Planning for a WordPress website for your small business can be quite overwhelming. You would probably have dozens of questions. Where do I start? What platform should I use? I don’t know anything about website technology? What tools are there to help me build a website? I’ve heard about things like hosting and domain but I don’t know what they are? How many pages should the website have? How can I make it look good on a mobile? How can I make it appear on Google search? Tech is not my thing so should I do this myself?
I’m sure you may start to panic very soon!
This post will help you to identify and sort out each of the essential elements required to get your WordPress website online.
You can download an easy to use checklist to help you summarise your website plan while you go through this post with me.
As you may be aware there are many website building platforms available out there. Some of the most prominent ones are WordPress, Wix, Shopify and Squarespace. Each of these platforms have their own pros and cons but we will not be looking into that here (it’s a topic on it’s own).
My preferred website platform is WordPress.
Almost ⅓ of the internet is run on WordPress! WordPress is the best in the world at what it does. Here’s why:
- It’s affordable – WordPress is itself free and all you need to purchase is a domain and host.
- It’s adaptable – you can use WordPress to build the simplest to the most complex website as you want.
- It’s easy to understand and has a huge community – there is so much support and help available for WordPress.
- It’s highly scalable – it can easily grow with your business.
- It’s relatively easy to manage.
- It’s extremely flexible and works with almost every third-party tool or service.
- It has thousands of website themes, templates, plugins and extensions
- It’s SEO friendly.
This is why I recommend it and why I fully believe it’s the best platform from which to build websites – especially for small businesses.
There are 8 key elements to understand and consider when planning for a WordPress website for your business.
1 - Domain
Your domain name is your website address or URL on the internet and gives you an unique online identity. This is what your users will type in their browsers to reach your site (For example, www.thewemakeitwork.com or www.google.com). The domain should quickly identify your business so choose wisely. Keep in mind that your domain should be easy to remember, pronounce and spell and is short and unique.
You need to purchase a domain name for your website. A domain name may typically cost around $15-18/year. Where your domain is registered makes no difference in your website’s performance. There are many domain registrants out there so you can have your pick.
Some options I recommend are as follows:
2 - Hosting
All websites on the internet need hosting. This will be your website’s home on the internet. The hosting provider will provide the services and technologies needed to get your website on the internet. They provide you space on their servers to hold your website files. A good way to think about this is if the domain name was the address of your house, then web hosting is the actual house that address points to.
Hosting is typically paid for on a monthly, annual, or multi-year basis. Types of hosting range from very affordable with minimal features and little-to-no support to very expensive with loads of features and support and everything in between.
The most affordable type of hosting is Shared Hosting. You need to purchase a hosting plan from a reputed hosting provider. Web hosting could normally cost from $7.99/month (for shared hosting) to about $25/month (for dedicated hosting) for a single small business website.
Some options I recommend are as follows:
3 - Themes and Page Builders
A WordPress theme defines the look-and-feel of your website. It is a pre-designed template that controls the visual appearance of the website. There are 1000+ free and paid WordPress themes available to choose from. They range from simple barebone templates to fancy functionality filled templates to suit the needs of any type of websites that you wish to build.
Do your research and select a theme that allows provisions for all the design features that you wish to implement on your website. This could turn out to be a time consuming and daunting task for some but you can definitely find a theme that gets you pretty close to the look you’re aiming for.
Some of the themes (these are some of the most popular WordPress themes) I recommend are as follows: Divi, Astra, Avada, Hestia, GeneratePress
While it’s easy to find a WordPress theme that meets your design objectives, the customization options on most themes are limited. Unless you’re a developer, you can’t make significant modifications to your theme’s design by yourself. This is where a WordPress page builder comes in handy. A drag and drop WordPress page builder lets you create custom layouts for your website the way you want even if you are not very tech-savvy.
These are some of the most popular WordPress Page Builders I use and recommend: Elementor, Divi, Thrive Architect
4 - Plugins
Out of the box, WordPress doesn’t have the ability to do interactive functionality like accept credit credit card payments, collect contact form submissions or display pop-ups. These functionalities have to be explicitly added to your WordPress website. This is where plugins come into play. A WordPress plugin is a piece of code that we can install on the website. It enables us to add that extra functionality we need to the website very easily.
