WordPress has become a very popular content management system. If you are considering building a WordPress website, you are in good company because W3techs found that it now powers over 64% of websites that use a CMS. It powers thousands of businesses that use it for their online stores, websites, and blogs as well as individuals who use it for their portfolios and personal blogs.
While the CMS is versatile and powerful, you need to plan adequately to build a functional WordPress website that people will love to visit and use. This guide is for beginners and pros who want a step-by-step guide on planning their new WordPress project.
Determine The Site’s Core Goals Before Building a WordPress Website
A critical step before building a WordPress website is determining the site’s core goals. Knowing what you want to achieve early on helps with planning, narrowing down your options, and deciding the best way to approach your project. Some of the questions you need to answer to determine the core goals include:
Who is your target audience?
What kind of content will help you reach your goals?
What do you want to achieve once the website is done?
Answering these three questions will help you have a target to aim at. Hitting that target will mean you have a focused and effective site that can achieve its core goals. It is very easy to lose sight of what you would like to achieve if you do not understand your goals clearly, which is why it is important to determine your goals before getting started.
Create Your Sitemap
A sitemap is a hierarchical arrangement of your website’s architecture. They are typically used by search engine bots to navigate your website as they crawl it. While WordPress will create a sitemap.xml file for you, that is not the type of sitemap we are talking about here.
A sitemap helps you lay down the website’s structure.
The type of sitemap we are talking about helps you lay down the website’s structure. Creating an extensive sitemap will not only make it easier to know what goes where on the website, but it is also an important component when building a WordPress website and its link building structure.
By having a clear guideline on what goes where when building a website, you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and effort.
A well-structured sitemap is a critical tool for organizing your website’s content. Creating a thought-out sitemap and content hierarchy ensures your website will be easy to navigate and your content easy to find once you build the website.
Additionally, a sitemap will help your website rank better because the structure will be used to create the XML sitemap available to search engine bots which will be able to crawl and understand your website and its content more efficiently.
Define The Required Functionality
It is important to think about the functionality you need on the website before you start developing it. Understanding the required functionality will make it easier to choose themes and plugins that serve the needs of your users and visitors.
The first thing to think about when determining the required functionality is the website’s purpose. Are you creating a blog or an ecommerce website with complex functionality? Once you determine the website’s purpose, you can start putting down the functionality you will need. For example, one website might need WooCommerce while another might need a quiz plugin.
You should consider several factors. First, think about the purpose of your site. Are you looking to create a simple blog or a more complex website with ecommerce capabilities? Once you know the purpose of your site, you can start to identify the specific features you’ll need.
Another important consideration is your audience. Think about who your ideal customer is and what they expect to see when they visit your website. There are several ways to find your audience:
Use keyword analysis – Such an analysis will include finding out what keywords potential visitors and customers are using to search for products, services, and information. Once you find the top keywords they are using, you can narrow them down into regions. You can also use Google Trends to see how specific keywords are doing over time to determine if the people using those keywords are worth pursuing.
Use social media analytics tools – Another way to find an audience is to use social media analytics tools to find out what people are talking about. These tools will allow you to monitor trends and hashtags as well as what people are saying about you and your competitors. Also, check the adjectives they use to describe what they need or what they are looking for.
Do a competitor analysis – Analyzing your competitors can give you insight into your target audience. Use review sites to find out what people love about your competitors so you know what you can use to lure them to your website. You can also read your competitors’ websites and blogs to better understand their audience and the types of content that interest them.
Choose The Right Domain Name Before Building a Website Using WordPress
Choosing a domain name and web host can seem easy enough, but they are not always straightforward. Because of how important both are to your WordPress project, it is important to think carefully about picking the right ones during the planning stage.
The domain name is the address that leads people to your website while the web host is where your website’s files reside.
A good domain name can make it easier for people to find your website and remember it while also making it stand out from your competitors. A good web hosting service ensures your website is fast, an important ranking factor on Google, and is always available to your visitors by ensuring continuous uptime.
So, what is a good domain name? A good domain name should be short, memorable, simple, SEO-optimized, and representative of your business, what it does, or the type of content you will be posting on the website in case of a blog. It can also be your brand name, which is a great choice if you are building a website strictly for business.
Choosing the right domain name when building a WordPress website is crucial
Important considerations when choosing a domain name include:
Keeping it simple – Google recommends a domain name that is two to three words long. Avoid long and ambiguous words as they make your domain name harder to type and remember.
Including keywords and brand name – A brand name can help with your SEO. Critically, it can help with website recognition when your website comes up on search engine result pages. Ideally, your domain name should include your brand name. If that is not possible, use your brand name plus a keyword.
Affordability – factors including the top-level domain it uses and how popular that TLD is, whether someone already owns that domain name, its popularity, and the existing competition. Consider checking different domain sellers and resellers to find one you can afford long-term.
Web Hosting Options
Choosing the right type of web hosting as well as the right web hosting provider is a critical consideration when planning your WordPress website. You need to know how to host your website before building a WordPress website, although this is something your developer or web host can handle for you. A web hosting company leases space on its servers or even whole servers for people who want to have their website live on the internet. A web host will typically provide security and firewalls, databases and storage space for file storage, bandwidth for file transfer and fast website and server access, and much more.
There are three main types of hosting; self-hosted, managed, and shared.
Choose the right hosting when building a WordPress website
Self-hosting gives you more freedom on what to do with your server, but it also relinquishes all maintenance and management tasks to you. You will need to configure the server and take care of all other technical aspects of owning the server.
Managed hosting is more expensive than shared hosting, but you get a lot of control over the server. The hosting company takes care of all technical aspects, and you focus on running your website.
Shared hosting is the most affordable option and is recommended for startups and businesses with a small budget. You share server resources with other users so your website’s performance can be impacted, which is why it is a good idea to get out of shared hosting as spoons as you can afford.
Once you have settled on the type of hosting that is right for you, you need to consider a few other factors including customer support, additional features, price, and others. There are also some questions you will need to answer:
What uptime guarantee do you get?
What type of security is in place, and what is the host’s record on security?
Does the web host provide an SSL certificate?
While most of them are, it is always a good idea to check that your chosen web host supports WordPress. The web host should support MySQL and PHP. WordPress is written in PHP and its databases use MySQL.
Get Familiar With WordPress Themes And Plug-Ins
WordPress is very customizable and this is one of the things that make it so attractive. One part of this customizability is its themes. WordPress themes are collections of files that change and improve the interface, functionality, and usability of your website.
They can dictate the appearance of many visual elements including images, fonts, colors, backgrounds, and others. They can also improve navigation or give you easy options for sharing your website on social media.
A second part of this customizability is WordPress plugins. These improve your website’s functionality while also adding new features.
The WordPress directory and numerous online marketplaces give you access to hundreds of free, freemium, and paid WordPress themes and plugins so you can customize your website however you like.
It is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with different themes and plugins before building your WordPress website. This will make it easier to choose ones that support your website, its goals, and its functionality best. It will make it easier to work with them, avoid problems in the future and find the help you need when you have an issue.
Ready To Get Started?
Once you complete this preparation phase, you need to start thinking about content, SEO, marketing, and growing an audience. Regardless, handling all the above should get you to a point where you are ready to start building the website and putting together the content it needs.
Assess how much time you can dictate to each of the points discussed above, knowing that numerous resources and developers are available to help in case you need it.
Another consideration is your budget. While you can launch your website using free themes and plugins, it is a good idea to start thinking about paid options early on. While using them can increase the cost of building a WordPress website, thinking about them as early as possible helps you know what to get when you eventually need to take your website to the next level.