Using WordPress as a Web Designer
Before WordPress, you had to build a website using a text editor or a program like Adobe DreamWeaver. Now, there are so many options, almost anyone can build a website. A basic website that is. It still takes a designer or developer to design the website properly and make the website usable and pleasing to the eye.
WordPress is not for people who have zero background in Web Design or Web Development. You definitely need a good amount of knowledge on how the internet works, how to create a database. You also need to know how to upload websites to the server.
Adding a Theme to WordPress
For this website I choose to use the Divi theme. Divi is a theme you need to pay for (but well worth the money, if you’re serious blogger or a web designer who will use this theme). Basically you have two options: pay for a year subscription, which is $89 a year (at the moment, the prices change every so often). Or pay for a lifetime subscription, which gives you lifetime access to all the current and new themes and plugins, which is $249. If you are a web designer who is planning on staying in the field for a long time, it’s worth it to buy the lifetime subscription. Elegant Themes is the company who created the Divi theme and many other responsive themes. They will normally give you a free trial period, to give the themes a test drive before spending your moolah.
It’s good to keep in mind that Elegant Themes are smart enough that they can track where there theme is being used and who is using it. So if you are going to be using the theme(s) for many websites over the years, it would be wise to pay for the lifetime access.
Once you have chosen a theme (or designed a theme on your own), it’s time to customize the theme. You can customize the theme using the style.css file or you can use the theme customizer. Either way you have many options to make the website your own. As a web designer, it is great to have the majority of the coding done for you. Although, still being able to go in and customize it to your liking is also great.
Learning How to Use WordPress
I definitely suggest taking a course or two on WordPress before building your website in it. WordPress is super user friendly, but there are definitely benefits to learning about a program before using it. I took two courses on Shaw Academy, an online learning platform, in Web Design and Advanced Web Design which has helped immensely. It is especially helpful when it comes to setting WordPress up for the first time and then uploading it to a server.
I strongly suggest working locally, it adds a few more steps when uploading it to a host, but it is well worth it. You definitely don’t want an unfinished website sitting on the internet (not so great for your SEO). Working locally also speeds up the lag-time, which is another plus – there’s nothing worse than waiting 5 minutes for your page to load!
Plugins are your friend, most of the time. Make sure, before downloading a plugin, that you have vigorously checked the ratings and comments on the plugin. Make sure that you read what is including in the free plugin and that it has everything you want and need. Here are a few plugins I love:
The Divi Builder– this plugin is a great add-on if you buy an Elegant Themes theme, it makes it easier to build your site visually.
Quick Featured Images – this plugin is great if you want to build a blog, otherwise your post snippets will only have a title and no image to go with it.
PHP Settings – great for changing max_file_size and other PHP properties.
I’ll be making a blog post in the coming days on how to upload a WordPress website to a GoDaddy Hosting Account, for those of you who have questions now, do not hesitate to leave me a comment!
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