WordPress is the platform I now use for 99% of my sites. There are lot’s of alternatives which I’ve used over the years, but it is by far my current favourite. WordPress is open source, which means thousands of people contribute to creating and maintaining it. It also means that it’s free. WordPress started off as a blogging platform and grew into a full blown website platform called a CMS (content management system). WordPress is currently the most used web platform in the world with over 5 million websites running it, and is one of the most user friendly and powerful options for the general public (rather than software software engineers) who want to build a website. WordPress has thousands of plugins available to add additional functionality. Most are free, but there are some premium plugins available for purchase. WordPress uses what are called theme files to control the look and style of the site. This makes it very easy to quickly change the look of your site. WordPress has one of the largest market places for themes, which is why WordPress sites tend to look better. Free themes are available, but good themes often need to be purchased for approx $30 – 45.
A website host stores your website files (WordPress) on a server and makes them available to the internet. Hosting companies maintain the hardware side of a website and also the server software that allows the website to run. They also have very, very big internet connections to send your site out to thousands of people. Hosting companies charge a monthly fee for this service starting at $6/month (Bluehost), but in this guide we’ll be using a company called WPengine which costs $30/month but will super charge your site. I’ll explain why this is important later.
This is the URL of your site, ie, www.websitesforarchitects.org. Domain names are purchased from companies like GoDaddy and then pointed to your hosting company. You then tell your hosting company that you own this domain and their server points it to your website files. I’ll explain this later in more detail. The price for a .com domain starts at around $13.
This strictly isn’t a required component of building a website, but because our aim is to build a professional and secure website then having a backup strategy is absolutely essential. If you’re using a cheap hosting company then you’ll need a third party backup provider like Vaultpress ($15/month), but in this guide I’ll be recommending WPengine, which has its own backup system built in.