Tag: Websites

How to Create a Website: A Step-by-Step Guide

In today’s competitive economy, just “having” a website isn’t enough to really drive business growth online. To succeed, you need to make sure your website functions seamlessly, with attractive design and intuitive navigation. That can be a tall task if you’re not a web developer or graphic designer. But don’t worry – we’re here to walk you through a step-by-step process of how to create and support a website that actually helps your brand grow.

Getting Started – What Platform Should I Use?

Before you start, consider this:

There are hundreds of website creation platforms out there: WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Joomla, just to name a few.

There’s also the option to build a website from scratch and if you’re a tech genius, maybe this would be the way to go. But we recommend against it. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Plugin-based or even drag-and-drop templates will give your website more polished look and functionality in a fraction of the time.

But that doesn’t answer the question of which one YOU should choose. Let’s take a look at some statistics that may answer that question:

wordpress user percentage

Source

WordPress dominates the market with an astounding 53.3% of websites existing on the entire Internet.

Here’s Why People Prefer WordPress

how to create a website

First off, unlike website builders and many of the options on that above list, WordPress is free.

It’s also super user-friendly and flexible to suit all sorts of users: small businesses, online shops, bigger organizations, individual bloggers, etc. It’s also the platform we use here at Array Digital. We love it because of all the benefits that WordPress offers to its users.

But, don’t choose your platform quite yet. Most web hosting services (we’ll get to that a little later on) offer easy installs for various website creation platforms.

Domain Names and Hosting

In order to set up your website, you need two things:

  1. A Domain Name (that’s your web address like ThisIsArray.com)
  2. Web Hosting (a service that connects your site to the web)

Without web hosting, your site won’t be able to store images, content, and website files; basically, you won’t exist on the Internet. And owning your own domain may not be a necessity but it looks far more professional than your name attached to someone else’s domain. For example, consider the difference between thisisarray.com vs. thisisarray.blogspot.com.

There are plenty of web hosting providers out there. Here are some options to consider along with their costs:

How to Create a Website

Choosing an Awesome Domain Name

If you are not sure what a domain name is, we’ve got you covered. Here we’ve defined what a domain is and included tips on how to pick the perfect one for you, including your TLD.

What is a TLD? Well, I’m quite glad you asked. TLD stands for top-level domain and basically, it’s the last segment of the domain name, the letters immediately following the final dot in an Internet address.

While there are a variety of options (.com, .org, .gov, .edu, .mil, .pizza – yes it is a thing), we highly recommend using .com, the most commonly used TLD among them.

If you don’t yet have a domain name, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • If you’re making a personal website, maybe YourName.com would be the best option. It allows you to grow even if your content changes, it’ll be easy for your loyal subscribers to remember, and it’s a great way to grow your Internet presence.
  • If you are creating a website for your business, your domain name should match your company name: YourCompanyName.com.
  • You may not be able to find your first choice, so have a couple backup options that stay consistent with your branding.

Now that you have your web hosting and domain name set up, you’ll need to install WordPress or another platform of choice to your domain. With most hosting websites, there will be an easy install option that literally requires a maximum of five clicks in order to integrate WordPress into your hosting site.

Designing Your Website

Once you’ve installed your chosen platform to your domain, you will see a blank slate of a site: very basic yet clean.

But you didn’t go through this whole process for your website to look like everyone else’s, did you? That’s why you’ve got to pick a theme – a design template that will communicate to WordPress how your website should look.

Here’s what the WordPress dashboard will look like and where you can find said themes:

how to create a website: wordpress dashboard

Design for Mobile First

Whether we’d like to admit it or not, the Internet is going mobile. If you aren’t designing your website for mobile users, you are turning away a huge percentage of web users and potential customers. And the latest count is in: 52% of all website traffic worldwide is generated through mobile phones, numbers that have made a steady climb since 2014.

How to create a website: mobile user percentage

As the world becomes more mobile, you would be doing yourself and your business a major disservice by not designing for mobile first.

A mobile-friendly website provides your customers with a better experience and therefore gives your site a competitive advantage over those that aren’t so technologically savvy.

Here are the top 3 reasons you should design for mobile first:

You Have to Focus on Core Content and Functionality

When designing for a compact 320px X 480px or smaller, you are forced to design a layout for a screen that can only hold the essentials. You only have so much space and you want to use that for the most important parts of your site, so if it’s not absolutely necessary to your clients, ditch it.

Multiple Screen Sizes = More Emphasis on Adaptability

With Apple putting out a new iPhone (or three) each year, there’s always a new device with new dimensions that you have to take into consideration. That is the very reason that your website design must be fluid, not adaptive so that it will look just as good on the latest iPhone as it does on a phone 3 generations old.

