WordPress comes highly recommended as a content management system (CMS) by bloggers, SMEs, and start-ups due to its flexibility and customization options. Despite its smooth learning curve, it has a very high ceiling when it comes to what you can accomplish. Without writing a single line of code, you can construct a professional-looking and fully-functional website within hours.
That said, several guides can help would-be site owners create a WordPress site from the ground up. Unfortunately, the prevalence of individual guides and design tactics have made it very easy to end up with a generic-looking site. To help you create a standout website that’s aligned with your personal brand, below are the crucial steps you need to follow:
1. Determine Your Online Goals First
One of the aspects that made WordPress popular is the amount of plugins, themes, and other integrations available. Although the official resource repository from WordPress alone offers tons of free plugins, remember that installing many things you do not need may take a toll on the performance of your website. Certain plugins may also cause conflicts and issues when installing simultaneously with others.
As a rule of thumb, you should always only install what you need to preserve the performance and stability of your site. First, you must identify the goals you want to accomplish–from building an email list to ranking highly in search engine results. For most site owners, online goals are usually related to generating sales, increasing traffic, and generating leads.
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Tip: To help with your goal-setting, make sure your goals are ROI-oriented. Keep in mind that ROI does not always equate to monetary gains. Also consider other key performance indicators (KPIs) such as traffic, bounce rate, customer acquisition cost, and conversion rate.
2. Read Reviews of Plugins
After identifying your goals, remember that the most efficient and practical way to accomplish them is to use only one plugin for a particular purpose. For example, you should only have one plugin for email marketing, one for contact form building, and so on. Since you need to commit to learning and using a single plugin for the long-term, you need to make the best choice possible by digging deep and getting-to-know each option.
An excellent way to assess whether a plugin is worthwhile or not is to read reviews from other users. Keep in mind that any self-respecting publisher will make it easy for you to find these reviews. In fact, most viable plugins can be examined and rated directly from the WordPress plugin library. In case you cannot decide, you can resort to other channels such as YouTube and online forums for more thorough reviews.
Aside from reviews, don’t forget to check the date of the most recent review. Keep in mind that WordPress regularly rolls out updates to the entire CMS, which may cause issues with outdated plugins.
3. Find Free Alternatives Before Buying
Lastly, remember that most–if not all–premium plugins charge on a subscription basis. If you always opt for paid plugins as you start, your enterprise could run out of funds within a few months’ time. Fortunately, there are always free alternatives or free versions of premium plugins you can consider.
Take note that you can only make the most out of premium plugins if your site already has a steady stream of traffic. In the meantime, focus on getting acquainted with the plugin’s free version by learning its functions and understanding how it works. Consider this an opportunity to test different plugins so you can decide which is best for you before you place your investment. Just don’t forget to deactivate or uninstall a plugin in case it fails to meet your expectations.
Finding WordPress plugins should not be an overly-complicated process, but it does require research and planning. As long as you keep your choices aligned with your goals and avoid coming to rushed decisions, you should have no problem finding the best plugins that will establish a solid foundation for your website.
by Christopher Jan Benitez