WordPress is a great CMS with plugins and themes for just about every purpose. Launching a new WordPress website is easy and fast if your server is setup properly. Server software like Softaculous makes it easy to deploy a new installation of WordPress or many other web products in just a few clicks.
During setup, you will have the option to choose a Multisite installation (another great guide here). This option works best for a network of websites. Multisite allows the administrator(s) to share a single WordPress core installation, plugins, and themes and perform updates across the entire network.
Once WordPress is installed, here are a few recommendations:
Plugins allow you to improve features or add new features to the Wordpress installation. The plugin directory at WordPress is expansive and updated frequently, but it also hosts some aging plugins. Pay close attention to the popularity, rating, and last update to plugins.
- Disable and uninstall the Hello Dolly plugin. This is a legacy plugin that is a tribute to the early days of WordPress, but it’s basically useless.
- Disable and uninstall Akismet. This is a comment spam filter plugin, but it’s become increasingly difficult to setup, so I delete it and disable comments altogether.
- Install, activate, and setup Bulletproof Security. This will identify security issues, recommend fixes, and configure security settings to harden the site and server setup.
- Install and activate Disable Comments unless users should be allowed to comment on the site content.
- Install and activate Jetpack. This plugin comes with about 40 features that are powered by WordPress.com. It requires a login at WordPress.com to be activated.
- Install and activate Simple Custom CSS. This provides a way to easily style the site without opening and editing theme files.
- (Optional) Install and activate All-in-One SEO plugin.
- (Optional) Install and activate WP Super Cache plugin or W3 Total Cache (if your server has memcache installed). This helps significantly with site performance.
- Delete the Sample Post.
- Delete the Sample Page.
- Create a new home page or post, depending on how the site will be used. More on that here.
Choose a theme or framework based on how the site will be used, then configure and tweak as necessary. Similar to the Plugin directory, the Theme directory is expansive and updated frequently, but it also hosts some aging themes. Pay close attention to the popularity, rating, and last update to themes.
A couple of my favorite themes are Spacious and Responsive because they are both lightweight, responsive, and provide enough features without being too complex. For a repository of paid themes, Elegant Themes is a great resource that offers all their themes for a membership price.
For more advanced customization, you might consider using a framework like Genesis (paid) or Skeleton (free) instead of a theme. A framework provides the basic components to start building. An overview of other frameworks is available here.
If you use a framework or find the need to customize a theme heavily, consider creating a child theme so updates can be performed on the original theme.