Hi guys, in this article, I want to share with you the experiences I’ve accumulated over years on how to roll out your site on WordPress in just a couple of days without much trouble. This is a very big article, but it contains only real-life tips and no fluff.
Hire the developer on Upwork, invest $500. THIS IS NOT AN ARTICLE ABOUT A COMPLETELY FREE SITE – THOSE ARE VERY BAD AND DON’T CONVERT, BUT $500 IS OK. Borrow design solutions from competitors – you’ll be able to change things at any time in the future. Don’t try doing it yourself to speed up the process and avoid big mistakes. If you are doing local SEO, read up on SEO and look for paid audits. Start blogging.
I wrote a short article on why it makes sense to use WordPress for any small business out there. If you are still on the fence system-wise, make sure to read that article – it’ll give you a good nudge in the right direction.
Let’s break up the overall process into a number of stages.
Stage 1. Make the decision to roll out and maintain the strategy for 3 months
This Stage has nothing to do with WordPress, but for those businesses who are just getting online or doing a redesign/rethink of their business, it’s important to just start going.
There’s no way that you’ll do it all correct, find lots of customers or sales within a couple of days or go mega-popular.
But you should decide that you are going to persevere and invest no less than 3 months into this initiative. Of course, any sort of online business should only act as a side-hustle that you are doing in the evenings and on the weekends. Everybody goes through this process. Quitting your job and starting out full time won’t work out because you might run out of cash before the sales reach a sufficiently high level.
But a lot of folks I talk with start out and then they lose the steam after a couple of weeks. They get to learn that the digital-marketing path is much more than just creating the site or writing text on it.
All online businesses are sales funnels. In digital marketing, we always sell something. We don’t manufacture anything or provide actual services, but we only present the products and attract leads into the sales funnel so that we can talk with them and try to convert them into customers.
This can be you. This will be you, if you decide to roll out. Even though the digital-marketing side of the business won’t engage in producing any tangible product/service, you’ll find customers and pitch services/products to them.
For example, if you are a tax advisor, you’ll find customers who need assistance with their taxes. But the digital-marketing side is all about the sales. And sales aren’t what they used to be. If you go shopping IRL, you’ll find an extremely limited range of clothes at the local store, thus it makes sense to find a couple of great picks online first, and then go fit out those items in specific stores IRL. Thus, you can see that the digital-marketing can be – and, kinda, is – the biggest driver in your sales funnel.
Thus, you’ll invest time and effort into developing the sales funnel so that it brings leads. Blogging, vlogging, instagramming – all of these activities will bring leads to you! You’ll see success stemming from your actions. But you gotta make the decision to keep on going and building out your sales funnel. Otherwise, you’ll see very little or no progress in the sales for your business.
Stage 2. Decide on the system to use
As I said above, here’s that great article on why WordPress is the best choice for a small business.
So let’s say that we’ve made the choice in favor of WordPress. And if you are still on the fence, you gotta read that article above first!
Stage 3. Pick the theme or themebuilder for WordPress
We can divide all of the solutions based on WordPress into the following buckets:
1. Free/paid themes
2. Free/paid themebuilders
3. Custom-coded themes
Now, let’s talk about each of them and figure out which one is the best for you.
Themes are similar to posters. You can make some changes to specific portions of the theme, but you aren’t supposed to change the overall structure. And if you do, it’ll negate the whole point of using a theme.
This is the easiest option to use. Both free and paid themes are just different posters. Themes have one big disadvantage – you are limited with their structure. Because of this limitation, I never advise customers to use themes. Themebuilders are a much better option when you build on WordPress. And here’s why.
Themebuilders are much more difficult to use because you actually need to use the internal mechanics in order to build things on your site. These aren’t posters, but Lego.
The most popular themebuilders are Elementor, Divi and others. My favorite is Divi. It costs around $100/year, but I have the free lifetime license. So, if you want to, you can reach out to me on FB and I’ll help you set up your site for a smaller commission.
When I started doing this blog, I was decent in WP development and DM overall, but I wasn’t acting as a professional WP developer. I started talking in that community and I came across several teams of WP developers who were building sites exclusively on Divi. This made me convinced that this themebuilder is the best. (Elementor is very popular too, but when you use Divi, you are getting basically all of the functionalities you’d get from Elementor too.)
There’s a lot of talk that themebuilders are slow. Here’s what I think about that.
Are themebuilders slow?
