Getting started: Building your informative website

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Today’s the day! No more putting it off. Grab your coffee, crack your knuckles, and let’s get into how to build a website for your business. This first article covers the general setup of an informative website using WordPress.


Article Breakdown:

  1. Choosing a provider
  2. Picking a domain
  3. Purchasing options
  4. Creating header menus and social links
  5. Creating footer links (at the bottom of your page)
  6. Content outline – adding information about your business


1: Choose your provider

WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, GoDaddy, BlueHost

First thing’s first, you need to pick a website provider that offers tools and templates that match your needs. There are loads of options to choose from. A few of the popular sites include Wix, Square Space, WordPress, and GoDaddy. You can also purchase just the domain name from Google Domains, Yahoo Small Business, and BlueHost. Here is a simple breakdown of what each site-builder provider offers.

  • Wix – Very easy to get into for any level of user – professional templates with selling capabilities
  • Square Space – Ideal for designers looking for all the aesthetic bells and whistles – selling capabilities
  • WordPress – Easy to use features for beginners and more advanced settings for the tech-savvy individuals – customizable with plug-ins
  • GoDaddy – Quick upstart, but limited in customizable options – easy to build

Check out website builder expert table to see a larger breakdown of what site providers offer what.

We used WordPress since our team has experience with their program, and we find their pages tend to be more Search Engine Optimization [SEO] friendly but choose a provider based on your needs.


2: Choose your domain

photo c. Rawpixel on Unsplash

Now, when searching for a domain name you want to pick a title that goes with your brand. It takes some creativity to come up with a catchy domain that will be easy to remember and relates to your product or service. Be sure to take your time and get opinions before jumping into one.

Example

Our friend Joe is looking to get his landscaping business online to reach a larger audience. If JoesLandscaping.com is unavailable, try searching the domain provider for similar titles such as LandscapingByJoe.com or MowingJoe.com. These are great options that relate to Joe’s business and are easy to remember. It may be beneficial for more localized businesses to include a city/state name in the title such as JoesLandscapingBoston.com. Still not happy with your results? See extensions below for other domain options.

Extensions | .com | .org | .biz

Picking a domain name

You’ll likely see various extensions including .com | .co | .biz | .shop | and even .consulting. These various extensions offer another means to get the domain name you desire and they can relate directly to the products or services your team provides. Check out GoDaddy’s complete list of extension names here. Highlighted in the image above, you will see what extensions are automatically recommended for us. In this example, Joeslandscaping.garden is likely the most relevant if the .com address is unavailable. Though these extensions are nice to have as a backup, getting access to a .com extension is ideal since a smallbusinessdomain report shows that 75% of websites use a .com domain name.

Check out seo-hacker.com to see what impact a domain name has on your Search Engine Optimization [SEO].


3: Purchasing options

photo c. Rawpixel on Unsplash

When it comes to making your final purchase there will likely be different tiers of services. We’ve seen as many as 7 options for service packages. For example, our provider WordPress offers 3 levels of service including:

  1. Personal ($4/month): Free domain for a year, Jetpack web development tools, limited theme access, basic customization options, 6GB of storage and removes WP ads.
  2. Premium ($8/month): Unlimited premium themes, advanced customization tools, site monetization, payment solutions, 13GB of storage
  3. Business ($25/month): Unlimited storage space, personalized support, SEO tools, service plugins, uploadable themes, Google Analytics integration, no WP branding.

Choosing your service bundle depends on where you are with your brand and where you want to go. For us at Ocean Fig, we started with the personal site to minimize costs and get the ball rolling. It’s an easy process to upgrade or downgrade your site so don’t worry about any commitments. 


4: Menus and Social Links

Organizing a website
photo c. Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

Staying organized is key when it comes to developing your website. Visitors should be able to click a menu tab and have a really good idea of what information they can expect next. The number of clicks isn’t as important as the quality of what that click provides.

Examples for your business

Amy’s Bike Shop is a local business that is involved with their community and has just created their website. At this time they don’t have any menu options. Amy may want to consider adding the following titles to help visitors navigate their site.

  • Shop: View what items they for sale, pricing, and ordering
  • Services: Check what services they provide and pricing
  • Events: See what’s happening in the community
  • Resources: Details on specific segments of your market
  • About Us: Learn about store hours, location, history, policies, purchasing options, etc…

4.a) Where is the header menu and what’s in it?

Adding a header menu
Header Menu

Looking at our Header Menu, we have How To Digital where visitors can see all of our articles, Mission where they can learn about the company, and Say Hi where visitors can get in touch with us. To the far right, we see our Social tabs that will direct users to our social media pages. To set menu titles like the ones seen above, follow these steps.

4.b) Open the “Menu” tab in the left panel

Adding Menu to WordPress

When we get into the “Menu” panel we first want to click the Create New Menu button.

4.c) Give your menu a name

Add menu in wordpress

We titled this menu “Header”. This menu name won’t appear on the site. Once complete, make sure the Header box is checked in the Menu Location category and click Next.