You’ll Stay Up to Date with Developing Trends

When you’re designing a desktop-based website, you never know if your viewers are seeing it on an aging machine and old browsers that can’t support your new technology. But with mobile devices, users are constantly upgrading their phones, giving you as the designer access to the innumerable possibilities to utilize new and exciting technologies.

What is UX or UI? (User Design)

I’m sure you have been privy to conversations in the tech world about UX and UI design and even wondered if this is a secret language that you will never understand. Well, I will let you in on the secret.

UX stands for User Experience design while UI stands for User Interface design. While both are very different parts of the process and the design discipline of creating a website, they are both pieces of the same puzzle and work closely together to produce a great product for your customers.

How to create a website: ux vs. ui

Source

User Experience design is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.”

A huge part of maximizing your customers’ experience is making your site easily accessible on mobile phones, but doing this also serves you well.

Google prioritizes mobile-friendly content first; the search engine doesn’t like websites that aren’t designed for mobile and so they are pushed down in search results. And I think we all know that once you go past search result #10, you practically don’t exist to the majority of searchers.

Ongoing Support and Security

You didn’t think you were done, did you? Yes, you have a beautiful new website, designed to achieve your goals and it’s been a long time coming. But like purchasing a car, it won’t run perfectly on its own forever. It’ll need updates, security from hackers, and more.

Ongoing website maintenance is extremely important not only to your marketing success but also to secure your WordPress website against vulnerabilities, which we talk extensively about in this article.

It’s important to have a continual support plan not only to satisfy your customers with up-to-date content but also to protect your online presence from hackers and technology glitches.

Basically, unless you plan on learning the technical side of your website maintenance, we recommend finding a support provider. Here are a few things that can happen on an unsupported website:

  • There is no such thing as an unhackable website. If you aren’t taking consistent backups of your website, a hack could completely destroy the entire thing, and you will have no way of restoring it. Support should provide backups to get you immediately up and running!
  • How do you avoid these hackers? By keeping your software and all your plugins up to date! Unless you plan on remembering to do this manually, a support provider should provide this.
  • How do you know if your website crashes? How many leads might you miss if your website is down and you have no way of knowing? Quality support plans should provide uptime monitoring and should be proactive in fixing crashes.
  • Have you ever seen the “not secure” label in the search bar on Google? That’s what happens if you don’t update your Secure Socket Layer (SSL). It’s what proves to Google you are trustworthy with your visitors’ information. If you don’t keep this up to date, Google will tell your visitors that your website is not secure.

A New Approach to Website Support

We at Array Digital have uniquely designed our website services around your core needs as a brand-building business owner. Most places charge per project for websites, of $10,000 and up, and then charge you for support in addition.

At Array Digital, we charge a flat monthly fee. In that fee, we provide “unlimited changes and support” which literally includes up to a new website. We will do whatever it takes to make sure your website is performing exceptionally and converting leads.

We monitor the health, security, and performance of your website, giving you thorough and transparent reports every two weeks.

That way, you can budget easily with simple monthly payments, and you never have to worry about getting nickeled and dimed for every little change. Whether it’s fixing a misspelled name or replacing the entire website, you will always get what you need.

The Business Case for Switching to WordPress

The Business Case for Switching to WordPress

Companies often come to us for advice on which content management system (CMS) they should use for their website content. In many cases, they have used another platform for years, such as Joomla, Drupal, Magento, or one of the dozens of other options available. These companies tell us they have heard that switching to WordPress is a good idea, but they don’t have enough information and experience to make an educated decision about it.

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Which comes first: Content or Design?

Which Comes First: Content or Design?

Coming from a Content-Focused Past

Before I discovered my love for experience design, I spent two years as a copywriter/search engine optimization (SEO) specialist for a web design firm that served everything from start-ups to large manufacturers. The most exciting part of the copywriting process was when I received the live proof of a new website – a beautifully designed, 100% custom-developed WordPress website topped with visually appealing, full-width images. And all of that Lorem Ipsum sprinkled throughout the site? It was up to me to turn that placeholder text into a meaningful marketing message.

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How Do I Know If My WordPress Site Has Crashed?

If a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around to hear it, does it make a sound? This is a good question for your website – how do you know when your site crashes? If your website is down, every minute is another minute of traffic lost to your competitors sites. And we cannot have that… Personally, we check our client’s websites once every five minutes to ensure that no valuable traffic is lost to their competitors.

Why do WordPress sites go down?

Websites can go down for a number of reasons. It could be large-scale events like a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on a national Internet provider. It could also be a server outage or something as simple as a bug that was unintentionally created by a developer. Any of these can cause your site to crash.

The internet is a complex web of dependent variables. Most of the time when your website goes down, it’s unintentional and not ill-intended. Sure, accidents happen, but accident or not, your site is down and your digital presence is damaged for the moment either way. Array Digital arms you with the information you need to get your website up and running with minimal downtime.