Yes, they are. Well, they are slow-er as compared to custom-coded themes or custom-coded sites overall. The big problem with custom-coded themes is that they cost a lot of money ($3-10K) and they require a lot of involvement.
Themebuilders are in the “Goldilocks Zone”. Speed is very important both for users and SEO. Google is OK with your site loading within 1-2 seconds on both desktop and mobile devices. Of course, it’s possible to speed up your site to 0.5 seconds but this won’t deliver any significant increase in conversions. And conversions, as we discussed in Stage 1, is they “why” for doing anything in DM.
If you are a very big site (with thousands of visitors every day) and if you are a big ecom ecom business, then every millisecond matters. And until you have 500 visitors per day, the 2-second speed will suffice.
So, every themebuilder slows down the loading speed. Divi loads within 1 second. This means that your site on Divi will never load in just 0.5 seconds! But, since it’s not a problem, then you’ll survive.
Then, on top of the 1-second loading speed for Divi come the loading speeds for various site components.
These include images and scripts.
In order to optimize images, you need to compress them. Here’s a good article on everything about optimizing your images for WP. Otherwise they’ll be too big and they’ll slow down your WordPress site irrespective of how you make it.
To optimize scripts, you need to use a caching plugin for WordPress. There are all kinds of caching plugins, but WP Rocket is probably the best.
Stage 4. Research your competitors and create the moodboard
Now, though you can delegate these and other duties in the WordPress site creation process to a hired hand, it’s better if you do lots of work in this department yourself.
Why should you invest your time in these activities, as opposed to paying somebody else to do this?
Because this is how the overall process will play out:
1. You will create the WordPress site
2. You will start doing blogging and other activities to generate traffic
3. Some of the visitors will convert into customers
4. You will start thinking about the potential ways to increase the conversion rate
Step 4 is called “Conversion Rate Optimization” (CRO) and I wrote an introduction-level article about using CRO to grow your conversions. To do CRO, you need to understand how your site works, and what components it includes.
And to get those insights, you need to create the moodboard on your own. Otherwise, all the insights will be stored in your designer’s head. And we aren’t even sure that you gotta have a designer inside the team at the roll-out stage (we’ll talk about the Design Stage below), so it’s possible that you’ll end up with a very bleak design that won’t convert. But if you go deep into the reeds, you’ll be able to increase the conversionary capability of your sales funnel.
How to research competitors?
Let’s say that you are a tax consultant in LA.
Type in “tax consultant in LA” and open TOP-20 sites, look through them and identify common things that most websites have and some rare components too. Look for something that you love looking at and reading through.
Don’t look through the paid-search listings and go into the organic results from SERPs at once (i.e. those listings that aren’t identified as “Ad”). Google loves them, and we gotta make sure that we try to make a site that Google will love too!
Don’t make any notes or screenshots. Just imbue yourself with the feel and touch of the industry.
How to create the moodboard?
Figma is such a great program for anything design-related. Lots of pro designers will try to tell you that Photoshop is the way to go. It’s not. It’s like an 18-wheeler. And it doesn’t mean that you have to use it!
Figma lives right in your browser. IT’S COMPLETELY FREE. And you can start using it within 10 minutes. You can watch some simple videos on the major functions. And that’s it – now you can do the moodboards! Here’s the link to Figma.
Here’s how you do the moodboard:
1. Create 4 files in Figma
Just as shown at the screenshot above, create 4 new files in Figma – Top, Intro, Body, Bottom. These are the 4 main components for your main page at the site.
2. Open the same top-10 competitor sites
Open those top-10 sites that you’ve looked through and review them one by one again. Now, you need to focus on finding things you like seeing. Don’t focus on what you don’t like.
For example, there’s this site called CST tax advisors.
I’ve marked with the red marker the top and intro sections. If you like anything about those, then create the screenshots and paste them into the respective Figma file. For screenshots, I use PicPick. It’s free. It’s not super resource-intensive and it almost never lags.
If you like how the top looks at the site, then make the screenshot of the element in PicPick, save the screenshot to the computer and then copy and paste into the Figma file “Top”.
When you copy and paste the screenshot, it’s going to be too big. Thus, you need to drag the angle in Figma to make it smaller (and make sure that you don’t move the mouse vertically since it’ll eat the image vertically in that case).
Then make some comments in order to explain what exactly you love about this component.
