Learning to make your own website is not as hard as you might think but it does require a little knowledge. Learning how to install WordPress on website hosting is the first step. With my guidance, you can work through everything (including making a website with WordPress) at a steady pace whilst avoiding the most common pitfalls.
Is WordPress simple to use?
Yes, it is! That’s why it powers 37% of the world’s websites because it’s so easy to pick-up. No in-depth knowledge of how WordPress works is required to successfully create a simple, clean, and polished website.
So, these pitfalls.
The biggest mistake I see people make is with hosting. All too often they buy on price, not on value. Of course, everyone should keep an eye on costs. That’s sensible especially if your website is for a business or other important project (like a blog for example).
But, getting cheap hosting that supposedly offers ‘amazing uptime’, ‘top security’ and (my favourite) ‘blazing fast speeds’ for pennies per month is, I’m afraid, too good to be true.
I’ve built dozens of WordPress websites for customers all over the place, from large organisations to exciting start ups. It doesn’t matter who or what a website is for. The single most important decision when making your website is which web host to use.
When you’re learning you absolutely need exceptional customer support from a hosting provider to ensure all the technical stuff (and worry) is taken care of. This peace of mind allows you to focus on being successful.
I’ve rescued so many people from bad hosting and all of them regret not paying for top-quality from the start. After this tutorial, you’ll know what hosting is all about, why beginners (in the know) use SiteGround, and how to sign up and install WordPress.
This sets you up brilliantly for the next step, but more on that later…
Table Of Contents
- What is managed WordPress hosting?
- What is website hosting?
- What is a domain name?
- Is WordPress hosting different to website hosting?
- A brief explanation of the different types of WordPress hosting
- ‘Managed’ hosting versus unmanaged
- Requirements of a great WordPress hosting provider
- Type of hosting providers you must avoid
- Get Started
- Which SiteGround hosting plan should you pick
- How to sign up to SiteGround
- Installing WordPress on SiteGround hosting
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1. What is managed WordPress hosting?
The simplest way to answer this question is to explain the basics so you understand the broader context of the internet, domain names, and web hosting, and then how WordPress fits into it.
If you’re already comfortable with this stuff, then skip to section 2 to learn why SiteGround is the only real choice for beginners or anyone who wants proper peace of mind on the technical stuff.
What is web hosting?
At the most basic level, website hosting is simply making ‘data’ available to other computers that access it via the internet.
Said data is placed on a ‘web-server’ which is a powerful computer that uses a special operating system (i.e. web server software) to function. Your computer accesses the data on this web-server using another specific type of software called a web browser.
A web hosting provider is a company that has lots of web servers. Customers pay to use these web servers to host whatever data their websites require. There are different types of web hosting depending on the needs of the customer, but ultimately all websites on the internet use a web hosting provider no matter how big or small. This includes big global household names like Netflix which is hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS).
What is a domain name?
How does your computer’s web browser (e.g. Google Chrome) find the specific web server of a website you want to look at?
The same way you and I find our way around places… it uses an address.
The internet is one big network of computers that are all physically connected using fibre optics and cabling allowing them to communicate with each other. For this to happen, a computer has to be identifiable (from all the others) which is done using something called an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Every computer connected to the internet has a unique IP address, which is a series of numbers and dots, such as 168.212. 226.204 for example.
During the early years of the internet, the IP address had to be typed into a browser to access another computer’s data. IP addresses were not memorable or user friendly, especially when using lots of them. To help with this (and other complexities related to how the internet was operating), the Domain Name System (DNS) was introduced in 1983 and remains today.
Technically speaking, a domain name is a link to the IP address of a computer’s data. More simply, if you type a domain name into the address bar of a web browser it will access and display that website’s content (data).
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages the domain names system. It is a non-profit organization that creates and implements the policies for domain names. ICANN permits companies called Domain Name Registrars who allow people like you and me to buy one.
There are lots of companies where you can buy a domain name and all of them have to process and maintain your purchase as per the policies set by ICANN. Who owns a domain name? You do (the domain registrant), provided you pay the yearly renewal to the registrar.
It is worth noting though that web hosting companies including SiteGround, also sell domains meaning you can have both services under the same digital roof if you choose.
