1. Shop Around for Web Hosting

Little did I know a few weeks ago how irksome setting up hosting can be if you go in blind (as I did) and mess things up early by incorrectly changing WordPress URLs (as I most certainly did; see tip 5 below.) Unlike the pretty free themes you’ll soon be playing with when designing your site, hosting is going to cost you. I went with Bluehost, as I’d heard they were a quality, reliable web hosting company; and so far I’ve found this to be true. Just bear in mind that when they say “starting at $2.95/month”, expect to see upwards of $100 come out of your bank account pretty quickly, as a yearly payment. No doubt this trips a lot of people up, but the bottom line is that that’s still a whole year of reliable hosting you’re going to need, and at least the payment is out of the way early on.

 

  1. Look at Other Sites

The chances are that you want to build a site using WordPress because you’ve been inspired by other similar sites. You’ve heard about how easy it can be and so now you want a piece of the WordPress pie. That’s good. I’ve just taken my slice and you’re watching me eat it right now. So where do you start? First, take a minute to notice what works well for those sites you’ve seen. For me, it was TheMinimalists.com 1 and their simple white, clean, to-the-point, no-frills (minimalist) design which was right up my street – so that was what I aimed for. I paid close attention to headings, fonts, layouts, buttons, images etc. and began to sketch out how my own site would look. Once you know roughly how you want your site to look, have fun trying out all the themes WordPress offers. Unless you’re a whizz with HTML and CSS or you know someone who is, you’ll be needing a good ready-made theme. Remember, you don’t need to spend any money to give your site a great-looking design. Luckily, some of the best themes on WordPress are free 2.

 

  1. Be Patient

Good design is an art; it takes time; it shouldn’t be rushed; so when it’s ready, it’s ready. The same applies for web developing and your site design. Don’t rush it. The last thing you want is to launch with a crappy design because you’re all too eager to shout out into the noise like a billion other bloggers, only to find that things aren’t working properly or looking how you want them to look and others have noticed. Take your time, constantly preview, and finally that launch will be the only thing left to do.

 

  1. Design Well

You don’t have to be a perfectionist. What you need to do is realise that nobody wants to look at crappy design. Like a good book, it should be designed with the user in mind: clean, readable, presentable and telling you nothing you don’t need to know. There’s no room for it anymore. Activating a pre-designed theme, getting your shit in order and not ruining it all with unnecessary plugins should be easy enough nowadays, especially with sites like Pixabay offering great collections of royalty-free images (this is my go-to site for feature images). Lastly: mobile first! These days, (too many) people would feel naked without their phones for an hour, let alone a day. That means the majority of your site’s visitors will be looking at your site on mobile. That means you must put mobile first! If your theme isn’t responsive (it most likely will be), it’s going to annoy people. Worse: they’re not even going to get annoyed: as quickly as they land on your page and see it appearing as if from far away, too small to navigate and to read, they’re going to ‘bounce’ – they’re gone without another click. Bye bye, potential follower…

 

  1. Ask for Help

Finally, don’t panic if this is all over your head. Some of it was for myself, especially aspects of hosting (URLs, server name changes, etc.) Luckily, I had someone on hand who was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to get me back on track every time I’d made a mistake. But a helpful friend isn’t necessary. There’s still help out there in the form of experts who can make the whole process painless. Beyond friends and experts, the guys behind WordPress and Bluehost are known for being on hand to help their customers. So you’re never alone. Especially in this World Wide Web. Ask for help; it’s always out there somewhere.

 

Notes

[1] Although, I believe, The Minimalists’ site isn’t powered by WordPress, I nevertheless took much inspiration from them with regard to design and overall aesthetics. 

[2] My own site uses a theme called Edge, which was free.

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