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How to Build a Great WordPress Website – the Birthday Cake Recipe

How to Build a Great WordPress Website - the Birthday Cake Method

Who needs this WordPress Website Design Birthday Cake Recipe?

Whether you are a WordPress Developer/Designer and need some help, or a company or person that needs to hire a developer/designer to build a new WordPress Website (or upgrade an existing website), this information is for YOU.  You will find it quite useful to understand all of the ingredients that go into building a great website.  Read on:

I am a freelance Website Development and Web Marketing professional, working exclusively in WordPress, the number one Content Management System on the market today.  Over 50% of new websites today are built on the WordPress Platform, and there’s a multitude of reasons why this is so.  The WordPress platform allows the developer to build in requested features in a modular fashion, using the huge array of “plugins” available.  A plugin is simply a “block of functionality” that can be integrated into the website, to add or increase features. This modular approach gives the client as much functionality as they need to start, and then incorporate more as requirements grow with the company.  WordPress has multi-user/role capability, so the addition and management of content can be performed by various people in the organization.  There is a huge WordPress User Community, so support and information forums are plentiful.

Along with this flexibility and almost unlimited functionality comes a great deal of complexity.  If your WordPress developer /designer isn’t at least familiar with all of these components, and know how to address and manage them, the chances of your website being effective at promoting your business and presence on the web is quite small.  You want your website to look good AND actually WORK for you.  All of the pieces and parts must be configured and coordinated to work with each other, otherwise you will get less than you are expecting.  Far less.

WordPress Website Development Solution – How to have your birthday cake and eat it too.

Building a great website is a bit like creating a birthday cake, it looks good, tastes good, and provides an important function.  It promotes a message to your friends that you’ve survived another year, or for that first Birthday, a huge welcome.  It’s a celebration of you, and so should be your website.  Here’s the recipe!

Assembling the Ingredients for the Cake

  1. Choosing, Setting up and Managing Hosting – take the time to do your research and choose based on your requirements and budget.

Your website needs to be “served” from a hosting provider.  The server is where the website content physically exists. There are many tasks that need to be done to ensure that your server and file system is “set up correctly”, is “secure” and “maintained“.  You may also want to have email served from your domain, e.g. janet@janetschaper.com.  You need a developer who is experienced with “cPanel” or whichever tool s the hosting provider makes available to manage email, the domain name, and the file system.  Many website developers hide all of this from their clients because it is quite technical and not everybody’s cup of tea.  But your developer needs to know what they’re doing so that your website operates and performs smoothly.  I recently gained a client whose website had been turned off to Google Search Engine by their original developer, with a directive in the robots.txt file which told Google not to index the site!

There are many choices for types of hosting, and there are trade-offs  between how much the service costs, and how much of the maintenance and support are managed by the hosting provider themselves.  At the top of the food chain (and the most expensive) are hosting providers like WPengine, who provides managed WordPress hosting that takes a lot of work off of the developers plate.  Most hosting providers are jumping on the band wagon and providing “managed WordPress Hosting”, but they are not all equal, and some of them take away the flexibility of tuning your website and its performance.  Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your hosting provider is taking care of “backups”, “security”, “performance” and file system and email management.  If you aren’t buying the top of the line Managed WordPress Hosting, you must be well versed in cPanel.  Some hosting providers like GoDaddy offer a cheap “Managed WordPress Hosting” service, but then they take away the access to cPanel, which is honestly NO GOOD for you as a developer.  Every time you need to have access to the file system, sorry.  I prefer the cPanel access type account, so that I can take care of my own server.  Maker sure you understand what you are getting with that “cheap hosting” account.

There is also the concept of having a “Staging Site” and a “Live Site”.  This is great for the clients who can’t afford for their website to be down while changes and upgrades are made.  So we develop on the “Staging Site”, and then promote the changes to the “Live Site” with little to no downtime.

This topic is worth an entire blog post, so you will see more from me on this subject very soon.

  1. Defining the goal of the website:

The developer/designer must understand and be able to articulate the primary and secondary goals of the website.  This is often tough to get out of clients, but it is necessary if you want to have an effective website.  A successful website that is effective and serves the needs of its visitors cannot be built without knowing the goal.   Some examples are:

  • Sell Products/Services
  • Prospect for Clients (Lead generation)
  • Increase or build a User Community
  1. Defining the Target Audience of the website and their Use Model

Lots of traffic to the site doesn’t always correspond to an increase in business.  It needs to be “targeted traffic”, visitors who will buy your products, hire you for services, or join your subscriber list.  The marketing term for this is “conversions”.  A visitor converts when they buy your product, hire you for services, or subscribe to your blog/membership.  Simply stated, you need to define the market segments to which you are selling/promoting.  Did you know that one of the MOST IMPORTANT Google Search metrics is “Click Through Rate”?  That’s right, the more people that click through to your site after it shows up on a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP), the higher you will rank!  If your website doesn’t target the right audience, folks will NOT click through to your site.

It really helps to know how visitors to your website will use the website to find the information they want quickly and easily.  Make sure you have at least 2 intended “user scenarios” defined, so that you can architect your content and user interface accordingly.

  1. Defining Keywords and Keyword Phrases (Topics). DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!!!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about keywords and keyword phrases, and building and organizing your content to leverage them.  These are the words your prospects will be typing into Google when they are searching for your product/service/business.  The time to define keywords is BEFORE you begin building your website content, not AFTER!  Your content needs to be structured around, and peppered with your keywords.  Folks who believe SEO happens after the website is built are missing the boat.  Sure, you can continuously re-optimize your website to improve your Search Engine Visibility based on analyzing its performance and visitor profile, but you should have a good base to start with.  Keywords can be used in URLs, images, page content, and the “behind the scenes” so called “meta tags” which aren’t even visible on your website.  But they are visible to Google, so they need to be built in from the get-go.