If you’re a beginner, I seriously advise doing this to keep things as simple as possible. You will probably pay a marginally higher price but won’t have to alter the DNS settings on your domain so it ‘points’ to your web hosting server.
Is WordPress hosting different to website hosting?
The short answer is no.
The WordPress software can be installed on any web-server (i.e. any web hosting service), and a WordPress website behaves the exact same way as any other website. Its domain name is the address where a web browser accesses and shows its content.
Where a WordPress website differs is in how it’s design, functionality, and content customisations are carried out (i.e. how data is added or removed from the web-server). WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS).
A CMS allows you to update and manage your website from a user-friendly interface that is intuitive and easy to understand. While there are many CMS out there, WordPress is the most popular one because it powers nearly 36% of all websites on the internet.
WordPress hosting is just website hosting that has been optimized to better meet its performance and security needs. It typically includes one-click WordPress installs, making it easier to get started, and automatic updates to the core WordPress software which is vital to a site’s security and general health.
A brief explanation of the different types of WordPress hosting
WordPress hosting, much like web hosting, comes in different forms for different needs depending on the way the web-server has been set up. Below is an introductory explanation of each, with a little insight as to who they’re most appropriate for at a general level:
- Shared hosting – you’re one of many customers splitting the use of a single server. This may not sound like the best type of hosting and, honestly, it isn’t. Many hosting companies sell shared hosting for a pittance per month and stack up high volumes of customers on each server which results in very hit and miss performance (if all those customer websites have an increase in traffic at the same time, page load, and user experience will suffer). But, some providers do it properly, providing a perfectly adequate level of performance for a low price. Shared hosting is ideal for creating a more simplistic website, possibly for the first time, where your risk is smaller (i.e. it doesn’t cost that much) and you can upgrade at any time.
- Virtual Private Server (VPS) hosting – Like shared hosting, Virtual Private Servers (VPSs) have you sharing hardware with other users. However, in this case, you get your own “virtual space” all to yourself. So even though you don’t have access to the whole server, your usage of it is more protected than with a shared plan. VPS hosting is not something I’ve ever bothered with because a more modern and more powerful method appeared in recent years which can cost more or less the same…
- Cloud hosting – Ultimately this is built on the same idea as a VPS; the difference is each virtual server is distributed through multiple physical servers rather than just one. The benefits are considerable because your web server (also referred to as a ‘machine’) is balanced between multiple physical servers, constantly drawing resources most efficiently and effectively. For this reason, cloud plans are very scalable and often have no downtime whatsoever (although nowadays downtime is very rare anyway). I wholly recommend cloud hosting to anyone who is going to invest time (and possibly cash) into driving traffic to their website.
- Dedicated server – Here you don’t share hosting resources with any other customer. As the name suggests, the entirety of the physical server is yours. Much like with cloud hosting you get dedicated resources which would be more than sufficient for much higher traffic websites, meaning your load times and user experience are unshakable. Dedicated servers are the most expensive option for obvious reasons, and I’d only recommend one for a website that is already generating revenue so that the cost-benefit is worth the top-end performance.
Managed hosting versus unmanaged
With managed hosting, basically everything regarding your server and site management is taken care of by the provider. In other words, you don’t ever have to concern yourself with server security, uptime, operating system updates, and so on.
This is the opposite of unmanaged hosting, where you’re buying the use of a ‘vanilla’ server which will come with an operating system obviously and typically lots of security built-in, but that’s about it. You’d have to set up installing WordPress on it and configuring the resources it offers from the ground up.
Managed hosting is the way forward for 99% of do-it-yourself website building because unless you have prior experience of web servers the learning curve is way too steep and not worth the price difference.
Most of us, myself included, prefer the peace of mind that an experienced team is handling the hosting side, so we can focus on our website(s).
Requirements of a great WordPress hosting provider
My criteria when I was choosing the WordPress host for my business, were:
- Genuinely Exceptional Customer Support – This is, without a doubt, the most important requirement for anyone who is doing this for the first time, or simply feels they want maximum help in the background. Having a truly dedicated support team who always take ownership of issues and manage to fix them (if it is humanly possible) is so important when you have lots of other things to think about, not to mention stresses on your time. It is highly likely that you’ll run into some kind of issue at some point even if it is not particularly serious or complex, hence why this is so important.
