There are many platforms available to get you up and running with your own website, we’ve been using mainly WordPress since 2009. WordPress is a free and open content management system made famous as a blogging platform. However, the possibilities of WordPress go way beyond simple blogs. With the right combination of themes, plugins and know-how WordPress can create all types of websites. Naturally, if you have some HTML, CSS or other coding knowledge, you can make pretty much anything happen within WordPress, if you don’t themes and plugins will be your friends.
Photo: Bram Naus @Unsplash
WordPress.com vs. Self-Hosted WordPress
What you might not already know is that there are two ways to host a site using WordPress. The free option is hosted via WordPress.com and is ideal for beginner bloggers or simple sites who do not have a budget to play with. If you want to open up the full power of a WordPress site, we’d recommend a self-hosted WordPress set up, which allows full access to an internet full of themes, plugins and coding editing options. You’ll need a little more technical knowledge and very small budget to get started self-hosted, but it’ll give you a future-proof platform that will grow with you.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
Once set up with WordPress, you can login to your Dashboard and browse plugins to install. Plugins are modules of code that can be installed onto your site to unlock new design or technical features. There are genuinely millions of plugin options out there to cover many different categories. Since WordPress is an open source platform, plugins and themes can be designed by many different third party suppliers, some of them don’t work at all, some will clash with your theme and others need more tech skills to get started. Before you get too far ahead, we’d recommend reading reviews and checking the plugin screenshots to ensure it’s going to be compatible with your site and your skill level.
To get your started on your WordPress site, we thought we’d pull together some suggested plugins to try which will help you improve your site design whilst also optimising your time. Let us know if you give them a go and if you find any others that we should know about! We currently manage three WordPress based websites and are always looking at ways to improve them.
If you’re going to be running a website, you need to learn about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) it’s a vast topic, but essential. If you want to get started with SEO, we recommend reading the MOZ website, which has a great beginners guide without too much jargon to get your head around. Next stop, install the YoastSEO plugin, which will significantly streamline your SEO efforts. This handy plugin, adds extra options to your post publishing dashboard that helps you flag any problems with readability and SEO optimisation. It also add extra boxes you can populate to further tailor SEO in your favour. To learn more about SEO, you can also visit Yoast’s resources for more free training. There’s also a premium version of the app if you need to unlock the extra features.
Revive Old Posts
Of course, you’ll be wanting to post your content to social media too, not only does this improve your SEO, it also helps you connect with existing social followers and create interesting content you can share. Scheduling and remembering to post to all the necessary social networks regularly can easily become a chore, so we’d recommend installing the Revive Old Posts plugin, which allows your site to automatically old post to certain networks on a regular basis. You can edit the settings to choose post frequency, hashtag choices and exclude certain posts and categories. Depending on your content type and size of audience, you’ll have to be smart with your set up to ensure you’re not spamming your social followers.
Found the perfect theme but hate the fonts? This plugin is a lifesaver, save yourself a lot of coding stress and possible errors by installing the Google Fonts plugin. This adds an extra option into your dashboard, so that you can change each font tag to a different font. It also allows you to control the colours and font decoration so opens up a lot of design options without having to edit any code. If you want to preview any Google Fonts before you get started, you can go to their handy web dashboard.
Want to add a jazzy banner to your site but don’t have the right option in your template? You need to install the MetaSlider plugin, super simple to use it allows you to add images from your Media Library into a slider banner. Once you’ve built your MetaSlider you can use the shortcode snippet to place it anywhere on your site. If you’re lucky you’ve found a theme that already has banners, but if you haven’t this will make you happy.
This one is probably common sense and is one that comes pre-installed with many WordPress site set ups. To get the full benefit from the Jetpack plugin, ensure you go into the settings and connect it with a WordPress.com account, which opens up a whole host of stats too. This is a plugin created by WordPress, so you confidently know it’s not going to cause you problems too. Jetpack is full of useful features: site stats, social media features, useful buttons and widgets and access to a bunch of extra WordPress templates. There’s also a premium version of the app which unlocks extra things too.
We hope this was useful, if you need any help with content or design give us a shout, we’d love to help. We’ll be sharing more WordPress tips and tricks in the coming weeks. Stay tuned on social media @KITSCHinc.