I prefer using Google Keyword Planner, and SEMRush to determine the best keywords for my client, based on their market niche, their differentiation in the marketplace, and their target audience.  There are many other tools to use, find which ones you like, and then make use of the wealth of information that they provide!

 

Next step: Building the Cake Layers! 

My next blog post will continue with the recipe.  Check back in a week to get the rest of the recipe.  Subscribe to my blog to be notified by email when the next post comes out.  Don’t get stuck with a half baked cake!  If you want more detailed information, feel free to contact me using the contact form in the sidebar, I am a master baker.


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WordPress is the only choice for your Website Solution, honestly!

You want a new website.  It needs to be elegant, interactive, modern, creative and eye catching.  It needs to “do” all of the stuff your visitors want when they interact with it.  It needs all of the features and functionality required to support your business.  AND,  it absolutely needs to promote you and your business on the internet.  Perhaps you’d even like to manage some of the content yourself, like your product catalog, or your photo gallery, or your blog/newsletter, or your social network connections.  What’s more, you want to be able to measure and analyze the traffic that comes to your website.  How well are your SEO efforts (and $$) paying off?  How is that last email marketing campaign doing?  What’s your most popular product or blog post? What are your visitors doing when they visit your website?

Good grief!  You sure want a LOT!

Well, you can actually have it all.  Your cake and eat it too.  And what’s even more astonishing is that there is an affordable solution that can be implemented quickly.  But you have to make the smart choices up front.

The two most important choices are your web authoring platform, and your web developer/designer. 

Smart Choice 1: WordPress: the premier web authoring platform.

WordPress is the number one Content Management System on the maket today.  Simply stated, a Content Management System is software that makes it easy for non-techies to organize and manage Web Content.  It makes maintaining and updating a website simple-er, and more affordable.  It allows publishing, editing and modifying of content from a central interface.  Web content may include text, graphics, photos, video, audio and even programming code.  The main capabilities of WordPress that make it extremely flexible and able to give the user so many interactive features, are often times overlooked when we start thinking about building a website.  We sometimes get carried away with the visual appeal of our website, and forget to plan for how we want visitors to interact with it.  Here are some key Content Management System capabilities that you should consider carefully before you choose your development platform.

  1. Multitudes of themes (skins) that can be applied to new and existing content giving you the look and feel you need for your company image.

  2. Access Control: You can control how registered users (logged in or “members”) interact with the site.  You may have private content that only privileged  users can read/edit/or comment upon.

  3. Scalable Feature Sets: Plugins can be easily installed that extend the site’s funtionality.  These can be installed in a modular fashion as they are needed such that your website can grow with your company’s needs. YES!  A shopping cart and a catalog are “features”!

  4. Content Syndication: Distributing content by generating RSS data feeds and email to other systems. Sharing with Social Media can also be thought of as content syndication.

So now that you know what a CMS is, do you need it?  Of COURSE you do,  and Wordpress is your only choice because:

  1. It is the fastest growing CMS by FAR

  2. WordPress was used by more than 23.3% of the top 10 million websites as of January 2015 

  3. WordPress has a HUGE repository of plug-ins to do just about anything your little heart desires.  What’s more, they’ve been tried, tested, improved, and are supported by the giant user community. Yes there are interactive calendars, and memberships, and forums, and e-Commerce, and …..

  4. About that giant user community: There are forums for everything WordPress, where you can find documentation, ratings, FAQs, and support.

  5. With WordPress you can choose from thousands of “responsive themes” so your website looks and performs well on PCs AND mobile devices.

  6. Most modern themes come with Social Media Sharing hooks built in

  7. Most modern themes come with hooks into SEO capability that makes it easy to manage and improve your Search Engine Optimization parameters

  8. It has a single, unified codebase that allows it to reach people on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets as well as desktop computers.

  9. It has a simple to use Content Editor, which allows you to help maintain your content, and not always have to rely on a techie to make updates.

Smart Choice 2: Schaper Consulting, Your Web Designer / Developer /Manager

There are so many considerations to take into account when choosing a web designer / developer, you really need a good Project Manager as well as good talent.  A successful and effective website will grow your business, from increasing your bottom line, to expanding your customer base, to improving customer satisfaction and experience.  The successful website is really a “solution” to solving your business issues.  It is a solution made up of many components, each addressing a particular problem in the marketplace. These components must all be managed concurrently, such that the final result is a website that meets your requirements and promotes your business online.

What are the main problems that a Website Solution must solve?

  1. Present your company image to the web marketplace.  

  2. Showcase and advertise your services & products in a professional and attractive manner. 

  3. Make available your services & products to the online consumer

  4. Allow your clients/visitors to interact with your company & Products

  5. Promote your company image & services on Social Media

  6. Enable Search Engines (Google) to find your web pages that advertise your services & products, and direct traffic to your website. 

The Website Solution must address and solve each of these problems.  Moreover, each problem must be addressed from the GET GO and managed concurrently in order to achieve the effective website.  With WordPress, designing and developing a Website Solution becomes manageable and achievable.  What’s more, it can be done in a cost effective manner.

It is easy to see that building this Website Solution will require good Project Management as well as knowledgeable talent.  You need a variety of skill sets and expertise to achieve a cohesive result. Each component must play well with the others.  In addition, your Web Designers / Developers must know how to leverage the right tools to monitor and solve thee problems.

 

Schaper Consulting provides these Website Solution services and expertise, including premier Project Management.

Contact Us today for a complimentary consultation and assessment.  Start building your Website Solution today!

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