The Ultimate WordPress Security Guide – Step by Step (2017)

The Ultimate WordPress Security Guide – Step by Step (2017)

WordPress security is a topic of huge importance for every website owner. Each week, Google blacklists around 20,000 websites for malware and around 50,000 for phishing. If you are serious about your website, then you need to pay attention to the WordPress security best practices. In this guide, we will share all the top WordPress security tips to help you protect your website against hackers and malware.

Improve WordPress Security

While WordPress core software is very secure, and it’s audited regularly by hundreds of developers, there is a lot that can be done to harden your WordPress website.

At WPBeginner, we believe that security is not just about risk elimination. It’s also about risk reduction. As a website owner, there’s a lot that you can do to improve your WordPress security (even if you’re not tech savvy).

We have a number of actionable steps that you can take to improve your WordPress security.

To make it easy, we have created a table of content to help you easily navigate through our ultimate WordPress security guide.

Table of Contents

Basics of WordPress Security

WordPress Security in Easy Steps (No Coding)

WordPress Security for DIY Users

Ready? Let’s get started.

Why Website Security is Important?

A hacked WordPress site can cause serious damage to your business revenue and reputation. Hackers can steal user information, passwords, install malicious software, and can even distribute malware to your users.

Worst, you may find yourself paying ransomware to hackers just to regain access to your website.

Why WordPress Security is Important

In March 2016, Google reported that more than 50 million website users have been warned about a website they’re visiting may contain malware or steal information.

Furthermore, Google blacklists around 20,000 websites for malware and around 50,000 for phishing each week.

If your website is a business, then you need to pay extra attention to your WordPress security.

Similar to how it’s the business owners responsibility to protect their physical store building, as an online business owner it is your responsibility to protect your business website.

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Keeping WordPress Updated

Keeping WordPress Updated

WordPress is an open source software which is regularly maintained and updated. By default, WordPress automatically installs minor updates. For major releases, you need to manually initiate the update.

WordPress also comes with thousands of plugins and themes that you can install on your website. These plugins and themes are maintained by third-party developers which regularly release updates as well.

These WordPress updates are crucial for the security and stability of your WordPress site. You need to make sure that your WordPress core, plugins, and theme are up to date.

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Strong Passwords and User Permissions

Manage strong passwords

The most common WordPress hacking attempts use stolen passwords. You can make that difficult by using stronger passwords that are unique for your website. Not just for WordPress admin area, but also for FTP accounts, database, WordPress hosting account, and your professional email address.

The top reason why beginners don’t like using strong passwords is because they’re hard to remember. The good thing is you don’t need to remember passwords anymore. You can use a password manager. See our guide on how to manage WordPress passwords.

Another way to reduce the risk is to not give any one access to your WordPress admin account unless you absolutely have to. If you have a large team or guest authors, then make sure that you understand user roles and capabilities in WordPress before you add new user and authors to your WordPress site.

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The Role of WordPress Hosting

Your WordPress hosting service plays the most important role in the security of your WordPress site. A good shared hosting provider like BlueHost or Siteground take the extra measures to protect their servers against common threats.

However, on shared hosting you share the server resources with many other customers. This opens the risk of cross-site contamination where a hacker can use a neighboring site to attack your website.

Using a managed WordPress hosting service provides a more secure platform for your website. Managed WordPress hosting companies offer automatic backups, automatic WordPress updates, and more advanced security configurations to protect your website

We recommend WPEngine as our preferred managed WordPress hosting provider. They’re also the most popular one in the industry. (See our special WPEngine coupon).

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WordPress Security in Easy Steps (No Coding)

We know that improving WordPress security can be a terrifying thought for beginners. Specially if you’re not techy. Guess what – you’re not alone.

We have helped thousands of WordPress users in hardening their WordPress security.

We will show you how you can improve your WordPress security with just a few clicks (no coding required).

If you can point-and-click, you can do this!

Install a WordPress Backup Solution

Install a WordPress backup solution

Backups are your first defense against any WordPress attack. Remember, nothing is 100% secure. If government websites can be hacked, then so can yours.

Backups allow you to quickly restore your WordPress site in case something bad was to happen.

There are many free and paid WordPress backup plugins that you can use. The most important thing you need to know when it comes to backups is that you must regularly save full-site backups to a remote location (not your hosting account).

We recommend storing it on a cloud service like Amazon, Dropbox, or private clouds like Stash.

Based on how frequently you update your website, the ideal setting might be either once a day or real-time backups.

Thankfully this can be easily done by using plugins like VaultPress or BackupBuddy. They are both reliable and most importantly easy to use (no coding needed).

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Best WordPress Security Plugin

After backups, the next thing we need to do is setup an auditing and monitoring system that keeps track of everything that happens on your website.

This includes file integrity monitoring, failed login attempts, malware scanning, etc.

Thankfully, this can be all taken care by the best free WordPress security plugin, Sucuri Scanner.

You need to install and activate the free Sucuri Security plugin. For more details, please see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to go to the Sucuri menu in your WordPress admin.

Sucuri Admin Menu

The first thing you will be asked to do is Generate a free API key. This enables audit logging, integrity checking, email alerts, and other important features.

Sucuri Generate Free API

The next thing, you need to do is click on the Hardening tab from the Sucuri Menu. Go through every option and click on the “Harden” button.

Sucuri Hardening

These options help you lock down the key areas that hackers often use in their attacks. The only hardening option that’s a paid upgrade is the Web Application Firewall which we will explain in the next step, so skip it for now.

We have also covered a lot of these “Hardening” options later in this article for those who want to do it without using a plugin or the ones that require additional steps such as “Database Prefix change” or “Changing the Admin Username”.

After the hardening part, most default settings of this plugin are good and doesn’t need changing. The only thing we recommend customizing is the Email Alerts.

The default alert settings can clutter your inbox with emails. We recommend receiving alerts for key actions like changes in plugins, new user registration, etc. You can configure the alerts by going to Sucuri Settings » Alerts.

Sucuri Email Alerts

This WordPress security plugin is very powerful, so browse through all the tabs and settings to see all that it does such as Malware scanning, Audit logs, Failed Login Attempt tracking, etc.

