In the last post, we looked at getting your domain and hosting organised. When these are in place, you can begin to build your site.
Depending on which platform you choose, will depend on how you complete the initial install and set up, so you will need to follow the instructions of the platform you choose. If you take the recommended step and use WordPress.org, then you can follow their guidance for set up here.
Once you have the basic install of the platform, you can then install the theme onto which you build your site. We talked about theme when discussing the four basic considerations to think about when planning a website, so hopefully by now you have chosen the one you want to use. The theme install is a relatively simple process of downloading the zip file and then uploading that to your site and activating it. You now have the basic framework and design onto which you are to flesh out the details.
Also at this stage, you will want to install the basic plugins you will need for your site. Some of these will be dependent on the theme you use, and the theme document will confirm which plugins you will need to install. Others will depend on how you choose to build your site (if you use a builder such as Beaver Builder or Elementor etc,). Others will be dependent on what ‘extras’ you want to have on your site, such as an Instagram feed, social icons etc. You can also add plugins as you build, you don’t need to do them all at once at the start but it is useful to get the main ones added before you start the build.
It is useful at this stage to map out the content of your site to draw up a site outline. This will include the main pages you want to have on your site. The majority of sites will at least have these basic pages:
- About Page
- Blog Page
- Contact Page
Additional pages are then added depending on the content that is to be displayed on that particular unique site. For example, on my own site, I have additional pages for Freebies and Resources. I don’t have a “full” blog page displayed on my site and instead have five pages that show just a category of the blog (Journal, Planning, General Blog, Get Involved and Prompts).
It’s very useful to have a basic sitemap before you start, so you know what you’re building, rather than just adding pages in a random and ad hoc fashion. Think about what content you have that you want to display, and work out the best way to do that before you start! You can then create the pages needed and add them to the menu.
I would also strongly advise drawing up a map or plan of your homepage before you start building it so you can lay it out properly and then build from the plan. The homepage needs to be aesthetically pleasing but also functional, easy to navigate and makes it clear what your site is about from the very first impression a visitor will get from landing on it.
Below is a photo of my original rough homepage sketch. If you compare it to how the homepage is now, you’ll see it is still pretty similar, though I added in the tree section at a later date. It helped me considerably when building the page to know what the general layout was to be, so I would highly recommend making your own plan before you start building.
If you are struggling to envisage how your site will look and how best to lay out the information you want to present, have a look around at other websites, both in your niche and just general websites you personally like the look and feel of. That will give you a good idea about what you want your own site to look like, and how you want to lay out your information to make it a positive experience for visitors.
If you have any comments or questions on site layout, please get in touch. Or if you’ve already set up your site and have any tips for people just starting out, please comment below.