Web design has come a long way. There was a time when most websites were built using HTML and CSS. The problem is that not everybody could master this languages. Most people just wanted to create a website for their business or personal web page and did not necessarily have web design skils.
Fast forward to 2016, content management systems (CMS) have made web design very easy. Almost a can do for anyone with free time and the desire to learn a few things. A CMS gives you the abily to create a website with ease and helps you manage content easily instead of having several static HTML pages.
Which Content Management System should I use?
As visible in the chart above, WordPress takes more than half of the market share of free content management systems.
So why is WordPress so popular?
1. User friendliness
Wordpress is very easy to use. If you just want to publish something online you can do that with WordPress even if you have no web designer skills. You can also add a lot of functionality to WordPress by using plugins that are mostly provided free by the WordPress community.
2. It is absolutely free and open source
You do not have to worry about paying for a monthly or yearly license to use the CMS. It is provided free of charge. You also get a huge range of free WordPress themes that you can use to create your awesome website.
3. WordPress has a lot of responsive themes
If you are worried about how your website will look on mobile phones, tablets, desktops etc. The solution is WordPress. You can choose a theme that is optimized for all displays so that your end users, especially those using mobile phones do not have to struggle to access your site.
4. Can handle a small blog or website
If you just want a personal blog or you are interested in a commercial website, WordPress can handle both. Big Corporations and governments like CNN, Mozilla, Ebay, StateHouse.go.ke etc. All use WordPress
5. WordPress has a large support community
If you ever run into any problem when using WordPress chances are very high that someone has faced the same too. Just do a simple Google search and you will get your solutions. You can also be part of them and join the forums to help people who might need help. It is always good to give back to the community.
Why not go with other Content Management Systems?
For example Joomla is pretty good for designing websites. That is true but you will still need some web design skills to get everything into place. Not unless you get a theme with a QuickStart content to start you off.
Drupal on the other end is very powerful especially for large database driven websites but requires a steep learning curve for developers. If you just want to create a website for your small business or pet project, it might not be the best choice for the un-initiated.
If you are just a beginner, it is safer and a lot easier to stick with WordPress.
To start you off, Choose Domain and Hosting
For your website to be accessible online, you need two things:
1. A domain name – This is a web address that points to your website for example, myfavouritewebsite.co.ke
2. Web Hosting – This is a computer that is connected 24/7/365 to the web and serves requests for your website. Nowadays you can get affordable shared web hosting without having to break the bank.
Where do I get a domain and Hosting?
Hostbora.co.ke offers registration of both Kenyan and international domain names. You can get a .co.ke domain as well as the .com or .net. The web hosting costs less that you would spend on lunch (Kshs. 260/= per month) and a domain is Kshs. 1000 per year.
You can try other web hosting providers but it can be tricky where you do not get the needed support. I love Hostbora as they will hand hold you every step of the way.
Which domain should I choose?
If you are choosing a domain name for your business, it is good to stick with your business name. For example myexportbusiness.com. If you want a personal website you can choose yourname.me or myname.me.ke if you want a Kenyan domain. If our website is situated in a certain country, you can choose the Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) for your website e.g. visitkenya.co.ke.
Your domain should also be brand able, catchy and easy to remember.
How to install WordPress
For the purpose of this tutorial, I will only explain how to install WordPress using an auto installer like Softaculous. I will cover the manual installation in another topic.
1. Log in to your web hosting account.
2. Go to your control panel.
3. Look for Softaculous
4. Look for the ‘WordPress’ Icon
5. Choose the domain where you want to install your website.
6. Click the “Install Now” button
7. After in the installation is successful you will be taken to a welcome screen and also will get login details for your new WordPress.
You are good to go. You can login in to your new installation and choose new themes from the appearance section. You can also add plugins to increase the functionality of WordPress.