Do I really want to build my own WordPress website?

Seattle WordPress, building your own WordPress site Three years ago I attended a seminar where I first learned about WordPress.  The message was anyone could now build their own website for FREE and it would be just as good as static sites costing thousands of dollars.

Having built websites in Dreamweaver and Front Page for years, well, this just seemed to way too good to be true.  But the presentation was first class and by the end of the 2 hour workshop most went out the door thinking they could build a world-class website in a day or two.

Was WordPress really that easy, I had to find out. Having built dozens of static websites and being a real geek, I planned on cranking out my first world-class site in a few days. Well, it wasn’t a few days and it wasn’t world-class – more like ghetto class!
Many others had heard the rumors that anyone can build their own amazing site and decided to give it a try. And the phones of the pro WordPress developers began to ring and have never stopped.  It’s like the barber who advertised “We fix $5 haircuts”.

Since that first seminar, I’ve built hundreds of WordPress websites and the bottom line is: I love the technology.  Many of my clients over the years were causalities of attempting to build their own.  Obviously, lots of the 66 million WordPress users have successfully built their own site and are perfectly happy BUT there are a lot of simple sites among that lot. What if your vision is to have a personally branded and unique WordPress site? Will a pre-fab design template do the job?

In my opinion, all the hype over WordPress has created a bit of confusion.  For most people it is in-fact easy to manage a WordPress site that is already built.  However, for many it is challenging if not impossible to build the site. By now, you’re probably wondering if building your own WordPress site is a great idea. Here are five things to consider that will help you decide whether to build-it-yourself or hire a pro. (Or at the very least have a professional jumpstart you!)

Are you a little bit geek?

If you can setup computer peripherals and install computer software without having to call a friend, you can get a basic WordPress site setup.  If these technical chores tempt you to throw you computer out the window, hire a pro.

Do you have a good eye for design?

If you want to create a unique design that matches your branding or that captures the essence of your business, you will need to build your site in a ‘blank canvas theme’.  If you go this route, experience in/with graphic design and/or photography will be needed if you want to end up with a site that will impress your site visitors and prompt them to call you instead of your competitors.

Another design option is to choose from 1,526 free themes or hundreds of paid themes.  If you go this route you’ll need to have a good sense of which colors, fonts, and layouts will appeal to your audience.  You will also need the patience of sorting through the many options.

Are you SEO knowledgeable?

There are lots of options to drive visitors to your website, but if search engine optimization (SEO) (in simple terms how you get found on the web) is a part of your strategy you’ll need to be knowledge on a fairly complex and ever changing topic in order to get an acceptable search ranking on the right keyword phases.

Do you need a more advanced website?

Some design elements as well as site functions requires custom CSS and PHP coding. If you’re happy with the look and functions of an existing theme, you won’t need any custom coding. But if you want special positioning of elements like menu bars, you’ll have to go beyond drag and drop and plugins.

Can you invest the time?

(Be honest here.) What will be the time it takes for you to efficiently learn how to negotiate basic navigation and set up your site? Would your time be better spent focused on the day-to-day activities of your business and the activities that generate income and have the greatest return on time invested; Is hiring a pro that can jumpstart or build your site faster and better a smart business choice?

How thought provoking is your writing?

It’s as important as your website’s design and user friendliness. Do you put care and enthusiasm in what you write? Are you a good proofreader or do you engage another to be your QC factor? There is good writing and there is great writing. If you are interested in being found by the search engines (that are used by prospective customers) OR want to be socially shared, please consider creating original content that reflects who you are, that is relevant to your business goals, and clarifies who people will be working with; in a nutshell is it worthy of being shared? The BIG objective: Educate. Inspire. Inform. Be shared and recommended. Your reputation can precede you when you write with heart and care.

3 Responses to Do I really want to build my own WordPress website?

  1. Jane Bluestein July 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    I’ve been working with Dreamweaver since it came out, and GoLive before that. I have over 800 pages on my primary site and looked to convert to a CMS structure to help keep track of what I’ve got. I’m trying to get my head around WordPress and you’re right— if you just want to plug content into their framework, it’s a breeze. I kept hearing that it’s fully customizable and while that may be true, getting (and working) under the hood has been really tricky. I want certain parts of my page to look a certain way. I know how to make that happen in Dreamweaver. Making changes with WordPress has been a struggle. (I found the code to get the navigation links to show up under the banner, for example, a change that took me two days to figure out! But I can’t figure out how to get rid of some white space or place an image right up against the nav bar.) I’m willing to learn and love working with this stuff, and I feel like little by little I’m getting there, but I’m also getting a little tired of banging my head against the wall, asking the wrong questions, or not knowing where to look for what I need.

    • Tom Todd July 6, 2012 at 7:58 am #

      Reducing the white space that is part of a theme’s design typically requires some CSS coding. Placing images up against the the navigation bar can usually be done by reducing the bottom margin in the nav bar, again with CSS code. Both can be tricky if you’re not familiar with CSS.

      • Jane Bluestein July 6, 2012 at 10:48 am #

        Figured. I haven’t worked with CSS much since I set up the style sheet for my site a few years ago but I can sort-of see the code (at least what I thought I’d need) in my head. The style.css file starts with a don’t-mess-with-the-code-here message that was a little intimidating. Not sure how or where (custom.css I assume?) to make these changes, but I feel like I’m continuing to close in on this process. Thank you, Tom.

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