Enable Web Application Firewall (WAF)

The easiest way to protect your website and be confident about your WordPress security is by using a web application firewall (WAF). The firewall blocks all malicious traffic before it even reaches your website.

Sucuri Website Application Firewall

We use and recommend Sucuri as the best web-application firewall for WordPress. You can read about how Sucuri helped us block 450,000 WordPress attacks in a month.

Sucuri Attack Block Chart

The best part about Sucuri’s firewall is that it also comes with a malware cleanup and blacklist removal guarantee. Basically if you were to be hacked under their watch, they guarantee that they will fix your website (no matter how many pages you have).

This is a pretty strong warranty because repairing hacked websites is expensive. Security experts normally charge $250 per hour. Whereas you can get the entire Sucuri security stack for $199 per year.

Improve your WordPress Security with the Sucuri Firewall »

Sucuri is not the only firewall provider out there. The other popular competitor is Cloudflare. See our comparison of Sucuri vs Cloudflare (Pros and Cons).

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WordPress Security for DIY Users

If you do everything that we have mentioned thus far, then you’re in a pretty good shape.

But as always, there’s more that you can do to harden your WordPress security.

Some of these steps may require coding knowledge.

Change the Default “admin” username

In the old days, the default WordPress admin username was “admin”. Since usernames make up half of login credentials, this made it easier for hackers to do brute-force attacks.

Thankfully, WordPress has since changed this and now requires you to select a custom username at the time of installing WordPress.

However, some 1-click WordPress installers, still set the default admin username to “admin”. If you notice that to be the case, then it’s probably a good idea to switch your web hosting.

Since WordPress doesn’t allow you to change usernames by default, there are three methods you can use to change the username.

  1. Create a new admin username and delete the old one.
  2. Use the Username Changer plugin
  3. Update username from phpMyAdmin

We have covered all three of these in our detailed guide on how to properly change your WordPress username (step by step).

Note: We’re talking about the username called “admin”, not the administrator role.

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Disable File Editing

WordPress comes with a built-in code editor which allows you to edit your theme and plugin files right from your WordPress admin area. In the wrong hands, this feature can be a security risk which is why we recommend turning it off.

Disable file editing

You can easily do this by adding the following code in your wp-config.php file.

// Disallow file edit
define( 'DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT', true );

Alternatively, you can do this with 1-click using the Hardening feature in the free Sucuri plugin that we mentioned above.

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Disable PHP File Execution in Certain WordPress Directories

Another way to harden your WordPress security is by disabling PHP file execution in directories where it’s not needed such as /wp-content/uploads/.

You can do this by opening a text editor like Notepad and paste this code:

<Files *.php>
deny from all
</Files>

Next, you need to save this file as .htaccess and upload it to /wp-content/uploads/ folders on your website using an FTP client.

For more detailed explanation, see our guide on how to disable PHP execution in certain WordPress directories

Alternatively, you can do this with 1-click using the Hardening feature in the free Sucuri plugin that we mentioned above.

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Limit Login Attempts

By default, WordPress allows users to try to login as many time as they want. This leaves your WordPress site vulnerable to brute force attacks. Hackers try to crack passwords by trying to login with different combinations.

This can be easily fixed by limiting the failed login attempts a user can make. If you’re using the web application firewall mentioned earlier, then this is automatically take care of.

However, if you don’t have the firewall setup, then proceed with the steps below.

First, you need to install and activate the Login LockDown plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, visit Settings » Login LockDown page to setup the plugin.

Login LockDown settings

For detailed instructions, take a look at our guide on how and why you should limit login attempts in WordPress.

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Change WordPress Database Prefix

By default, WordPress uses wp_ as the prefix for all tables in your WordPress database. If your WordPress site is using the default database prefix, then it makes it easier for hackers to guess what your table name is. This is why we recommend changing it.

You can change your database prefix by following our step by step tutorial on how to change WordPress database prefix to improve security.

Note: This can break your site if it’s not done properly. Only proceed, if you feel comfortable with your coding skills.

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Password Protect WordPress Admin and Login Page

Password protecting wp-admin

Normally, hackers can request your wp-admin folder and login page without any restriction. This allows hackers to try their hacking tricks or run DDoS attacks.

You can add additional password protection on a server side which will effectively block those requests.

Follow our step-by-step instructions on how to password protect your WordPress admin (wp-admin) directory.

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Disable Directory Indexing and Browsing

Directory browsing

Directory browsing can be used by hackers to find out if you have any files with known vulnerabilities, so they can take advantage of these files to gain access.

Directory browsing can also be used by other people to look into your files, copy images, find out your directory structure, and other information. This is why it is highly recommended that you turn off directory indexing and browsing.

You need to connect to your website using FTP or cPanel’s file manager. Next, locate the .htaccess file in your website’s root directory. If you cannot see it there, then refer to our guide on why you can’t see .htaccess file in WordPress.

After that, you need to add the following line at the end of the .htaccess file:

Options -Indexes

Don’t forget to save and upload .htaccess file back to your site. For more on this topic, see our article on how to disable directory browsing in WordPress.

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Disable XML-RPC in WordPress

XML-RPC was enabled by default in WordPress 3.5 because it helps connecting your WordPress site with web and mobile apps.

However because of it’s powerful nature, XML-RPC can significantly amplify the brute-force attacks.

For example, traditionally if a hacker wanted to try 500 different passwords on your website, they would have to make 500 separate login attempts which will be caught and blocked by the login lockdown plugin.

But with XML-RPC, a hacker can use the system.multicall function to try thousands of password with say 20 or 50 requests.

This is why if you’re not using XML-RPC, we recommend that you disable it.

There are 3 ways to disable XML-RPC in WordPress, and we have covered all of them in our step by step tutorial on how to disable XML-RPC in WordPress.

Tip: The .htaccess method is the best one because it’s the least resource intensive.

If you’re using the web-application firewall mentioned earlier, then this can be taken care of by the firewall.

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Automatically log out Idle Users in WordPress

Logged in users can sometimes wander away from screen, and this poses a security risk. Someone can hijack their session, change passwords, or make changes to their account.

This is why many banking and financial sites automatically log out an inactive user. You can implement similar functionality on your WordPress site as well.

