So, you have heard all the buzz about WordPress. “Over 60 million users”, “Free to download”, “Easy setup for beginners”. All of this is pretty much true. Because of WordPress even the less technical minded among us can have a website in minutes and at very little cost. But where do you actually begin when Building your first website with WordPress?
Get your content ready
You have probably heard the old saying “Content is King” right? Well this really is true. Most people (and Google!) don’t care if you have the most beautiful looking website in the world. People go to websites for information. Preferably information that is relevant to them. Your content should be concise, to the point and interesting to the user.
The chances are your website visitors have landed on your page via a google search or from a link on another website. They have gone to your page for a reason, so make sure you do your best to keep them there for a while and then make them want to come back for more.
A good way to organise your content is to do a card sorting exercise. This can simply be done with post-it notes and a pencil. Write down your content categories i.e About Us, Services, or whatever your main website pages might be and these will form your main navigation. Then write down all of your other page titles onto post-its and place each of them under one of your categories. This will form your website structure and navigation. If you know any people who are potential visitors to your website or have knowledge of your subject it may be a good idea to involve them in this exercise.
You should have most of your content ready or at least have a very good idea of what your content will be before you think about your beautifully designed WordPress theme. The card sorting exercise will help you achieve this. Don’t choose an awesome theme and try to fit your content into it – shape your design around your awesome content. You might want a blog, videos, social media sharing elements, sliders,images and all the rest. Get this down on paper, build a list, make a wireframe of how you want your content to look.
Wireframe your website
Wireframing really is worth it’s weight in gold when creating a website. It’s the best way to plan your website layout and so easy to do. You can basically just use a pencil and a few sheets of paper. If you want something a bit more technical you can use a graphics package such as Fireworks or Photoshop. Alternatively you can pick from a wide range of online tools like Balsamiq or Moqups. You should also make separate wireframes for mobile and tablet versions of your website.
Think about your content and how the user will interact with it. You can create personas based on the type of people who will use your website. Think about how they will will navigate your website based on their needs. Consider extra functionality that you want your website to have and how this can benefit the end user. Add these to your wireframes to make sure it all fits and makes sense to the customer. Again don’t be held back by what themes and plugins you think you will need. Just concentrate on the user interface and the user journey.
The methods mentioned above are commonly used UX (User Experience) processes and will improve the quality of your website.
One last thing to prepare before moving on to the next stage is your branding. Make sure you have all of your relevant images, logos and colours ready to add to your new website. You could do a quick mock-up using a graphics package to see how the branding fits in with your wireframes.
For the next article in the Building your first website with WordPress series we are going to look at setting up your WordPress website including picking the correct domain, hosting, WordPress theme and plugins.