Building a Website – Customization and Tweaking
All the basics should be ready by now. You have a domain, a host service, and have made sure SSL is in effect and http redirects are sending all addresses to your https address. Now it’s time to design and customize. Since I have recommended the WordPress structure and I’m most familiar with it I will continue with specific WordPress items and offer some details about building your Website..
For a WordPress site the first thing is your choice of theme. You didn’t need to decide this before starting building your website but now that the beginning steps have been done that should be the next task. There are thousands of themes available, both free and paid, and the choice usually isn’t too specific to the purpose of your site. But when you are browsing through themes read the descriptions – some will point out they support Blogs or shopping or personal/professional individual promotions better than others.
To choose a theme log into your WordPress administration screen. You should be given that address at some point while building your Website and have a Administration login setup as part of the creation process. It should be something in the form of https://www.yoursite.com/wp-login.php. If you aren’t sure you can ask your host for assistance.
Once you are logged look at the left hand menu and hover over appearance and click on Themes.
You will have a default theme already, and you might be happy with it. But I would have a look anyway. Click on ‘Add New’ at the top of the page. There will be many themes shown, and the default category is ‘Featured’. I usually change to the ‘Popular’ tab. Look through the themes and if something looks interesting hover over the theme and an option to see the details of the theme will appear. Click on it and you can read the details.
If you find something you like you can download it and make it your active theme. You can have multiple themes and switch between them to see exactly how it will look when building your website and as you add content. Keep in mind that some themes may or may not be compatible with others – something you add may look great on one theme but look entirely different on another. There is a huge number of free themes so I don’t see any reason to pay for one (unless you maybe want to upgrade it for special features).
We chose the Ashe Pro theme. It supports both the Store on our site and the Blog very nicely. Ashe is a free theme, but we upgraded to Pro to get some additional features and for better support. This was not a requirement but a choice. The free version worked just fine.
Now that you have a theme, the next step on building your Website is looking at plugins you might want to add. Plugins are optional site enhancements that add functionality to your site. To see your plugins already installed (there may be some) hover over Plugins on the left hand menu and select ‘Installed Plugins’.
If you have any plugins read the details and understand them. Not all plugins are valuable. In fact many can negatively impact your site and it’s performance. Only have the plugins you need.
But you will almost certainly want at least some new ones, and others depending on what you want to do with your site. You don’t need to add any plugins at all to have a functional site. But these are some I find useful and They all have free and/or trial versions as well, but we have the Pro version of all of them.
Beehive Pro. This plugin adds Google Analytics to your site (very useful to understand traffic) and Google tag manager (an advanced but powerful tracking feature). Tag Manager is beyond the scope of this article. You should have a Google Analytics account. You can learn more about Google Analytics here.
Hustle Pro. This plugin controls pop-ups, slide-ins, etc. Can be used for a marketing strategy and other things like Cookie warning windows. Lots of choices and customization options and very easy to set up.
Branda Pro. This plugin hides details about your site from scanning by possibly malicious sources, keeping information like WordPress version, your plugins, etc. This data can be used by people trying to manipulate your Website.
Defender Pro. This is security software which adds an additional layer of security on top of what your hosting site may offer.
Hummingbird Pro. This is optimization software that enhances your Website’s performance. You should always be concerned with performance – in the modern world users expect a high performing Website so always keep that in mind while you are building it.
SmartCrawl Pro. This plugin helps check your sites for link problems and also suggests SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tips for your site so that you get good results in search engines like Google.
Smush Pro. A good Website should have images, and Smush is a great tool to optimize images. It compresses them, which means faster load times, which means fast WebSite performance.
And if you are with WPMUDEV you should also have this:
WPMUDEV Dashboard which ties your WPMUDEV account to your Website nicely and adds some great analytical data.
If you have some eCommerce elements, I highly recommend WooCommerce to take care of your commerce needs. There are two I would certainly add:
- SideCart WooCommerce. This plugin adds a nice Cart icon to all screens and something the core WooCommerce package does not include for some reason.
- WooCommerce. This plugin is widely used and fantastic for managing all elements of your store. It’s invaluable.
- WooCommerce PayPal Checkout Gateway. This integrates WooCommerce with PayPal so consumers are able to pay for items with the world-wide accepted PayPal system.
For either Blogging or Commerce I also recommend Blog2Social. This plugin makes it easy to send posts or pages to social media platforms. Using social media for your Website promotion is a no-brainer and a must-do in this modern online community. Speaking of which, while building your website also plan to have a Facebook account and create a Business page for all things specific for your site. There is help available at Facebook about this and many articles so look for them and they can guide you in setting up a Facebook page for your endeavor.
I hope you have gotten good information from my articles about Building a Website. Leave a comment or contact me if you would like more information about another related to this.
Best Wishes and enjoy Building your Website!