You will need to install and activate the Idle User Logout plugin. Upon activation, visit Settings » Idle User Logout page to configure plugin settings.

Logout idle user

Simply set the time duration and uncheck the box next to ‘Disable in wp admin’ option for better security. Don’t forget to click on the save changes button to store your settings.

For more detailed instructions, see our guide on how to automatically log out idle users in WordPress.

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Add Security Questions to WordPress Login Screen

Security questions on login screen

Adding a security question to your WordPress login screen makes it even harder for someone to get unauthorized access.

You can add security questions by installing the WP Security Questions plugin. Upon activation, you need to visit Settings » Security Questions page to configure the plugin settings.

For more detailed instructions, see our tutorial on how to add security questions to WordPress login screen.

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Fixing a Hacked WordPress Site

Many WordPress users don’t realize the importance of backups and website security until their website is hacked.

Cleaning up a WordPress site can be very difficult and time consuming. Our first advice would be to let a professional take care of it.

Hackers install backdoors on affected sites, and if these backdoors are not fixed properly, then your website will likely get hacked again.

Allowing a professional security company like Sucuri to fix your website will ensure that your site is safe to use again. It will also protect you against any future attacks.

For the adventurous and DIY users, we have compiled a step by step guide on fixing a hacked WordPress site.

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That’s all, we hope this article helped you learn the top WordPress security best practices as well as discover the best WordPress security plugins for your website.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

24 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Business Websites in 2017

24 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Business Websites in 2017

Many of our users are business owners who often ask us for plugin suggestions. Having the right set of tools can help you take your business to the next level. In this article, we will share the must WordPress plugins for business websites in 2017.

Business tools for WordPress Site Owners

1. OptinMonster

OptinMonster

OptinMonster is the most popular conversion rate optimization software. It allows you to convert abandoning website visitors into email subscribers. If you want to grow your email list, then this is a must have WordPress plugin in 2017. Read these case studies to see how much success other businesses are having by using OptinMonster.

2. WPForms

WPForms

As a business owner, allowing your customers to contact you should be your top priority. WPForms is the most beginner friendly contact form plugin for WordPress. This drag & drop online form builder allows you to easily create contact forms, email subscription forms, order forms, payment forms, and other type of online forms with just a few clicks.

We use it on WPBeginner and all of our other sites. There’s a free WPForms Lite version available for those who are looking for a simple solution.

If you want more advanced features, then get the Pro version. Use this WPForms coupon to get 10% off your purchase.

3. MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights

MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It allows you to connect your website with Google Analytics, so you can learn more about your website visitors such as where are they coming from and what are they doing on your website.

You can then optimize your site accordingly to improve your earnings. We have detailed guides on how to install Google Analytics in WordPress and how to use Google Analytics.

MonsterInsights also has a free version. If you would like to take advantage of the advanced features, then you should get the Pro version. Use this MonsterInsights coupon to get 10% off your purchase.

4. Constant Contact

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is one of the best email marketing service providers. It allows you to build an email lists and send emails to your subscribers.

It is by far the most beginner friendly platform, with quick and easy setup. It comes with built-in tools to add signup forms and also works well with lead generation software like OptinMonster.

5. Sucuri

Sucuri

Security is going to be a big concern for online business owners in 2017. Sucuri’s web application firewall is probably one of the best protection you can get for your site.

They monitor and protect your site from DDoS, malware threats, XSS attacks, brute force attacks, and basically every other type of attack.

If you don’t have a firewall on your website, then add one today.

6. BackupBuddy

BackupBuddy

While we’re talking about security, there’s no better security than having a reliable backup system.

As a business owner, you cannot afford to lose your business and customer data in case of a hardware failure or an attack on your host’s servers. The first thing you should setup on all your WordPress sites is a backup plugin. We recommend using BackupBuddy because it is one of the most reliable and easiest way to backup and restore your WordPress sites with just a few clicks.

7. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO (formerly known as WordPress SEO by Yoast) is one of the most popular WordPress plugins. It allows you to optimize your WordPress site for search engines.

It not only helps you add meta tags, it optimizes your site as a whole. We have a complete step by step guide on how to install and setup WordPress SEO by Yoast.

8. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache

Speed is one of the most important SEO factors. Faster websites rank higher in Google, this means more visitors for your business website and more conversions.

W3 Total Cache allows you to serve compressed and cached files to your visitors. This reduces the load on your server and your website becomes faster. Take a look at our beginners guide on how to install and setup W3 Total Cache.

9. MaxCDN

MaxCDN

Images and other static content on a website take the longest time to load. If you want to make your website even faster, then you will need to use a CDN to deliver your static files. MaxCDN is the most reliable CDN service, and it integrates easily with WordPress. See our guide on how to install and setup WordPress CDN solution MaxCDN on your site.

10. Envira Gallery

Envira Gallery

While you can easily create image galleries in WordPress without using a plugin, these galleries are fairly basic. Envira Gallery allows you to create beautiful responsive galleries in WordPress.

You can create multiple galleries, add them anywhere on your site, create albums, open images in lightbox popups, and much more. Take a look at our tutorial on how to easily create responsive WordPress image galleries with Envira.

11. Soliloquy

Soliloquy

Sliders on your WordPress landing pages allow you to easily display your featured content, products, and announcements in a beautiful interactive way. Soliloquy is the best WordPress slider in the market. It allows you to easily create your own beautiful sliders and add them anywhere on your WordPress site. Check out our tutorial on how to create responsive WordPress slider with Soliloquy.

12. Buffer

Buffer

Keeping your followers engaged on social media requires you to frequently post updates. Buffer allows you to easily schedule your posts for the entire day.

This allows you to keep your social media accounts active while you work on other things. See our tutorial on how to schedule WordPress posts for social media with BufferApp.

13. IFTTT

IFTTT

As a smart business owner, you need to make the most out of your time, but you cannot be everywhere all the time.

This is where IFTTT comes in. It allows you to put the internet to work for you. Take a look at our tutorial on how to automate WordPress and social media with IFTTT.

14. Quick and Easy FAQs

Adding FAQs section in WordPress

When launching a new product or website, you may need to add a FAQs section in WordPress. You can add a new page with all the frequently asked questions (FAQs), but in most cases FAQs grows as your product evolves and as your customer base grows.

