The following essential products and services are the absolute minimum required for running a WordPress website that performs well, provides secure interactions, and offers flexibility for growth.
- A reputable domain name registrar with great tools
- Hosting service committed to performance and security
- Comprehensive and easy to use security plugin
- Reliable and automated website backup plugin
- Flexible WordPress theme with great support
I link to highly recommended providers for these essential services and products. If you click these links and decide to make a purchase, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I have used extensively and have complete confidence in. I have also listed other popular providers so you can do your own comparisons.
Domain Name Registration
A domain name is an easy to remember label that represents the internet address of a website. “monsalon.org” is the domain name for this website. A unique domain name is registered to an individual or organization. Registered domain names are normally valid for one or two years, at the end of which it has to be renewed to continue using it. “.com” domains start at about $11/year and .net start at about $13. Most registrar’s offer discounts for the first year. I recommend namecheap.com for their straight forward website, excellent search tools and overall great value. Other popular registars include gandi.net, and name.com.
Hosting is the service for operating an internet connected computer known as a web server. This web server stores and delivers website contents to the computers of multiple simultaneous visitors. I recommend the either the GrowBig or GoGeek WordPress hosting plans from SiteGround. They provide reliable, fast and secure hosting for a good price. They have excellent customer service and keep their technology and securlity up to date. Most hosting providers will automatically install the WordPress files and database for you. Other popular hosting providers include hostgator.com, dreamhost.com and bluehost.com.
The first thing you must do once your site is up and running, is to set up security for your website. Most hosting providers provide a fair amount of security, however their security is more geared toward protecting there own servers rather than your website. It’s not that some malicious actor will set out to specifically compromise your website, it is the hundreds, if not thousands of automated bots scouring the internet are looking for weakness in any website they come across. At the very least, I recommend installing the free iThemes Security plugin that is available through WordPress plugin directory. For addition security features including two-factor authentication and Google reCAPTCHA, I recommend the iThemes Security Pro Wordpress plugin. Other poplur security options include wordfence.com and sucuri.net
Most hosting providers include some sort of backup system for you files and database of information. However these system really a last resort emergency system of recovery. You need keep regularly scheduled backups for yourself. I recommend Backup Buddy from ithemes for automating regular backups. Backup Buddy allows you archive WordPress installations, move installations between hosting providers and is a great tool for developing your site on your home computer before making visible to the public.
Every WordPress site needs a theme to provide the basic structure, styling and a minimum of features for your website. The theme you choose is the starting point for the design of your website, essentially a blank canvas. The theme/design needs to be further developed by you or a hired designer to differentiate your site from others, provide features specific to your needs, and to help communicate your message to your intended audiance. WordPress installations generally include a theme or two and you also can search through are large number of availble free themes from within your administration area of your WordPress installation. Be sure to check the reviews before you settle on any theme. While there are many free themes to choose from, I recommend premium themes, DIVI or Extra from elegantthemes.com. The DIVI theme and Extra theme are very fexible, include many built features that other themes would require add-on’s to provide the same functionaliy, and also include a visual interface for page layout. elegantthemes.com also provides great customer service.