Welcome to SinningCommunications.com! As a people-pleaser, it took me way too long to get around to producing my own website…I’d much rather be doing client work. Recognizing that the only way it was going to happen was if I carved out time during nights and weekends, I decided to try building it on my own. Eight weeks and loads of frustration later – and with a little guidance and cleanup work from Patricia Gill at SaidTheSpider.net and Eric Carlisle at EMC Design – here we are!

My “little” WordPress experiment gave me the following insight: Just because you CAN build a website on your own, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Even the best WordPress templates take a lot of work to figure out, and the majority will require a fair amount of custom CSS coding to get the kinks worked out. If you are an established business, you will definitely want professional direction and customization to properly represent your brand.

But…sometimes very small companies and startups just don’t have the resources to hire a web team to help create their online identity. Here’s my advice to those looking to create their own WordPress site:

  • Start with your brand position. Look at your competitors’ sites. What is their brand position? What do you offer that sets your company apart? What do you do better? You don’t want to be claiming the same position as everybody else. It’s important to try to be the a.) first, b.) best, or c.) only company to have a particular attribute. Don’t try to own too many positions…pick two or three. If you want a quick read on brand positioning, pick up a copy of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Reis and Jack Trout. It is excellent!
  • Pick a domain that represents your brand, purchase it, and sign up for a web hosting package with a company such as GoDaddy.com. Their customer service is top-notch! The only advice we did not take from GoDaddy was the hosting platform. They tried steering us toward the package that automatically installed WordPress updates, but upon the advice of my programmer, I declined that option. She believes you’re better off maintaining control of deciding which WordPress updates to install, and when.
  • Think about your customers: who are they, and what features would they expect from your site?
  • How will your customers access the site? Regardless, the site should be “responsive,”e. easily usable on every platform, including various mobile devices. This is especially important given Google’s upcoming algorithm change on April 21, dubbed “mobilegeddon.” If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you may experience a significant drop in the search engine rankings.
  • Develop a sitemap—identify your main navigation and subpages.
  • Identify an appealing design that works well with your sitemap, then find a couple of WordPress templates that will accommodate your design objectives. Really spend some time thinking about what your design needs to communicate. How do you create something with visual interest that draws people in and makes an emotional connection with your brand? This can be especially challenging for technical companies. Identify a WordPress template that will have all the widgets and features that you need, and make sure the developer offers reviews and sample sites. Check them out, and make sure they will deliver the quality that you need! Be on the lookout for reviews that promote usability and customer support.
  • Identify your color palette and know the HEX values – what is your primary brand color? What complementary colors do you want to use? paletton.com and http://www.rgbtohex.net are handy tools.
  • Collect your images – original photography and graphics are best, but sometimes stock photos will do the trick. shutterstock.com is a great resource.
  • Develop your copy – following your sitemap, start putting words on paper that will communicate your story to your target audiences. Pay attention to brand positioning and key messages.
  • Build your site – begin the tedious process of plugging in your content. Be patient; it will take time to get it perfect.
  • Test it – invite your friends, family and peers to test the site and give you feedback. Pick people that won’t sugarcoat and understand your target audience.
  • Tweak it. Hopefully you gained valuable insight during the review process.
  • Go Live!
  • Promote it. The work isn’t over when you publish it…you need to get your word out to your target audience. Social media and email blasts are great tools for this.

Building a website will take slightly more than these 14 steps, but there are a lot of great resources out there once you start digging. Good luck building your new site!