There are many ways to create a simple community website. The simplest and cheapest way is to create a ‘blog’. The most widely used blogging platform that is available as a hosted version (i.e. where a you can have a free website) is WordPress. This is because it is very easy to use but also quite flexible, so you can develop it and add further features as your confidence grows. An account and website can be set up in a matter of minutes.
To get started head over to http://wordpress.com and you will see a screen similar to the one below (note you can click on any of the image in this guide to enlarge them).
Click on the blue GET STARTED button to start the sign up procedure.
The WordPress sign up procedure is very simple as you can see from this screen.
Working down the screen
Blog Address – in here you need to enter the name of your blog, this should be all lowercase and without any spaces. What you put in here will be the web address for your site.
Username – this is your personal WordPress username, this is what you will use to login to the WordPress site in future.
Password – this should be over 4 characters long and be strong. You will need to confirm the password.
E-mail Address – you will need to supply a valid E-mail address so that WordPress can send you an activation E-mail.
Each one of the sections in the sign up procedure will automatically check the information as you enter it, if there are any problems the section will turn red.
In the screenshot below you can see that there is a problem with each bit of information I have entered.
I’ll go back and fix all the errors and now the screen looks like this
Now all the sections have turned back to blue, little green ticks show me that the information I have entered is ok and you can see that I have entered a nice strong password. For more information on what makes a strong password read this WordPress guide on passwords.
Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and you will see this.
WordPress gives you two options at this point, Upgrade & Create Blog. Unless you know what you are doing and have specific requirements you can safely click on the Create Blog button. All the options in the Upgrade column will be available to you later, should you feel that you need any of them.
So go ahead and press the Create Blog button.
Pressing the Create Blog button now does 2 things, it takes you to your profile page where you can, if you wish, enter some basic details about yourself. Your WordPress profile will be viewable by people who visit your site.
Feel free to complete your public profile on this screen, when you press Save Profile you may get an error telling you that your blog isn’t ready. The profile information should still be saved.
The other thing that is happening in the background is WordPress will be sending you an E-mail to the E-mail address you entered in the sign up screen, so head over to your E-mail account and have a look.
There it is!
If you don’t see the activation E-mail in your inbox check the spam / trash/ junk folders as they sometimes end up in there by mistake. If you are having any problems with the WordPress activation E-mail you can check out some of our hints & tips here No WordPress Activation E-mail? What to do.
Open the E-mail up and you should see something like this
All you need to do is press the blue Activate Blog button in the E-mail to confirm that you are a real person. Once you press this button this will start the WordPress servers whirring in to action and creating your blog for you, this only takes a matter of seconds and you will be presented this screen where WordPress gives you the option to follow interesting blogs & topics.
For the purpose of this guide we are going to skip this and press the next button at the bottom of the screen. Clicking next will take you to this screen where you can sign in with Twitter or your Gmail account to see if your friends are using WordPress.
again we will skip this step, press next and move on to this screen.
On this screen you can see the information you entered way back in step one of the sign up procedure have been entered for you. Now you can edit them, this won’t change the blog address, it just allows you to make it look nicer with Capital letters and spaces. The information you enter here will be displayed on the front page of your blog, so tidy it up a bit, like this
press next and you move on to this screen
you are now given the option to choose a theme for your new blog. The theme is something that you can change which will alter the look and colour of your blog without altering the content. For the purpose of this guide we are going to skip this stage, don’t worry you can always go back to anything we skip over.
So we’ll press the next button and just use the theme that WordPress has selected for us. Now WordPress allows you to fine tune the selected theme,
we’ll just leave everything set to the defaults and skip this stage, so you know what to do now, press the blue next step button again and move on to this screen where finally you can write your first blog post.
So give your blog post a title and enter some text
once you are happy with your post, press the publish post button.
Don’t worry we are nearly there!
Once you have published your post you will be taken to the WordPress dashboard which looks like this
the first time you arrive at the dashboard you will see this large blue banner which will give you a brief 4 step tour of the dash board. I won’t go through each step of the tour with you.
Once you have finished the tour you will see this screen
if you click on the My Blog link you will now be taken to a page that shows you the blog you have created along with a link to create a new WordPress blog.
If you click on the title of your blog here you will be taken to the front page of your new WordPress site.
Congratulations! If you have got this far then you have successfully signed up to WordPress and written your first blog post. Now you can move on to our next guide which will show you how to change the appearance of your blog.