We had the pleasure of having Web Developer and Camp Tech Vancouver City Manager, Laura Eagin, join us for our ‘WordPress for Business’ workshop last week. Laura’s WordPress tips and tricks were valuable for everyone. Beginners and everyday users alike left having learned something new. In case you missed it, here are our top five takeaways from Laura’s workshop.
- Know the difference between WordPress.org vs WordPress.com It can be confusing to grasp at first, and despite the two nearly identical URLs, they operate as two completely different websites. See the chart below for a brief comparison, but simply: if you want to set up a simple blog or website - go with WordPress.com. If you want a more complex and multi-functional website - go with WordPress.org.As the chart indicates, WordPress.com is completely free while WordPress.org will have web hosting costs, which brings us to our next takeaway…
- Pick a good webhost!With the plethora of webhost providers out there, how do you ensure that the one you pick is right for you?A web host is a service that provides you space on the Internet to run your website(s). To put it in a different context, it can be compared to how you would purchase a house or pay rent to a landlord; essentially you are paying for the land (i.e. the space) for your dwellings.Do your research and make sure the web host provides all the features you need. For example, you want to make sure that the web host provides WordPress installation or even better, a one-click or automatic WordPress installation. Check out whoishostingthis.com for a list of the different web host WordPress providers including a breakdown of their ratings, costs, and the type of different features they provide.Here are some of Laura’s top picks for webhosts:
- The do’s and don’t’s with themesWhether you’re going for a more simplistic and minimal look or a friendly and retro feeling, there are multiple themes for you to choose from!A WordPress theme is a way to change the overall design and layout of your website. A theme will change the way your content looks but not the content itself.There are several ways you can get themes, some free and some paid:
- Wordpress.org/themes: Provides free themes vetted by WordPress
- Wordpress.org/themes/commercial: Provides paid themes vetted by WordPress
- woothemes.com: Provides paid themes with online shop features
- Googling and downloading from any website – you may risk downloading themes that are poorly coded
- ThemeForest.net bloated themes – Themeforest.net themes may appear to be a gold mine but often comes with panels and sheets of unnecessary code which will make further customization difficult
- No active support team – Making sure that you have an active support team will allow you to ask questions in the future when it comes to website and theme support
- Not mobile friendly – in the golden age of mobiles, not having a mobile optimized theme is a huge red flag!
- Not touch screen friendly – similar to above, it’s all about adapting to the market’s needs.
- Customize it with pluginsDepending on your website, you may need to install different plugins to further enhance the user experience. WordPress Plugins are bits of software that can be uploaded to extend and expand the functionality of your WordPress website.In continuation of our house example, think of plugins as installing a dishwasher or upgrading to a flat screen TV in your new home.Laura’s recommended plugins include:
- For building Contact Forms → Gravity Forms
- For website backups → BackupBuddy
- For SEO optimization → Yoast SEO
- For an anti-spam website → Akismet
- For an e-commerce website → WooCommerce
- If your website is under maintenance → UnderConstruction
- Don’t forget about those metrics!You have your domain and web host, you chose the perfect theme, and your website has all the plugins that you need. What’s next? The next step is ensuring that you are meeting your website goals, whether it is reaching a certain number of hits each month or having users perform a certain action on your website.Set up Google Analytics on your website to track important data like number of new visitors, visitor demographics, which pages visitors are going to, and bounce rate, to name a few. There’s even a behavior flow chart that tracks the path a user takes when they visit the website.
Ready to get started? Simply, login with your Google account at Google Analytics.
We hope you’re ready to take a stab at WordPress for your business with these essential tips. Looking to learn more? Don’t forget to check out Camp Tech Vancouver’s website for courses on WordPress, SEO, and more. Interested in getting more involved with YWiB Vancouver? Check out our events page.