Whether you’ve just started researching the website-building process or are preparing for a redesign, you are probably starting to feel a little overwhelmed by all of your choices.
From domain name to hosting services, templates to responsive design, and your copy, a website is one of the best ways for consumers to find your business online. But building an effective website that ranks high on search engine results pages (SERPs) can be both time-consuming and challenging.
So, what’s the best way for you to build and maintain a website with WordPress, and what’s so great about WordPress development in the first place?
The Benefits of Building Your Website With WordPress
According to WPBeginner.com, “WordPress is the world’s most popular site builder. It powers more than 43% of all websites on the internet, that’s millions of websites all over the world.”
A note of caution: WordPress.com is a limited blog hosting service that has some website custom domains, but it’s far less extensive than WordPress.org. This article references WordPress.org whenever we say “WordPress.”
Other popular website-building services include Wix and Square. These can be great solutions for individuals or portfolios, but for the purposes of most businesses, we recommend WordPress because of the extensive customizations available.
In addition, WordPress has a massive library of plugins; these are like apps available to use within WordPress sites. Plugins include tracking analytics, contact forms, and security features.
If you know what you’re doing, you can build a WordPress site to fit almost any business need. It’s become the standard for businesses, nonprofits, and brands, and is organized in a way that allows for ongoing content creation that will help your site rank higher in search.
Custom WordPress Development Services
Buckle up, we’re about to get into the details here with the ins and outs of setting up a site on WordPress—and how to maintain it in a way that makes the site effective for you. We’ll outline how to do this on your own and highlight ways Metric Marketing’s knowledgeable team of developers, designers, and writers can assist you along the way.
We offer customizable development services tailored to you, which means you can choose which tasks to tackle on your own, and which ones you want us to take on for you. Keep reading to get a sense of what you have time for and the areas where you might need a little help.
How to Build a WordPress Website From Scratch
Step 1: Your Domain Name and Hosting
Your domain name is the name of your website. The domain name of this website you’re on right now is www.metricmarketing.com. You’ll have to pay for your own custom domain name. If you don’t, you’ll end up with something like www.metricmarketing.wordpress.org.
You’ll also need to purchase website hosting—the host will hold all of your website’s information. Think of it as a giant external hard drive. Check out platforms like WPEngine or GoDaddy to compare pricing.
Once you’ve selected a hosting service and logged in, you can install WordPress as your website platform. Because WordPress is such a big player in this space, most hosting platforms make this step easy.
Step 2: Select Your WordPress Theme
Log into yoursite.com/wp-admin/. Once you’re in, you’re ready to pick your website’s theme. “Themes” are designed templates you can install on your website. Each theme comes with a set of typefaces and color schemes, as well as font hierarchies—i.e., header size, text format, and link colors.
There are thousands of WordPress themes available—both free and paid. Get a start by perusing them here.
At this stage in the site-building process, a content strategist and designer at Metric can work with you to ensure your website template aligns with your brand style guide, or build out a formal style guide if you don’t have one yet.
You’ll also want to look around at your competitors’ websites to get a feel for what designs they’re using—pay attention to color choice, the use of fonts (bold, italics, etc.), and if they use special elements like animated words or carousels on their homepage. How do they use navigation and images? Take some time to get a better idea of what will work best for your website and industry.
Once you find a theme within WordPress that aligns with your company’s branding and goals, install it, and then click on the Customize link on the Appearance menu.
Step 3: Customize Your WordPress Theme
Now you’re in the theme customizer, where you’ll be able to begin fine-tuning your own unique look and feel. Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t make drag and drop particularly easy, so it might be useful to install a plugin like Seedprod here.
Seedprod is one of the plugins that does allow dragging and dropping within the WordPress platform, which can make your design process much easier, especially as you determine which blocks of images and text should go where, AND if you don’t know how to code.
If you’re not satisfied with the options within WordPress, or you can’t run the customizations in the design that you want, reach out to the developers at Metric. We can help you sort out what you like and dislike, and code specific designs onto your site.
If you have a mood board or similar sites you love the look of, send those over too. We can generate custom design files to your liking. Every site our developers build is customized to individual clients’ needs, goals, and preferences.
Once you’ve chosen the theme that fits your needs, we’ll begin building out a static, interactive test site for you to experiment with—and show your team.
Step 4: User Experience Review
At this stage, it’s best to think through how your site responds to a casual user, someone who doesn’t already know about your company. If you have a chance to bring fresh eyes onto the project, do so. Ask a friend or colleague from another company to give you feedback.
Does my website’s theme match my business’s theme?
Do I enjoy being on my own website?
What does my design say about my company?
Does this web design feel like it will be current for a few years down the road?
Consider implementing accessibility features, such as audio that allow the visually impaired to experience your site. Look into how your competitors are using the scroll feature—is it vertical or horizontal? Should you add dark mode to your site, allowing the user the option to change the screen appearance to combat Zoom fatigue? We’d say the answer is usually yes!
Step 5: Build Out Your Content
Once you’ve landed on a WordPress custom design that fits your brand and have it optimized for your users’ experience, you need to start building out the content that will live on these pages.
Any WordPress page can hold text, videos, audio, fillable forms, etc. Remember, you can start all of these pieces in draft form, and you don’t need to publish until you’ve had time to review and edit them.
One quick tip: It’s great to include videos and photos on your website. In fact, that almost always makes your site more appealing to users. However, be sure to take the time to write captions for every visual element. If your user has a slow internet connection or is on an older browser, those captions may be all they get to see as they browse your page.
Posts are applicable if you’re going to put together a company blog and regularly update it. This TED blog is a great example of what this looks like.
