You are ready to create your own business or side-gig, to upgrade your life and have decided to create your own website. Welcome to this series of post where I give you all my tips on how to do so, in the most efficient way. This article is part 3 of a series of post on how to create a Website. We are now ready to get into more details and this post will help you do some of the necessary set up.
Following How to create a Website – Part 1 you choose your business name and made a commitment to it by buying the corresponding domain name.
With How to create a Website – Part 2 you designed on paper, the ideal website that will not just be pretty but will ensure your potential customers are happy to find exactly what they want on your site.
Along these major decisions, I will assume that you have decided, as recommended, on your web host, that you chose WordPress.org and that you have found a theme that closely match your design.
In this How to create a Website – part 3, we are therefore now ready to start the set up work!
Reminder step list on how to create a Website
You’ve already read articles available online on how to create your website and it goes like this:
- Choose a domain name
- Get your site registered
- Set up your site
- Get traffic and make money
We are now at step 3 of this list and are going to go through some of the set up required!
Set up your Website
When you log into WordPress.org, you land on your dashboard. On the left side bar, you will already find lots of different tools which most are self-explanatory like Posts, Pages, Media or Settings. Browse through those and familiarise yourself but don’t worry too much because it’s really not that hard to use.
As you add plugins, this side tool bar will grow.
OK so let’s first see what plugins you’ll need / want:
1- The plugins you’ll want to start using right away
Right from the beginning there are a few plugins that you’ll want to install and start using.
- Install JetPack early on, because it offers so much. To start with, be selective of what you activate within the plugin. Do you need Beautiful Match?! Probably not… JetPack is fairly intimidating but is great.
- Install VaultPress to protect your site and ensure it is backed up in case of a problem. Security is something you should take care of, right away. (you can install it separately or within JetPack).
- Become best friend with Yoast SEO! They have a free e-book which is super useful to get the basics of SEO.
- If you are going to have a blog and allow comments, then you need Akismet to manage spams for you.
This is kind of starter pack, the basics. To start with don’t over do it with Plugins or you will get lost.
2- The plugins you’ll need to customize your site
You found a great theme and it’s almost perfect for what you want to do but not 100%?
- SiteOrigin Page Builder is the plugin you need to give the final touch to your website.
- Beaver Builder is another option. I haven’t tested it yet, but it’s on my to-do-list.
These are kind of ‘best kept secret’. They will enable you to create beautiful pages within your theme, but without coding.
- For your images: You might soon want to display images gallery on your site and find the limits of WP with this. Foo Gallery should answer all your prayers!
Do know that, if there is something that you want to do on your site and can’t figure it out, there are 99.999% chances that there is a plugin to do it for you, that already exist! You just have to find it!
3- The plugins you’ll want to start using soon… really soon!
- Google Analytics Dashboard displays your traffic in your dashboard and provide more information than the JetPack site stats. No mandatory but nice to have.
- Mailchimp to grow your email list and create your newsletter or other emails to be sent to your subscribers.
and of course:
- WooCommerce to create your online store. We’ll talk about that soon.
4 – The plugins you’ll want to consider and a few words of caution
A Related Post plugins (to display related posts at the end of your posts if you have a blog section), a Pinterest plugins, an Instagram feed plugins… possibilities are endless to customize your theme & make it your own.
A few words of caution on plugins: Not all plugins are created equals, check the comment section, check how long it has been since the last update, is it compatible with the latest version of WordPress… when you install one and it doesn’t work for you, deactivate and delete it before installing a new one. Don’t over do it with plugins (they can slow down your site) and do keep them up to date.
All the recommended plugins above come with detailed instructions on how to use them and great technical support. When installing such plugins, you should do so, through the Plugins section of your WordPress side tool bar. When you need additional information, go to the plugin website.
Now that your site is as safe as can be and you have all the tools you need at your disposal, it’s time to transform your dream into reality…
Customize your Website appearance
At this stage, the important thing is not to do everything. what’s important is to know everything that needs to be done. The good thing is that you have designed your site on paper so you know where you are heading.
I think a good approach is to work from top / down. First go through the Appearance menu and the different sub-menus and get to work! Don’t sweat it, if you are not ready for one bit, then come back to it later. Every time you save a change, use the preview functionality to check if the result is what you were expecting (the little icons of a desktop, a tablet and a phone enables you to make sure the changes appear correctly on all devises).
Amongst other things, to customize your site, you will need to:
- Create a header that fits within the size requirements of your theme.
- Choose your site title and tagline wisely. These will appear on search engine.
- Choose the place and content of your main menu. you will need to create the corresponding pages even if they are mostly blank for now. To start with you may just want to have a Home page, maybe a Blog page and an About page.
- Customize your footer and side bar.
- Customize the background (or not!), the typography used, the color for your titles, links… etc. Lots of customization possible but if you don’t feel like it right away, keep the basic set up.
If it can be done within the parameters of your theme then do it there. If it can’t, than install and configure the appropriate plugin.
Try things, twist things, try again… until perfection! Well, at least until satisfaction!
Designing & setting up your website is about giving your potential clients a great experience. It’s about making it easy for them to navigate, to find what they are looking for. It’s about the added value you bring to them.
Luckily, it’s technically never been easier to do. It can all be intimidating because of the quantity of options available and that is why I gave you a list of all the best and ‘must-have’ plugins out there, along with some additional recommendations on the setup of your site. The detail work is for you to do!
You know content is key so in the next article, we’ll start creating and writting!
Wondering why I wrote this post? Check out this section of RTatW to understand a bit better.
Stay tuned for part 4!