires research and tests sometimes very long to achieve the perfect result.
These WordPress plug-ins can be used to graphically improve your web pages (animations, sliders, carousels, tables, shading …), to link them to social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest …), follow your statistics, manage your reservations or online payments, optimize speed, images, and more. This is essential work to get the best results possible.
#4: Create the architecture of your WordPress site
The next step is to organize the information on your website.
Once again, to reach the right, nothing beats the intervention of a UI / UX professional. He/She will create an environment easily understandable and usable comfortably for your future web visitors. Transmitting information clearly and effectively is an art, both in substance and form. That’s why it’s important to look after the information architecture of your site. Menus, sub-menus, paragraphs, sub-paragraphs, titles, subtitles, etc … are the main features.
You have to be able to sort out the necessary information (such as where, when, and how to contact you), and unnecessary information that pollutes your user’s experience. Finally, it’s about giving it its rightful place. Some elements will be highlighted in the menus or on your home page (eg your offers of the moment), and others will have to be more discreet (eg your General Conditions of Sale in the footer of your site).
# 5: Create and layout your content
The structure of your WordPress website is there.
Now you have to fill in your site with content and, again, know how to organize that content. Whether text, animations, images, videos, embedded content, and more, the web industry has “codes” that you have to comply with to get the best possible result for your website.
Already available, but mandatory in its 5.0 update, WordPress is renewed with “Gutenberg”, a visual editor that greatly improves layout features. With its “blocks” system, Gutenberg is inspired by existing paid solutions on the market, such as Beaver Builder.
Because indeed, some paid layout WordPress plug-ins allow even more creativity. For example, LesMichels.fr often works with Elementor, which provides a visual of a real-time website (WYSIWYG), and whose use is within reach of customers once the final product is delivered. Therefore, it is easier to make various aesthetic effects (animations, shadows, parallax, very advanced sliders …). These layout plugins often work as a kind of “lego”. You have tools (widgets) that you come to place in a framework (blocks, rows, columns …) that you personalize.
# 6: Optimize your website
It is not finished! In this step, the web developer and the web designer refine the last details of the website!
This step is essential, especially when it comes to having a responsive website on mobile. It is necessary to work the source code, to optimize the plugins and the images to have a website that is as responsive as possible.
You must then make sure that there are no graphical bugs when using your website. To do this, one must test multiple resolutions on computers (PC & Mac), but also ensure that everything works on different Web Browsers (Chrome, Internet Explorer or Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari …) for all users have the same optimal experience.
These tests also extend to different tablets and mobile phones, because today, mobile terminals account for more than half of website visits! It would be unfortunate to put off one visitor or customer out of two because you have not done this job! Such tests may for example be performed by websites such as http://responsivedesignchecker.com, even if naturally, nothing replaces real devices.
LesMichels.fr are committed to delivering mobile responsive sites for all your visitors to navigate pleasantly.
# 7: Rank your website
You now have a beautiful site, functional, optimized, and filled with all the necessary content … It would be a shame if it is not visited!
This is where the SEO comes into account, which will make your website visible on search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Baidu …).
To learn more about SEO, we invite you to discover the SEO services of Les Michels. The investment of time and resources for SEO is not always obligatory. For example, if your site is just an extension of your business card, and you believe that you will not get customers through the Internet, efforts may be limited. On the other hand, if your business model requires visits to your site, then there is no miracle: you will have to do your best to beat your competitors on the relevant keywords in your industry.
# 8: Work, again and again, on your WordPress site
A website is a bit like a living organism. It evolves, and must be the object of all attention in order to have a good cycle of life: Repair the bugs, make updates, improve the content, and continue the SEO … in short, it’ll never leave you bored.
The mistake would be to think that the job is finished once the site is online. However, to stay competitive in an industry that is constantly evolving, it is important to prepare for the future day by day to get a head start!
For this, LesMichels.fr offer Website Audits to see what are your weaknesses, as well as Maintenance monitoring services to make the most of your site!
To sum up, what are the benefits of a WordPress Website?
#1: It’s Free
One of its first strengths is that WordPress is free in its basic form. Whether WordPress themes, WordPress plugins, or even WordPress hosting, you can create a website or blog completely free.
Indeed, the community of WordPress developers and WordPress web designers are tens of thousands of talents who flood the market with their creations, a large part of which is free.
#2: Nearly infinite Possibilities
The second strength of this CMS is a corollary of the first point: the choice! On WordPress, there are plenty of templates suitable for all activities and all types of content. In addition, you can develop a blog as well as a showcase site or an e-commerce site.
Finally, the third force of WordPress that seems essential to us is its ease of use. If the development of a WordPress site is a long process that requires special skills, its day-to-day use is simple for the average user.
We can also mention optimizations for SEO, the fact that WordPress is very widespread (and therefore allows you to find many amateurs and professionals to help you), and finally, its stability due to a long history to the world scale of the web.