Uptime Monitoring

At Array Digital, we monitor your website continually to confirm that it’s up and running like a champ. Some systems use plugins on the server to check, but we reach out to your website from another location to make sure our results are correct. We can confidently know that we see what your clients see.

If we find that your website goes down then we will not only log it, but we also let you know via messaging you by text message or email. Once you find out your site is down, you get it resolved quickly! Uptime notifications ensure that you are the first to know when your WordPress website is experiencing issues.

WordPress Support customers receive a weekly report which includes a summary of their websites uptime and downtime. Knowledge is power and regularly updating you on the health of your website can help you keep your competitive advantage.

Why should i optimize my wordpress database

Why Should I Optimize My WordPress Database?

Having a messy desk makes productive work difficult, even impossible at times. Similarly, your WordPress website is comprised of physical files and content that are saved on a database. A poorly managed database can have a slew of negative consequences, including operating inefficiencies which can ultimately slow down and even crash your website.

How does a database affect my WordPress website?

Every time your WordPress handles a request by a user, it has to gather the necessary data needed to display it which is located on your site’s database. The longer it takes for WordPress to get this data, the longer a visitor on your website has to wait.

In an era where “time is money”, a sluggish website can cost you big time. On average, it should take your website 5 seconds or less to render. Any longer than 5 seconds and you are risking your user leaving your website for one of your competitors. This can leave you with poor user engagement that will lower your Google search rankings. Poor user experience and declining search rankings don’t sound like what most people want from their website.

How does my database get disorganized?

Each time the content on your site is revised, WordPress keeps the old version in your database. This is a great feature in case you want to revert back to a previous version or if your site crashes, but what do you do after you’ve made 20 or 30 revisions? Now you have 20 or 30 versions that your database is trying to sort through every time it needs to respond to a user’s request. This can slow the speed of your website tremendously.

Outdated or removed themes and plugins are another source of excessive data that is kept in the database. Just because they were removed from the site, doesn’t mean they were removed from the database. This “orphaned data” (data kept, but no longer needed) needs to be removed to reduce bloat and to optimize the most current data in your database.

WordPress Support optimizes your database

WordPress Database Optimization focuses on removing cluttering, useless data from your database, keeping it clean and fast. A clean database means a faster website and a faster website creates happy users!

If this seems like a hassle to keep up with, you might want to consider a support plan (what’s a support plan?) from an experienced WordPress servicer. At Array Digital, we perform database optimization every week. This ensures that your database and website are as efficient as possible and that way you aren’t paying for storage you don’t need. We understand that digital maintenance can daunting. That’s why we’re here to ensure that you’re equipped with all the information you need to make the best decisions possible for your website.

Mobile vs Desktop

Mobile vs Desktop Website Trends

The first desktop or personal computer was created in 1971 compared to the first smartphone in 1992. Although the PC was invented 21 years before the smartphone, it is hard to ignore the staggering increase in smartphone usage over the years. According to the Pew Research Center, American smartphone usage has increased from 35% in 2011 to 77% in 2018. So when comparing the two devices, how do the results add up?

Back and forth

Over the last several years, mobile devices have been increasing in popularity, but just how much? Previous Google research showed that the majority of people, about 80%, use multiple devices in any given day. So they switch constantly back and forth from their phone to their desktop. As an example, last night I was on my laptop. Before that I was at the gym looking at my phone, and before that I was at work on my laptop. So every single day I’m switching back and forth, and I’m sure you do as well.

Mobile Domination

Out of all of the people that use the internet on a given day, about 14% use only a desktop. Out of all the people that use the internet on a given day, about 50 or 60, as high as 70% by some studies, use only their mobile devices. So, mobile devices are dominating right now compared to desktops, as far as website usage. What does that mean for your website? When you think about your website for your business, do you want it to be mobile responsive, or do you want it to be desktop responsive?

Website Adjustments

In the past, a website was designed for the desktop, and desktop browsers and then focusing on making it mobile responsive. Well, in the last couple of years that’s actually flipped because of the data. Now, a website should focus on mobile compatibility first then concentrate on desktop responsiveness. You want it designed for the mobile experience first and foremost. The desktop is a secondary experience they need to think about.

So, look at the data, and decide what you want to do.

Google Searches, Smartphones, and Mobile Friendly Websites

A mobile friendly (aka mobile responsive) website is one that works just as well on a mobile phone as on a desktop or laptop. For the past several years, web designers have been making their websites mobile responsive using a combination of technical techniques and frameworks.

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Making the Best First Impression

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Many of us have heard this famous Will Rogers quote, but we typically think of it in the context of meeting people for the first time. But this adage goes beyond personal meetings. It can also apply to a business making its first impression on a new prospect, with the hope of converting them to a customer. In today’s digital age, a consumer’s first impression of your business is often your website, and if that’s not impressive, you risk losing sales.

