Five Steps to Improving Your Business Web Site Using WordPress
WordPress is a Stable, Secure, Web Development Solution for Businesses. Two short years ago, most of us thought of WordPress as a simple blogging tool. No more. Thanks to the excellent open source development community behind WordPress, the latest version of WordPress is a very stable and secure open source content management system for web development.
In fact, because of the enhancements in the latest version of WordPress, it’s never been easier to build a high quality, search engine ready website for your business.
All of that said, developing a beautiful business website in WordPress requires taking into consideration proper web development planning and design principles. If you’re planning on building a WordPress website for your business, here are a few of the things that you should consider.
Select Your Website Hosting Platform
If you’re hosting a simple blog, you can host it at WordPress. Businesses developing a full-scale website will need to choose a more robust hosting solution. Most ISPs and hosting companies have solutions that work with WordPress.
Here are the minimum requirements for hosting as outlined by WordPress. Your hosting company needs to provide PHP version 5.2.4 or greater and MySQL version 5.0 or higher. Also, WordPress recommends Apache or Nginx as the best server platforms.
One other thing to consider when selecting a hosting company, some companies have very easy simple to use WordPress installations others require a manual installation (meaning you have to load the files and install them through your FTP client).
The manual installation isn’t difficult for users with core competencies, for novice users I would recommend selecting a hosting provider with an installation graphic interface.
Plan Your Website Content
Planning content is a significant step in the development of any website. The first consideration is what type of site are you building? Is it a commerce site, a marketing site, an informational site, an entertainment site, a news site, a customer support site, or some combination of the previous?
Are there specific industry requirements that need to be considered? For example, if you’re in the real estate sector, will you need to showcase properties? Will that information be hosted on your site, or come from another source? If you’re in the retail industry, will you be featuring inventory from your store?
Does your website need to integrate with your point of sale system? The list here is far too long to include in this article, but it’s crucial that you work through these details with your marketing team and outside agency if you have one.
Once you’ve determined the type of site that you’re building, you need to create a primary navigation for the site. There are several tools available for creating web navigation maps. If you’re working on a Mac my favorite is Omnigraffle. If you’re working on a PC, the best tool is Visio.
Your site map should include the primary menu navigation on the site – which pages will be part at the parent and child level on the menu. You should also take into consideration whether that content is going to buy dynamic (changed frequently) or stable (changed less often).
WordPress lets you put both posts and pages in the primary menu. If you’re going to be updating content frequently, it might be easier to work with posts. If you’re going to be leaving your content alone, it might be simpler to use pages. If you have a mix of content, or you want to include your blog in the main menu (which I recommend) you can include a combination of pages and posts in your menu.
Select a WordPress Theme or Develop a Customer WordPress Theme
The content for your business website will dictate whether you can use a pre-built WordPress theme or you need to develop a custom theme. Depending on the complexity of your site, it’s usually worth looking through the current themes available to see if they include the structure and functionality that you need for your site.
As with hosting companies, several high-quality developers are providing WordPress themes. Some WordPress themes are free others available for a single-use license fee, or a universal-use license fee.
If you decide that your business website requires a customer WordPress theme, you’ll want to find an internal resource or find an outside web developer to help you build your theme.
Build a Website Structure for Your Business in WordPress
Once the WordPress theme that you purchased or developed is installed in a hosted environment, you can start building out the core structure for your business website. Referring to the primary navigation that you developed you should start creating pages (both parent and children pages) and posts and post categories that match your sitemap.
While you’re building out your website structure, you might also consider installing WordPress extensions and plugins to create enhanced website functionality. There are multiple extensions and plugins available to help with things like event calendars, pulling in Twitter content, pulling in RSS content, creating a shopping cart, and much more.
Populate and Optimize Your Business Website for Users and Search Engines
With your theme built and your primary website structure in place, you can start adding content and optimizing the site for users and search engines. WordPress makes very easy to add content to your site both through pages and posts. Also, there are several SEO tools (extensions) available that make it easy to optimize your site for search engines. My favorite SEO tool is Yoast SEO.
As you’re developing your page content, and metadata remember to
- Make sure your page content is relevant.
- Focus on the keywords in your content that will attract and appeal to the users you want on the site.
- Make sure that your images have alt text tags.
- Make sure that your Page Titles, Keywords, and Descriptions are the right length, are unique and match the content on the site.
WordPress is an excellent website development platform for your business. If you take the time to build your site correctly and use all of the tools available to the open source community, you’ll be able to create a pleasant experience for your customers and a great tool for your business.