Creating a personal website using WordPress
These simple step-by-step instructions will guide you through the process of setting up a free personal website on WordPress.com.
Getting Started with WordPress.com
- Go to WordPress.com.
- If you already have an account, login. If you don't have an account, sign up.
- Navigate to the site-creation form. (If using the site you created when you signed up for your account, skip ahead to "Setting Up Your Site" below; you may want to go to Settings > Reading first and set your site to private while it's under construction.) Finding this form can be a little tricky. Currently this form may be accessed by clicking "My Sites" in the upper left corner. You may need to choose "Switch Site" if you have multiple sites established. Eventually you should see something that says "Add New Site." Follow that link. You might be able to access the form directly at signup.wordpress.com/signup/
- Fill out the form. For your site address (blog address), you may wish to use the yourname.wordpress.com. For your site title (blog name) you may wish to simply use your name. For privacy, choose private. This will allow you to get everything ready before you go public.
- WordPress.com may try to sell you on various packages, but choose the free option for now.
Setting Up Your Site
- Navigate to the dashboard for your site. Since you can have multiple sites on WordPress.com, take care that you are actually looking at the dashboard for the site you created above. From the global WordPress.com interface, your site dashboard may be labelled as "WP Admin." It should be at yoursite.wordpress.com/wp-admin/ but you'll have to replace yoursite with the actual address for your site. You have to be on the dashboard for your site for the next steps to work.
- Navigate to Manage > Settings. Here you can specify a tagline for your site. This is like a subtitle, so you could put your personal motto or something else that describes you or even just "My Personal Website." This may not even be visible with some themes (see below) so don't sweat it. You'll also want to specify your timezone. Hint: New Orleans is in the same zone as Chicago. Make sure to "Save Settings" using the button. (Optional: You can also upload a "Site Icon," an image to represent your site. For a personal site, a headshot might be a good choice.)
Your Home Page
- Navigate to Site > Pages. You should see the default "Home" page.
- Edit this page. Use the "Edit" link which appears when mousing over the page title. This brings up the editing interface. Use this to write whatever you want to appear on your site's front page. It's a good idea to upload a headshot here: use the "Add Media" button to upload files and insert into page. When you're done, hit the "Update" button.
- Check your work with the "Preview Changes" button. You can also navigate to My Sites > View Site.
- Add pages to your site in accordance with the key areas of your life and work that you want visitors to know about. Navigate to Site > Pages and click the button to add a new one. Write and add appropriate images. When done, click the "Publish" button. WordPress now makes you click this button twice, to make sure you really mean it.
- Repeat as needed. You can come back to this, but it's helpful to have at least one additional page, besides your front page, before proceeding to the next steps.
Themes govern the appearance of your site. At the time of this writing, the default theme for WordPress is called Twenty Nineteen, and the instructions below apply to this theme specifically. You can chose other themes if you like, but they may differ a little — or a lot.
- To customize the appearance of your current theme, go to Design > Customize. This will bring up a special menu used to customize the appearance of your site. You'll want to work through most of the options, or at least the first ones. The most important customization for your theme is navigation. Without it, visitors will not be able to get from one page to another. The Twenty Nineteen theme supports two menu locations: a "Primary Menu" and a "Social Menu." Navigate to Menus. There should be a primary menu in place by default; if not, you may need to choose to "create a new menu."
- Now add items to your menu. Click "Add Items" and choose them from the list. It's also a good idea to "auto add pages" by checking the box marked "Automatically add new top-level pages to this menu." This means future pages you create will be added to your site's menu automatically (unless they are subordinate to another page). Alternatively, you can add pages manually, but this will require you to revisit the menu any time you add a new page. You can remove the "Blog" item which appears be default, unless you plan to keep a news feature on your site.
There are a host of other themes available (free or fee) which you may use to give your site a different appearance; see Design > Themes. However, be aware that the instructions above may or may not apply.
- Got everything just the way you want it? Great. When you're ready to go public, navigate back to Settings and make sure "Privacy" is set to "Public."
- Make sure to "Save Settings" using the button at the very bottom.
That's it. You're done. Congratulations. You now have a personal website. Oh, there is one last thing. Don't forget to share the address of your new website anywhere and everywhere. You may especially want to make sure it is linked from your departmental web page. Incoming links help people (and search engines) find your site.