That’s why plugins are one of the biggest reasons why WordPress is the most popular website platform around.The great thing about plugins is that they can be used to add almost any type of functionality, big or small. Some plugins add minor new features such as Dark Mode, which changes the colors of your admin dashboard and some plugins add major functionality such as WooCommerce, which adds a complete eCommerce module to the website.
Some of the plugins that I use and recommend are as follows:
- WordFence for security
- UpdraftPlus for backups
- SuperCache for caching
- Rank Math for SEO
- WooCommerce for eCommerce
- Monster Insights for analytics
5 - Branding
Your business’s brand is what the outside world thinks of your business; it’s a collection of impressions that the business has built over time. As your website is an integral part of your business, it’s important that your website reflect your business’s brand accurately. I.e. If your business brand is identified as modern and chic, then your website also needs to showcase those same values.
A branded website will instantly build your business’s credibility. Your clients will be more likely to trust you and engage with you when your website reflects your business’s best self.
Here are the key elements that define your website’s branding:
- Colour Scheme
6 - Content
So you have by now selected a domain name, registered with a hosting provider, selected a theme, installed the required plugins and sorted out the branding. What next? Next comes one of the most important elements of your website – the CONTENT. It’s the meat of your website – the actual information that tells the world what your website is all about. Content consists of plain text, navigation menus and media such as images and videos.
So before diving deep into the design on the website, you need to plan out the content of your website. The first thing is to identify the site structure, i.e. the pages that you want to have on your website and the hierarchy of those pages. Secondly we need to map out the content for each of the pages of the website.
A good exercise to carry out when mapping out a website’s content is to review a couple of similar websites – this could be your competitors website, or websites in a related industry.
Some of the typical pages all websites should have are as follows:
- Home page
- About page
- Product/Services page
- Resources page
- Contact Us page
7 - Behind the scenes
When talking about websites most people only focus on the front-end – what’s clearly visible for us to see. This is the design and the content. While it’s important for your website to look awesome it is also equally important to function faultlessly.
There are a few important behind the scenes elements of a website that will ensure that your website is rock solid and future proof from the very beginning. While planning for the website it is critical that you include these elements also.
Whether you build your own website or engage someone to do it for you, ensure that the below areas are covered:
- Security – In an age of high risks from scammers, it is crucial that your website is set up with all the essential security features. These include website firewall, SSL certificates and backup plans.
- Mobile Responsiveness – Your website should automatically change to fit the device you’re reading it on i.e. the layout and/or content responds or adapts based on the size of screen they are presented on.
- SEO – SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of free traffic to your website. In order to ensure this you must identify your keywords and have them strategically set up on the webpages. It is also best to set up Google Search Console for your website and have a sitemap submitted to Google.
- Analytics – We know that data is key to business growth, so it’s imperative that we track how your website performs. # of visitors, # of page views, Click through rates, bounce rate, etc are all key data which we can collect from your website. Connecting your website with powerful tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Facebook Pixel, will ensure that your website collects data from the every beginning.
8 - Integrations
In today’s technology focused world everything is interconnected. Your website shouldn’t be a stand alone entity, but should be connected with other business tools. This provides the foundation for digital marketing which can be a game changer for your small business.
At a minimum your website should be connected to your social media channels. Secondly the online enquiries collected from your website should be integrated with email marketing platforms such as MailChimp, Mailerlite. Thirdly it’s also possible to integrate your website’s contact us form to your preferred CRM platform.
The possibilities are endless with integrations. You can start with the basics and grow along as your business grows. However when planning for your website, you need to keep this in mind and ensure that the platform you select to build your website provides provisions for these integrations.
And that’s it. I have covered the 8 essential elements that must be considered when planning for a WordPress website for your small business. I hope you now have some sort of an understanding about what it takes to build a successful website for your business. Setting up a website for your small business is not an easy task and it requires a lot of initial planning to make sure you get it right.
If you are planning to build the website yourself, then I hope this information will help you to prepare a comprehensive plan to get you started. If you plan to get someone to build it for you, then this information will help you to ask the right questions from your web designer and also help you to validate and review the whole process while it’s being built for you.