4.d) Create your menu page namesadd menu to wordpress website

Decide on menu options that make sense with the content you wish to provide. Popular examples of these pages include About Us, Services, Portfolio, Contact, Shop, and Blog.

4.e) Creating easy-access Social Media links

Adding my social media links to wordpress site

Adding your social links to your website makes it easy for viewers to visit your social platforms. Click the “Custom Link” drop-down menu and paste your social account’s URL into the “URL” field. Add the social platform’s name to the Link Text and click Add to Menu. Be sure the Social Menu option is checked at the bottom left corner. Platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Blogger.

You can also create another menu (follow steps 4.b – 4.c). From here, check the “Social Menu” box seen highlighted in the bottom left and add your social links under the “Custom Link” dropdown.


5: Create Footer inputs

Widget Footer WordPress

Once again, we’re going to be working within the site customization page as seen in 4.a). From here we’re going to click WidgetsFooter (1, 2, or 3), and Add a Widget.

5.a) Selecting Widget Type

Adding Facebook Page Widget WordPress

Next, we click any footer we’d like to utilize. We’re going to add our Facebook feed to the bottom of the page in addition to a text field and navigation options.

5.b) Adding Facebook

Adding Facebook Widget WordPress

On this page, we’re going to title the widget “Facebook” and then add our profile URL. Be sure to check the Show Stream box to have recent Facebook posts visible on the site.

5.c) Footer breakdown

Footers WordPress

Each theme may vary in how they display footer widgets. Our current theme, Radcliff, organizes these footers from left to right with 1 on the left and 3 on the right.

As you saw when creating a footer, there are many widget options to use. Our widgets from left to right are formatted as such:

  1. A Text Field discussing why our brand exists and what it is that we do. It also contains our MailChimp Signup Tab which pops up and offers users a chance to join our mailing list. We will discuss how to do this in our MailChimp post.
  2. Contains our Article Categories which can be created in 6.g). It’s also the home of our menu pages including How to Digital, Say Hi, and What is Ocean Fig.
  3. Is where our Facebook feed appears.

Widgets can be reordered in 5.b) by clicking the Reorder button next to Add a Widget.


6: Adding content to pages

Content Creation
photo c. Studio Republic on Unsplash

It’s good to have an “About Us” page that informs reads who is involved with the company, what it is that you do, and where your brand is based. Above all, it’s important to set yourself apart! Why should customers choose you? What is it that your brand offers that nobody else can? What additional value do you offer customers? Answering these questions will add credibility and persuasive points to your brand. It’s also ideal to have a “Contact” page that offers visitors a place to easily get in touch with one of your team members.

Let’s take a look at how to create a contact page.

6.a) Accessing your Site Pages

editing pages on WordPress

To edit our Contact page, we first visit the “My Site” menu option – shown on the left. The first option under the manage tab is Site Pages. Here we’ll find the menu options we created in part 4. We’re going to edit our contact page – Say Hi – by clicking the page’s title.

6.b) Editing a Site Page

How to edit pages on WordPress

Once in the page editor, there’s the usual text field that can be populated however you like. At the top left of the Visual menu, we see + Add button. This is where you can add images, contact forms, and payment methods. We’re going to add a Contact Form since the page we’re editing is where visitors come to send us messages.

6.c) Adding a Contact Form

Contact Field WordPress

Once selected, we’re brought to the Contact Form menu. This is where we can edit the various contact details. We decided to remove the website field and change the Comment title to Message. Under the settings tab, you’ll add an email address for these messages to be sent to and a custom subject line.

6.d) Special page settings

Page Special Settings WordPress

There are a few options on the right to enhance your pages and posts. Featured Image is a picture that will show up at the top of your page and with the title of the post (see 6.h). Page Attributes manages where the page shows up and in what order. Sharing makes it easy for visitors to share your page on their social accounts. More Options has slug editing which plays a role in good SEO practices and appears in the URL. Depending on your Theme, Excerpt can add a sub-text below your page title.

6.e) Adding a Blog Post or Sub-Page

Adding a blog post WordPress

Similar to section 6.a, we click add to create a new Blog Post.

6.f) What goes into a Blog Post

Blog Post Layout WordPress

Highlighted above we see the 3 sections for editing blog content – similar to our page editor. These include our title, visual & HTML option tabs, and the content field. As seen in 6.b images, payment processing, and contact fields are input through the +Add button. To the right of that is the text format drop down. This option allows users to create headings which play a role in SEO.

6.g) Post Settings menu options

Adding tags and Categories to WordPress

On the right side of the post are all of your background settings. This is where you can Post or Preview your page, add Catagories to organize your posts, and create Tags to add specific search keywords to your post.

6.h) What is a featured image

Adding a Featured Image

Feature Image

It’s in the Page Settings where we can add our Feature Image. As you can see, this image appears on your home page or menu pages and will also be what shows up on social posts as a preview image. Make your feature image relevant to your topic.

What’s next on Ocean Fig

Come back on Sat, Feb. 9th to learn how to create a web store using the Shopify Platform.

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