2. Search the web for layout ideas. If you're designing a site to advertise your business, look at similar company's pages. Obviously Google is an essential search tool, but you may want to consult business associations related to your interests. They may provide guidelines for websites or at least list links to members' websites. This step taught me which elements were crucial to include, and also gave me ideas of what not to do as much as provided inspiration.
3. Choose a template. There's no need to reinvent the wheel — many WordPress users have created blog or web page templates for virtually any purpose, and they are highly customizable (although you may never have to alter any features). Search the WordPress Themes section for templates using keywords related to your site's subject. Technorati's WordPress tag page also lists blog posts that may be useful for your site. I found my site's template by first googling "wordpress templates for writers" and discovered a wealth of information(and examples) about appropriate graphics and layouts. Next I searched the WordPress site for similar themes, and found a free template that perfectly suited my business.
4. Let plugins do the work for you. Need to create an online resume? To paraphrase iPhone ads, there's a plugin for that. At first I thought I had to design certain facets of my site from scratch — for example, I wanted to post testimonials from clients and a FAQ section. I then executed a plugin search within WordPress, and found the appropriate applications. These easy-to-use plugins guided me through the setup process, allowing me to simply fill in the blanks with my information, then copy and paste a single line of code wherever I wanted the application placed. Designed and submitted by other WordPress users, these plugins can transform your site into a professional one with minimal effort. You may have to test out several apps before finding one that suits your needs, but installation and removal are easy. To find plugins, do a keyword search on the plugin page.
5. Back up your site. I learned this lesson the hard way when my SQL database (which stores all site elements) inexplicably became corrupted. Frantic, I realized that all of the content, plugins, and my chosen template had seemingly vanished. Download and install a plugin that backs up your entire site automatically. Then, if disaster strikes, you can merely reinstall your site from the database; plugins will instruct you on this process. Backup early and often—you'll be glad you did!