How to make a website: A guide to simplifying development with WordPress

By IBM Cloud Education

  • Launch a new website or blog site rapidly while controlling costs
  • Simplify ongoing content management and streamline IT administration
  • Easily customize the design and functionality
  • Gain the flexibility to accommodate your deployment preferences — including LAMP virtual server or Kubernetes container deployments

Requests for new websites are often urgent. Your company’s marketing team needs to create a new microsite fast to support a rapidly approaching product launch. Or maybe your executives decide to construct a blog site so they can publish a steady stream of thought-leadership content ahead of an upcoming conference.

It’s your job to make it happen, right away. But what is the best approach for delivering a new site quickly while controlling costs and reducing ongoing management complexity?

You could start from scratch, designing and developing a new site from the ground up using internal personnel or an outside agency that specializes in website design. This approach might ultimately yield a site that looks great and provides advanced functionality. But it will likely be an expensive, time-consuming undertaking. 

Once launched, a completely custom-built site can also present significant management burdens. Your IT group might need to help content creators with basic tasks such as adding new blog posts, modifying existing pages, incorporating multimedia content, fine-tuning navigation, improving SEO and more. Supporting that kind of web operation can quickly sap your IT resources while reducing the agility of content teams.

Adopting a simple yet flexible content management platform might be a better solution. 

Ready for some hands-on exploration? To learn how to implement WordPress in an enterprise environment, you can try this simple tutorial from IBM for deploying WordPress on a LAMP-based virtual server using IBM Cloud™ Virtual Servers.

 

What is WordPress?

Introduced in 2003, WordPress today is an extremely popular, open source content management platform used for creating websites, blog sites and even apps. In fact, approximately 30 percent of the web uses WordPress.

WordPress offers several important benefits for both content creators and IT administrators. For example, it provides a high degree of flexibility without requiring extensive design or development work. It’s also simple to use and manage. And importantly, WordPress supports a variety of deployment scenarios so you can integrate this platform into your environment according to your architectural preferences.

 

Simplify development

Probably the clearest advantage of adopting WordPress for your website or blog site is the platform’s ease of use. Content creators can quickly learn how to assemble new pages or blog posts and edit existing ones. They can add images or other media, incorporate links and more — all with just a few clicks. If they choose to use the visual editor, no HTML or other coding is required. 

For slightly more advanced users, or people assigned to daily administration, the WordPress interface makes it easy to accomplish a variety of other tasks, including swapping themes, approving visitor comments to blog sites and reviewing site statistics. If you incorporate additional plug-ins, users can fine-tune SEO content and run more detailed analytics from within the same, single interface.

 

Enhance flexibility

WordPress provides extensive options for modifying both the look and feel and the functionality of a site. The requesting business group can choose from thousands of design themes. Themes are downloadable folders that contain all the PHP files, style sheets and other files you need to get started. These templated designs can help you dramatically accelerate creation of anything from a simple blog site to a full-fledged e-commerce site. Many themes are free but some offer a paid version with more extensive capabilities.

WordPress also has a massive plug-in ecosystem. You can select and easily install plug-ins to enhance your WordPress site’s functionality. Plug-ins can help you incorporate a contact form, automate the preparation of thumbnail images, improve SEO, bolster security, generate extensive site reports and more. Like the themes, many plug-ins are free with paid premium options. 

Developers can further customize WordPress in several ways. For example, while content creators can choose to avoid using any HTML to build new pages, anyone with HTML programming skills can make HTML changes to pages and posts easily from a tab within the main admin interface. You can also customize themes by modifying CSS (cascading style sheet) files. To implement new functionality, you can create your own plug-ins, or use custom hooks and callbacks with existing ones.

While you probably shouldn’t edit the core WordPress application files, there are also PHP files you can modify. For example, you can alter configuration and function files to change how WordPress behaves.

 

Explore deployment options

Many small companies and individuals who use WordPress simply install the platform through their web hosting provider. If your provider supports the recent versions of PHP and MySQL plus HTTPS, you can run WordPress on that host site.

Current WordPress requirements

  • PHP version 7.2 or greater
  • MySQL version 5.6 or greater; or MariaDB version 10.0 or greater
  • HTTPS support

If you decide to install WordPress in your own enterprise environment, however, you have options. For example, you could install WordPress on a LAMP-based virtual server. LAMP — which stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP — is a well-established, proven technology that is often used for building dynamic websites. Installing WordPress on a LAMP-based virtual server enables you to speed deployment and maintain tight security.

 

WordPress on LAMP architecture

Architecture for deploying WordPress on LAMP

 

Running WordPress on a LAMP-based virtual server in the cloud can eliminate the need to manage the physical server and its hypervisors and hosts. However, administrators would still have to scale the environment as requirements change. For example, an administrator would need to replicate and deploy new virtual servers to handle growth.

Another option is to install WordPress in a container using a container orchestration system such as Kubernetes. A container enables you to package an application and all its dependencies so you can seamlessly move the application among environments. Unlike virtual machines, containers do not include a guest operating system. As a result, they are lightweight, portable and efficient. Using a container for WordPress can make it easy for you to move your WordPress installation to the cloud at some point down the road. 

Kubernetes automation also simplifies deployment, scaling and management of containerized applications. As utilization increases for the pod that houses your WordPress container, Kubernetes automatically spins up replicas to share the load. It is simpler to scale resources in Kubernetes than to replicate a virtual server to accommodate growth. Kubernetes can also protect your site against downtime, automatically starting another WordPress container if a server with your WordPress container goes down. (Learn how to host WordPress from the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service.)

What do you need to install WordPress in your environment? Beyond LAMP components, Kubernetes or whatever other platform technologies you choose, you need only: access to your web server, the ability to create MySQL databases, a text editor, an FTP client and a web browser.

 

Streamline ongoing management

Once you install WordPress in your own environment, managing the application itself is relatively straightforward. Design- and content-related tasks — such as adding new pages, altering themes and moderating comments from site visitors — can generally be handled by content creation teams.

You might want to assign an IT administrator the task of updating software — including the WordPress core application, and whatever themes and plug-ins you use. The massive popularity of WordPress for blogs and websites has made this open source platform a target for hackers. Keeping the application, themes and plug-ins up to date is vital for reducing vulnerabilities and protecting against evolving threats. 

 

Explore further

WordPress is among the most popular, and simplest, content management platforms for creating blog sites and websites. In many cases, it might be the right fit for deploying a new site rapidly and inexpensively, providing users with an easy way to modify and manage the site while controlling IT administrative complexity.

Of course, WordPress is not the only content management platform for websites and blog sites. Drupal, for example, is an alternative that can offer more advanced functionality, although it adds some complexity. (Learn more about WordPress versus Drupal.)

Ready for some hands-on exploration? To learn how to implement WordPress in an enterprise environment, IBM offers a simple tutorial for deploying WordPress on a LAMP-based virtual server using IBM Cloud Virtual Servers.