Building a Website With WordPress – Fall 2021

Welcome to Building a Website with WordPress, offered by Westmoreland County Community College. Here you’ll find plans, notes and links for our four-week class.

Week 1 – September 21

Welcome to week 1!

This week, we’ll get to know each other and start to gather everything we need to build a WordPress site. vs.

We’ll start the class with a little about WordPress including the difference between (a hosting platform that limits what you can do with WordPress) and (the free software that we’ll use on the hosting platform of our choice).

I’ll also mention the Pittsburgh WordPress group and online meetups everywhere.

Class website

Pair Networks has graciously provided free Managed WordPress hosting for the duration of the class and for 30 days after.

After class

Upon completion of the 4-week class, you can do one of the following:

  • Purchase a domain name and reach out to Pair to take over billing of your account
  • Purchase a domain name and migrate your site to another host (like Flywheel or WP Engine)
  • Do nothing and your site will be removed after 30 days

Domain name

Your domain name is your URL or website address. Finding the perfect domain name can take a bit of time. You’ll want to select something that’s easy for people to remember and that is meaningful. Oh, and a domain name that’s available is good, too!

Domainr is great for searching for possible domain names and GoDaddy and ThemeIsle have good articles on selecting the perfect domain name.

You can secure a domain name from anywhere, but I recommend Namecheap because they are easy to use and include privacy (which cuts down on spam).


Website hosting is where your files will live. I recommend Managed WordPress hosting at Pair Networks, Flywheel or WP Engine. The top features I look for in a website host are quick and helpful support, free SSL certificates, additional backups and staging environments.

We’ll also discuss the difference between managed and shared hosting.

I also want to note that Flywheel has 14-day demo sites that you can create to test out their platform. There is also a tool called Local that you can use to spin up any number of free, local sites on your computer. Just note that these sites won’t be available via the web – they’re just on your computer!


You may or may not want an email address at your domain name. If you do, I recommend Pair Networks (included with hosting), Zoho, Fastmail or GSuite.

Goals, content and images

We’ll talk about why you want a website and what you’re hoping it will do for you.

I’ll encourage you to think about your target audience; if you say everybody you’re not being specific enough and end up generic.

You need content.

As you’re writing your content, think about what you want the visitor to do. Guide your user through your site and use calls to action.

You’ll also need images for your website. I like and Never use Google! You may need to resize images (I like pixlr). You may want to compress images (I like

Your site

You can access your site today!

Your site URL is the first part of your email address (before the @ and with no symbols)

For example, if your email address is [email protected], I created your site to be

To log in:

  • Add /wp-admin at the end of your URL
  • Click the Lost your password? link at the bottom; you’ll be sent an email to set your password
  • Use the email address that you used to register for this class

Here are a few items to change on your site:

  • Remove the Hello World post
  • Remove the Sample Page
  • Remove all themes except Twenty Twenty One
  • Remove widgets
  • Remove Akismet and Hello Dolly
  • Configure your settings
  • Change the administrator email
  • Change your password and add your name


Plugins are added functionality for WordPress. We’ll install and configure the following to start:

I’ll cover how to install, activate and configure each of the plugins above.

Just a note that some hosts like Flywheel and WP Engine don’t allow plugins like Wordfence and UpdraftPlus because they take care of this for you!


You’ll need to keep WordPress as well as your themes and plugins up to date. I recommend enabling auto updates for all plugins and themes as you install them.


Before the next class:

  • Write out the goals you have for your website
  • Start to gather content and images
  • Plan for your site after the class is over; think about a domain name and research hosting providers
  • Set security and backups

Don’t forget you have access to all of the recordings via the YouTube playlist I emailed you before the class started. Please give me a day or two after the class ends to upload the video.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Week 2 – September 28


Let’s review what we covered last week and I’ll answer any questions you have.


  • Caching explained
  • Purging your cache
    • On the website with Proxy Cache Purge
    • Deleting history/cookies
    • Private/incognito windows


  • Upload images and other items to the media library
  • Adding alt text for accessibility and SEO


Pages + Menus

  • Create a home, about, blog and contact page
  • Create a menu under Appearance, Menus
  • Set pages under Settings, Reading

Theme Settings

Privacy Policy

Privacy policies are good to have; I use Termageddon, but here is a template, a generator, a plugin and a walkthrough. Also check the guide under Settings, Privacy, Check out our guide.


Before the next class:

  • Finish gathering content and images; upload images to your media library
  • Create blank pages
  • Create a menu
  • Install and activate an Astra child theme
  • Set your theme settings
  • Build your header and footer

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Week 3 – October 5


Let’s review what we’ve covered so far and I’ll answer any questions you have.


  • Create pages
    • Title
    • Body
      • Working with blocks
      • Reusable blocks
    • Page settings
      • Permalink
      • Featured image
  • Publish, update, delete
  • The blog page should be empty!


  • Create posts
    • Very similar to pages but additional options for excerpt, categories and tags
  • Publish, update, delete
  • Astra options for how single posts are displayed
  • Astra options for how the blog is displayed

Additional Blocks


  • Appearance, Widgets
  • Set items in your sidebar and/or footer


  • Create your pages
  • Create your posts
  • Tweak your header, footer and sidebar as needed

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Week 4 – October 12


Let’s review what we covered last week and I’ll answer any questions you have.


  • Install a contact form plugin like Ninja Forms
  • Create and configure a contact form
  • Show the form on your contact page
  • Other considerations (like email deliverability)


  • Install and activate an SEO plugin like SEOPress or Yoast
  • Configure the SEO plugin
    • Site owner
    • What is indexed
    • Default featured image
    • Sitemap
    • Other items
  • Set meta descriptions (good tool and a good article)


  • Best practices for accessibility
    • Alt text
    • Appropriate heading levels
    • Use a readable font size (at least 16px)
    • Linking descriptive text and not text like “click here”
    • Color contrast (contrast checker)
  • Testing tool

Site Speed

  • What are the factors in site speed?
  • Test site speed with GTMetrix and Pingdom
  • What results mean
  • Adding a caching plugin like Autoptimize and configuring the plugin
  • Testing the page speed again

Analytics and Search Console

Email Marketing


  • You should have a full site backup on Google Drive or Dropbox
  • I also recommend creating a copy of your site with Duplicator

Other Items of Note


  • Finish your site!
  • Send me the link if you’d like me to take a look (let me know if you’d like feedback)
  • Remember that you have 30 days to decide what to do with your site
    • Purchase a domain name and reach out to Pair to take over billing of your account
    • Purchase a domain name and migrate your site to another host (like Flywheel or WP Engine; reach out to the host — sometimes they will move the site for you)
    • Download a copy of your site for later
    • Do nothing and your site will be removed after 30 days

There is SO much more you can do with WordPress. Continue your learning at:

You may also find WP Live Support helpful.

Thank you for taking this class! I hope you learned a lot and enjoyed the content. The YouTube playlist will be available for the foreseeable future, so watch the videos as often as you like!

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