For many small businesses, especially start-ups, if you are relatively technically savvy, the DIY route is often the most logical step to creating your website – as time is generally more abundant than funds.
For those of you taking this route, I would like to share 5 top tips to get you off on the right foot with a DIY WordPress website:
1. Use a premium/paid theme
I know, paying for things when there is a free alternative can be painful – but the free ones rely on community forum support if you get stuck, which can mean hours of trawling through Google searches.
Premium themes *generally* offer support as part of the price, and this can be priceless if you need help getting things to look the way you want them to. It makes the US$30-$150 look like a bargain.
Premium themes also are *generally* much easier to customise with more user-friendly interfaces to work with, and often come bundled with a few premium plugins as a bonus to add great functionality. Many themes are built with specific business categories in mind (e.g. salons, restaurants, coaches, etc), and they can make adding the functionality you will want simpler as a result.
2. Create a child theme
What the heck is a child theme?
A child theme is a copy of your theme, and it is this child theme that you make your customisations to. There are several plugins that make this an easy process, including One Click Child Theme (free).
When a new version of your theme is released from the developer, you can update in confidence that your customisations will not be over-written (but please ensure you have a recent back-up first regardless).
3. Back-up your website!
Ensure that your website is backed up regularly – and that you have a couple of historical back-ups on hand. If something goes wrong during an update (WordPress core, theme or plugin), or you are the victim of hackers – you want to make sure you can restore your website with a recent back-up copy that has not been impacted.
Many hosts offer automated back-ups as part of their service. This may be an additional paid add-on to activate the service, but will be worth it. Just check what they will charge you to access the automated back-up when weighing up the best option for you and your budget.
A great alternative is to use BackupBuddy which can be set up to automate back-ups that are stored either in their cloud server, or delivered to your preferred storage facility (including DropBox).
Unfortunately, there are people out there with nothing better to do, and spamming and hacking are real threats to any website, so it is best to put some security measures in place to help protect yourself. There are a plethora of things you can do – but here are a few to start:
Hide your login page:
All WordPress website login pages are by default http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin
This makes it pretty easy for hackers to get to your login screen and start trying to get in. Using a plugin like WPS Hide Login (free) allows you to change the wp-admin to anything you like.
If they find your login page anyway, limiting the amount of times that they can enter an incorrect password. Again, there are lots of options, but Limit Login Attempts is a free plugin that is often included in the install process by some hosting companies.
Protect yourself from spam:
Having functions like blog comment fields or product reviews on your website can be great for creating engagement and collecting feedback from your audience, but they also open a gateway for spammers… Lots of things can be done, but a great start is to install and activate Akismet (again, lots of WordPress installs include this by default, but you need to activate it by getting an API key here)
5. Outsource the tricky stuff
If you get stuck – don’t over-invest your time when you could be actually running and growing your business. Something that you may spend hours (or days!) trying to figure out how to change – or the trickier functionality, such as membership or online store set-up, will take a web designer a fraction of the time and save a lot of grief.
How I can help you
If you would like help with the initial set-up, something you are stuck on, or perhaps a project quote for adding extra functionality to your website – please feel free to contact me. Let’s get something crossed off your to-do list!
As a reasonable newbie to WordPress and challenged when it comes to the intricacies of html, coding and the like, Leah came to my rescue last month. She patiently answered my newbie questions and made the whole process simple for me. My website had a couple of hideous features, and I was struggling to work out how to load social media icons, and adjust a couple of other small things. In the blink of an eye she had it done and dusted and looking awesome. We are already booked in for some more refinements next week. Fiona Dieleman
I recently revamped my website and I am just loving it, thanks to Leah from Little Biz Online! The project has gone so well because I got Leah to do all the hard stuff. I simply guided her about how I wanted the site to look, added some of the content myself and a few pictures, but she did the rest. In the past I’ve given away far too much of my precious time trying to do it all on my own, but I’ve learned that I actually save myself money by getting Leah to do it for me. Thanks Leah, awesome service as always! Gina Brown
Sharing to help others…
From your DIY experience, what would be your top tip for others embarking on the journey? Please add your comment below…
Do you want a new look for your business website?
If the answer is yes, you are probably worried that all the money you have invested in creating it, getting the Google ranking good, and loading all the products into your online store would go down the drain.
If your website is built in WordPress, then we can change the theme, without losing any of your content.
Customising the new theme to meet your needs will be a fraction of the cost of re-building the website all over again. YAY!
I have taken several clients through this process lately – many of whom created their own website in the early stages of their business, and now that they are taking their business to the next level, we are re-theming their website to reflect this evolution.
What is a theme?
If you think of your website as a house:
- Your Content Management System (CMS) e.g. WordPress is the foundations and outer shell of your house.
- The theme is like the floor layout and interior design.
- Your content is like your personal belongings.
We can do some minor re-decorating (colours, fonts, etc) without needing to change your theme, but if you would like to do some major renovations to the layout of your pages or making a website mobile friendly, then a new theme may be the best way to do this.
For WordPress, many developers create themes, and these are available either freely or to purchase. The premium (a.k.a paid) themes come with a lot more options and support, in my mind, most are worth the investment.
Once a theme is loaded, there are many ways to customise specifically for your business’s website.
What happens to my existing website?
To keep your website up and running while this is all being worked on, a copy of your website is used as a testing or development site. All changes are done here, and then when you love how they look, the new theme and customisations are uploaded to your live website. Done!
If this sounds appealing, please feel free to contact me for more information. I am happy to discuss the best path to achieve your goals.