In this example, I say that I like that the text has no background. If you are just starting out in web development, the skills to gather and consider such insights are invaluable. This is how all designers operate – they look through your competitors and find things that they like. Nobody generates the vision for the future site out of thin air.
How much time will the moodboard take?
Nobody knows for sure but you should invest a decent amount of effort. It’s not so much about the time but more about the actual effort you put into your WordPress site.
So, switch off all of the devices, play some relaxation music and research. Don’t try multitasking – it doesn’t work and you’ll move nowhere with the task at hand.
Generally, if you have 3 1,5-hour sessions on three evenings, you’ll have created a pretty decent moodboard.
Should I focus only on what I like? What if I see something that I don’t like?
You should collect only the things that you like. Don’t spend time thinking about the things you don’t like.
But, at the same time, you should be developing a very sophisticated sense of style. So that you can vocalize your opinion about your final product at the end of the project. Thus, we are bumping into the actual design process now.
Stage 4. Wireframes
Now that you’ve collected a lot of various elements for your WordPress site, it’s time to create the wireframes.
This isn’t an easy task at all, and that’s why I always advise customers to engage a designer into this process. Yeap, you might not be able to complete it in the right manner on your own, so you need to pay some money to another person who’ll help you with the task. I know a couple of good designers who I work with, so ping me on FB to get their contact information for free.
Here are some of the steps that you can use in order to create the wireframes for your WordPress site:
1. Make the naked prototype
2. Add graphics and comments + screenshots
3. Figure out your logo and color scheme
4. Polish the architecture
Let’s talk about each of them one by one.
Step 1. Make the naked prototype
Go to Figma and create a new file. There, you need to use only rectangles in order to set forth the text that graphics that you’ll have. To identify any graphics elements, use rectangles with the cross inside.
Something like the intro section shown above will take you around 1 hour if this is your first time in Figma. Subsequently, it’ll take around 10 minutes.
The best thing about it is that you know why you do things the way you do! Again, success in DM isn’t about building things, it’s all about doing CRO here. We’ll talk about CRO below.
Step 2. Add graphics and comments + screenshots
See how the green background stays in place? This is how it’s supposed to be. Ugly 🙂
Don’t even think about beautifying your wireframes. This is the prototype!
Step 3. Figure out your logo and color scheme
You can be doing Steps 1 and 2 together with or without the designer, but Step 3 requires the involvement of the designer type.
Your logo isn’t just “a thing at the top of the site”. It’s actually, kinda, like your face.
Visitors have very little time to try and interact with your sales funnel. Thus, they are trying to minimize exposure to bad actors, scammers and low-quality businesses overall.
Those businesses usually don’t want to invest time and money into creating a super-cool logo and color scheme. Why? Because they don’t see their business as a long-term opportunity but rather a very short-term fling. They can easily liquidate the business tomorrow and delete the site.
Thus, your visitors always pay attention to your design and your logo, even if they tell people that they don’t. It’s instilled so deeply into our psyche that we don’t even register how important the stylish and high-quality design is. It’s like pheromones.
This blog of mine was super stupid and raw during the first several months. And this is how you do it! And then you start growing.
What comes first? Logo, wireframes, color scheme?
Here’s the correct sequence for these stages in your journey to create the WordPress site.
Figure out the wireframes first.
Then create the logo.
You should love your logo, and you should work only with those designers who can create both the logo and the design. If the designer says that they can create the overall WordPress site for you without the logo, this means that they are closer to the WordPress developers and it might make more sense to find somebody else and do the first and then code the design in Divi Themebuilder.
Don’t be afraid to use vivid colors and bold typography in the logo (and elsewhere on your site). Even professional designers might think that logos should be “generally similar to the market competition”. However, they would tell you so just because they’ve been designing sites for years now and they treat your site as just another project. It’s not bad or good. They are professional… It’s just what it is. You need to push through those concerns and come out as a bright, vibrant and vivacious brand.
The benefit from this would be that your brand will turn more heads, and more people will scroll through your homepage and then more people will try talking to you!
C. Color scheme
Now that you have a logo done, you can extend” the colors from it to other components at your site. In this way, your logo will act as an “embryo” for your overall design. And thus whenever a user looks at the logo and they then scroll through your main page, they will be interacting with some sort of the story told by your business with the use of the visuals.
Stage 5. Design
Now that you have the wireframes ready and you know your logo and color scheme look like, you can actually proceed with the design process.
Many providers who combine the processes of web design and web development suggest that they build the design right on WordPress. However, it might make perfect sense to first create the completed design in Figma and code it in Divi next.
