Building a brand new site can be a daunting task–like putting the first words on a blank white piece of paper. It can be difficult to know how and where to start when making a new site. In this article we will walk through 6 easy steps to get started building your brand new site on the WP Engine platform.
Step 1: Make a site and environment
If you don’t have a site or environment created for your project already, you can do this easily in the WP Engine User Portal. Start by clicking Add Site in the top right corner of the Sites page.
After adding a site name, you will be able to add a new environment. Select whether you would like to start by copying another environment into this new one, move another environment into your site, or simply “Create new” which will create a default WordPress website for you to work from.
To start with a blank site, enter a unique environment name under “Create new” and then click the Create environment button. You will receive an email when your environment has been created successfully.
Step 2: Login to your new environment
When your new environment is created, you will receive an email containing details about the new environment: the environment URL, WordPress Admin Dashboard link, and your username:
By default, the username for the default user generated with your website will be the same as the environment name you chose. Since I chose “austintacos” as my environment name, that will be my username as well.
In order to access the WordPress Admin Dashboard for your account, you will need to reset the WP-Admin password. You will be prompted for the username or email address of a user, in order to receive a password reset email–the username will be associated with the email address of the Account Owner by default (the person who initially signed up for the account). If you do not have access to that email address, you may use the instructions for Option 2: Resetting Password in the Database in our password reset guide.
After resetting your password, you should now be able to login to your WordPress Admin Dashboard for your environment. If you encounter any issues in this process, please contact Support via 24/7 Live Chat in your User Portal for more help.
Step 3: Choosing a Theme
Now that you are logged into your website, you’ll notice when viewing the site that it is using a default WordPress theme and has virtually no content. This is where your creativity can really shine! At WP Engine we offer the powerful Genesis Framework and 35 premium StudioPress themes for free, right in your User Portal. Learn how to install and use the Themes in our StudioPress guide. Or, if you wish to use a different WordPress theme, navigate to the Appearance > Themes section in the WordPress Admin Dashboard and select Add New to browse the hundreds of free themes available through WordPress.org. You may also browse other Premium theme marketplaces for WordPress, and manually install the theme through this screen if you wish!
Once you have found a theme you’d like to try, you can use the Install and Activate buttons to both download the theme and make it active. Once active, you can use the Customize button from the top navigation to customize your theme colors, background, tagline, widgets, and many more features.
Once you are happy with the customizer changes, make sure to select Publish to save your changes.
Need help choosing a theme or designing your website? Our many agency partners would love to help you out. Check out a directory listing of our Agency Partners.
Step 4: Add Some Content
Once you’ve decided on the overall appearance of your website, it’s time to add some content. Use the Pages screen to create content that will always be relevant, and should live in the top navigation of your website (think About us, Pricing, Menu pages).
After you create a few pages, try to create some Posts on more topical, current content. For the Austin Tacos website, you could publish new recipes you created, or blog about new taco restaurants around town.
Once you publish your Pages and Posts, you can watch them appear on the front-end of your website.
By default, WordPress sets your “home page” to be a list of your most recent posts. But you can customize this to be a pre-defined page from your list of Pages under Settings > Reading. While you’re in your Settings, you may want to change your Permalinks as well. The Post Name setting is the most common Permalink option, but you can feel free to choose the link structure that works best for your website.
Step 5: Add Plugins
Now that you’ve added a theme and some content, you may notice there are some pieces you still need for your website. This is where adding some plugins can help. Whether you want to add special functions (like a contact form or social icons), change default WordPress functionality (add custom post types or special user roles), or change the appearance (add more menu fields, or add custom fields to your editor page), there are thousands of plugins available to help you get the job done. To add plugins, navigate to the Plugins page in your WordPress Admin Dashboard, and click Add New at the top of the page. From here, you can search for the plugins you would like to add. Use the description, star rating, number of people using the plugin, and last updated fields to help you decide which plugin will work best for your needs!
Some of the most popular plugins include:
- HubSpot All-in-One Marketing – Capture leads using HubSpot tools like forms, pop-ups, and live chat all built on top of a free contact management platform (CRM)
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – Add meta descriptions and increase readability on your posts
- Contact Form 7 – Create contact forms on your front-end
- Jetpack by WordPress.com – Connect to WordPress.com for stats, social sharing, and more
- WooCommerce – Creating eCommerce capabilities for WordPress websites
- Advanced Custom Fields – Creating custom editable fields on your editor pages
- Mailgun or Sendgrid – Sending email securely via API with WordPress
For a list of recommended plugins and services that work seamlessly with the WP Engine platform, check out the WP Engine Solution Center.
Step 6: Going Live
Once you have finished creating a beautiful site that meets all your needs, you will likely want to take the website “live” by mapping your website to a custom domain. There are three steps to take your website live: Add the domain in User Portal, change the WordPress URL, and change your DNS records. Our Going Live Guide will walk you through each step! Once those steps are complete, you will have finished building your website on the WP Engine platform!
To learn more about the WP Engine platform as you develop your website, check out the WP Engine Developer Guide for tips and tricks.