We’re not web designers (nor do we play them on TV), but we know what it takes to make a great website using WordPress. Thankfully, we been lucky enough to find a ton of great web designers who know their stuff and they’ve shared some of their best WordPress tips:
1. Keep it simple – Coco Chanel said it best when she said, “Always take one thing off before you leave the house.” The same thing goes for WordPress. Before you publish your WordPress site, take one thing off of it. Do you really need that sparkles and kittens banner? No, you do not.
“The most important fact is simplicity. Don’t choose complicated and busy templates; stick with clean and visually appealing styles,” Gabriella Vivaldi from Etc-Ecc says.
2. Make it pretty – Before you invite people over to your virtual home, it’s important to make sure the place looks good.
“Don’t overuse color. Always think that less is better, especially since color can be tricky and become a bit tacky. Take your time when choosing the template and designing it, making sure it answers your needs,” Vivaldi said.
3. Don’t slow it down – You don’t have much time these days to capture the average user’s attention. The more you have on your website, the longer it’s going to take to load and the faster people are going to bizounce from it, and no one likes a high bounce rate.
Jill Chongva, the owner of Luscious Planner, says, “I’ve seen too many…people with far too many plugins with scrolling, rolling and fancy gizmos. It distracts from your content and overuse of plugins can also make your site run slower.”
Brian Grady from Gorilla Group says, “The bottom line is to start with a solid site — let the user get in, get what they need and get out without a hitch.” If you make your site easy to navigate, users will be more likely to come back for more.
4. Use keywords when building it – WordPress gives you tons of opportunities to use keywords, and if you’re not using ’em you’re wasting opportunities to get more search traffic. Once you’ve done a bit of keyword research and downloaded some plugins, there are tons of ways to make your WordPress site SEO-friendly, from the All-In-One SEO pack to using keywords in all of the content you put on it.
Ian Knight from 7Krown says, “I create WP users using keywords – instead of using your real name or ‘admin’ try using a keyword instead. This is better for SEO and also adds an anchor link back to your site using the keyword.”
5. Use plugins – They’re free and easy to use. All you need to do is get your Google on and find out which plugins are best for your blog. Sexy Bookmarks (yes, it’s really called that) and All in One SEO are our personal faves.
David Backes from Anvil Media Inc says, “If you can think it, there’s a plugin for it! Type the feature you wish you had into Google with “WordPress plugin” attached to the end, and then see what comes up. Odds are you can easily customize your site with minimal development.”
Dotty Scott from Ask Dotty recommends “All in One SEO,” “Robots Meta” and “Google XML” sitemap plugins to optimize help your site for SEO.
6. Design without the designer – If you do a little research, you can find programs that will do some of the work for you.
“Utilize sites like Themeforest.net which host thousands of premium WordPress templates that serve as the basis for your design,” Jillian Koeneman from FreshLime says.
7. Permalinks – Another great tip for using WordPress is to change the permalinks to include keywords. When you launch a blog, WordPress is automatically set up to have a URL that has the number of the post in it. Instead, you can change it to include the title of your blog, which is great for SEO.
John Hutchison from Formic Media says,”Change your permalinks to SEO friendly url’s by putting “%postname%” into the “custom” box in the permalinks options.”
8. Ask a professional -It’s OK to ask for help and there are some great web designers (like the ones mentioned in this blog) who will set up your WordPress for you, whether you want to set it and forget it, or if you just need help setting a few things up.
“Start with a professional, paid-for theme…I advise the non-designer to use professional themes…freebies aren’t always the best bet,” says podcast marketer extraordinaire Jessica Kupferman.
9. Socialize it – Even if your content is awesome, it doesn’t matter if no one is there to read it. We mentioned it earlier and we’ll mention it again. A great tool for social networking management is the Sexy Bookmarks plugin.
“There are a ton of these plugins out there, I personally use ‘My Social Links Bar’ for most of my sites. Find the one that looks best and works the best for you, customize it, and place it on their ASAP. Without social media, very few people will find you, much less follow you,” Howard C. Davis from Paradise Web Design.
10. Let People Know That It’s Not Just Another WordPress Site – Sites that say “just another WordPress site” are the last picked for dodge ball in the eyes of search engines – and your readers see it that way as well. Luckily, it’s a quick fix.
“Always remove anything in the footer that tells people that your site is made with WordPress. It gives the site more of a professional look, like you have paid lots of money for it, plus the footer is a great place to add your own address details for local search optimization,” says Ally Piper of A. Piper Creative.
Do you have a site built with WordPress? What are your best tips for using WordPress? Share in the comments below.