As an entrepreneur it is now essential to have a presence on the internet, and this necessarily involves the creation of his site. We know we need one, we are used to surfing the web and visiting every day, but when it comes to creating his own we do not know how to do it.
You have just purchased THE WordPress theme that best fits your project. You’ve spent hours or even days flipping the web in search of the theme that will best enhance your content. Of course, with the help of your SEO agency or your magento development, you have asked yourself the right questions before taking out your credit card. Let’s move on to the next step.
You have downloaded the zip file containing your new WordPress theme. As a kid who has just received his birthday present, you might be tempted to go head-on and start working with your new toy right away. But stay tuned and learn about the main mistakes that can make you waste time setting up your project.
- Activate your theme immediately after buying it
Do not throw yourself headlong into the jungle of templates without having taken the time to define exactly what you want. So, before looking for a nice theme, you need to think about the features you will need.
Do not just look at the home page, it’s likely that your visitors will find you through a shared blog post on a social network, so make sure the articles appear as you want. And then you are a photographer, right? You certainly intend to insert one (or) gallery (s) of image (s), it is another parameter to take into account. Do not be dazzled by a host of features you will never use. Versatile templates (with several types of display) for example, it is good for agencies but not necessarily for a photographer who will use only a tiny part of the resources available. Focus on the important points.
In fact, two situations arise:
- Either you create a new site.
- or do a redesign
In the first case, two possibilities can be distinguished. If you do not plan on pre-launching (waiting page, countdown, list entry form, etc.), you can activate your theme and start working on it. I recommend you to install the plugin Private WP 2 to allow visualizing the site only to the authorized persons.
If you’re planning something for the launch, or if it’s a site redesign, you can not afford to directly activate your theme. The customization period may take a while and this can disrupt visitors’ browsing (and thus give them a bad experience). I’m sure it’s not what you want
To work safely on your new theme, it is best to install WordPress in a subdirectory of your site (if it is a redesign, you will have to duplicate your site). Once your development site is in place, install your new theme and start doing your tests. In case of problems, your visitors will not end up with an inaccessible site. Also install the Private WP 2 plugin to make your site private.
- Set it up as the demo site
We agree, theme authors really make tons of them in their demo sites. There are X sliders, page templates in shambles, several types of content (portfolio, services, testimonials, team, etc.). All with several layouts (in 1, 2, 3, 4 columns, mosaic, etc.). The worst thing is that sometimes we can see demonstration sites of several styles for the same theme. Ok, it shows what can be done, but sometimes there is something to look out for.
More and more often, what we call “import files” are found in the themes for basic content and setting. Many people are fond of this kind of tool, but in my opinion, it does more harm than anything else. Instead of starting on a healthy basis, we are already with a small gas plant even before having put its website online.
It is better to think about your project and put things in place little by little. This will avoid ending up with the superfluous (that we will certainly forget to delete) when the site is online (like the article “Hello everyone” created at each installation of WordPress)
- Put hands in the code directly
Regardless of the project, there is always a need to customize something that is not covered by the theme’s options. However, it is better not to risk it when there are few or no notions in web programming. It would be a bit like trying to repaint your car.
There are certain subtleties to know; otherwise the result is not likely to be extraordinary (painting on the windshield, wheels, headlights, presence of drips, etc)
In addition to good methods, the right tools must also be used to obtain good results without spending hours.
In the case of WordPress theme customization, this can be limited to a basic code editor and an FTP client (to connect to its server), but other tools exist to go faster (code inspector, browser extensions, etc)
- Do not use a child theme to make changes
If you have some basics in HTML, CSS and PHP, you can take your first steps in a WordPress theme makeover. There is one thing you should know though: you need to create a child WordPress theme to include your changes.
“A child theme?”
Yes, this is a kind of sub-theme that “plugs” into the main theme. This is the best way to customize a theme. We could edit the main theme files (called the parent theme), but a problem will arise if the author of the theme publishes an update.
Let’s say you’ve changed the code for your site’s header. If the author has also made a change to this file, what will happen? By clicking on the theme update button, the files of the new version of the theme will replace the previous ones, that is to say the ones you have modified. And here you can say goodbye to your beautiful changes.
- Forget to check that the theme is well optimized for SEO
Normally, you should have had a look at optimizing your SEO theme before you buy it. But if you can make the changes, here is the list of things to check:
- Hierarchy of Titles
In order to be well referenced by search engines, indexing robots must be able to understand the content of your pages. For this, they will inspect the structure of the titles.
For example, on the article display pages (like this page), the title must be in a “h1” tag, subtitles in “h2”, sub-subtitles in “h3”, etc.
On the other hand, on a category page, the title of the page must be in “h1” (which indicates: “Items classified in category XXX”) and the titles of the articles must be in “h2”.
- Watch out for duplicate content
You must keep in mind that for each category and label (new name of the keywords) created in the administration; WordPress will make a page available to your visitors.
- schema.org Attributes
To make it easier for search engines to analyze the content of your pages, it’s possible to include so-called schema.org attributes in certain HTML tags in its theme. These attributes are commonly recognized by major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex). It is thanks to them that we can have a particular layout for events and recipes in the search results pages:
- Do not optimize for conversions
Sometimes (in fact often), authors of WordPress themes have fun on the design. This allows the theme to be noticed. Even if the appearance of a site is important, it must above all be effective, that is to say that it converts. Its purpose is perhaps to transmit information to a specific audience, publicize your work or sell products. Even if you are writing for fun, you certainly want to have an impact on one or more people.
To make an impact, a site must make its visitors take action. For example:
- The visitor has become a broadcaster (sharing an article)
- The reader has turned into a prospect (making contact)
- The broadcaster has become a subscriber (newsletter subscription)
- The prospect has turned into a customer (purchase of a product or service)
- The subscriber clicked on the link of a newsletter.
You can find dozens of other actions to convert visitors. It all depends on the nature of your site. Work on hot areas of your site to drive conversions.
If you have a blog, you can try to get your visitors to the action at the end of your articles (by offering them to subscribe to your newsletter, to like your Facebook page, or what do I know yet)
If you have an online store, increase the size of the shopping buttons and play on the colors so that they are more conspicuous.
- Do not control if translation works well everywhere
The last thing to check is the translation of your theme. Indeed, almost all the WordPress themes available are in English. Whether you have done the translation yourself or found it on the internet, you have to make sure that the whole theme is in French.
I do not know you, but I hate to find words in English when I visit a site in French. This denotes a real lack of seriousness on the part of the owner of the site. In addition, people who do not speak English will be frustrated and leave your site…
Before you put your site online, so be sure to browse all types of page (only articles, pages, home page, pages categories, etc.) looking for translation errors.
Customize a WordPress theme and more widely create a website is not a walk of health. It takes time and commitment to get a minimum of results.
By following the recommendations in this article, you should be better armed to make your site a success. Of course, you will have to continue working on it.