Websites provide you with a formidable tool of communication that you can use for whatever purpose—showcase your hobbies, let the world know about your brick-and-mortar company, sell your products (e-commerce), or a combination of all these. Wielded right, it allows you to make a dent in the digital landscape by targeting into a specific, yet international demographic.
“But what if I don’t know how to code?”, you might say. Fret not. The answer to your woes is a Content Management System (CMS) or a “computer application that can be used to create or manage digital content.” And while a number of options exist, why experiment on second-rates when you can go with WordPress (WP)—the world’s top CMS that powers up too 75 million websites or 27% of the Internet?
Below is a guide to get you up to speed on all that you need to know to make your awesome WP website a reality.
Steps forin Creating Your WordPress Website
There are various exhaustive WordPress tutorialsonline guides available online that go through the nitty-gritty of building your WP website, but there are essentially seven steps that summarize the process:
- Pick a host: Now that you’ve already bought a domain name (your website’s address on the Internet)—you must choose who ‘hosts’ or provides the service that makes your website accessible. This can either be done in-house at WordPress (via WordPress.org) or through third-party providers.
- Install WordPress: Depending on whether you’ve chosen WP -hosting or another service, installing WordPress involves going to your provider’s control panel (cPanel), clicking the install icon, and inputting your log-in details afterwards.
- Pick a theme: Themes and their corresponding functionalities are one of the top-selling features that drive WordPress’ use. On your WP dashboard, you can click ‘Themes’ under the ‘Appearance’ menu to install your chosen theme (more on this later).
The next section gives points to ponder on when choosing.
- Create content: Content on WP usually comes in either two forms—a page or a post. Posts are typically referred to as “dynamic pages” and are useful for blog or portfolio websites that publish new content on a regular basis.
Pages on the other hand are identified as “static,”, and often regarded as ‘mainstays’ of your website such as the ‘About Us’ section.
- Customize your website: In the ‘Settings’ and ‘Appearance’ menu of your WP dashboard is a variety of aspects that can be tailor-fitted to your preferences. The options rangeing from your site title and tagline, menu structure and hierarchy, to choosing whether to add a comments section functionality or not.
- Install plug-ins: WordPress’ wide array of plug-ins and tools are desginedavailable to boost user experience (UX) and help you achieve your website’s goals. Another section below discusses this further.
- Regularly update and troubleshoot: Now that you’ve nailed the basics down, regularly update your website to ensure your content is relevant. As well, make sure to keep an eye out for any bugs that need to be resolved or theme updates that need to be installed.
A Guide to Selecting WordPress Themes
With thousands of WP themes available at your disposal, here are top five things to keep in mind when choosing your WP theme:
- Function over form. What is your website for? Is it primarily to inform or to sell?
It is vital to know what your website’s intended purpose is as this will help you narrow down which layout to use. And while it’s tempting to embellish your website with different capabilities, this will also affect its loading speed. As wellLastly, make the most out of WP’s Feature Filter to condense your options.
Note, however, that WordPress’ official theme directory isn’t the only source for themes.
- Responsiveness is key. With over 69% of the time spent online being on a mobile phone, having a website that functions seamlessly across multiple devices can spell the difference between gaining or losing a customer.
Below is an example of a WP-responsive theme:
- Look at customer feedback. Theme download statistics along with customer reviews are a staple on theme-provider websites. Take time to pore through the comments section and see what typical feedback is—are there are lot of good reviews? Complaints? Is the theme-designer responsive to queries? These are some points to contemplate on.
Below is a snippet of the review section of a theme-provider.
- Choose between free vs. premium themes. Faced with the question of whether to shell out extra cash for a paid theme or not, go back to your website’s purpose. Remember that “not all themes are made equal.” A free theme doesn’t necessarily mean a subpar one, while a premium one doesn’t automatically mean top caliber -quality.
Aside from comparing theme functionalities, one crucial difference to consider is developer support. If your website requires a complex number of features (especially if it’s for e-commerce), paid themes may be the better route as they come with dedicated support and regular version updates.
- It takes trial and error. Don’t be afraid to experiment withon various themes to find out which best accomplishes your objectives. Maximize exploring demo versions available and observe font readability, level of responsiveness, loading speed, and other bugs or errors that may arise.
Must-Have WordPress Plug-Ins and Tools for Any Site
Again, based on what your WP website is for, there are a number of plug-ins that can help optimize these goals. But aside from these intent-specific solutions, there are common issues that WP website-owners often want to address that the following plug-ins below tackle:
- Speed: With websites being accessed by multiple users from all over the world, loading times may vary due to the physical location of web hosting servers. A Content Delivery Network (CDN) can help provide a stable loading speed by “caching” or storing “static” files that make up your website so servers have to do less work. Top examples of theseis plug-ins are WP Rocket and CloudFlare.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Coupled with great content, SEO can make or break your website’s ability to maximize its reach. YoastSEO, WordPress’ top SEO plug-in is free and beginner-friendly. If you find SEO a bit challenging, you may opt to get assistance from a reliable SEO agency.
Below is a sample of an ‘SEO analysis functionality’ report it generates that helps its users know what they’re good at and areas they can troubleshoot/ improve on:
- Social Media: Social media can drive up to 26% of your web traffic, but the work can undoubtedly get overwhelming when you are a one-person team managing different platforms.
WP plug-ins like Buffer provide a platform for streamlining management and posting.
- Email Marketing: While some WP themes offer built-in email opt-in functionality, OptInMonster is a plug-in that allows for an easily-customizable and uncomplicated integration of this top lead generation tactic known to provide an ROI of 3,800%.
- Security: Aside from displaying trust badges, using a plugin such as Akismet, that figh
tspam in your comments section, helps build confidence in your users. If the nature of your website makes it prone to hacking, consider using WordFence that serves as a firewall for malicious traffic.
Tips for Optimizing your WordPress Site for Success(speed, SEO, UX)
Complementing the above-suggested plugins are pointers that can help you boost your website’s speed, SEO and general UX:
- Take it easy with images and videos: While it is important to use high-quality photos, you don’t necessarily have to post them in their 300dpi glory. Use image resizing tools. The same also goes for videos. Don’t make the mistake of uploading directly to your WP site. Instead, use video hosting services such as YouTube or Vimeo, and simply embed.
- Break long posts into multiple pages: Most recent statistics say that ‘the best blog length for SEO in 2019 is 1,705 words’. But don’t overwhelm your readers by making them endlessly scroll through a page. Instead, divide long articles into pages. This will also increase your website’s loading speed.
- Backlink: Have high performing content? Incorporate these into new posts by linking back to them. This works not only for SEO but for increasing overall traffic.
- Make your posts shareable on social media: Get your users to repost your content on their social media accounts by adding social media buttons. Not only do these increase visitors, they also indicate engagement and thus boost your search engine results page (SERP) ranking.
- Use analytics tools: There are decent web and SEO analytics tools on the web that enable you to evaluate your website’s overall health by monitoring its performance in terms of page load time, unique visitor traffic, bounce rate and other fundamental metrics.
Setting -up your own website isn’t all that complicated, right? With a user-friendly CMS such as WordPress, you’ll be well on your way to creating an awesome website that is not only visually-appealing but also provides a user experience that ultimately leads to conversions.