Top Tips for a DIY WordPress website

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Top Tips for a DIY WordPress websiteFor 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).

4. Security

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.

Limit Logins:
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
 

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From your DIY experience, what would be your top tip for others embarking on the journey? Please add your comment below…

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