Building a website can feel like a daunting task even with the help of a professional web developer. A web developer can help you with design and best practices but you’re the only one with complete knowledge of your business and vision. Some planning an preparation can go a long way towards creating the best possible website for you. With good planning, the best WordPress plugins for business and fast web hosting, you’ll have a complete website checklist!
Think about the users
Put yourself in the shoes of a visitor. Why are you here? What do you expect to find on this website? What kind of information is most important to you? How did I find this site? The answers to these questions all depend on the type of website you have and its purpose. This is part of what’s known as User Experience or UX.
For example consider a website for a retail sports store:
How did I find this site? Through google by searching “local sports store”
For retail stores google is going to be the most common way that customers find them. Customers are usually looking for a store in their area. Google Adwords (paid google results) are a great way to increase your presence on google, and the likely hood of a customer clicking your shop. Usually customers will choose the first or second result they see and not worry too much about comparing sites.
Why am I here? To look for a new bike helmet
A customer usually has a specific purpose in mind when searching for a business. Even though this purpose may not be your focus, it’s important to allow the customer to easily find what they are looking for. If you can make a good impression, a customer may come back for more!
What do I expect to find on this site? Sporting goods related photos and content
A website needs to look somewhat like what a customer expects it should look like, for the type of website it is. In this case, the website should have some similarities to other sports shops in the area. This is not to copy or rip-off what others are doing, but just to assure the customer that they are in the right place.
What kind of information is most important to me? Location and store hours, and bike helmets in stock
Now that we’ve established how the customer got here and what they’re looking for, we can decide what information is most important. Since the customer is looking for a local store, it follows that they would want to physically visit the store. The customer is going to need location information and hours and operation in order to plan their route. Location information should be big and easy to find especially on mobile. Next it would be helpful if the customer was able to browse products from the comfort of their own home.
Putting it together
Purchase a domain
A domain name is your web address, what you’ll write on your business cards, and what people will type into their browser to find you. For example beaconstudios.ca is a domain name. A good domain is important but it’s not going to make or break your website. A good domain should generally be easy to write down, easy to tell a friend, and easy to type in. You should avoid similar sounding or hard to spell words. For example “good dash cars dot com” could be gooddashcars.com, goodashcars.com, or good-cars.com. You can see how that could be hard to tell someone verbally. For more information you can read my blog post dedicated to domain names.
The best WordPress plugins for business
Plugins extend the functionality of WordPress and allow you to quickly and easily implement features that would otherwise be expensive to have custom coded. Many plugins are totally free but many are limited or ad-supported in their free versions. It’s well worth paying for a few key paid plugins to ensure you have legal up to date licenses. Though you may need some additional plugins for your specific needs, these are a few that every site needs. For free plugins just install them through the “plugins” panel of your wordpress dashboard. Here are some of my favorites and some of the best wordpress plugins for business.
Contact form 7 is a simple, free and easy o use contact form for your website. This plugin ranks as one of the best wordpress plugins for business because of how easy it is to use and how flexible it can be It is one of the most popular contact forms out there. No ads or limitations, it simply works. It supports captcha for anti-spam protection. You can customize the fields to turn it into a simple sign up or application form.
Visual Composer is a page building plugin that is used by millions of users and professionals! This plugin allows you to make complex and mobile friendly page layouts quickly and easily though a visual drag-and-drop builder. Visual composer includes advanced styling and layout options that give you complete control over your website. This site is built on visual composer and it is by far one of the best wordpress plugins for business!
Woommerce is a free eCommerce plugin for WordPress that allows you to sell your products and services online. You can sell physical goods or even virtual and downloadable goods, you can do almost anything with Woocommerce. If ecommerce is your business, then this is going to the most useful of the best wordpress plugins for business, for you. While Woocommerce is free you may need some additional paid plugins in order to support multiple payment and shipping methods. Woocommerce offers stripe payment for free so you can accept credit cards online.
Woocommerce Canada post shipping plugin allows you to give your customers an accurate and up to date shipping quote. This plugin uses the Canada post API to calculate a shipping cost in real time from you to your customer. People appreciate an accurate shipping price so they know they are getting the best deal possible.
Slider revolution is a plugin that will help you easily create rich media slideshows, presentations, and more. You can layer elements together to create interesting displays and advertisements too. Slider revolution comes with plenty of pre-built templates, icons, animations and more! The slideshow on the front page of this site is built with slider revolution just to give you an idea of what it can do.
Purchase your theme
Here’s where a lot of people get lost. There are so many themes it’s hard to choose just one to use in your site. A lot of themes are free but almost all of them are very limited until you upgrade to the “pro” paid version. Free themes can be a good starting point if you’re building your own site and don’t want to customize, but if you want to make any changes to the layout you’re probably going to have to get a paid theme. Choosing a good paid theme can save you a lot of time sorting through all the free ones, and they can offer enough flexibility to allow you to completely redesign your site all with the same theme.
Betheme is a responsive and highly customizable theme, and one of my favourites. The great thing about this theme is how easy it is to customize and how many different style options it gives you for menu, colour, and font. Betheme comes with a lot of pre-built site templates for you to try out. As an added bonus, Betheme comes with visual composer!
X theme is a hugely popular responsive theme that gives you 4 pre-built styles that you can customize and extend as much as you like. With many different menu styles and color options, you’re sure to find something that works for you. The best part about x theme is that it comes bundled with some of the best premium plugins out there including visual composer and advanced custom fields.
If you have any questions about plugins or themes feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.