If I’d Known Then What I Know Now…

If you’re in need of help with WordPress, you’ve landed in the right place. I don’t profess to be a WordPress expert but after using it for more than four years on multiple websites, I have learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t work and what I would do differently if I were to go back and start over again.

Help with WordPress - Tips for Planning Your First SiteFortunately, I am now able to put that experience and knowledge to use when putting together sites for others, which is part of the reason why I’ve decided to start offering my services through this business, particularly those who don’t have the time or interest in figuring it out for themselves.

But for those who’d like to take a stab at creating their own WordPress site, I thought I’d share a few tips and things to think about in hopes of saving you some of the headaches I experienced doing the same…

Help with WordPress: Tips For Your First WordPress Site

1. Keep it simple and easy to use. This is much easier said than done, especially when you first start using WordPress and discover there are literally thousands of plugins available that can add just about any function you can imagine to your site. The only problem with that is that plugins have a way of bogging down the inner workings of your site, sometimes just by slowing everything down (say goodbye to your potential customers now) but other times by not playing nicely with their fellow plugins, occasionally to the point of crashing your site entirely.

Adding lots of bells and whistles can also make your site very confusing for your visitors … a lesson that really hit home after I found myself redesigning my Log Your Memory site for the third time in less than three years after hearing from more than one not-quite customer that they couldn’t figure out where to go to do what they wanted to do. I learned the hard way there is a lot of truth to the adage “less is more.”

2. Think and plan ahead. The time to think long-term about your business and your website is before you start building your site, even if your biz is a brand new start-up. Today you may just want a basic site … a little information about you, your business, some contact info, maybe a few photos. But if someday you decide you’d like to add a shopping cart, a forum or perhaps membership capabilities, your bare-bones site may not cut it, resulting in the need for a complete re-do.

Your theme may not work with that shopping cart you were hoping to use. Adding the forum or membership site may result in requiring your guests to login multiple times (frustrating and confusing… see #1). Switching from a basic membership platform to a more sophisticated one could mean the loss of a significant number of hard-earned followers.  The host you chose initially offered a great price, but now you’ve decided you need a service better equipped to deal with your site, which means you’ll need to move the site altogether (a potentially BIG headache). The list of possible issues is endless when making the kind of site changes that come with business growth, but can be less so with some good early planning.

If you think ahead to what you might want down the road and keep this in mind when choosing your basic framework (theme, layout, permalinks, plugins, blog or shop categories, etc.), you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches… and likely some significant cash as well … down the road when you’re ready for those changes.

 3. Make every visit count from Day One. Whether your site is for business or personal use, a website probably won’t be worth much to you if no one ever visits it. And unless you’re already a celebrity, have a huge advertising budget or happen to be very lucky, it takes TIME to build web traffic. So, if someone does visit your site, you want to do everything you can to get them to hang around for a while and to COME BACK.

Giving some thought to #1 and #2 is a good start. It’s also helpful to install some sort of traffic counter or analytic system so you can keep an eye on how many visitors you are getting, where they are coming from, where they are spending their time and how long they are staying.

Perhaps the most important step, however, is one that seems to be easy to forget about in the early excitement of choosing your theme, playing with plugins, and planning your blog posts – developing a mailing list. Whether you offer a free download in exchange for submitting an email address or provide a blog feed or email newsletter to everyone who signs up, developing a list from the very first day your site is live is something you will not regret.

Not only will you have a good idea of how many visitors you’ve had with an interest in what you have to say (otherwise they wouldn’t sign up to get more…), you have a way to get back in touch with them and remind them you exist in case they forget about you or where they found you and can’t seem to find their way back. (By the way, if you’d like to receive future Webtiste blog posts via email, I invite you to subscribe to my mailing list HERE).

Have a great tip to share for those just getting started with their WordPress site? Feel free to comment below…


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