You’ve decided on WordPress. That’s a great start! Here is a step-by-step guide for planning your WordPress website before you start building. If you take these steps to plan your website then you will avoid avoid some costly mistakes in the long run.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Select the best hosting company for your WordPress website
- 2 Choose the right theme for your WordPress website
- 3 Professional website planning support
- 4 Utilizing calls to action on your WordPress website
- 5 Evaluate your WordPress website’s main navigation
- 6 Finalize your color palette and fonts
- 7 Review the 7 basic components of WordPress for your website
- 8 Get the most out of your WordPress website
Select the best hosting company for your WordPress website
As an instructor, I am frequently asked about website hosting. There are two things that differentiate great hosting companies from the not so great.
- High quality tech support
- WordPress friendliness
A good hosting company is going to have tech support available 24 hours/day and be able to communicate clearly with you. They will also advertise themselves as WordPress friendly. Although . . . and this is important . . . there is no reason to pay extra for a special type of hosting plan that is specific to WordPress. Your standard shared hosting plan will do the job nicely. Remember, you can always upgrade your plan if you wish.
As a website developer, I have plenty of experience attempting to work with various hosting companies. Launching a new website or transferring a website requires a good website hosting interface. Let me tell you, there are some real nightmares out there!
I use and recommend WP Engine or the “Grow Big” plan at SiteGround for hosting services.
Choose the right theme for your WordPress website
When I was getting started with WordPress, I wish I would have had someone to tell me, “Use this theme!”
Instead, it took me a long time to stumble upon some high quality theme providers. I didn’t even know how I was supposed to tell the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff. Here are some rules to follow when selecting your WordPress theme:
It has to be responsive. A responsive website looks good on phones, tablets and desktops. Do not even look twice at a theme that does not have the label, “mobile responsive”.
Avoid “Free” Themes
When you purchase a premium theme, you are paying for the support behind it. Without a doubt, you will have questions about how to use your website theme. A quality theme comes with excellent documentation and a support forum where you can get answers quickly. If you think you will not need to utilize a support forum while you are working with your theme, then you are a more skilled developer than I am!
Because I work with a variety of clients with unlimited variations in creative vision, I need flexibility in a WordPress theme. Flexibility means I can use it to design a website exactly the way my client wants. One of my favorite themes is currently offered by Theme Fusion and it is called Avada. Take a look and you’ll see why I love it.
Some of the additional theme providers I use and value are Themify.me, and Divi from Elegant Themes.
Professional website planning support
Consider working with one of our WordPress consultants to develop your website development strategy. Website Strategy Development is a valuable stand-alone service to plan your website design, functionality, and search engine optimization. We help you gain clarity on what it will really take to achieve your website goals.
Utilizing calls to action on your WordPress website
On this website, we want to hear from you. We want you to be able to call our office on reach us through a form. Therefore, we do not use pop-ups for you to opt-in to our mailing list. What is the main thing you want your prospect to do once they’ve landed on your website?
- Opt-in to an email list?
- Fill out a form?
Make sure your website design helps you achieve your ultimate goal.
Modern website visitors often completely ignore a website’s main navigation. Instead, they rely on page links and cues as they read or watch what is on your page. Do you really need to jam your entire website into your main navigation? Instead, guide your website visitor down a path of options. Put only the most important pages in your main navigation. Remember: The average visitor makes less than 2 page visits before abandoning your website. Offer fewer choices in your main navigation.
Finalize your color palette and fonts
Review the 7 basic components of WordPress for your website
The pieces and parts of a WordPress site can be a bit confusing. That’s how I felt when I started learning WordPress. Part of me thought I’d never get it down. But, here I am today, teaching people like you how to get the most out of their investment!
Even if you aren’t the one building the website, you are going to have plenty of meetings and conversations about the website. Directions are easier to understand when everyone is speaking the same “language”. Bone up on a little bit of terminology to prevent confusion.
