It’s alright to admit when you’re at a loss. Few topics in this industry are as intimidating and confusing as building a WordPress site from scratch. Not only that, but you’re expected to know how to build it with conversions in mind? As if web design wasn’t complex enough.
Although it’d be easy to dive into every minor detail here, there’s a strong chance we’d end up with a 5,000 word article that was more draining than helpful. Instead, we’ll be covering everything, but we’re going to break the process down into 3 basic components:
By the end of this guide, you’ll not only understand how to build a WordPress site from the ground up, but how to ensure that it turns potential clients into paying clients.
The way you setup your WordPress site is absolutely critical to the success of your conversion efforts in the future. Mercifully, these first few steps are actually pretty straightforward:
- Find and Register a Domain Name
- Choosing Web Hosting
- Installing WordPress
The answer to the question of ‘how much will it cost?’ can be answered once you’ve decided what kind of business you’ve got. If you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands a year, you’ll probably be able to spend some of that money on a business website every year. If you’re looking at a modest small business budget, don’t worry. You can build a typical business website for as low as $100.
Truth be told, you’re going to want to start small. Even with this strong guide at your disposal, it’s inevitable that you’ll want to change something down the line. It would be a tragedy if you spent hundreds of thousands of dollars only to then change your mind and flush that money down the drain.
If you’re like most users, then a self-hosted WordPress.org site is going to be your ideal starting point. There are a few reasons for this, but the only one you really need to care about at this point is the fact that you’ll have access to thousands of addons and plugins down the line.
At this point, it’s worth mentioning that while WordPress itself is free, you’ll have to pay for your own domain name and hosting. If you’re not familiar, a domain name is just the name of your website (yelp.com, for example). It’s how people will be able to find you online. A good rule of thumb is to stick with the .com version of a domain name. The simpler the name you choose the better.
The WordPress hosting is where the website files end up getting stored. All websites need this, and you can think of this as the place your website links with the rest of the internet. Once you’ve decided on a domain name and hosting, you can go ahead and purchase both.
Once you’ve handled all of that, it’s time to finally install WordPress. This process can take a bit of time, but fortunately it’s pretty intuitive. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to head to the WordPress login page and you can login to your WordPress site using the admin username and password you entered earlier.
- Selecting Your Theme
- Creating Pages in WordPress
- Customizing with Plugins
- Call to Action
Choosing your WordPress theme can feel like a major decision, considering that it’s going to be the visual appearance of your site for year and year. This is where we start to take a bit of a turn from conventional techniques here.
The typical advice given here is to focus on getting a free theme because they’re not awful and they’re free. While you can certainly get started with one just to keep the process moving swiftly, those themes are nothing compared to a customized WordPress design (something we’ll get into in our style section).
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It’s not much of a website if it doesn’t have any other pages than a loading page. Since we’re looking to add content to our site, we need to understand what our options are. Essentially, there are two default content types: posts and pages. Posts are part of a blog and appear in reverse-chronological order (newer items displayed first).
As you’re creating new pages and posts, take the time to familiarize yourself with the WordPress admin area (since you’ll be spending plenty of time with this anyway over the years). Depending on the type of business you’re running, you’ll want to create pages for topics like:
Finally, you’ll have access to some of the more interesting and fun aspects of WordPress. Currently, there are almost 50,000 free plugins available for WordPress. There are of course tools like the Easy Social Share Buttons, which are premium (read: not free) plugins. But they’re well worth the money, with plugins like this encouraging engagement and increasing the likelihood of conversion.
So which plugins are essential to your WordPress site? Well, there 3 that we can think of that no site should ever go without.
- WPForms Lite: Allows you to add a contact form to your site
- Yoast SEO: Improve your WordPress SEO and get more traffic from Google
- Sucuri: Website security audit and malware scanner
The final piece of the functionality puzzle, and yet so many business owners forget how important it is. Building a site is good, and building an impressive site is better, but those prospects aren’t going to convert themselves.
Let’s be absolutely clear: you can’t expect to convert without a strong CTA. Getting the attention of potential customers is important, but being able to leverage that attention into conversions is what makes all the difference for your business. Using something as simple as a Call to Action button plugin can help turn a prospect into a genuine lead.
Getting yourself off the ground with a basic theme is alright just to get the site up and running, but you’ll want to transition to the Custom WordPress Design soon. The reality of Custom WordPress Design is that choosing this option sets your site apart from the competition in a major way.
If you’re wondering what the difference is, it’s pretty straightforward. On one hand, you’re guessing at what looks good and what ‘should’ work. With the Custom WordPress Design, you’re dealing with a professional who understands the art of design. They’re looking at color schemes, typography and considering the status of your brand identity.
They’ll start from scratch, work with you to understand your company and make sure that you end up with a completely unique website designed to match and serve your needs.
Nothing in web design exists in a vacuum. That CTA might seem like a minor component, but everything else in the site exists to support it. By building a genuinely impressive WordPress site that consistently encourages visitors to take that next step, your business will be one step closer to turning that ‘maybe’ into a ‘yes’.