Congratulations on deciding to build your business website using WordPress! You have probably heard that WordPress is;
- One of the leading content management systems
- Is FREE
- Is easy to use
- Is well supported (there are heaps of how to guides and experts who can help you)
But, quite often what happens is you get started with WordPress, then quickly hit a wall. You begin wanting to know how to build a WordPress website. You read a few online guides, but you quickly find there is more to it than knowing how to adjust settings and content.
It can be overwhelming.
There are hundreds and hundreds of plugins and themes to choose from.
How do you know what to pick?
How do you know what the pitfalls are?
How do you know if you are doing everything right?
Who do you turn to when there is a problem? (Google the white screen of death)
WordPress is not easy if you want a website that generates leads or makes sales
Sorry to burst your happy “WordPress is easy” bubble. If you are not technically competent, you will come across many challenges. Especially if you want to generate leads from your website, and NO, a contact form is NOT a way to generate leads. I am in and out of Google analytics accounts every day and I can tell you, less than 1% of website visitors are looking for your contact form. EVERY ONE of my website redesign clients who ONLY have a contact form on their website get very little enquiries.
To generate leads, you need a lead generation strategy and the technology to implement the strategy.
That’s my specialism.
What technical foundations you need before building your WordPress business website
Building a website comes before the design. I know you might be keen to just get stuck in there with your logo and build your home page but, like building a house, there are a few technical jobs you need to do to prepare yourself before you design. Get these technical foundations right and you will have a strong starting point. Get them wrong and you will be in for pain, wasted time and frustration.
Here are the 5 essential technical tips for building your website. These things are easy to get, you just need to know that you need them!
TIP 1: Get a good hosting service
One that provides fast hosting and 24hour support. I have used many web hosts over the past few years and I highly recommend SiteGround now. They are reasonably priced and have great support.
TIP 2: Find a robust, reliable, flexible theme
You want a theme that is flexible so you can change your design. Getting your website to work involves trial and error. (Nothing ever work the first time). If you can’t modify your website then you won’t be able to improve and that means you will be stuck with a poor performing website. You see, websites degrade with time. Like anything. You don’t want to be showing the world your website that was designed a few years ago. People get blind to same old same old. It’s good to change things periodically. Keep your visitors interested. A flexible theme will let you do that. Your theme also needs to be fast and maintained regularly by the developer. Free themes are rarely both!
TIP 3: Find reliable plugins
Plugins are those little bits of code that add functionality to your website. There are hundreds of free and paid plugins. The temptation is to go with free plugins. I know, I’ve done it too. There is nothing wrong with free plugins if you stick to reputable developers. But how do you know who is reputable? It’s trial and error. I have used plugins that have stopped being updated, eventually, they break your site. I have installed plugins that have stopped a site from functioning at all. Installing plugins is risky business sometimes, so research your plugins first, and always have a backup of your site. Which leads me to the next point.
TIP 4: Make sure you can create off-site backups and you have strong website security
Oh my goodness, if I could have £10 for every website I have worked on that had NO BACKUPS and NO SECURITY! I would be a rich lady! Off-site backups are essential. Even if your hosting provides backups they can still get corrupted, or erased, or misplaced. As a good first port of call, the hosting provider should be the first place to go to when you need a back up restored. However, if there is a problem with their backups, you should have an off-site back up too. FREE plugins exist to do this so you should really have no excuse not to back your site up independently of your hosting provider. You are probably aware that sites get hacked. It’s part of being online, no one is safe. If you don’t have a security plugin to help protect your website then you are leaving yourself vulnerable to security breaches. If your site gets hacked you can not only lose your site, but you can also lose the trust of your visitors, clients and customers.
TIP 5: Use the Google suite of tools
Once you get a bit traffic to your site, understanding who it is and what they are doing is key to your marketing. If you want to be found in Google if you want to run Facebook ads or Google Adwords if you want to blog… if you are in any way promoting your website you need to know if your promotion methods are working. The only way you can do this is by installing Google Analytics. The other essential tool you need to install is Google Webmasters Tools (or now called Google Search Console). This tool reads your site and finds problems that stop you being visible on Google. You can also see what your site ranks for. Very important if you want to be visible in search engines. What people fail to understand is you can’t collect data AFTER people have visited your website so get your tools set up BEFORE you promote your website.
So, yes you can dive straight in and design your website but without all of these things but you will realise you need them later down the line. Which is more hassle and effort for you. Get it right, from the start.
What do you think about these 5 tips? Do you have any tips of your own to add?
I have created a checklist of 18 actions for you to tick off as you set up your WordPress business website.
You can find out more about the checklist here.