The WordPress header is located at the top of your website. It’ll most likely contain your logo and is one of the first things visitors see when they look at your page.
You can see on my website, I use my header as a space for both my logo, social media icons and main navigation (which is a section we’ll get to in a minute).
Headers are customizable in a few ways:
- Background Color
- Width and Height
- Header Image (i.e. logo)
- Link from Header Image to Home Page
Depending on your theme, you may be able to edit each of these things from within your Theme or Appearance options. Otherwise, you’ll need to make alterations directly in the stylesheet.
2. Main Navigation
Visitors can meander through your site in several ways, assuming you have a good internal linking structure. But the most direct path is the main navigation.
It’s here that you will highlight the most important pages on your website. At the top level, it typically includes Home, About, Services and Contact pages. But you can also use sub-navigation. Here’s what that looks like on my site.
The main navigation should offer a logical path for visitors to walk through your site. Lead them with important pages at the top level with supporting pages as sub-navigation.
Sliders are great when you have multiple announcements or call-to-actions that visitors need to see. Visitors can manually scroll through the slides, or your can set them to rotate automatically. But, let’s get real. Your prospect probably has little interest in scrolling through your slides. The slider feature is becoming a thing of the past. Instead, we are seeing more companies use a single compelling image with a call-to-action.
Without a slider, your website will load faster, too.
You’ll notice that I’m not using a slider, per se. But this area on my site with the image is where a slider would typically go. Again, it’s your call on how to use this. For me, I like how it displays my unique selling proposition every time someone comes to the site.
I like to think about footer areas as our own feet – they’re incredibly useful but highly under-appreciated. When was the last time you truly appreciated all the things your feet help you to do? Probably never.
And it’s the same way with our footer.
Much like the header, a good footer will also include important information. But this info isn’t necessarily the lifeblood of your website navigation. This is the footer on my old website:
As you can see, I had a pretty basic footer, but it included some information you won’t find directly available in the heading (i.e. Terms & Conditions, Guest Posts and my phone number).
5. Widget Areas
Depending on your theme, widgets can appear just about anywhere on your website. However, the most common area is on your website sidebar.
On my website, I’m using widgets to promote my new eBook and provide social proof through testimonials. Here’s a quick screengrab of my eBook promo:
This is a space where you can get very creative. Just think to yourself, “What could add value or entice readers if they saw it on multiple pages?”
For me, that was my eBooks and testimonials. It could be something entirely different for you!
Blogging is a powerful marketing tool when executed well. And when you create a new blog, you’ll add it as a new post. It’s really as simple as that.
With blogs, posts are the main focus of content. Sure, it’ll be surrounded by the header, footer and widget areas. But what people will really be paying attention to is the posts that you’re publishing on a regular basis.
Pages are a bit different than posts and can feel confusing for some. The main difference lies in their functionality. Essentially, a post goes into your blog feed, whereas a page is a standalone portion of your website.
What you’re reading now is a post.
However, if you went over to Our Team page you’d be looking at a page.
As a business owner, you’ll use pages to setup the structure of your website. Home, About, Services and Contact should all be pages. However, once you start marketing and want to update your blog, then you’ll be creating posts.
Now that you know the 7 basic component of your website, it’s time to dig a bit deeper. Find my eBook promo in the widget area and download Unlocking WordPress. I’m pretty proud of this guide and believe it will be of immense value to you and your business.
Once you have these fundamentals figured out, you can focus on creating great content.
Get the most out of your WordPress website
Want to make sure your WordPress website is planned well so that you are in the best position to scale your business? Learn WordPress to get the biggest bang from your website buck. When you book WordPress training with us either in-person or virtually, be prepared for an interactive, hands-on experience.
- Get access to resources for a stronger foundation and preparation.
- Two intensive, one-on-one sessions lasting 4-hours each.
- Receive the video recordings of your virtual training sessions for review at your convenience (available only with virtual training.)
- Receive an additional 60 days of access to your instructor for follow-up questions and consultation.