By adding the FAQ section, you can significantly reduce your support overhead and improve conversion. Take a look at how to add a FAQs section in WordPress.

15. Insert Headers and Footers

Insert Header and Footer

While managing your WordPress sites, you may sometimes need to add code snippets to your WordPress site’s header or footer. This means you will have to edit the theme files which could get messy and break up your WordPress theme. Insert Headers and Footer allows you to easily add code snippets to your WordPress site without editing your theme files. Take a look at our tutorial on how to add header and footer code in WordPress.

16. CSS Hero

CSS Hero

WordPress themes rely on CSS for the visual appearance of your website. If you want to make customization to your theme, then you will have to learn CSS. This can be time consuming for a business owner.

CSS Hero is a WordPress plugin that allows you to customize any WordPress theme without writing a single line of code. Check out our review of how CSS Hero makes WordPress customization easy for more information.

17. Beaver Builder

Beaver Builder

As a business owner you may soon realize that placing things differently on your pages can result into more conversions and sales. But how do you create those landing pages without learning to code?

Beaver Builder is a powerful drag and drop page builder tool for WordPress. It allows you to easily create your own page layouts using a simple user interface. See our comparison of the best drag and drop page builders for WordPress for more information.

18. Google Apps for Work

Google Apps for Work

Google Apps for Work is a suite of web applications like email, docs, spreadsheets, etc. Created by Google, this powerful suite of office applications is cheaper, easy to deploy, and hassle free. Most importantly, it allows you to use your own business domain name for emails.

19. Freshbooks

Freshbooks

Freshbooks is a cloud based accounting software for professionals, freelancers, and agencies. It allows you to easily send invoices to clients, receive payments, and manage your finances. Take a look at our article about creating invoices for clients using WordPress.

20. SEMRush

SEMrush

As a business owner, you need data to find out what your competitors are doing for their websites. SEMRush allows you to look at the keywords where your competitors are ranking. You can checkout their paid keywords as well as their organic traffic. This way you can optimize your own content and marketing strategy. Also checkout our list of best WordPress SEO plugins and tools that you should use.

21. All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets

All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets are special markup that you can add to your content and describe your content more precisely to search engines. This information is then used by search engines to show your content differently. For example, star ratings below your product listings, maps when someone searches for your business, and so on. All in One Schema.org rich snippets plugin provides you an easy user interface to generate that markup and use it in your WordPress posts and pages.

Check our guide on how to add rich snippets in WordPress.

22. BirchPress

BirchPress

If you need a solution for your business website where your users can book and pay for appointments, then BirchPress is the solution for you. It allows you to easily add a complete online booking system to your WordPress site.

You may also want to see our guide on 5 best WordPress appointment and booking plugins.

23. Testimonials Widget

Testimonials allow you to showcase your past clients and their feedback about your services of products. People love to hear what others have to say about your business. It helps you gain trust and build lasting relationships with your clients. Testimonials Widgets makes it super simple to add customer testimonials on your WordPress site.

24. Slack

Slack

Slack is a team management, productivity and communication tool. We use it to communicate with our team spread across different timezones and locations. Slack is more convenient than email, and it can integrate with tons of other online tools you may be using. See our guide on how to integrate Slack with WordPress for more information.

We hope this article helped you find some of the best WordPress plugins for your business website. You may also want to take a look at our guide on 25 most common WordPress mistakes that you want to avoid.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Sources by : WPBeginner

Selecting the Perfect WordPress Theme – 9 Things You Should Consider

Selecting the Perfect WordPress Theme – 9 Things You Should Consider

Most beginners feel overwhelmed when it comes to selecting a theme for their WordPress site. There are thousands of free and paid options. Each theme looks better than the other. How do you choose the best theme for WordPress? In this article, we will share the 9 things you should consider, so you can choose the best WordPress theme for your site.

Selecting the perfect theme for Your WordPress site

Why You Should be Careful When Choosing a WordPress Theme?

WordPress is used to create all kind of websites. That’s why each theme caters to a different market.

Your WordPress theme should complement the content of your website. For example, if you are starting a blog on politics or social issues, then you would want a theme that improves readability.

Readability

Many WordPress themes come with tons of customization options. If not coded properly, these options can make it difficult for you to change themes or use other WordPress plugins. You will be locked into that theme or will have to pay a developer to help you switch.

On the other hand, some WordPress themes that look really great can actually make your website incredibly slow. No one likes slow websites, particularly Google, which prefers to rank faster websites higher.

Your theme is the face of your WordPress site and plays an important role in how users as well as search engines perceive it.

You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘All that glitters is not gold’.

Having said that, let’s take a look at the steps you can take to make sure that you select the best theme for your WordPress site.

1. Strive for Simplicity

Simplicity is the best rule in design

Many WordPress themes come with lots of colors, complex layouts, flashy animations, etc. Sometimes you may need those things, but in most cases you don’t really need all that.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
~ Leonardo da Vinci

Look for a theme that has a design layout that helps you support your goal. It needs to look good but without compromising on usability and simplicity.

Make sure that the theme’s presentation style is not overly complicated. The purpose of web design is to help users find information they need and to help site owners achieve their goals at the same time.

If a theme looks great but does not help you get new business or subscribers, then it is not a good theme. It is also not a good theme when your users can’t really find their way around your website.

Take a look at these 37 simple WordPress themes for some inspiration.

2. Responsive is Not Optional Anymore

Choose a Responsive WordPress Theme

Responsive themes adjust their layout across different screen sizes and devices.

A significant number of web traffic is generated from mobile and other handheld devices. Depending on your website’s topics, this number could go even higher than 50% of your traffic.

Google shows mobile friendly websites on top in their mobile search results. Regardless of your site’s topics and demographics, all websites need to be responsive and fully mobile ready.

Most WordPress themes are already responsive by default. But there are still sellers who are selling fixed width layouts that are not mobile friendly at all. Make sure that the theme you are choosing for your website is mobile friendly.

Testing a Theme for Mobile Readiness

The easiest way to test whether a theme is responsive or not is by resizing your browser screen. As you resize your browser screen, you will notice that the theme’s layout will adjust itself to the screen width.

