I have gotten so many requests to write a blog about this, but I have put it off over and over again, because making a quality website or even writing about making a quality website is not as simple as it seems. However, one reason why I’m motivated to share this with you is because when I first thought of making my own website, I had no clue on how to do it and I ended up spending hundreds of dollars on something I could have easily done on my own. Therefore, I am doing this to prevent you from becoming a victim to the same fate.
If you want to set up a website using WordPress, this article is for you. If you use anything more advanced or different from WordPress, I am sorry, but I would not be of much help. For all of you looking for a free route to create a professional quality website, I am also sorry, but from my personal experiences, as of now, that would be almost impossible (and I am a big advocate for free stuff)! However, Ladies and Gentlemen, I present: How to Make a Pretty Darn Great Website with WordPress.
Step One: The Dream
You cannot build a quality website without a vision for the website. You have to know what the website is for, what domain name you want it to have, who you want your website to target, which service is going to host your website and the list can go on and on. You need to visualize how you want your website to be and set goals that compliment the look, feel and vision of your website. Do not overlook the details. Each and every detail is important. Even the wording! Don’t believe me? A careful eye to detail, feel and appearance makes companies like Apple successful.
To the online world, your website is a reflection of you and with that said, you want them to have a good impression and experience when they visit your website for the first time.
Step Two: The Planning
You have visualized your website and thought it out. You now know the audience you want to target, the domain name you want to have, and you also have an idea of how you want your website to look. Now, you need to find the resources that will turn your dream website into a reality. You need to find a domain name service, a hosting service and I would suggest a Content Management System (such as WordPress). You would also need FTP. Since, we’re talking about Content Management Systems such as WordPress, I would also suggest you find a place to purchase a great theme. (The theme you choose is no joke. It is very crucial because the theme you purchase will make or break your vision for your website.)
You would need to do some research to find out the best services for you. Check out ratings and reviews of the services you prefer. A skilled researcher would probably take minutes to days to obtain the information they need before making a key decision. For the not-so-skilled researcher it may take weeks and months. This is when patience is needed. You need to understand that these are services you are going to invest your money in, so to avoid spending unnecessary money, (like I did), do your research. This is a crucial step in planning, because from this step, you can find out the potential costs and determine whether or not the investment in the service is necessary for your vision. This may be hard work for you, but in the end, it is worth knowing that your money was well spent.
Observe websites you would like your website to look like and take notes. Is there something about their website that you like? What features do you want to add to your website? How will you make your website unique? How will you market your website? Are you selling a service or a product? Will you have ads on your website? What is your website’s tagline? What is your website’s name? How will you attract visitors? How will you word your content? Are you operating your website as a team or alone? Will you have a sign up list? Do you want your website to look simple or complex? Continue to ask yourself questions. The more questions you successfully address, the better chance you have of creating a great-looking, professional website that fits your vision.
My Personal Recommendations:[sociallocker id=”2973″]For your domain names, my recommendations would be HostGator and Name.com. For your hosting service, I would recommend HostGator, however, it has been getting complaints from various people ever since the company has been sold to EIG. (I’m currently using HostGator now, but choose this service at your own risk.) For your Content Management System, I would recommend WordPress. As for FTP, I use Transmit, but feel free to choose whatever FTP service you would like. (I’ve heard any FTP, free or not free, would work just fine. It all depends on your preference.) If you plan to build a website that sells a product, I recommend using PayPal as the payment gateway.
As for WordPress themes, I would say this: invest in a WordPress theme that has a great appearance, features that benefit you, and has a Responsive Design. Make sure the theme has good ratings overall as well. You don’t want to purchase a theme that happens to have bugs and no support to help you fix issues that may arise. (For those of you who don’t know, Responsive Design allows your website to fit on any device such as a computer, tablet and other mobile devices [such as the iPhone]. Responsive Design is great because it personalizes your content for the device the person is using, making your content more readable and enjoyable to the user.) If you are in search of WordPress themes, you can purchase great WordPress themes at Themeforest. For the record, all the services I have recommended to you on this blog post are services I have personally used and I can honestly say I have had no problems with them.