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Wordpress Updates

WordPress is an open-source content management system which allows developers to create and sell themes and plugins. While WordPress is the digital face of your company, it’s supported by a global community of developers and it’s popularity is driven by the creativity of these developers.

How WordPress Updates Work

Open-source content management systems allow for collaborative problem solving. When bugs are discovered in WordPress, they can be posted publicly for developers to collaborate on a resolution. This results in WordPress getting better and better over time. However posting bugs publicly gives hackers an opportunity to capitalize on the temporary vulnerabilities.

Keeping your WordPress website and plugins updated to the latest version is essential to keeping your website secure! There are many other dangers like this one, but for now, let’s stick to updating your site and its plug-ins.

An Unmaintained Website = A Hackable Website

Ever notice how if you forget to update your phone or your computer, it starts to run slower or even crash? Your website can run into the same problems. Similarly, the updates that come out are designed for your device’s security. Again, your WordPress website operates in the same way. Your initial set up is only secure for so long, and once hackers figure out their way around, a new update comes out to counteract the threat.

How often is WordPress updated?

The WordPress platform as a whole is updated about once every four months. If your website is three years old and you have not updated it then you’re behind by 9-10 major versions!

In addition to the WordPress platform updates, WordPress themes (the look and feel of your website) can be updated at any time. Because WordPress is open-source content and allows for developers to collaborate and create their own themes, it can be hard to determine exactly when a theme update may occur.

Don’t forget: individual plugins also have updates which need to be monitored. WordPress plugins give your site a bulk of the functionality that makes WordPress so popular – everything from newsletter signups to blogs to eCommerce are all plugins. There are over 50,000 plugins and like themes, the updates are not released on a predefined schedule making it difficult to track which plugins need to be updated and when.

Having something like WordPress Support gives you a peace of mind, letting a veteran team track your WordPress site’s various pieces and updating them every time a new version is released.

Protecting Your Website

If anyone ever says they can make your software or website hack-proof – run!

There is no such thing as a hack-proof system, but just like locking your door and buckling your seatbelt, you can patch your WordPress website to keep it safe. Updating the platform, themes, and plugins on a regular basis will greatly reduce potential vulnerabilities exposed to the Internet and hackers. Patching your WordPress site makes it harder for hackers to take advantage of you. By proactively patching your WordPress site, you encourage hackers to skip you and move onto the website with plenty of unpatched vulnerabilities.

About 75% of WordPress websites run old versions of WordPress! Outdated WordPress sites, themes, and plugins invite trouble and can be detrimental to your website.

Array Digital updates your website at least once a week to ensure your WordPress site is operating optimally and securely. Investing in WordPress Support protects your investment and increases the longevity of your website.

Wordpress Backup

Do I Need to Back Up my WordPress Website?

Most people understand the value of keeping all kinds of data backed up. We back up our computers, phones, or any other kind of personal records we wouldn’t want to lose. Your website should be on that list as well! Your website can crash due to hackers, server outages, human errors, and poorly tested updates. A lot can be lost at any time. That’s why at Array Digital, we consistently back up every one of our clients’ websites. If you want more details on why a support plan is a worth-while investment, take a look at how support can take the stress out of your website concerns.

How often should I back up my WordPress site?

We back up our websites every day. This ensures that if a WordPress site does fail for any of the reasons listed above, your can be sure that your site will be immediately restored to its most recent form.

Where do I backup my WordPress site?

WordPress Support clients benefit from having their WordPress website’s database and files backed up on a US-based Amazon S3 cloud server. Opting for a third party server (like Amazon S3) can save you a lot of time and money. Storing backups on your local web server is the technical equivalent to putting all your eggs in one basket. If your server crashes, you could lose your site and the database. It can also make it easier for hackers to access your files and hijack your WordPress website.

By backing up your WordPress files and database on a third-party server, we are ensuring that you have a clean, safe backup which we can be used to restore your site whenever necessary.

What should I do if this sounds too complicated?

Array Digital’s backup service is a disaster recovery plan for your website. Our backups service the most important part of our WordPress Support plan because disaster is not a question of “if”, it’s a question of “when”. Array Digital separates itself from the competition by not only supporting your WordPress site, but we also monitor its health and run daily backups. A support plan is an insurance policy on your website.

Many other companies offer support plans that do not include the health or state of your website. It does not include hacking, errors, or bad updates. It only includes the server itself, and if you are lucky, they will only have a backup stored once per month. Then you are left with a loss of data, images, files, and updates. They may also add additional charges when you actually need to restore from your last back up.

So take charge of your website with Array Digital’s WordPress Support service and let us help you protect your WordPress website.

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© 2019 Array Digital LLC
© 2019 Array Digital LLC