For more thorough testing you can copy the URL of theme’s demo page and paste it in Google’s Mobile Friendly Test page.

Testing a responsive theme against Google Mobile Friendly Test

Please note that this test will show some warnings, regardless of how good a theme is. Lookout for any red flags like text too small, content wider than screen, etc.

3. Browser Compatibility

Browser compatability testing

Your users will be using different browsers. Your theme may look perfect on the browser you use, but there might be something broken in other browsers.

This is where browser compatibility comes in. Most WordPress theme developers test their themes rigorously by using sophisticated browser compatibility testing tools.

They may clearly mention this on their website. But if they don’t, then you can always run some basic tests to check the theme on different browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.

Don’t forget to test on different browsers on mobile as well.

4. Supported Plugins

Supported plugins

The real power of WordPress comes with WordPress plugins. These plugins make it possible for you to do anything with your WordPress site.

While there are plenty of WordPress plugins, some are must-have WordPress plugins for every websites. Like Gravity Forms, Yoast SEO, W3 Total Cache, etc.

Make sure that your WordPress theme supports all popular plugins. If you are unsure, ask theme developer about it.

5. Translation + Multilingual Ready

Multilingual and translation ready WordPress themes

A large number of WordPress sites are not in the English language. You may be creating a website in a language other than English. Maybe you have plans to create a multilingual WordPress site in the future.

Make sure that your WordPress theme is translation ready and supports multilingual WordPress plugins.

6. Page Builders

Drag and drop page builders for WordPress themes

Page builders are WordPress plugins that allow you to create page layouts using drag and drop user interface.

Many premium WordPress themes come with page builders pre-installed. Some of these page builders are used by that theme developer only.

Using such a page builder to create landing pages can produce a lot of unwanted code. If you ever switch the theme, then those pages will require a lot of cleaning up.

You should choose themes that are shipping with one of the most used page builder plugins. You can also purchase these page-builders separately to use with other themes as well.

7. Support Options for When You Need Help

Support for your WordPress theme

One downside of using a free WordPress theme is that there is no guaranteed support. While some developers provide excellent support for their free themes, many free themes have no support option.

If you mess up your WordPress theme, then you will have to figure it out on your own. You can also end up paying a third-party developer to solve the tiniest problems.

Make sure that you select a WordPress theme that has good documentation and support option. Most premium WordPress themes offer detailed documentation with 1 year of email based support.

8. SEO Friendliness

Check your theme for SEO friendliness

Your WordPress theme plays a crucial role in your site’s SEO friendliness. A good looking theme can still generate poorly coded HTML, this could affect your site’s performance on search engines.

It could be difficult for beginners to analyze a theme’s source code on their own. This is why many premium WordPress theme developers will let you know that their pages are optimized for SEO.

You can also take a look to see if the page generates proper HTML5 by checking it with W3C Markup Validation service. However, please note that the W3C tool will generate many warnings which are nothing to be worried about.

9. Ratings and Reviews

Check ratings and reviews for a WordPress theme

Another solid indicator of a WordPress theme’s quality is ratings and reviews provided by their users. If the theme is sold on a third-party marketplace, then you will see customer reviews.

For free WordPress themes, you will find the ratings section just below the download button. It will show the number of reviews and stars given by users. If you click on 5 stars, then it will show you all the reviews that gave the theme 5 stars.

Read theme reviews and ratings by other users

Almost all WordPress themes can get a few bad reviews. but if the number of bad reviews is unusually high, then you should read them carefully.

Our Recommendations

There are plenty of free WordPress themes available with new ones being released on a daily basis. That’s why we regularly publish the list of our favorite free themes in our showcase section.

Some of the popular items in our theme showcase are:

However, as we have mentioned above that support is one of the most important factor to consider when selecting a theme. Free WordPress themes do not come with guaranteed support and updates.

Most premium WordPress themes offer 1 year of support and updates. Here are some of the theme shops that we highly recommend.

How to Install a Theme in WordPress

Installing a WordPress theme is really simple. First you need to download the theme’s zip file to your computer.

After that login to your WordPress admin area and go to Appearance » Themes page.

Themes page in WordPress admin area

On top of the themes page, you need to click on the Add New link.

This will take you to the add new theme page. You can use this page to look for free themes to install. But since we have already downloaded the theme, you need to just click on Upload theme link at the top.

Upload a theme

You will now see the theme upload box. Click on choose file button to select the theme zip file you downloaded to your computer earlier and then click on the Install now button.

Upload and install theme zip file

WordPress will now upload the theme from your computer to your website and install it for you. Once it is done, you will see a success message with links to preview or activate the theme.

Theme installation successful

If you do not want to use a theme right away, then you can click on the live preview button to test out the theme without activating it.

Please note that you will have to activate a theme in order to use it on your website.

For more detailed instructions, see our beginner’s guide on how to install a WordPress theme.

How to Safely Change WordPress Themes

For new WordPress sites, you can just select the perfect theme and install it on your site. However, if you have a established WordPress site, then you need to properly switch your theme to avoid any effect on your site’s performance and SEO.

First you need to understand what happens to a WordPress site when you switch themes. Here is our guide on what happens when you switch your WordPress theme.

Some settings on your WordPress site will disappear and will not automatically apply to your new theme. You need to understand these things, and how you can put them back on your new theme.

We have compiled a handy checklist of things you must do before changing WordPress themes.

After that you need to follow the instructions in our tutorial on how to properly switch WordPress themes on your site.

We hope this article helped you select the perfect theme for your WordPress site. You may also want to see our list of must have WordPress plugins for business websites.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Sources by  : WPBeginner

How to Start an Online Store in 2017 (Step by Step)

How to Start an Online Store in 2017 (Step by Step)

Do you want to start your own online store? We know that building an online store can be a terrifying thought especially when you are not a techy. Well, you’re not alone. After helping hundreds of users start their online store, we have decided to create the most comprehensive guide on how to build your online store with WordPress (step by step)

How to build an online store

What Do You Need to Start an Online Store?

There had never been a better time to start an online business than today.

Anyone with a computer can get started within a matter of minutes and without acquiring any special skills.

The three things you need to start an online store are:

  1. A domain name idea (this will be the name of your online store i.e wpbeginner.com)
  2. A web hosting account (this is where your website lives on the internet)
  3. Your undivided attention for 30 minutes.