Step Three: The Planning (…Again.)
You did your research, but are you sure your research was good enough? Double check & redo step two. Do not rush the planning process! Do not be a victim to impulse! Planning is the blueprint for the future steps you will take. Make sure the services and tools you purchase for your website are in your budget. Consider researching extra tools you may need now, such as plugins for WordPress.
Step Four: The Intervention
Now that you have patiently planned everything, act on it. Make your dream a reality. Spend smart and purchase what you need. Set up name servers for your domain names. (Setup varies depending on which service you choose.) Learn to use FTP to upload files (my knowledge on FTP is basic, but I may discuss this in another blog for my fellow beginners). Learn to set up a WordPress account.
Once all this is complete, you should have your domain name connected to your hosting service, and you should have your domain name and hosting service connected to your WordPress. You should also have the theme you want activated on your WordPress.
When your WordPress is fully activated and you can log in, you are golden. You have completed part 1 of the hardest part, which is getting started! Now, all you have to do is implement what you have planned. Go to Pages on your WordPress account to create different Pages for your website such as “Home”, “About”, or “Contact” for visitors to visit. Go to Theme Options on your WordPress account to customize the look, feel and aura of your website. Take advantage of your Theme’s special features. Purchase or get free plugins that can help you achieve the goals you want with your website. If you want, start a blog. A blog may be the part of your website where you receive the most attention if implemented right, therefore make your blog interesting and relevant to what you love to do and what people would possibly search for on search engines such as Google. As I mentioned before, pay attention to detail and word your messages carefully. Personally, I try to make my content short, clear, resourceful and to the point. Your content is everything. Search engines pay attention to your content to consider whether you are a reliable source or not. Make your website attractive. I cannot express this enough, but appearance is also everything.
Putting all what you have planned to use may seem overwhelming, but once you enter in all your content into WordPress’ Pages, set your Theme Options, create a Blog, possibly a Portfolio, set the look and content of your sidebars and create a menu, most of your hard work is done. All you have to do from this point on, is brush up on your content, add new WordPress plugins if needed and take away anything you find unnecessary. Simply, continue to tweak your website overtime until it fits your vision. You may find that the vision you have once planned for your dream website has changed during the making of it. That is ok. Revise your thoughts and as mentioned before, continue to tweak.
Step Five: There Is No Conclusion. Only Constant Evaluation & Intervention.
Your website is never finished. My website as we speak is not finished. I always find a flaw, something I need to tweak or ways I can make the website better. Constantly evaluate your website and the traffic it is receiving. Know who you are targeting with your website. Constantly intervene and take steps to make sure your website continues to support your dream vision. It’s an ongoing process that is never over.
New technologies may arise and you may find that you have to revise a whole website that you worked so hard on. While this is an unfortunate case, you have to do what you can to stay ahead of the curve. Detect trends and implement your website to fit those trends. I’ll give you an example: When I first made my website, no one I knew had responsive design, but I had the idea that my website had to be properly viewed on mobile devices as well as computers. When I found a website that had responsive design, I knew then and there, that is what I needed for my website. I talked to a web designer and he told me that Responsive Design was not necessary. If you look around you now, many themes have responsive design. Before, it wasn’t so popular. I detected a trend, which helped me save money and stay ahead of the technological curve for websites. With that said, I repeat, do what you can to stay ahead of the curve. Set or detect trends before they happen.
So far, this is all I have to say, but in conclusion: dream, plan, plan again, intervene, then evaluate your progress and continue to intervene. I hope I have helped. There is so much more detail that can go into this article that will be too much or too difficult for me to touch, but if I find anything missing, I will be sure to add it in on upcoming dates. If you are knowledgable on creating websites with WordPress, share it with my fellow readers on the comments below![/sociallocker]
Keep it 100.