Build a WordPress site on Dreamhost in a day

Yesterday I was inspired by a video by Dr. Anthony Centore, a counseling professional with a nationwide business, and I built a new website starting from buying a domain. I have an existing Dreamhost shared webserver account, which allows an “unlimited” number of websites hosted.  Here are the steps to take:

  1. Purchase a domain. (The one I bought is I’m building a somatic therapy practice so that I can make a living and have some time for projects like this website. Yes, I am advertising myself.) Buying this domain from Dreamhost was a little less expensive than another, popular registrar’s price, plus privacy is free. Privacy on a domain means that when people check the WhoIs on your domain, they won’t see your name and details.  With privacy, buying from Dreamhost is actually quite a bit less expensive.  Since my webserver is already with Dreamhost, the next step was easy.

  2. Set up the webhost.  Obviously, if you don’t have a webserver set up, there’s an extra step of purchasing a server subscription.  For my purposes, a shared host is fine. (That means many people use the same hardware, but each account has its own virtual access, so it appears separate.)  When I added hosting to my domain, Dreamhost’s software automatically creates a folder under my main account’s domain.  If your new domain is the main account, the files are stored under root, or the top level of your virtual server’s file structure. Allow Dreamhost a minute or few to complete set up. 
    • Note that if you allow Dreamhost to do everything automatically, it will also create a username for you.  The automated username is not usually easy to remember, so you might want to create a “new user” with the name you want.  That is done on the Fully Hosted screen after clicking Edit on the Manage Domains screen.
    • I also added CloudFlare, which requires a CloudFlare account but adds a little security and speeds connection time. 
    • You’re going to want to add the https protocol as well.  Make sure the setting for Add WWW is chosen if you want to use Let’s Encrypt for your security protocol.  Let’s Encrypt is good for personal and small business websites, including WordPress.

  3. Install WordPress.  This process takes several minutes.  If you want Dreamhost to do everything for you for a fee, click “WordPress” in the Dreamhost menu.  But if you want to do it yourself for no fee (or if someone is paying you to do it), choose “One-Click Installs” under the Domains menu, and then choose WordPress.  If you’re not into going into the back-end of WordPress, allow Dreamhost to automatically create a database for you.  It will create a database name and password that’s difficult to remember, but it will be more difficult to hack.  After clicking “Install it for me now!” is a good time to get yourself a cup of caffeine or make your bed, and add a minute of stand time on your Apple Watch. (I have ambivalent feelings about Apple Watch.  I don’t want to wear it anymore, but I gotta say, it has helped me keep my waistline healthy.)

    You can also use this ten-minute time to collect images for your site. Having a folder full of images ready to use is a good idea to be prepared. Note that images that are very large may take a long time to load, depending on the stylesheet settings of your theme. Some image sizes to consider:
    • 512px x 512px for your favicon and avatar, which WordPress automatically resizes.
    • 2000px wide for banners. The height depends on which theme you choose.  When I’m making a website in a jiffy (did I just date myself?), I find an image that can be cropped down to a quarter of its height and still look decent.
    • 800px x 1200px portrait in an aspect ratio of 2:3, which can be resized by WordPress if you want to include an image on a page or post that appears next to text.

  4. Change your password. Once WordPress has finished installing, your site is created and ready for personalization. Check your email for a link to reset your WordPress site password.

Once the site is live, you can log in to yournew.domain/wp-admin and start customizing.  Explaining how to use WordPress goes beyond the scope of this post, but here are some basics to help you get started:

  • Choose a template. From the left-side menu of the WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance, and then Themes.  This can also be reached through Appearance/Customize/Active Theme.
  • Change your site details. Go to Appearance, and then Customize, and then Site Identity to change your site title and add your favicon image (the little image that appears on the tab next to your site’s name).
  • Change the images.  This can also be done on the Customize panel.

You can also change what appears on your front page.  WordPress defaults to the blog aspect of your site, that is, Posts. If you want a static front page, create a Page and choose it as your Homepage.

Hope you can figure out the rest.

I wrote three posts and made five pages to make the site look complete.  They could probably use some refining, but at least I have a new website ready for the world! Now I’m ready to build my somatic therapy practice.  Bye-bye IT jobs!

Happy website building!