Building a website is a daunting task,. It’s tedious, a lot of bugs can get into the code, and sometimes things just… don’t work. That’s where WordPress comes in. The web design codes are built for you. They’re easy to customize and it makes building a WordPress website easy, even for beginning WordPress builders.
Getting started can feel confusing though. That’s why we’re here to help. Read on for the top 10 beginning WordPress tips for building a WordPress website.
10 Beginning WordPress Tips for Building a WordPress Website
1. Plan Ahead
Before you start anything, you need to create a checklist for your WordPress website.
You need to start with choosing a web host and package that works for you. Then you’ll want to pick your theme and consider any necessary plugins and customizations.
You should also set a timeline for yourself, especially if your WordPress website needs to be complete by a certain date. Be logical and pragmatic with your thinking. It’s easy to get excited about what’s ahead, but you need to ensure that your goals are attainable based on your experience and knowledge of WordPress design.
Beginning WordPress: Keep It Simple
In your plan, keep things simple. Take a streamlined approach that can be built upon or added to as you go.
Be sure to include dates to touch base with clients, partners, and other people involved in the design process. Also, include extra time after these meetings to account for time spent on things that need to be changed.
2. Consider Premium Themes
Yes, you can keep the free theme from WordPress, but it’s going to limit what you can and cannot do on your website.
Premium themes are more customizable than free ones. There are better options, and they make it easier to fit whatever you’d like onto your website.
You can play around with color schemes more freely, widgets are going to be easier to customize, and you’re going to have more overall freedom with your website. Especially when you are beginning WordPress, it’s worth the investment in a premium theme to save hours of time.
3. Optimize for Mobile
Now that nearly everyone has a smartphone, there are more people doing their web browsing on their mobile devices than on desktop or laptop computers. While you’ll be building your website on a computer, you need to be aware of how your site looks and feels on mobile devices, or you’ll likely be alienating a huge portion of your potential web traffic.
Luckily, WordPress templates are purposely designed to be mobile-friendly and responsive, which means that the content you put on your website will automatically adjust to fit whatever screen size your users are visiting from, whether it’s from desktop, mobile, or even tablet screen sizes. Even though WordPress will do all the heavy lifting here for you, it’s smart to be aware of this, and throughout the process of building a WordPress website to constantly check how things look on different devices.
Website Load Speeds
According to Google, the average landing page takes 22 seconds to load. However, users begin to get impatient and will start leaving your website if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds. The longer it takes for your site to load, the more likely it is that people won’t stick around to see what you have to offer.
This is particularly true on mobile devices, which is where most website browsing occurs. Unfortunately, keeping your site up-to-speed on mobile is more difficult than it is on desktop, so you need to be aware of how much “stuff” you’re adding to your site.
The two biggest culprits for slow loading speeds on a mobile device are:
- Large image files
- Too many plugins
While big, beautiful images are really nice on desktop computers, on a mobile device you only have so much real estate to show these images. Instead of using the full-size images, you take on your big DSLR camera or that you download from a stock photo service, you should always resize your images to better match the actual size that’s needed on your desktop web page. In addition, you can reduce the resolution from the high-res version to about 70% of normal, and most of the time you’ll hardly know the difference. WordPress will then be able to adjust the size of your images for mobile devices, and you’ll reduce your file sizes by up to 90%.
Where plugins are concerned, only use as many plugins as you actually need. We’ll discuss this a little further later on in this post.
Not only does having slow load speeds affect the user experience of your website, it also affects how well your site can be found through search engines. People leaving your website increases your bounce rate, which affects your overall search result ranking on Google, making your site much harder to find organically. Always keep in mind that the more simple approach to building a WordPress website is often the best approach, especially when it comes to mobile optimization and site speed.
4. Place Some Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is short for search engine optimization. Put simply, this means your website is optimized for search engine rankings. The more focus you place on SEO, the more likely you are to climb to that number 1 spot on Google’s search results and tap into the wave of traffic that comes with it.
While you should look into keyword research for optimizing the content on your website, some plugins can help if you have no idea about what you’re doing.
A well-known plugin is Yoast. Beginning WordPress users will greatly benefit from the easy-to-use instructions that Yoast provides on how to optimize your web pages and blog posts.
Yoast comes with a keyword tool, but you have to know which keywords to type in first, which is why keyword research is so important. Once you’ve found your coveted keyword, you can type it into a box that will automatically give you tips on optimizing the page for SEO.
5. Carefully Consider Color
Your website is a reflection of you and your brand, and the colors you choose play a major part in how your users will feel about you. ick a color scheme you’d like to have associated with your brand and make sure your logo and website are designed to match.
