So whether you are new to the business and need to start building a website, or your website is way outdated and needs to be refreshed you are in the right place.
Building your own website has never been easier than it is right now. The way in which technologies have advanced in the last couple of years is quite astounding. Thanks to all these changes the tools we now use to build a website make it easy to never touch a piece of code.
So I will go over the basics as well as point you in the direction of my favorite free tools.
Domain Name and Hosting
Registering your domain name and hosting are the first steps. Of course, if you already have a domain name as well as hosting then you can skip to the basics of building with WordPress.
I am a fan of GoDaddy mostly because they have deals all the. For small businesses, they are reasonably priced and they offer hosted as well as managed hosting. Regular hosting plans are great if you have a bit of tech savvy. However, if you want to make life super easy they have WordPress Managed plan that is less than $100 a year. Which basically comes with unlimited support so if you need a little help this might be the way to go.
Another option is BlueHost which has become quite popular over the last couple of years and is great for a lean site. They are very economical. I have not personally used them but know of friends and colleges who have used them with no complaints.
If you have multiple sites to manage I would recommend going with something a little more powerful such as WPEngine. They are a bit more expensive but well worth it is you have a lot of data to store. We just switched over to them for Boardwalk a few months back when we needed our site to load faster, as well as handle more volume as we grow. We have been very happy with them.
Originally created as a blogging platform it is the most widely used content management platform available. It is open source, which means that anyone can use it, customize it etc. at no charge. It has also become super easy to use, and there are about a million free templates to get you up and running in no time at all.
Ok so let’s talk about those free WordPress themes.
Finding the right theme can be daunting. There are so many out there it can be a hard decision to make. Then to top it all off when you get all set up it looks nothing like the preview that was shown. The good news is that someone has already done the research for you….
Capterra wrote a blog not too long ago that highlights 8 great WP Themes for service businesses. You can find the post here: 8 WP Themes
One of my favorites as of late is Customizr. I used it to help build out a site for a friend who does face painting and all that good stuff for kids parties.
When you are installing a theme it is easiest to load it from within WordPress by going to themes on the left sidebar. Then search for the theme you would like to load and add it to your themes. You can easily switch between themes as well as view previews before making a decision.
Pages versus Posts
So this is the one concept that once I grasped it I realized how to customize a WP Theme and make it look like the intended preview.
Pages are considered static. They don’t move so they are to be used for pages such as Home, Contact, Location, Get and Estimate.
Posts are generally more variable. I always thought of posts as blog posts, which is true in so many ways. However, most of the themes that are used require posts to make the theme look the way it does when you are on the preview. So I would recommend using the posts as your services.
If there are icons, sliders etc that are linked to your latest posts you need to select a featured image for the post otherwise your slider won’t work.
There are twice as many plugins as there are themes for WordPress. If you can imagine it then it exists. That being said I will give you a couple that I like.
In a recent blog post, I talked about Google Analytics and the Yoast Plugins. These I highly recommend.
A contact form, of course, is highly recommended so that you can get client interest even when you are away from the office. There are a couple that I like for lead capturing are WuFoo and 123 Contact.
You can also just use Mailchimp to create a form and embed it in your site.
Copy, Conversion, and Landing Pages
I have always been fairly confident in my writing, but confidence and conversion are two different things. The following links will try to sell you stuff, but what I want to point out is their blogs and the value that they have created without making you buy anything.
Jo at Copy Hackers https://copyhackers.com/ She knows a little something about words. After reading her blog and taking a look at a few of her videos, I realized that my writing style on our website as well as our landing pages was a bit stuffy. I wanted to be professional but came off as stuffy. I rewrote most of site and our landing pages to be more personally. I highly recommend checking her blog out.
Here is Peep with Conversionxl. He talks about what it really means to optimize your site. Best use of space, how to use call to action buttons.
The Unbounce Blog is another one that I really enjoy. They do landing pages but talk about so much more in their blog.
I could go on and on, but I will end it here. Should you have any specific questions regarding website building you know where to find me.