Every day, hundreds and even thousands of new websites pop up all over the Internet. Many of those websites are designed using WordPress. Currently, there are 76.5 million WordPress blogs and 25% of all websites are built with WordPress. If you’re interested in WordPress web hosting and design, keep the following tips in mind.
Know the Difference Between Pages and Posts
Website design has more to do with pages than posts, but some people still confuse the two. Pages are the main sections of your website, like the “Home Page”, “Contact Page” and “About Us” page. Posts, on the other hand, refer to the content you add to your blog. The blog itself is a page on your website, but it’s populated with your posts. When you add a new post, the previous one moves down. The most important information about your business should be on the pages.
Creating the Home Page
Some people want to completely design their homepage while others want their blog the first thing that visitors see. The type of website you run will determine the type of homepage you have. For example, if your WordPress site is primarily a blog with a few extra pages for contact information and a bio, the blog will probably be the homepage. If you run a professional website or an e-commerce store, though, the blog will probably just be a link on your navigation menu.
Every website has a main navigation menu, usually located at the top of the page. Sometimes, the main navigation menu can be down the right or left side. Additionally, you can add extra menus to the sidebars and footer. There are a lot of links you can add to the menus, including website pages, categories for your blog posts, and custom links to external web pages. The goal should be to offer customers the things they’ll be looking for without overwhelming them with too many options. Menus should be helpful, not confusing.
Once a visitor is finished on a page, you don’t want them to leave your website entirely. There should be a call to action at the end of each page. For example, at the bottom of a blog post, you can have a link that will direct them to a different blog post on a related topic. At the bottom of your homepage, you can encourage them to shop your collection or call you for more information. Aside from text links, WordPress will also let you add buttons that link to whatever content you wish.
Modern website design relies on most than just copy, but if your graphics, videos and audio aren’t functioning correctly, you’re going to turn off your visitors. Make sure that the images are sharp and loading correctly, that the videos plays on every device, and that the audio sounds clear. If you’re using an image slider on WordPress, you should also make sure that it’s functioning on every device, including your smartphone and tablet.
Sometimes, WordPress web hosting is used for a simple blog, while other times the goal is to build an e-commerce store. When you’re selling products from your website, you need to pay extra attention to how usable it is for shoppers. Is it easy to search for both broadly defined and specific items? Does the cart function properly? Do receipts get auto-emailed to customers? Are the shipping costs being calculated accurately? Check the entire process more than once to ensure customers can check out without an issue.
Clear Up 404 Errors
Brand new websites can’t risk sending their visitors to error pages. Make sure that every page on your site is loading correctly and that there aren’t any broken links. Make it easy to find 404 pages by using Google Webmaster Tools. After adding your website, the crawl report will show you which pages have errors. You can also setup e-mail alerts so that if a problem does occur with a page, you’ll be notified immediately.
Collecting Visitor Information
The more you’re able to find out about your visitors, the better able you’ll be to serve them. Find a way to encourage customers to tell you about themselves. You can offer a freebie in exchange for them signing up for your newsletter. You can ask them to answer poll questions. You can run a contest for your social media followers. The perfect opportunity to engage with your customers is when they’re on your website.
Make Sure Contact Forms Are Working
Every website has a goal for its visitors. If you need your visitors to signup for something, like a newsletter, you’ll probably have a contact form on at least one of the pages. There’s nothing more annoying than filling out all of your information and hitting “Submit” only to find that the information didn’t actually go through. You’ll miss out on engaging with your audience if your contact forms aren’t working. Test them regularly to make sure they’re always functioning correctly.
Tweaking CSS for Customization
If you’re using WordPress.org, you have complete control over the look of your website. You can make tweaks to any number of things, like color, fonts and font size, positioning, shapes, and more. However, every time you change the CSS, you risk doing major damage to your website. If you’re unfamiliar with writing CSS, it’s best to hire a professional. Tell them what you want your website to look like and they’ll know exactly how to deliver the results.
One of the best tips you can get is to never launch your WordPress website until it’s truly ready. While every website is a work in progress and it will evolve through the next weeks, months and years, you want to make sure that it’s working properly before publishing it. Even a basic website needs to be able to serve the needs of its visitors from the second it goes live.