So you want to build a brand new WordPress website, but you don’t know where to start, huh? There are many reasons you may need to build a WordPress website from scratch: You might start-up your own web design company for small businesses, or maybe you just want to build a single website for your own personal or professional purposes.
Regardless, the best way to start is sitting down with your coworkers or clients and figuring out a list of things that you want your site to do.
It’s difficult to generalize a set group of plugins and tasks you need to follow for every website since every site is different. Therefore, use this ultimate checklist for building a brand new WordPress site as a guide when starting your new site.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common items that can get you up and running quickly and effectively, without missing any key components.
Start With Maintenance Mode
It’s wise to switch your site to Maintenance Mode before you start building. This prevents the search engines from indexing your filler content and you don’t have to worry about looking unprofessional to future customers. It basically gives you an “Under Construction” page while you work on the site.
Pick a Theme
You might want to build your own theme or choose from one of the many theme companies on the Internet. Think about where your traffic typically comes from in terms of browsers and device types. This helps you test themes in different browsers and on different phones, tablets and computers before committing to one.
The key is finding a responsive WordPress theme that changes the way it looks when someone views it on a tablet, phone, or computer. Since more and more people are using mobile devices, you can bet that a responsive site is well worth it.
Where can you find quality themes for your site?
- WordPress Theme Repository – Free
- Themes Kingdom – Both Free and Premium
- Elegant Themes – Premium
- WooThemes – Premium
- ThemeForest – Premium
- StudioPress – Premium
Keep in mind that premium themes offer support, more reliable coding, and premium features you can’t find with free themes.
After you purchase a theme that you enjoy, you need to sign up for a hosting account on Bluehost (if you are just getting started) or WP Engine if you plan on having tons of traffic to begin. The website hosts typically have a one-click install for WordPress, after which you can install the theme you chose in the previous step.
Once you have your site up and running, it’s wise to work on your search engine optimization. This ensures Google and Bing can crawl your site properly.
Install WordPress SEO by Yoast, since this allows you to set your website SEO once and customize each post or page whenever you see fit.
Also submit a sitemap to Bing and Google so they crawl your site with ease. You can do this manually, but Google XML Sitemaps is perfect for submitting updated sitemaps on a consistent basis to all the necessary search engines.
Caches help speed up your site since they use old information and pages from your site to deliver them to the user a tad quicker. You need a cache plugin for your WordPress website in order to manage the saved Cache and databasing content. I recommend using one of the two below:
Social Media and Authorship
Google + Authorship has seen some changes and might eventually not do much for your website, but for now it’s good to include it so people know what articles are associated with your name. Use the Google Plus Authorship plugin to complete this task.
The other two items you want to include in your site are social sharing options and links to your own social sites. Social sharing is for people to share your articles and pages with other people. Sometimes your theme includes a nice social sharing widget or component, but if you want to customize your own, go with the Digg Digg or Social Sharing Toolkit plugins. If you just need links to your own social pages, the Simple Social Buttons plugin is a lightweight solution.
Backups, Security, and Speed
In order to get reports on your site speed and code, use GTMetrix. Google PageSpeed and Yahoo YSlow are also nice tools.
Activate BackUpWordPress before any of your content goes missing.
A must-have for security measures is the iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security) plugin. A final note on speed and security is to remove any plugins or site components you aren’t using, because these can open up holes in your security.
Contact forms are often forgotten, but they are such a crucial part of building a website. Sometimes your theme includes a nice Contact form, but if not, go with the Contact Form 7.
Advanced Custom Fields for Developers
If you are a developer then a must-have for your WordPress setup is the Advanced Custom Fields plugin. It lets you modify the WordPress edit screens and make the editors work harder for you. Try it out and you’ll see how awesome it is.
Additional Things To Add or Check On Your Site
- Smush.it – Image Optimization
- Google Analytics by Yoast – Checking what types of people visit your site
- Akismet – Spam Protection
- RealFaviconGenerator – Gives you a small customized favicon in the browser tab
- Disqus – Changes your default comment section
- Check all the spelling and grammar on pages and posts
- Check the website on all browsers and devices
- Include a search feature on your site – Many themes include this
- Are your URLs user-friendly? Make them short and remove dates
- Create a custom 404 page for a better user experience
- Figure out who is going to manage the site (posting blogs, uploading images, managing broken links)
- Are the database, FTP and login credentials secure?
Let me know in the comments section if you have any questions about building a WordPress site from scratch. I’d love to help you!
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