Before building your website, it is important to determine what the purpose of the website is. Is it simply to be an online billboard and place for people to contact you or do you want to showcase your work visually?
“If you just want to announce the fact that you do writing, you probably only need one page. At the other end of the spectrum, if you want to set up an online shop, it is a totally different ballgame where your site would need e-commerce capabilities. You might discover that you don’t need a website, but simply an online presence through LinkedIn or Facebook. However, if you want to showcase your work visually, a website is probably better,” said Renee Moodie, a senior journalist and consultant who offers a range of writing, editing, training and consultancy services.
Renee unpacked the topic of building a simple WordPress website during a Safrea webinar. She started by clarifying certain concepts before doing an online demonstration.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a way to get yourself a website – it is a way to manage the content on your site, called a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS helps you to write and place photos and other graphics on the website, so that people can see them. WordPress gives you an easily accessible way to perform these tasks. If you don’t have a CMS, you essentially have to go into code, which is aimed at specialised web developers.
What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?
There is a kind of a myth around WordPress, where it’s thought of as a simple way to get a free website. The truth? You can get a free website but there are strings attached. WordPress started out as a simple way to get a website, but it evolved and developed into a money-generating business. There are two types of WordPress sites:
- com is where you can get a free website (with or without a blog), hosted by WordPress. You get a domain that looks like this: www.writingservices.wordpress.com
Its website states: “At WordPress.com, our mission is to democratise publishing and e-commerce one website at a time.
We’re a hosted version of the opensource software, WordPress. Because when you have the freedom to create, express yourself, and earn money online, the impossible becomes business as usual.”
- org is the actual software, available as a direct download or through a third-party hosting service. You get a domain that looks like this: www.writingservices.co.za
Its website states: “Get WordPress. Everything you need to set up your site just the way you want it.” It gives you two options, “Download and install it yourself – for anyone comfortable getting their own hosting and domain” or “Set up with a hosting provider – for anyone looking for the simplest way to start.”
If you want a website that represent your business in a professional way, you need it via a third-party organisation. If you just want to share information, you can go the simpler WordPress.com route.
How to decide which one you want?
Do your homework
Whatever you decide to do, first do your homework before you sit down to build your website. Think about what you want to say and what visuals you want to use.
- Words – Ask yourself the following questions. Do you have a name for your business? What would your domain be? Do you have a tagline? A paragraph of text that describes what you do? Do you have a mission statement?
- Visuals – Do you have a logo? Do you want one? Do you have brand colours? If not, what colours do you want to use? What fonts do you like? Do you have quality photos and other visuals that you want to use on your site? Get all your written and visual content ready to just insert when you build the site.
Play and ask for help
To get into the world of hosting, simply Google: “host companies in South Africa,” visit their websites, go to their Help Centres and type in “WordPress,” follow the prompts and start playing. There are lots of online help available. Find videos and tutorials on www.wpbeginner.com
Remember, if you do something wrong, no one is looking at your site and you cannot break it. It will be much less intimidating if you adopt the attitude of playing and experimenting. You can even select the option “discourage search engines to discover this site.” When you are ready to share it with the world, untick this option and start sharing it on social media and use it as the marketing tool you intend it to be.
The code has to live somewhere for people to access it on the internet. Generally, you pay a company to host your site.