Changing your website software is a big step, make no mistake. All of my clients will agree that it is the one stumbling block that checks their enthusiasm for the move. Theirs is not necessarily a fear of change so much as fear of the unknown. How about if I fix that? Right now!
A Server for WordPress
With over twenty-five million people using WordPress worldwide, locating it doesn’t sound difficult. It may be offered at the company you’re currently using for your web hosting. We’ll look into that. You may need to go elsewhere, and because WordPress is easy to find, it makes the selection of a “good” hosting company more difficult.
I would be looking for a software hosting company that has dependable equipment, knowledgeable and quick support including WordPress, and easy access to my server and account, all at a reasonable price. If you have more specific needs in server equipment or additional software, add those to this list. Make sure you know what you require before you go on the hunt.
There are many hosting services for WordPress that are economical and not WordPress-centric. One of these might do the trick for you: Hub, iPage, Hostgater, DreamHost, FatCow, InMotion, etc. I would look at the newest Google-found “WordPress Hosting” reviews. Check out these companies’ customer service tabs to see customer feedback (sometimes in a forum). Suggestions for reviews: WebHostingSearch and Hosting-Review.
I found another category of web hosting company: the pro-WordPress companies. Some of these are exclusively WordPress and pricey, and some provide lots of services and do WordPress well, while being very economical. Here are a few companies that fit in the economical category: WestHost, Site 5, WPWebHost and SiteGround. With Synthesis, ManageWP, and page.ly you’ll find managed WordPress hosting.
If you discovered that the web hosting company you are currently using offers WordPress software, use the same guidelines to see what your current company offers and how they take care of their WordPress customers. It’s a very good idea to consider this option as it does make the move a little bit simpler.
OK, you’ve selected a hosting company. What’s next?
This is the easier method. Go to the account control panel, find the web-building/blog apps panel, select WordPress (1-step install), and click install. Stop! Not yet… One very important EXTRA step here: Install WordPress inside a folder/directory and name the folder something short, like “NEW.”Installing WordPress inside this folder means that you won’t interfere with the operation of your current site while you’re developing the new one. Later, this folder’s contents will be exported to a new installation of WordPress on your server that takes the place of your current static HTML site (or whatever is there now). Now, inside this new directory folder, hit INSTALL.
You’ve selected a new company to host your new WordPress website – the working edition, using a secondary url. Go to the account control panel, find the web-building apps panel, select WordPress (1-step install), and click install. Woo hoo! Here we go!
We have lift off.
Your next job is to explore this new software, try out the Settings and fill in all the information you can. WordPress is an intuitive software with a clear navigation panel on the left, and content to control it in the center. It will actually be “live” as soon as it is installed, showing the name you entered at the installation.
Quick Tip: Go to Settings/Privacy. Check the Block Search Engines button and save. This is how the Priviacy Options should be set while in “working” mode.
The “theme” that is installed with WordPress, called Twenty Eleven, is a blog theme. That means the front page has excerpts of the example blog articles and a thumbnail photo listed on the page in stacked rows. If you are moving to WordPress to create a blog only, this will be the type of Theme you want. If you plan a business introduction on your front page, ignore the blog-type theme when you start your search for just the right theme. (More later.)
Some of the information you need to put into this new website will come from the old website. Things like your logo and tag line, product photos, people photos, white papers, e-books, and product data sheets may all come from your present website. Take some time and go collect it all.
Building on your WordPress Frame
Now the work begins. Whether you do this yourself or you have someone do it for you, there are lots of steps in getting this all done, and done right.
- WordPress, the Software
If you need to learn WordPress, be sure to check out WordPress 101 (www.wp101.com). They offer videos that will take you though each part in detail. Just one video will give you valuable, useful steps to follow to get started and keep going.
- WordPress Theme
WordPress uses themes (templates) to control the appearance of the website. Selecting one best for your company is an important step, too. Check out my post on selecting your theme. I do not recommend selecting a free theme from the WordPress.org directory or from searches on the web. This is a major change for your web presence. Don’t scrimp making your theme selection. Get it right.
Rewrite your pages for a customer-centric point of view. See Scott Stratten’s book, Unmarketing, for this flip-flopped point of view that works wonders. Another option is Ann Hadley’s book, Content Rules, and John Jantsch’s DuctTapeMarketing.com
- Giving Visitors Directions
Add Calls-to-Action in sidebars, pages, and posts. See: Creating the Best Call-to-Action by CopyBlogger.com.
- WordPress Plugins
Use WordPress plug-ins for added functionality. Some suggestions: BusinesstoCommunity.com’s list and WPKube.com’s list.
- Content: Posts, Pages, Pictures
You’re going to be writing posts for your new blog. I suggest around 10 posts to get your new website and blog going, but at least a few are needed to show what you intend the blog to do. See Pushing Social: Easy Blogging for Busy People for usuable tips and even a course. Pages are usually meant for About Us pages, Contact Pages, and Portfolios. Both posts and pages benefit from photos.
When you get all your ducks in a row and want to show the world how much better your new website is, how do you go live? The same-server-WordPress-site needs to be moved out of its folder and made the live pages for the website. The new-server-WordPress-site needs a redirection to the new server of your website. Both are a little complicated; this would best be done by a professional. It’s usually quick and easy by those who have done it many times before. Are you ready?
Now it’s Known
You’ve learned the steps and many of the details to this process. This overview is meant to show you that the whole process is in your control. You may need some help accomplishing all the steps, but you know what those steps are. The steps may be large, but the process is clear. Ready to do it?
I hope this explanation makes it easier for you to get your project underway. I sincerely hope you will move to WordPress today. OK, maybe tomorrow, but get going.
What other information would you like to know to help you get started?
Just comment below or email me.