A Small Business Owner’s Guide To Setting Up WordPress

This should be a very short project for a small business owners who don't want to spend a lot of time learning a CMS.

August 27, 2013

Anyone Can Do This

When I take a web site job, one of my goals is to make things easy for the customer in the long run.  They should be able to maintain it and make changes themselves, in case I'm hit by a bus, or get raptured, or some other event that prevents me from making the changes for them.  The less computer savvy a customer is, the more I'm concerned with making life easy.  There are a couple folks lately where this is the case, and I've finally figured out what might be the easiest way to achieve that end…


1. This walkthrough assumes you have a running copy or WordPress, FTP or SSH (or SFTP) access to your web host, which is probably running a LAMP ( Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP ) server.  Most web hosts have this setup, so you should be all set.

Most web hosts also have an easy to use WordPress install script in their administration interface (usually cPanel — though GoDaddy has some other home brew thing they use, please don't even get me started on GoDaddy…) but even if you install it by hand, it's about a five minute process.  For the record, my favorite two web hosts are Hostmonster.com and NoSupportLinuxHosting.com; they both have exactly what I need.

2. My template.  You can grab it here.

3. An hour, maybe, unless you've got your own css theme you're trying to use.


Set Up Your Website

Install the theme via zip by going to (in wp-admin) the Dashboard –> Themes –> Install Themes –> Upload (like in the picture here — if you click on the image you'll see a bigger one)

Uploading a WordPress theme via zip file


Once you've got it installed, you've got to create some pages; you'll find a Pages link in the left hand menu..  There should already be a "Sample Page" if you're dealing with a fresh WP install.  Rename that one to Home.  Create another one called Contact and one called About.  These should at least get you rolling.  Believe it or not, if you just get these three pages working and being useful, you're already doing better than a lot of other small business owners.


Change Your Front Page

Next, you've got to tell WordPress to use the Home page as your actual front/home/index (whichever term you prefer) page, and you do that by heading over to (left hand menu again) Settings –> Reading.

Change WordPress Reading Settings to use Home Page as the site main page

Again, click on the image to see it bigger.  I set the "Front Page Displays" to the "A static page" choice, and then picked Home in the Front page drop down.


Build A Menu

Now you have to make your menu.  If the theme you're currently using supports menus, then youll see a place to edit them in (on the left hand Dashboard menu) Appearance –> Menus.

Building a Menu For Your WordPress Site

Check the boxes next to any pages you want appearing in the menu, hit the Add to Menu button, and BAM!  You've now got a bunch of drop down bar looking things, one for each page you added.  Once you hit the blue Save Menu button (it was too far away to stick in this picture, but it's there on the far right), these pages will show up live on the site as menu choices.

If you want to get rid of one of the menu items you added, just click on the arrow (far right part of the button) and click Remove from the form that drops down.  You'll see there are a few other things you can do in that drop down as well.

But wait!  You can also drag menu items up and down and change their order in the menu.


Changing It Up

This theme I've given you is simple and responsive, but it is hideous.  You don't want to be keeping this for any length of time.  A couple minutes might be too many.  So if you've got a css theme you like the looks of, you can implement it to some degree.

My theme consists of only a few files.  There's the a javascript file (jquery.js), stylesheet (style.css), header.php, page.php, footer.php, functions.php, and a nearly empty file ( because WordPress required this file — it only contains <?php ?> ) index.php.

Jquery.js contains what you need for the menu to drop down when someone's screen gets narrow (like if they're on a phone).  It also makes dop downs for the regular sized menus, but I haven't figured out how to make this work with the menu creation tool in WordPress yet.

The stylesheet is, as you'd expect, a stylesheet.  Nothing crazy there, and you can do all sorts of crazy things there.  In order for the menu to work, you've got to leave some of it alone.  I've noted in style.css where you ought to tread lightly.  The only things you maybe want to change are link and background colors, and you can do that without causing trouble.

Header.php contains everything from the top of the page down to where content starts.  It also includes the menu.  I've noted in header.php what you should leave alone.

Page.php displays a page's contents.  You can edit any html you see to your heart's content, but steer clear of anything between <?php ?> tags, unless you know what you're doing.

The footer.php is just the end of a page.  At this point, it's really only closing a few html tags.


Adding a Blog?

If you still want a blog on your site, you've got a smidgen left to do.  I made it happen with this theme by adding another page called Blog.  Then back in the "Change Your Front Page" step there was another option to set.  You already set Front page, now you've got to set the Posts Page to this Blog (or whatever you end up calling it) and you're done for the most part.  If I understand correctly, WordPress is using what's happening in index.php to populate the Blog page.  I've populated index.php with a rudimentary way of displaying post titles and excerpts, and I've included the single.php which is what displays an individual post.  Change stuff up to your liking.  As I said in the beginning, this is really to get someone up and off the ground without getting TOO dirty.


All Done?

I think that might be it as far as the inital setup goes.  I've edited this post a few times since I put it up, after trying to use it and realizing that I forgot stuff.  the functions.php file was the only one I didn't mention.  It's safe to leave alone; right now it only contains the code that generates menus on the fly, but it can do lots more in capable hands.

If you're looking to make life a little easier in the long run, and are having trouble making sense of how to easily get images into posts, you might try looking at a couple of other posts I've written.  Both should get you on your way.

Integrate KCFinder with CKEditor in WordPress

Using KC Finder Once It’s Installed


Good luck, and please let me know if you're stuck.


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