WordPress builds posts to autofill starting with the most recent post. Remember that having regularly updated content on your site can help it rank higher on SERPs and make your company feel current to site visitors.
If you don’t have time to regularly update the site, it might be helpful to chat with a professional content writer about what topics would be helpful to build out blog posts for on your site. As you might have guessed, we have a team of excellent writers at Metric Marketing who are adept at writing engaging pieces with strong search engine optimization (SEO) for your site.
The Pages function is for static landing pages you can use for things like your homepage, mission statement/about page, services, etc. These are essential to think through in-depth because they will be the building blocks for the rest of your content.
If you have a company style guide, be sure to reference that as you build out both the copy and the creative elements for these pages. You can create an outline with the pages on your website and what each will contain before you begin the page-building (and editing) process.
In the admin view, go to Pages >> Add New. The page editor screen will open, and you’ll see fields for setting a featured image, visibility, discussion, and more. Once you’ve selected those options, you can add content (text, links, images, videos, etc.) in the text editor.
When you are satisfied with a page on the site, click “publish” and the page will go live on your website. If you aren’t ready to publish, click “save” and that page will remain in draft mode so you can return and make changes before actually making the page live.
Go through this process for the rest of the essential pieces of your website. You can decide which pages are a must, but we recommend having at least the ones below:
About page (often includes purpose statement, history/mission, and staff bios)
Contact Us (you can get a WordPress plugin to set up a form for this)
It’s also important to decide whether you’ll allow for comments on pages via the “discussion” option. If you’re writing news stories or are creating a lot of blog content (such as recipes or movie reviews) for your site, you’ll want to have “discussion” turned on for those pieces to allow users to comment and engage.
However, for static, evergreen pages, you may want to leave the discussion turned off. Unless you’re planning to moderate those pages regularly, sometimes internet trolls will leave nasty comments on an “About” or “Services” page. We recommend directing anyone who wants to get in touch to a contact form that asks for a name, email, and a brief message. That way, you’re usually hearing from people who actually want to get in touch with your business.
Step 7: Fine Tuning Your WordPress Custom Site
You’ll need to choose which page will be your default landing page, aka the one that shows when someone clicks on www.yoursitename.com.
Most brands pick their homepage for their landing page. To do so, go to Settings >> Reading in your admin dashboard and find “Front page displays.” Select “A static page” option, and then make your selections from the drop-down menus below. Always remember to click “save changes” when you’re done.
Depending on your layout, your site’s title usually shows up in your footer and sometimes your header. WordPress defaults to using “Just another WordPress site” as your site tagline, but you can change that to your brand’s tagline, or simply your business name.
Go to Settings >> General and you’ll see the “Site Title” and “Tagline” fields up top. If you’re using an SEO plugin, you can also leave the tagline field blank, meaning the plugin will automatically fill in taglines that optimize for search purposes.
Once you have most of your pages built out, you’ll also need to pick your site’s navigation scheme. Remember this piece is all about the user—how can you make the site intuitive for them to navigate? There are many options for this within WordPress. Check out how your competitors handle navigation to get an idea of how you want yours to look.
For reference on how navigation can look, Metric Marketing’s top navigation is displayed below:
In Appearance >> Menus, you’ll create a new menu. You’ll then need to select the pages that show up in your menu. You’ll likely want to include the pages below, but customize it to your users’ needs:
Contact Us/Schedule a Call
At the end of this process, you’ll need to select whether you want the menu to show in both your header and footer or just one of them. For ease of use, we recommend having the menu show up in both the header and footer.
At any point in this process, you can get in touch with a Metric Marketing developer to build out custom pages unique to your audience. Our developers can ensure your pages are responsively designed and optimized for users browsing on mobile.
Mobile optimization for websites is essential today: In 2017, “In the United States alone, 63% of all online traffic came from smartphones and tablet devices.” And this percentage has only increased in the years since. Although you can optimize your website in WordPress yourself, some features take quite a bit of testing, so bringing in a developer at this point can save you a lot of time.
Step 8: Maintenance
Now that you’ve launched your site, what’s next? You need to keep your content fresh and relevant so that it’s not only helpful to users who find you but also makes you easier to find because your site ranks higher on SERPs.
SEO involves both updating the content on your static pages on a regular schedule—with new products or services, new client features, and fresh language, etc.—and keeping any blog or news pages regularly updated with new content or stories.
Have you ever clicked on a company’s blog and noticed its last post date was over three months ago? That often makes it feel like a company isn’t very engaged with its customers/clients.
If maintaining a blog or even scheduling a content refresh is a priority for your brand, get in touch with Metric Marketing. We can set you up with a writer who can regularly provide updated SEO-friendly content for your site, e-newsletter, or blog.
You also need to maintain your site on the backend, ensuring your code is current, your internal links are working, and you have the best WordPress plugins installed. A perk of working with Metric Marketing’s developers is that we provide an optional training on how to manage your site independently. We’ll give you a rundown of how to maintain the backend and add content to the site.
If you’d rather have a monthly check-up, we offer services to ensure you’re always up-to-date and optimized with SEO best practices on your WordPress site.
Finally, if you’re doing a site refresh instead of a brand new build, and you want an expert developer to work alongside you, Metric’s team can evaluate your existing code and update your design to keep your site looking fresh and optimized for the best user experience.
Custom WordPress Development
There are so many details that go into maintaining a useful, design-forward website. Whether you’re looking for a content refresh, a brand new site build, or a usability checkup, the website development team at Metric Marketing is ready to help you. As a WordPress development agency, we can help you save time and grow your business with an optimized website.