The Ultimate Checklist to Creating a WordPress Site

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wordpressThe Ultimate Checklist to Creating a WordPress Site

WordPress has taken the Internet by storm over the past decade, and it’s now the most popular Content Management System (CMS) online. But it isn’t just for the blogosphere; although WordPress found its humble beginnings in blogging, it now accounts for around 23 percent of all websites on the Internet. That’s a staggering number to think of, but also very insightful. It means that WordPress is the website platform of choice for many reputable web developers, designers, and companies. Whatever your reason for wanting to create a website may be, WordPress is definitely a platform you’ll want to consider. While having a website built from scratch can be nice, WordPress allows you to set up your site yourself with a little bit of research and for much less cost. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the things you need to know and consider for building the perfect WordPress site all on your own.1. Choose the Right Theme

WordPress is renowned for its almost infinite number of theme choices. There are free themes and premium themes available from a number of different sources, including ThemeForest, WooThemes, and StudioPress. The prices can range up to around $60, and more expensive themes usually come with more advanced features. Depending on what you’re building a website for, it’s best to research the best themes for the type of site you need. There are themes for real estate websites, food blogs, e-commerce sites, and almost any other type of popular site you can imagine. Finding the best theme for your needs ensures a great plug-and-play design that will look and function great immediately.

2. Get the Best Plugins for Your Site

WordPress also gains its favorability from the large number of plugins it offers. Plugins can offer added functionality to your website, and most of them are free! Some of the best general plugins include Akismet for controlling spam comments, W3 Total Cache for page caching and file condensing to make your site run faster, Disqus for a better comment-leaving feature, Fast Secure Contact Form to add a simple and secure contact form, WP Insert for easily inserting advertisements onto your pages, Smush.It for optimizing images for faster loading, and WooCommerce for e-commerce functionality. There are many more general plugins that can add great features to your site, but these are some of the best and the most well know. In the rest of this guide, we’ll also give some more WordPress plugin recommendations for some more specific types of features.

3. Create the Right Pages and Configure Pages

After defining the basics of a theme and the essential plugins you’ll need for your site, it’s time to start defining what pages you’ll need as well as determining the basic layouts of those pages. For example, most websites have a home page, a content page, an about us page, a privacy policy page, and a contact page. This is just a general example of common pages websites typically have, but you’ll have to determine what you need depending on your site. For example, if the site is for a business, there should be a page detailing the available products or services. For a blog, there should be a page for regularly posted content. Other things to consider are where important information like the terms of service will be located, as well as any static elements you may want to define. For example, headers and footers are usually static for most pages, although they don’t have to be. Within the WordPress dashboard, the header and footer can be changed with different menu items by accessing the WordPress dashboard and selecting the appearance tab and then selecting the option for menus.

4. Choose Permalinks

Changing the URL extension for each page or post on your site is possible with WordPress, and it’s generally best to do so for SEO purposes and because it’s more user-friendly. Without changing the URL extension, extensions can look busy and cluttered with random numbers, symbols, and letters that aren’t relevant to the page or post by user standards. But you don’t have to customize every single page or post URL either if you don’t want to, as this can be one more thing to always have to remember when adding content. Instead, it’s possible to automate a permalink structure by selecting the settings tab and the permalinks option within the WordPress dashboard and pasting in %postname%. Instead of your website URL looking like “mywebsite.com?p=149” for a post with the name of “My Hobbies”, the URL will instead automatically be “mywebsite.com/my-hobbies.”

5. Include a Favicon

Favicons are the little icons that sit in the URL bar next to your website name. They add a certain flair to the design of your site and can be great if you already have a brand logo, a mascot, or a monogram or similar symbol you use for your blog or personal website. If you don’t have a favicon, you can create one at www.favicon.cc. The simplest way to install a favicon is to install a favicon plugin such as Custom Favicon.

6. Make Your Site SEO Friendly

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best methods for getting more organic traffic to your site, and is extremely useful for businesses or individuals who are hoping to gain more visitors through searches. If SEO is a goal of yours, it’s good practice to build your site from the beginning with SEO in mind. The industry standard plugin for SEO is WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plugin offers a host of features, including XML site map generation for search engines to index pages more easily on your site, control over title and meta descriptions for each page, and the ability to keep certain pages from being indexed in order to prevent duplicate content. If all of this sounds complex, that’s ok – SEO has a bit of a learning curve. All you need to know is to download the SEO by Yoast plugin and learn about it slowly to get the most out of it. Otherwise, you’ll want to do simple things like giving all images on your site descriptive names and alt texts, as this can also help boost SEO rankings.

7. Incorporate Analytics

One of the wonderful things about the Web is the ability to gain useful insights about user actions on your site. This information is useful for anyone who owns a business and anyone who has an interest in growing their site, their user base, and the number of regular visitors to their site. There are a host of tools and plugins that can be used for analytics, but the simplest method is to use Google Analytics. You can sign up for a Google Analytics account and incorporate it into your site by taking the code Google provides you and placing it right before the tag in the footer file of your theme.

8. Social Media

Social media is on almost everyone’s wish-list when they create a new website, and luckily it’s easy to incorporate social media through WordPress. There are tons of plugins to add social share buttons on all your pages, and each offers different features that might suit your needs better than others. Perhaps the most well known plugin for social media on WordPress is Digg Digg offered by Buffer. This plugin is extremely versatile and works with all the major social media platforms you cold hope for. The customization for the plugin also allows the button feature to remain static or floating on your page with left or right scrolling options.

9. Secure WordPress

No matter what you do, your site will always be vulnerable to attackers in one way or another. This doesn’t mean you should leave yourself wide open for attack though. There are simple measures that should be taken, just like locking the door to your house at night. Some best practices for keeping your site secure include having the latest version of WordPress installed to ensure the most recent security fixes are in place, changing your login name from “admin” to a unique name, and installing the plugin WP Security Scan which can assist with all things security related for your site.

10. Back Up Your Site

Finally, now that your site is up and running with the layout you want, the right plugins and features, and is configured and designed to your liking, it’s time to backup all your hard work. The worst possible thing that could happen at this point would be to have all your data erased for some trivial reason. This can be prevented by installing a back up plugin like VaultPress or BackupBuddy. While there are many others to consider, these plugins are two of the most popular for a good back up solution. VaultPress plans start at $15 per month, and BackupBuddy starts at $75 for two websites, although it’s only a one-time cost. It’s best to determine what kind of solution you need, and spend the money accordingly. Being cheap can end up costing you more in the end, so it’s better to implement the right solution and pay for it as needed.

 

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