- Hosting Performance – Beyond doing onsite optimizations, the number one reason why a website’s speed is too slow is where it is hosted. Top hosting companies provide lightning-fast response times and load speeds and have hundreds of customer reviews singing their praises. However, all hosting companies (including the rubbish ones) advertise these things. Tip – the real quality hosting providers sell on value, not on price, which is why you’ll always have to pay a bit more for them!
- Different Types Of Hosting – You want a provider that caters to your current requirements (i.e. good performance at an affordable price) but who have the more powerful hosting options for when your website demands grow (such as cloud plans and dedicated servers). Good WordPress hosting always has easy one-click installs available and automatic updates of the core software.
- Serious Focus On Security – A proper WordPress host takes security super-seriously, constantly striving to stay ahead of the game, and maintaining a safe place for its customers’ websites.
- Cost-Benefit Balance – One of the biggest costs for most hosting companies is customer support. Paying peanuts will get you monkeys, and most of us have experienced the stress and strain of dealing with garbage customer service. For proper peace of mind, you’ll need to pay a bit more. If you’re like me, this feels like the right thing to do; I’ll happily pay for quality especially when a lot is riding on it.
Type of hosting providers you must avoid
Most of us know the saying ‘if something appears too good to be true it probably is’.
Never is this more applicable than with the majority of hosting providers. These companies sell on price, not on value. Charging super low prices means these companies simply can’t provide the level of support and performance required for a website in the modern-day. Yes, they’ll all offer one-click installs of WordPress but there’s a bit more to it than that!
I can’t for the life of me understand what they’re trying to achieve, to be honest. It seems their commercial model is to acquire new customers quicker than they lose existing ones. I wouldn’t go near this kind of web host if they offered their services for free, because the cost is not the only concern. In fact, they could pay me and I still wouldn’t trust them with my website.
It turns out a lot of these hosting companies are owned by the same company, Endurance International Group (EIG), including some of the more well-known ones like Bluehost and Hostgator. EIG has a reputation for purchasing companies, then running them as lean as possible. This means stuffing as many customers onto web servers as possible. The result, unreliable hosting performance that can be awful.
Avoid them at all costs, and any other provider promising the world for peanuts.
2. Enter SiteGround
SiteGround is as close to the perfect hosting provider I’ve found for anyone making a website for the first time, bar none. Why? Because their customer support is the best in the world, and I’m speaking from years of professional experience.
Not only that, but speed, uptime, new features, and their super user-friendly client interface (including easy WordPress installs) are all superb as well. If you’re anything like me though, you won’t just take my word for it.
SiteGround service and support is proven to be exceptional, even after nearly 6,000 Trustpilot reviews:
SiteGround is also officially recommended by WordPress:
They also come out top of dozens of Facebook polls (see for yourself by doing a Google search for ‘wordpress hosting facebook poll’):
And to top it all off… SiteGround pricing welcomes new customers:
Whilst it’s possible to purchase a 1-month trial, the best value is in the ‘StartUp’ and ‘GrowBig’ plans which are billed annually like many other proper hosting providers who are confident in the service they offer.
The longer you commit the more value you get from these prices, which are as good as it gets for hosting of this quality. I’ve never found any web host offering and delivering comprehensive service of this standard for such low prices.
After your introductory price-plan is up (be it 1, 2, or 3 years) you’ll have a choice.
Continue to pay for total peace of mind (i.e. for the best customer support in the industry). Or, if you’re feeling a bit more confident by then, migrate your site to the only other hosting provider I recommend, which is Cloudways (world-class cloud hosting starting at £8 ($10) per month! Not quite as beginner-focused though, hence why they offer a free 3-day trial).
3. Get Started
If you just jumped from the introduction to this section, you’re probably convinced of SiteGround for your website. Good stuff, I couldn’t agree more – there is no better WordPress hosting for beginners in my opinion and all our less-experienced customers are with them as a result.
Below, is my steer on the different plans they offer based on my professional experience:
- StartUp – good for hosting one website that expects low to medium traffic (up to 10,000 visitors per month), and doesn’t need to use many WordPress plugins (i.e. extra functionality) requiring extra server resources. This plan is perfect when you’re doing this for the first time. In fact, I don’t know of another managed WordPress hosting option at such a low introductory price.
