Sometimes people hear about WordPress and how you can use it to make a website, but after signing up for WordPress.com or setting up a self-hosted WordPress site, they’re disappointed to find they have a blog, not a website.
But I wanted a website, not a blog!
What you really get with WordPress is both a blog and a website but as standard, a WordPress site will default to a blog style. So for a new user it can look like they’ve made a mistake and WordPress doesn’t do what they want it to do.
What is a blog anyway?
A blog is a way of laying out a series of posts or articles in date order. It can be used as a diary, a news feed, or a way of sharing thoughts on a regular basis. The most recent entry is at the top of the list so visitors always see the most recent post.
How’s that different from a website?
Well, really a website and a blog aren’t actually different things. A blog is a type of website. A website is any collection of web pages that live within a web address.
Generally when people talk about a website they’re thinking of a collection of web pages about a particular topic, which are arranged by the owner in the structure of their choice.
So how do you get a website out of WordPress?
It’s really quite simple.
In WordPress you have posts and pages. Posts are the items you create to make up a blog – each post gets added to the blog in date order.
Pages are more static, they are arranged how you decide, not by date. Pages are the beginning of what turns your blog into a website.
Here’s what to do …
Create a new page that will be your homepage
Start by creating a page that will be your site home page. This page will probably contain a brief introduction to your or your company. It will be the starting point for your visitors. If you’re not sure how to create pages, take a look at the WordPress.com support pages or the WordPress.org support pages.
Set your new homepage as the start page for your site
Now you need to change the settings in WordPress so that when users arrive on your site they’ll see this new page rather than the blog page. There’s information on how to do this on the WordPress.com support pages or the WordPress.org support pages.
The basic principle in both cases is to find the setting “Front Page Displays”, where the default is Your Latest Posts (i.e. your blog) which you can change to A Static Page and choose the page you created. Now when users go to your site address they will see your homepage rather than your blog page.
Add other pages
Decide what other pages you need to have on your site. This will depend a lot on what your website is about. You’ll probably need the standard types of pages like an About page describing yourself or your business, and a Contact page where users can get in touch. You might need additional pages describing your services as well.
Once you’ve decided what pages you need, go ahead and create them in WordPress. Remember you can have sub-pages that live beneath other pages to structure your site neatly. E.g. you could have a Services page, with a sub-page beneath that gives more information about each service.
If you want to have a blog as part of your site, set a page to contain it
If you’d like to include a blog in your site, perhaps as a place to post the latest news and developments about your services, you can set a page within your site to hold the blog posts. You’ll need to create a page with a sensible title, e.g. Latest News, and then set that as the blog page. You don’t actually need to put any text on the page, just create it and set it as the blog page.
You’ll need to find the setting “Front Page Displays” setting again, and underneath where you set your Front Page to be your new homepage, there’s another option Posts Page which you should set to your new blog page.
Customise your menu
You can now choose to customise your site menu if you wish. WordPress will automatically build up a menu based on the pages you add, but if you would like to change this, you can create a custom menu so you can arrange items as you wish. You can also include links out of your site here if you need to.