Yep, it is really that simple.

You can setup your own online store with WordPress in less than 30 minutes and we’ll walk you through each step of the process.

In this tutorial, we will cover:

  • How to Register a Domain Name for Free
  • How to Choose the Best Web Hosting
  • How to Get a SSL Certificate for Free (required for accepting payments)
  • How to Install WordPress
  • How to Create a WooCommerce store
  • How to Add Products in your Online Store
  • How to Select and Customize Your Theme
  • How to Extend Your Online Store with Plugins
  • Learning to Learn WordPress & Grow Your Business

Ready? Let’s get started.

Video Tutorial

If you don’t like the video or need more instructions, then continue reading.

Step 1: Setting up Your Online Store Platform

The biggest mistake most users make is not choosing the right platform for their online store.

Thankfully you’re here, so you won’t be making that mistake.

There are two popular eCommerce platforms that we recommend: Shopify or WordPress + WooCommerce.

Shopify is a fully hosted eCommerce solution that starts at $29 / month. It’s a hassle-free solution where you just login and start selling. The downside to Shopify is that it gets quite expensive, and your payment options are limited unless you pay additional fees.

This is why most users choose WordPress + WooCommerce because of the flexibility it offers. It does require some setup, but it’s worth doing it for the long run. WooCommerce is the world’s largest eCommerce platform.

In this tutorial, we will walk you through how to setup an online store in WordPress using WooCommerce.

To setup your store, you need to have a domain name, web hosting, and a SSL certificate.

A domain name is your website’s address on the internet. It is what users will type in their browsers to reach your website (for example: google.com or wpbeginner.com).

Web hosting is where your website lives on the internet. It’s your website’s house on the internet. Every website on the internet needs web hosting.

SSL certificate adds a special security layer on your website, so you can accept sensitive information such as credit card numbers and other personal information. This is required for you to accept credit card payments on your website.

Normally a domain name costs around $14.99 / year, web hosting costs around $7.99 / month, and SSL certificate costs around $69.99 / year.

That’s a lot of startup cost.

Thankfully, Bluehost, an official WordPress and WooCommerce recommended hosting provider, has agreed to offer our users a free domain name, free SSL certificate, and a discount on web hosting.

Basically, you can get started for $12.95 / month.

→ Click here to Claim this Exclusive Bluehost offer ←

Bluehost is one of the oldest web hosting companies, started in 1996 (that’s before Google). They are also the largest brand name when it comes to WordPress hosting because they host millions of websites including our own.

NOTE: At WPBeginner we believe in transparency. If you sign up with Bluehost using our referral link, we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you (in fact, you will save money and get a free domain). We would get this commission for recommending just about any WordPress hosting company, but we only recommend products that we use personally use and believe will add value to our readers.

Let’s go ahead and purchase your domain + hosting + SSL.

Open up Bluehost in a new window using this link and follow along.

First thing you need to do is click on the green Get Started Now button to get started.

Bluehost Signup

On the next screen, select the plan that you need (starter and plus are the most popular).

After that, you will be asked to enter the domain name for your website.

Choose domain

Lastly, you will need to add your account information and finalize the package info to complete the process. On this screen, you will see optional extras that you can purchase.

It’s entirely up to you whether or not you purchase these, but we generally don’t recommend purchasing these. You can always add them later on, if you decide that you need them.

Hosting addons

Once completed, you will receive an email with details on how to login to your web hosting control panel (cPanel). This is where you manage everything from support, emails, among other things.

Go ahead and login to your cPanel. You will be greeted with a popup informing you that WordPress with WooCommerce is pre-installed on your website.

Bluehost first login

You just need to click on ‘Login to your site’ button, and it will take you to your WordPress site’s dashboard.

Congrats, you have finished setting up hosting and domain part.

The next step is to setup your WordPress site and then your online store.

Step 2. Setting up WordPress

Bluehost has automatically installed WordPress and WooCommerce on your website.

When you first login to WordPress, you will see a welcome message. You will be asked what kind of website you want to set up.

Welcome screen

Go ahead and click on ‘I don’t need help’ link. Don’t worry we will walk you through all the necessary steps.

Closing the setup wizard will show your WordPress admin dashboard which looks like this:

WordPress admin dashboard

First, you need to visit Settings » General page to setup your WordPress site title and description.

Set your WordPress site title and description

Setting up HTTPS to Use SSL

Your WordPress hosting package came with a free SSL Certificate. This certificate is pre-installed for your domain name. However, your WordPress site needs to be configured, so it loads as https vs http.

On the Settings » General page, you need to change your WordPress Address and Site Address to use https instead of http.

Change WordPress URL to use HTTPS

Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the save changes button to store your settings.

Your basic WordPress setup is complete. Now it is time to setup your online store.

Step 3. Setting up Your WooCommerce Store

Before you can start selling, there are a few things like currency, payments, and shipping information that you need to set up.

You will be seeing a ‘Welcome to WooCommerce’ notification on your WordPress admin pages. Go ahead and click on the ‘Run setup wizard’ button in the notification.

Run WooCommerce setup wizard

This will launch the WooCommerce setup wizard where you need to click on the ‘Let’s go’ button to get started.

WooCommerce setup wizard step 1

WooCommerce needs few essential pages for cart, account, shop, and checkout. You can click on the continue button to automatically create these pages.

WooCommerce pages

This will bring you to the next step.

Now you will need to tell WooCommerce where your store is located and which currency and unit measures to use.

Choosing locale and currency

After selecting your location and currency, click on the continue button to move on.

Next, you need to enter shipping and tax information.

WooCommerce shipping and tax information

WooCommerce can be used to sell both digital downloads and physical goods that need shipping.

You need to check the box if you will be shipping goods, or you can leave it unchecked if you will only be selling digital goods.

Next you need to answer the tax question. WooCommerce can help you automatically calculate and add taxes to your prices.

If you are not sure, then you can leave it unchecked. You can always add tax information later from WooCommerce settings.

Click on the continue button to move on.

Next, you will be asked to choose a payment method for your online store.

