If you’re reading this right now, you have probably experienced the pain of putting hours on end figuring out the right template and deciding the look and feel of your website whilst discovering that word press is one heck of a maze to navigate and figure out, Including a UI that you must learn how to use.
That’s exactly what I’m offering you to help you with, this article stems from my frustration of figuring out how to use WordPress to design a website just the way I want, The pros and cons of using word press vs other tools and Terms you should probably know right away
Once you have set up a domain and hosting and successfully installed word press, you have opened yourself to a new set of challenges. Here are the following questions you should ask yourself first –
Determining your WHY
It’s important to define what you want your website to be used for and what kind of audience you want to connect with, with the help of your website. A website can be a tool for personal branding and building your own platform, where the users are your primary audience. It can be used to generate leads, increase interaction, or creating an email newsletter. A website can be an asset in the long term, a social media presence alone is not enough since the users are not your primary audience.
You can get answers to the following questions before you start
1.What is the purpose of my website?
- Is it’s a personal website or an e-commerce store? Is it just going to be a Blog or a portfolio gallery to display my work?
- What is the value and message I’m trying to communicate? What is the information that must go on my website?
- What kind of content will I be posting within my niche that goes with the kind of brand I’m trying to build?
- How do I want my users to Navigate through the website?
Once you have solid answers to these questions, you have a clear brief to start with, this can help you guide with your visual aesthetics and the structure of your website. In WordPress you have to choose a “Theme” which is pre-existing Template that dictates how your website looks, you choose a theme based on what kind of website you want to build
Designing In WordPress
Fact: In WordPress, you can’t fully design a website from Scratch unless you know how to Code. You can use “Theme Builders” like Divi which are a Drag and Drop Solution to insert media files and a ton of other options they have to offer. But your work starts with choosing a template be it a WordPress theme or a builder theme, that is you never start with a blank canvas
Starting from a blank canvas can be overwhelming for a few, but choosing a theme doesn’t allow you to fully customize your website in terms of look and feel or interactivity. The “Customize” option under the appearance panel only lets you make certain kinds of changes and is not suitable for ‘block’ editing. “Blocks” are the different types and styles of content you might want to add while taking creative control of your website. Theme builders like Divi allow for block editing for different types of content you might want to put on your website. There are certain builders like Elementor and Beaver which require premiums to unlock pro templates and the full set of tools to design your website.
What are “Theme Builders,” you ask? They are Plugins that help you craft the design of your website. Plugins are add-ons that you install to perform a specific function that you want to use. The more Plugins you have the slower your website performance will be, sometimes changes don’t reflect after updating your website due to the host of plugins you might have installed. Plugins can also be used to add more functionality to your website, but beware of too many plugins.
User Interface and Navigating WordPress
The user interface is not self-explanatory or intuitive and something to learn. The interface is divided into clear sections like “Dashboard”, “Pages”, “posts”, “appearance” etc but it takes quite some time to figure out how the settings directly affect and impact your website, moreover, all the changes you make have to be updated or saved in order to execute. and are not auto-saved
Here’s how it looks
Challenges with Designing on WordPress
- WordPress is Code oriented – The software was built by the contribution of developers around the world. To Design a website from scratch, you must know how to code because the front-end design tools are limited and don’t give you the full creative freedom to design a site just like you want. you can use block editors like Divi or Elementor, but the scope is limited.
- Lack of interactive themes– Interactive websites engage the user, users generally spend more time on interactive websites with a lower bounce rate. It makes your website more interesting and can make visitors pay attention to your content. With WordPress, you can only select from a pre-existing set of static websites. So it’s not a place to go for Interactive websites
3. Lack of creative freedom– you might have a vision of how you visualize your website to look, but the builders become a limitation since they don’t offer the full set of creative tools for the front-end design.
Overall my experience with WordPress was rigid, I have spent hours on end deciding what builder to get, what theme to use and troubleshooting problems since some of my changes did not reflect on the website
There are other tools like webflow.io that can help you with designing a website from scratch, they also have a ton of interactive free templates that you can “clone” or replicate from, it’s easy to use, self-explanatory, and user friendly. The templates and block builders on the site are design-oriented and simple enough to use. Head over to webflow.io to try it yourself for Free. Although In order to use the designs for your website, you need to buy hosting from webflow
WordPress terminology -you should know
Domain – Domain is literally the “name” and extension of your website like .com .net .org. You need to buy a Domain name, the price depends upon the availability and competition for that domain. The .com domain is generally the most popular one (I used name.com, you can also get it from namecheap.com or godaddy.com )
Hosting – Hosting is getting a space for your website on a server. Without Hosting your website cannot exist.(There are a bunch of hosting services like Hostinger.com,WPX hosting, or Bluehost ) Make sure you get a plan with an SSL certificate to secure your website with https/
Pages: Pages are the different sections of your website which helps the user navigate through, they are different boxes used to categorize content and determine which one Page will be seen first when your website is loaded ( ie-your home page)
Posts – Posts are your content pieces if you use your website primarily as a blog
Plugins -Plugins are like little software you can install in WordPress to perform a specific function that you want on your website. They are used for the added functionality that you want. For example, Page builders are plugins used to help with designing your website or MailChimp is a plugin used for collecting e-mails for newsletter
Block Builders– Block builders are plugins made to help you with designing your web pages with the help of “Blocks”. Blocks are different types of content like images, paragraphs, carousels, or Audio and video files that you can drag and drop or upload on your page .every item that you add is called a block, which means your webpage is a collection of Blocks.
Themes – Themes are pre-existing design Templates that dictate how your website will look, the design is more or less fixed with the help of Themes. You can buy pro themes on page builders like Elementor to unlock the full set of functionality a template has to offer or even edit a few templates. There are a ton of Themes to choose from if you want a basic website for your blog, In order to start editing your page you have to choose a Theme on WordPress
Also, make sure that you have set up Google Analytics and Search Console for your website to track website traffic and users.
Overall even though WordPress might look like a rough start, it is essential to learn for the long term. you can hire a WordPress developer to code a website for your needs. I hope this article does not intimidate you as a beginner, this was my experience designing on WordPress. Since WordPress has become the default standard, this might be a reminder to reconsider your choices