Ultimate Checklist for Building a Website With WordPress
Choose logo design and colors
If you have these chosen already, you’re ahead of the game. If not and you need some help, there’s a bunch of great designers out there, both in your city and online. An interesting option is a company called 99Designs. They hold contests where artists submit logo and brand designs based on your descriptive brief of your company and what you’re looking for. Of course, for a really professional job with original artwork, you’re best to work with a design agency.
Choose a domain and see if it’s available
Have a particular name in mind? Go see if it’s available or if you need to keep thinking. Ideally it’s something memorable and fairly short. Once you’ve thought of what domain you’d like, you need to go see if it’s already taken or not. You can do that in several places. GoDaddy has a great search tool where all you do is plug in the name and it will tell you if it’s taken and let you do alternative searches.
Create a wire frame to help decide on layout and content
There are plenty of online tools out there. So much so that Mashable has put together a list of top ten wireframing tools to check out. Whichever you decide on, they will be of great help to you in deciding how your content will be laid on on your new website and help you understand how everything should flow.
Purchase a domain
Now it’s time to start putting out a bit of money. Depending on the type of domain you want (.com, .ca, .org and even interesting ones like .guru are available these days), you’ll pay varying rates to purchase ownership of your domain name. Some are considered premium and they are not kidding when they list the prices. Domain registrars charge anywhere between $6 and $1000 and higher to register domains. For some helpful tips on what to look for in a registrar, go visit EasyDNS and check out their list of Ten Things You MUST Know Before Registering a Domain.
Find a hosting service
There are plenty of choices for domain hosting these days. It will be up to you to sift through the choices, evaluate the level of service you get for the pricing and choose the domain host which suits your budget. You can visit the Consumer Rankings page and see who’s getting the best grades.
Quick Installer on a Web Host
It’s likely that the domain host you chose will have a “One-Click Install” for you to use to get started. If not, you can go download the up-to-date version of the file in the WordPress repository.
Ensure security settings are properly set
Sounds simple right? Making sure that the admin username isn’t left as ‘admin’ goes a long way to securing your site. There’s other security steps you should take, such as making sure that your log in page doesn’t stay as the default “yoursite.com/wp-admin” and changing the first username created in your database (usually ‘admin’) to have only subscriber privileges on your site.
Choose and install theme
There is a plethora of themes out there to choose from. What you’re looking for is some basic layout styles that appeal to you and the ability to have access to tweak or modify the theme to your liking. Try to stick to the WordPress repository for your free and paid themes. There’s higher risk of malicious code injections in some of those ‘free’ theme websites you’ll come across. There are some really great paid themes available in places like Envato Market in themeforest; you just need to do your homework. The other alternative of course is to hire a designer to create a theme for you. We wrote an article about choosing themes right here for you to check out.
Check web crawler settings in General Settings
If you’ve gotten this far, go! Right now, go! Go to your Settings–>Reading, and tick the box that says “Discourage search engines from indexing this site”. This will prevent your errant “Hello World” and other gobbeldy gook that you’ll mess around with from showing up in search results on Google and Bing and the like. You’ll come back later when you’re ready to publish your site and uncheck this box so you CAN be found. Just not until you’re ready for the world to see your baby.
Don’t let the web crawlers see your site under construction.
Modify theme settings to create appearance and layout according to wire frame plan
This is where you get to customize and have fun! You can use the built-in WordPress customizer or if you’re brave enough, you can start playing with your HTML and CSS to achieve exactly what you dreamed of when you created that wire frame.
You’ll want to add at least one page and a few posts at this point. This will help you to understand how your theme is going to handle your content and allow you to tweak your settings to get just the look you want. Get some photos in there, upload your logo, go nuts!
Preview content and make adjustments
Once you’re done adding some content, go preview it or open a separate browser page and visit your site so you can see what your audience sees. Take note of what changes you want to make, then go back to your other browser page where you’re logged in to the back-end and make those changes.
Install necessary plugins and activate and adjust settings
Are there special things you’d like for your site to be able to do? With thousands of plugins in the WordPress repository, if you can dream it up, there’s probably a plugin for it. Don’t go too crazy; install plugins that will be useful to you. If they’re not or they don’t function the way you expected, then delete them. Don’t risk crashing your site because you have so many plugins slowing down your site. I’m sure once you visit their plugins page and surf around, you’re bound to find plenty of inspiring ideas.
Create MORE content
MORE, MORE, MORE! Begin writing relevant content and adding pages as appropriate. It’s time to flesh out your site and make it robust.
Add legal pages
Have someone review and provide feedback on your creation
Ask a friend; not just any friend. This friend must have special qualifications. You must trust them to give you honest feedback, they need to have impeccable grammar skills and an eye for detail. Now, let them loose on your site and ask them to let you know their thoughts and if they caught any errors. You want your professional looking foot forward on your website because you won’t be there to explain or chuckle with them if there are spelling errors. Ask them to tell you about the layout of your site and if they found it intuitive and user-friendly. All feedback is good feedback.
You’ve worked hard on your baby and you want everyone to think it’s beautiful. Get the feedback and make the necessary changes.
Publish your site and keep actively posting new content
Content, content, content. That’s what being found is all about. Every bit of content helps you to get known, liked, shared and found on search results. Keep it coming, at a minimum of once per week.
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