WooCommerce payment method

By default, WooCommerce comes with support for PayPal, PayPal Standard, and Stripe payment gateways. There are many other payment methods available for WooCommerce which you can install later if you need.

The easiest way to accept payment is using PayPal Standard.

Simply enter your PayPal email address and click on the continue button.

A lot of people including us, use both PayPal and Stripe. By using Stripe, you allow your users to enter their credit card information on the checkout page without having to leave your site and going to PayPal.

You can setup Stripe by following the instructions on the WooCommerce screen.

Once you’re done, your WooCommerce online store is all setup.

WooCommerce setup finished

You need to click on the ‘Return to WordPress dashboard’ link to exit the setup wizard.

After finishing the WooCommerce setup, you are now ready to add products to your online store.

Step 4. Adding Products to Your Online Store

Let’s start with adding the first product to your online store.

You need to visit Products » Add New page to add a new product.

Add new product

First, provide a title for your product and then some detailed description.

On the right hand column, you will see the ‘Product Categories’ box. Click on the ‘+Add New Product Category’ to create a category for this product. This allows you and your customers to sort and browse products easily.

Add product category

Scroll down a little and you will notice the Product Data box. This is where you will provide product related information like pricing, inventory, shipping etc.

Enter product data

Below product data box, you will see a box to add product short description. This short description will be used when users are viewing multiple products on a page.

Product short description

Lastly, on your right hand column you will see boxes to add a main product image and a product gallery.

Product images

Once you are satisfied with all the product information you have added, you can click on the Publish button to make it live on your website.

Repeat the process to add more products as needed.

Step 5. Select and Customize WordPress Theme

Themes control how your WordPress sites look to the users when they visit it. For a WooCommerce shop, they also control how your products are displayed.

There are thousands of paid and free WordPress themes available.

Your Bluehost hosting account, automatically installs the Storefront theme for your website. You will need to customize it to meet your needs.

Head over to Appearance » Customize page. This will launch theme customizer where you can change different theme settings.

Customizing your theme

If you don’t like the Storefront theme, then you can use another theme by visiting Appearance » Themes page.

Change theme

If you need help selecting a theme, then please refer to our guide on 9 things you should consider when selecting a perfect WordPress theme.

Step 6. Extend Your Online Store With Plugins

Now that you have your online store ready, you probably want to get started with adding other usual elements on your website such as a contact form, about page, and more.

To further customize WordPress and add features like contact forms, galleries, sliders, etc, you need to use WordPress plugins.

WordPress plugins are apps that allow you to add new features to your website.

There are over 46,000 WordPress plugins available. At WPBeginner, we feature the best WordPress plugins to help you add the functionality that you need.

We have a step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Here’s a list of 24 must have WordPress plugins for business websites and another one with 20+ best free WooCommerce plugins.

Often readers ask us which plugins do you use on your website. You can check out our Blueprint to see the list of plugins and tools that we use.

Learning WordPress to Grow Your Online Business

WordPress is incredibly powerful and WPBeginner is the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners.

At WPBeginner, our main goal is to provide cutting-edge helpful WordPress tutorials that are easy to understand even for non-techy WordPress website owners (see more about us).

You can also subscribe to WPBeginner’s YouTube Channel where we regularly share video tutorials to help you learn WordPress.

We also have a guide to show users how to make the most out of WPBeginner’s free resources.

Many of our users type their question in Google and just add wpbeginner at the end of it. This shows them related article from WPBeginner.

We hope that this tutorial helped you learn how to build an online store. You may also want to see these 19 actionable tips to drive traffic to your new WordPress site.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Sources by : WPBeginner

Ultimate Guide: How to Start a WordPress Blog (Step by Step)

Ultimate Guide: How to Start a WordPress Blog (Step by Step)

Do you want to start a WordPress blog the right way? We know that starting a blog can be a terrifying thought specially when you are not geeky. Guess what – you are not alone. Having helped over 130,000+ users start a blog, we have decided to create the most comprehensive guide on how to start a WordPress blog without any technical knowledge.

How to Start a WordPress Blog

The process is easy to follow whether you are 20 years old or 60 years old. However if you need help, our expert team will help you setup your blog for free. → Click Here to Get Your Free WordPress Blog Setup! ←

What do you need to start a WordPress blog?

There are three things you need to start a WordPress blog:

  1. A domain name idea (this will be the name of your blog i.e wpbeginner.com)
  2. A web hosting account (this is where your website live on the internet)
  3. Your undivided attention for 30 minutes.

Yes, you read it right. You can start a blog from scratch in less than 30 minutes, and we will walk you through the whole process, step by step.

In this tutorial, we will cover:

  • How to Register a Domain Name for Free
  • How to Choose the Best Web Hosting
  • How to Install WordPress
  • How to Change Your Theme
  • How to Write Your First Blog Post
  • How to Customize WordPress with Plugins
  • Resources to Learn WordPress

Ready? Let’s get started.

Step 1. Setup

The biggest mistake beginners make when starting a blog is choosing the wrong blogging platform. Thankfully you’re here, so you won’t be making that mistake.

For 95% of users, it makes more sense to use WordPress.org also known as self-hosted WordPress. Why? Because it is free to use, you can install plugins, customize your site design, and most importantly make money from your site without any restrictions (see the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org).

Now you have probably heard that WordPress is free.

You might be wondering why is it free? What’s the catch?

There’s no catch. It’s free because you have to do the setup and host it yourself.

In other words, you need a domain name and web hosting.

A domain name is what people type to get to your website. It’s your website’s address on the internet. Think google.com or wpbeginner.com

Web hosting is where your website live. It’s your website’s house on the internet. Every website needs web hosting.

A domain name typically costs $14.99 / year, and web hosting normally costs $7.99 / month.

That’s a lot for beginners who are just starting out.

Thankfully, Bluehost, an official WordPress recommended hosting provider, has agreed to offer our users a free domain name and over 60% off on web hosting.

→ Click here to Claim this Exclusive Bluehost offer ←

Bluehost is one of the oldest web hosting companies, started in 1996 (that’s before Google). They are also the largest brand name when it comes to WordPress hosting because they host millions of websites including our own.