You can choose something simple like black and white. You can get creative and utilize different shades of blues or pinks. You should know, however, that color psychology can play a role in people’s perception of any business.
The phrase “color psychology” isn’t meant to scare you, but it is meant to catch your attention. Doing a bit of research into color psychology can help you achieve the desired effect with your branding and colors.
For example, red is often associated with fire and action. It’s an “angry” color that’s meant to encourage people to make a certain move. On the other side, blue is a calm, serene color that promotes tranquility.
When you mix those two, you get purple. While it’s associated with luxury and power, like red, it’s also associated with peace, like blue. Purple, on its own, represents nobility and royalty, which is something that needs both peace and power.
Think about the feeling you want to evoke when you’re creating a website and work to incorporate it throughout the pages.
6. Get Picky With Your Plugins
Yes, we’ve talked about plugins a lot already, but that’s because they’re necessary.
They do, however, eat up space on your website’s server, especially if they’re left unused. You don’t want a bunch of unused plugins sitting on your website’s server. Doing so will both slow down your website, and also cause potential security issues. Instead—either as you plan or while you’re creating—make a list of plugins you’re going to need and then do some research to select the ones that will accomplish those goals best
Some WordPress templates come with built-in functionality that remove the need for many of the popular plugins. Take stock of what functionality you still need to add, and only add the plugins needed for those functions.
Here are a few plugin types we highly recommend if your theme doesn’t already include a solution:
- A Contact Form Plugin – Vital for collecting contact information and growing your email list
- A Social Sharing Plugin – Connect your users with your social accounts and make it easy for them to share your offerings
- An SEO Plugin – We highly suggest using Yoast SEO for optimizing your site pages and blog posts
Give yourself a starting point with this list, and then add to it as needed.
7. Customize Your Permalinks
Permalinks are the permanent URLs of your website. They’re meant to remain the same throughout their lifetime and are easy to read and remember.
You can create a custom permalink structure that includes your post names in it. You’ll notice that each site might have its own URL structure, utilizing the date, the type of post, or the post category within the URL path. This keeps things easy on consumers and is better for SEO. It’s an all-around win.
To adjust your permalinks for your site, visit the Settings > Permalinks menu item in the left-hand admin bar in your WordPress dashboard.
8. Finicky Font Selection
Like colors, the font also matters on your WordPress website.
Keep in mind that you can mix font types on your site, but you should limit it to 2-3 types. They should remain easy-to-read and not clash with one another. Generally speaking, most websites use one font type for their headers and another for their body copy.
Keep in mind that sans serif fonts read better on a screen than serif fonts.
9. Consider Your Image Type
JPEG or JPG files work well for photographs since they can display in a highly detailed fashion, but the files are often large and slow to load.
PNG files are great for logos and graphics. They compress beautifully and can be used transparently, but don’t work well with photographs.
GIFs are great for animations. They can work to bring life to any webpage with little effort.
SVG stands for scalable vector graphics. The SVG file type works best for logos or other graphics and is great for interaction. Unlike PNG files, SVG ones don’t degrade as you zoom in, and they can be edited.
BMP files are great for crisp, high-quality graphics. It stores color data for each pixel in the image, which is where the great quality comes from, but they produce large file sizes.
WebP images are 26 percent smaller than PNG files. They’re meant to display similar to other images, but they come in smaller file sizes.
10. Analyze and Analyze
Once a website is up and running, remember to keep an eye on how things are doing. Make sure you have an analytics tool, like Google Analytics, installed on your website so you know how users are behaving on your website.
Consider adding “how-to” resources for partners or employees if you’re not the one that’s going to be managing the site. You’ll appreciate this down the road when there are no questions for them to ask.
People appreciate all the small details that others put into their work, especially when it also benefits them. Remember this the next time you’re designing a WordPress website.
Consider These Beginning WordPress Tips When Building a WordPress Website
Taking these Beginning WordPress tips into account when building a WordPress website will only help you in the long run. Instead of winging it, do your due diligence and plan by taking the steps we just outlined.
Above all, remember that creating and maintaining a successful WordPress website is not an overnight process. Things may take time, and you may have to make many changes along the way, but that’s no reason to get discouraged.
Jessica serves as the Director of Operations for Pressable and spends her days focused on creating the best managed WordPress hosting experience possible. She's been using WordPress since 2008 and has been serving in WordPress-focused roles since 2010. When she's not working, you can find her spending time with her family, serving in her community, watching hilarious dog videos online, or brewing a pitcher of iced tea.