How to Map your Domain to WordPress

So you have a Domain Name you purchased with a hosting service, and you have a WordPress blog, and you want to join the two. You want your blog address to be (let’s say) myblog.co.uk rather than myblog.wordpress.com?

WordPress do have a page setting out the way to do it but it’s not entirely clear in some parts and I got into a terrible muddle the first time I did it. Much Googling, errors and hair pulling later, I finally sorted it – and learned some crucial things along the way!

The main grey area is that some hosting services will accept simply a Nameserver to map the two and others will want an entry in the DNS (Domain Name System) Records and IP address. WordPress give very clear information on how to update your Nameservers but, really, nothing on how to map your site if you need IP addresses, which is unfortunate as that is the (slightly) more involved of the two scenarios!

So, I’m going to take you, step by step, through the process of mapping your domain to WordPress (and throw in a handy infographic with the main points that you can refer to if necessary, just click below to download). Grab a drink, this promises to be a long one.

I’m going to assume, for the purposes of this post, that you already have a domain name with one host and a blog set up with WordPress and you are ready to go ahead and map the two. There are 2 places you need to complete actions – the first is WordPress itself, the second is the hosting service you have your domain name with.

Let’s start with the WordPress end.

First, you will need 2 things (in addition to having an account/blog with WordPress):

  • An upgraded account (personal, premium or business)
  • A mapping subscription

The second of these things, you can get during the following process.

Login to WP (where you have your blog, myblog.wordpress.com, already set up) and navigate your way to “Domains”

Choose “Manage Domains”

Choose “Add a Domain on To This Site”

Choose “Use a Domain I Own”

Choose “Map a Domain” and enter the name of the domain you want to map (i.e the domain name you own with the other host – let’s say, myblog.co.uk)

Click “Add” – at this point you will go through checkout and purchase the mapping subscription if you don’t already have it.

All done? Let’s head over to the hosting service you have your domain name (myblog.co.uk in our little fictional site here), registered with.

The first thing you need to establish is if your hosting service will let you enter Nameservers only or wants IP addresses to complete the DNS changes. Most hosting services will have more or less similar set ups. You need to login in, go to “Domains” and find your “DNS & Nameservers” (sensitive information scribbled out here!)

If all you need to do is enter the Nameservers, then just click the + and add the following:

  • ns1.wordpress.com
  • ns2.wordpress.com
  • ns3.wordpress.com

Remember to remove any previous Nameservers and you’re good to go.

If your hosting service requires IP addresses, then you have a couple more steps.

  • Contact WordPress support and ask for their current IP addresses. There should be two. They are really quick with this and should get back to you within a few minutes.
  • Now, go to your hosting service > DNS & Nameservers>DNS Records and click “Add DNS Record”.
  • Make one “A” record and call it “@” (without the quotation marks), enter the first IP address WP gave you and set the TTL (Time to Live) to half an hour. Save.
  • Make another “A” record and this time call it “www”, enter the second IP address, set the TTL to half an hour and save.
  • Delete any other A records. Do not delete any other records just any A records except those you just added.

Now, all that remains is for you to pop back to WordPress and set you name domain as your Primary Domain and you’re done.

So, you’ve followed all the steps above and your site is not there, or it’s there sometimes and then vanishes again. In the words of the late, great Douglas Adams, “don’t panic”.

DNS records can take up to 72 hours to propagate, that is, for the changes you made to become live across the entire internet, worldwide. During this time, your site will be up and down like a Jack-in-a-Box. Don’t fret and certainly don’t start going and changing anything you already did.

While you are waiting there is a handy tool at whatsmydns.net that you can use to see how propagation is going. Just enter the name of your site, set to “A” and hit search. What you are looking for is all the results to show the same IP addresses (the IP addresses you entered into your DNS Records) with a tick next to them, as my site does in this picture.

One final point. The reason WordPress are more in favour of simply updating Nameservers rather than having to use DNS Records is because IP addresses are rarely static and can change without warning. The result of this is that your site will “go down”.

If this happens, simply contact WP, ask for the latest IP addresses and update your records accordingly.

5 Free Learn to Code Sites, and Why you Should

Even if, as a designer, you are not getting into the actual building of the website you are working on, it’s incredibly helpful to have a good grasp of how a site is put together, the coding that brings all your lovely images, colours, text, gadgets and gizmos to life.

Knowing some coding, even basic, can help you envisage if something you want for the site, is actually going to look good and function well on a live website. It’s often true that what seems like a fabulous idea in your head, ends up being dire in real life!

Taking a look at my quick example here. What you see when you open a website (assuming you aren’t being assaulted with various pop-ups!) is a clean, easy to read page. Of course, what you don’t see are the inner workings of that site.

Rather like most people won’t open the hood of their car to see the engine, most are also not going to get into what makes a website work and, conversely, why sometimes it doesn’t. At best, incorrect coding can make a page not behave in the way the builder wanted (changing fonts for example). At worst, the page fails to materialise altogether, we are all familiar with the old 404 “Something went wrong” message…..

Most websites are made up of three types of code – front end languages:

  • HTML – Hypertext Markup Language – the basic nuts and bolts of a webpage (which you can see in my example above).
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheets – adds (unsurprisingly), the style to your pages, colours, fonts etc.
  • JavaScript – controls what happens when you do something, for example, click a button.

There is also PHP (recursive acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor), which is a back end language and is responsible for the working of things like sign up forms, logins etc. but we are focusing on the first three as the most useful for a designer to know.

So, learning the basics, even as a designer, is a pretty handy skill to have and you don’t need expensive tools or courses to do it. Just grab one of the free courses listed below, notepad (installed on pretty much every computer) and an up to date web browser, and you’re good to go.

A Journey of a Thousand Steps

Unlike some of my other creative pursuits (I love to crochet in my time off), which have a very clear conclusion, I always see web design and building as a work in progress. Something with no defined endpoint.

A website evolves. It begins with, in many cases, a blank canvas, ideas, vague thoughts from the client. It begins with “would this look good?”, or, “would that work?”, or, “is this too much?”. It begins with a sense of playfulness, mixing colours, shapes, fonts to achieve something pleasing.

Then, you put it down. The blank canvas starts to fill, the code written, the blocks placed, pictures uploaded, tables created. It starts to take on life and, there comes a time when you can sit back and look at it and think “hey, this looks great!” So, it’s finished?

Of course not.

This isn’t the designer’s site, it’s the client’s, and, for me, the client’s ideas, visions and needs are paramount. So, there are talks, often compromises, “that idea won’t work but we can try this if you like?” Taking their ideas and bringing them vividly to life is one of the most pleasurable, and, often, challenging parts of the job.

I liken it to a journey with a friend. Start at the beginning (a very good place to start!), armed with a map, a vague itinerary, and set off. At some point along the way, you realise one of you left the map and itinerary in your hotel room and you and your traveling companion are truly exploring! You take a wrong turn, no big deal, retrace your steps, try another route and make an amazing discovery that you might not have seen had you stuck to your rigid plan.

The very best websites, (and indeed, journeys!) are those that evolve, those where you work with your client, take a few chances, make a few mistakes, correct mistakes, and play with it. The end result is always deeply satisfying.