On top of all this, Bluehost has been working with WordPress since 2005, and they are committed to giving back. That’s why they have promised us that if you cannot get your blog online within 30 minutes by following this tutorial, then our expert team will complete the process for you without any cost. They will compensate us, so you don’t have to. Contact us for free blog setup help.

NOTE: At WPBeginner we believe in transparency. If you sign up with Bluehost using our referral link, we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you (in fact, you will save money and get a free domain). We would get this commission for recommending just about any WordPress hosting company, but we only recommend products that we use personally use and believe will add value to our readers.

Let’s go ahead and purchase your domain + hosting.

Open up Bluehost in a new window and follow along.

First thing you need to do is click on the green Get Started Now button to get started.

Start with Bluehost

On the next screen, select the plan that you need (basic and plus are the most popular).

After that, you will be asked to enter the domain name for your website.

Select your Domain Name

Lastly, you will need to add your account information and finalize the package info to complete the process. On this screen, you will see optional extras that you can purchase. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you purchase these, but we generally don’t recommend purchasing these. You can always add them later on, if you decide that you need them.

Hosting Checkout

Once completed, you will receive an email with details on how to login to your web hosting control panel (cPanel). This is where you manage everything from support, emails, among other things. But most importantly, this is where you install WordPress.

Step 2. Install WordPress

In the cPanel, you will see dozens of small icons for different services and features. This can be a bit overwhelming, so ignore 95% of them because you will never need to use them.

Scroll down to the website section and click on the WordPress icon.

cPanel Install WordPress

You will be redirected to the Bluehost Marketplace Quick Install screen for WordPress. Click on the Get Started button.

On the next screen, you will be asked to select your domain name. Choose the domain from the dropdown and then click Next.

Enter your Domain Name - WordPress Setup

After that, you need to enter your Site Name, username, and a password for your site. You also need to check all the checkboxes and then click Install.

Install WordPress - Bluehost Marketplace

The QuickInstall will start installing WordPress. The marketplace will prompt you to browse WordPress themes, while WordPress is being installed.

No need to do that right now. We’ll show you how to get free WordPress themes in the next step.

Once WordPress is finished installing, you will see the success notice in the top header bar.

Bluehost WordPress Install Complete

Click on the Installation Complete link, and it will take you to the screen with your WordPress login URL and password.

Bluehost Marketplace - WordPress login details

Congratulations, you have created your WordPress site. That wasn’t too bad right.

Your WordPress login URL will look like this:

http://yoursite.com/wp-admin

Click on the WordPress login link to login to your dashboard.

Now we’re ready to customize your site’s appearance and start blogging.

Step 3. Selecting your WordPress Theme

The visual appearance of your WordPress blog is controlled by themes. When you first visit your blog, it will look something like this:

Default WordPress Theme

This is not very appealing to most people.

Customizing the look and feel of your blog is by far one of the most exciting and rewarding part in the journey of creating your WordPress site.

There are thousands of pre-made WordPress themes that you can install on your site. Some of them are free, while others are paid.

You can change your theme by going to your WordPress dashboard and clicking on Appearance » Themes.

Install WordPress Themes

Go ahead and click on the Add New button.

On the next screen, you will able to search from the 4100 free WordPress themes that are available in the official WordPress.org themes directory. You can sort by popular, latest, featured, as well as other feature filters (i.e industry, layout, etc).

Select a Theme

When you have found the theme that you like, simply bring your mouse on it, and it will show the Install button. Click on it and wait for the theme to be installed. After that, the install button will be replaced with an Activate button. You need to click on it to Activate the theme.

Install and Activate WordPress Theme

Once you have installed your theme, you can customize it by clicking on the Customize link under the Appearance menu.

If you need help selecting a theme, then please refer to our guide on 9 things you should consider when selecting a perfect WordPress theme.

Once you have selected your WordPress theme, you are now ready to create your first blog post.

Step 4. Creating Your First Blog Post

To write your first blog post, click on the Posts » Add New menu in your WordPress dashboard.

You will see an editor area where you can write your first blog post.

WordPress Blog Post Editor

Once you’re done writing, go ahead and click on the Publish button on the right to publish your first blog post to the world.

Publish Button

On the posts screen, you will notice several other sections such as Categories and Tags. You can use these to organize your blog posts. We have a great writeup on the difference between categories vs tags, which we highly recommend that you read.

To utilize all the features on the posts screen, you should read our article on how to add a new post in WordPress (video included).

Often beginners are confused between posts and pages menu in the WordPress dashboard. That’s why we have written a complete guide on the difference between posts vs pages in WordPress.

Step 5. Plugins & Customizations

Once you have written your first blog post, you probably want to get started with adding other usual elements on your website such as a contact form, about page, and more.

To further customize WordPress and add features like contact forms, galleries, sliders, etc, you need to use WordPress plugins.

WordPress plugins are apps that allow you to add new features to your website.

There are over 46,000 WordPress plugins available. At WPBeginner, we feature the best WordPress plugins to help you add the functionality that you need.

We have a step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Often readers ask us which plugins do you use on your website. You can check out our Blueprint to see the list of plugins and tools that we use.

Here’s a list of 24 must have WordPress plugins for business websites.

Step 6. Mastering WordPress

Business Learning and Support

WPBeginner is the largest free WordPress resource site for beginners.

At WPBeginner, our main goal is to provide cutting-edge helpful WordPress tutorials that are easy to understand for small businesses, bloggers, and non-techy WordPress website owners (see more about us).

To expand your WordPress knowledge, you should check out:

  • WPBeginner Dictionary – The best place for beginners to start and familiarize themselves with the WordPress lingo
  • WPBeginner Videos – New to WordPress? Watch these 23 videos to master WordPress.
  • WPBeginner Blog – The central place for all our WordPress tutorials.

You can also subscribe to WPBeginner’s YouTube Channel where we regularly share video tutorials to help you learn WordPress.

Lastly, you can use Google to type your question and add WPBeginner in front of it. Our users find this very helpful because you’ll likely find an answer to any WordPress questions that you have.

In case you don’t find an answer to your question, simply use our contact form to send us a message. We love helping users get started with WordPress.

We hope that you found our tutorial on how to start a WordPress blog to be helpful. You may also want to check out our article on 19 actionable tips to drive traffic to your new WordPress site.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

Sources by : WPBeginner