What Do You Need To Know To Run A WordPress Website?
So you’ve found a host, downloaded and installed WordPress, and are ready to fire up your new website.
Before you go beyond, or even get to this point, let’s talk about the other things you may need to know to run your own self-hosted WordPress website.
What is “self-hosted?”
There are essentially two types of WordPress websites; .org and .com
WordPress.com is a hosting environment that excels in hosting small, personal blogs and websites.
- It’s FREE for a very limited version
- Has other plans that can cost beyond basic hosting plans for the .com version
- The free plan essentially runs updates and backups for no extra charge.
- Ads are placed on the free websites and you don’t get the benefit. AND you can’t run your own ads
- Custom themes aren’t allowed
- Free sites have a wordpress.com domain name (something_something.wordpress.com)
So if you want more flexibility, you have to use a downloaded version from WordPress.org. But you’ll also need a host, some time to set everything up, and a bit of expertise in a WordPress environment.
We will talk about three categories of knowledge you will need to set up and run a WordPress website; server, programming/languages, and “other.”
To set up a hosted version of WordPress you need a place for it to live… a server host. You’ll also need a domain name pointing at that server, but for now we’re assuming you’ve gotten that far. We’ll talk about domain names at a later date. Some server terms you’ll need to be fluent in are:
- cPanel : a graphical interface on WordPress hosts that provide a place to edit email addresses, domains, files, databases and much more. If you host a WordPress site you could spend a lot of time in your cPanel.
- WHM : another graphical interface, but this time it’s at the server level. It manages server resources, cPanel accounts, SSLs, and a TON more tweak settings.
- FTP : FTP is a program on your computer (I’ve used Filezilla for years) that gives you quick access to the sites file structure so it’s easy to upload files & images, and manage files on the server. Much easier than logging into the cPanel and using the File Mangaer.
- MySQL : Your database on most WordPress sites. Life’s a lot easier if you know how to navigate and manage your databases without relying on plugins to optimize your data.
This is where the fight starts. Like all websites WordPress is built on several programming languages and other code. Programmers, like all professional positions, can get a little “catty” about what’s programming and what isn’t. HTML is largely considers to be NOT programming, but I disagree.
- HTML : DING – DING – DING! Found on the internet, so it must be true, the definition of programming is “Programming is a way to “instruct the computer to perform various tasks.” HTML fits that… loosely. But learning some basic HTML won’t hurt your chances of working on your site.
- CSS : Font types, colors, image placement, responsive pages, content visibility – all of this is done by CSS. If you were to ask me what is important to learn to be good at WordPress, CSS would be it.
- PHP : The core of WordPress is all built on PHP. It’s an open source, versatile language that runs a HUGE portion of the internet once ASP and ASPX became bogged down and bloated. It helps to know a little PHP.
The “Other” Category
There are a lot of other things that can help you manage your WordPress site. The items detailed below aren’t critical to a site working, but they can help optimize a site.
- Image Optimization : The first thing I look at when someone complains about a slow site is the images. Using a 4000×2000 image when a 2000×1000 will work can decrease load times by several seconds… PER IMAGE! Tools like GIMP, Photoshop and Canva are essential.
- CDN : data networks are another way to speed up a site by sending media to a site from a dedicated server that caches the info being requested by visitors. They are not free, but really help. BeBizzy uses Stackpath.
- DNS : You may have to edit your DNS to manage your email, FTP traffic, subdirectories and more.
- Email : Speaking of email, I can’t stress enough that it’s my recommendation to get your email OFF your server. Paid hosting at Google Workspace, Office365 or others works better and will keep your non-website troubleshooting down to a minimum.
- SSL : Security certificates are a metric used by Google and other search engines to rank sites. They also ensure your site info is encrypted to visitors. Get one, whether it’s supplied by the host, or you have to purchase.
This Sounds Like A Sales Pitch
If you have the time and the expertise to run, manage, update, backup and troubleshoot your website, by all means, do it! You can save some money and put skills you already possess to use.
But, if the $3-500 annually you would spend on hosting, plus the development costs of the site is worth it in your mind to only have to report a problem and not to fix it, hire a professional.
People hire others to lay carpet, mow lawns, build decks and other aspects of life all the time. Don’t let building a website keep you from doing what you have to do in order to grow your business.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the WP Wednesday Podcast
Do you have questions, experiences related to today’s topic? Head over to @Bebizzy on Twitter and send them there.
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