- GrowBig – this plan comes with about 2x more server resources than StartUp. This means faster load times, much more storage, SiteGround’s third level of caching (which improves performance even more), on-demand backups, and staging. You will not outgrow this plan as quickly (if ever for many people) making it a great starting point for anyone who is serious about driving traffic to their site (i.e. doing SEO and other digital marketing).
- GoGeek – this is the highest tier of shared server resources on offer and is about 4x faster than regular shared hosting plans. Priority support gets your questions answered faster, and there is another step up from GrowBig in storage, bandwidth, and a few features aimed at the more experienced. Don’t sign up for this plan unless you’re certain you need its resources; instead, go with one of the other two (above), then upgrade if necessary down the line.
Sign up to SiteGround:
Deciding to make your own website is a big deal – now it’s time to crack on! Follow the written instructions below and you’ll be set up in no time.
Step 1. – Pick the plan for you. I wholeheartedly recommend ‘StartUp’ for any website project, unless you’re going to actively try to increase traffic volumes in which case ‘GrowBig’ is the best option.
Once you’ve decided, go to the sign-up page at SiteGround (opens in a new tab).
Then, hit the appropriate ‘Get Plan‘ button:
Step 2. – Choose a new domain or type in an existing one. Honestly, I advise getting a domain with SiteGround because it’s the most convenient and easy way, and the price difference is negligible.
But, if you already own one, just contact SiteGround support to give you the IP address of your website’s server after signing up, then ask your domain provider customer services to alter the A record on your domain on their side.
When ready, click ‘Proceed‘:
Step 3. – Complete the form, and choose how long your initial purchase is for within the payment section near the bottom of the page.
If you’re budget permits, get a 2- or 3-year subscription to take advantage of the introductory prices for as long as possible. If it doesn’t, a 1-year subscription on the StartUp plan will cost £86.26, or £129.46 on the GrowBig plan, which is still fantastic value for proper managed hosting and award-winning customer support.
Check all the details in the form are correct, before clicking ‘Pay Now‘:
If you proceeded with SiteGround, congratulations – you’re in the safest hands. The last step is to install WordPress on your new hosting account.
Installing WordPress on SiteGround Hosting
After you sign up with SiteGround, you will receive all the necessary information you need to log in. Once you log in for the first time, you will see a notice asking you if you want to set up a new website. Click on Set Up Site.
A new section would appear where you should select to Start a New Website or to Migrate an existing one. Click on Select under Start New Website.
Choose WordPress and enter the preferred login details for your new WordPress application. Once you are ready, click on Continue, then Finish.
4. How to log in to your WordPress website for the first time?
Finally, it’s time to crack on!
To access your new WordPress install open a new tab in your web browser and type in’ yourdomain.com/wp-admin’, as shown below:
Once there, just type in your username and password which were set when you signed up to SiteGround to access the backend of your WordPress website, which is also known as the ‘dashboard’.
If you’re still with me, well done!
5. Now what?
You’ve got a better understanding of how the internet works, got yourself some top quality hosting at SiteGround and entered the wonderful world of WordPress.
Now the real fun starts!
There are several ways to make a WordPress website but using a page builder is by far the most intuitive and versatile. It’s also the easiest way to future proof it because you can develop the site however you need to (like adding new pages, an online shop, or a blog for example) in the future. Some themes, particularly premium options, also allow for this but in my experience, they’re not as powerful as a page builder, and much more difficult to work with.
Whatever method is chosen, you’ll always need to learn how to install a WordPress theme, and how to install WordPress plugins though.
The good news is this is the first of two WordPress tutorials I’ve created for beginners. Both are comprehensive walkthroughs to create a polished one-page website. The next one is a series of step-by-step videos that show you how to design and bring your WordPress website alive like a professional whilst using (only) free plugins.
It is comprehensive to say the least: from teaching you less-is-more web design to making a free logo, and indexing the site with Google. I also show you how to protect your website and maintain it going forward, which is often forgotten about despite its importance.
But, the best bit? It includes a free template so making your own clean and polished web page is a piece of cake…
I’m ready for some web design! Are you?