It will cost you more money, but it’s more effective.
When your designer is creating the final design in Figma, they don’t have to work about coding or anything at all. It’s just an image that contains a lot of various elements.
Thus, it’s very simple for the two of you to go through many change batches as I call them – the lists of comments you have about the design version.
You’ll look through the first version of the final design and generate a list of comments and requests for minor changes (if any). It makes sense to specify those in a GoogleDocs spreadsheet and check through them when you receive the second version.
After 3-7 versions, both of you will feel completely satisfied with the final product. Now, you can proceed to the coding stage.
However, you might find a WordPress developer who combines the duties of a designer and site builder (like my colleague Qasim). Specialists like this will take you through the whole journey.
Stage 6. Coding in Divi
With the design ready, you can move to coding it in Divi.
And Divi is a themebuilder which doesn’t use that much code anymore. Most of the operations here are “drag-and-drop”.
You can watch this great video on how Divi works. It is 4-hours long, but it’s OK for this type of tutorial. Repeat all the actions and create the WordPress site just like the mentor shows. Don’t just watch through it.
The thing is that sometimes you’ll bump into the situations when you don’t know how to do some specific operations or solve problems. These events might make up only 5% of the overall process, but if you can’t solve them, you won’t be able to move forward with the process.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to perform the overall process on your own while also having the pro WP developer (like my friend Qasim) who will instruct you about how to solve those bottlenecks.
And why can’t you just ask a coder like Qasim to code the whole site for you?
Well, actually, you can, and you probably should – if it’s your first project. But within time – within 2-3 months – are you strongly advised to learn the art of Divi coding yourself. Find a mentor who’ll train you for a bit of money. Qasim also trains folks.
Those skills will be a must-have for CRO. Read on to learn why.
Stage 7. Other pages
I would strongly advise you to first launch the one-page site.
Don’t try to create a number of pages. Why? Because you will end up losing your path around them.
In the future, there’s a lot of time for you to experiment with additional pages, but at the start it’s the MVP that you are trying to get done.
Stage 8. Next steps (vlogging, SMM, blogging, and CRO)
After you’ve completed and published your site, you need to start generating traffic. Otherwise, nobody will visit your site. The statement “You build it and they will come” doesn’t work. Nobody will come 🙂 It’s digital marketing, not offline marketing there.
Thus, you need to start getting traffic into your sales funnel.
How do you get traffic with your WordPress site?
Well, there are various channels you can leverage. And the beauty of building on WordPress is that it can be done in 5 days so that you can start learning other things in DM.
Get on YouTube and start doing 10-minute videos on what you think about a specific issue within your niche. Don’t try to sound expert-y, sound natural and try helping folks understand the things.
Actively try to pitch your site. Ask folks to visit it. The users who watch your videos and then visit your site will be much more likely to get back and order some services. They will clearly get the message that you actually provide services in your field, say tax consultations. Not all vloggers actually provide services.
Start using socials like Instagram and Facebook. Instead of chatting with people and being a social person, fish for unsolved problems. Facebook alone can be a big energy vampire without any sales being generated.
Like, how many sales are you generating while chatting with your friends about “life and stuff” for hours? Exactly!
Get into 10 Facebook groups about taxes and look for questions the warm-blooded folks ask. Then go to your site and create a new page called “FAQ about Taxes”, on that page, create a number of sections like “individual taxes”, “corporate taxes” and inside each of those create 5 questions with answers (done in the standard collapsable format). Then go right into that page and create the question-answer pair for the questions asked by that very person. Then go to that person’s DM and give them the “anchored link” to that very answer (the “anchored link” that the person will be referred to the specific question which will collapse down, as opposed to the top of the page). And then – after maybe DMing with that person – post the link publicly (but first get the greenlight from admins).
This might seem super-onerous, but it’s not. If you create one question like that every day, you’ll have 400 questions in one year, but it’ll take you only 10 minutes every day. You’ll be leveraging your most valuable asset – your niche-specific expertise.
I am not saying that this FAQ page will start getting a lot of traffic from Google, but you’ll always be able to refer folks who you are trying to convert to that specific Q&A about their question. This is a powerful tool showing to leads that you know your niche well.
You can ask the WordPress developer to create this page for you, or you can work together so that you slowly learn the art. You’ll get to know the concepts of backlinks, anchors, interlinking and much more. All of these concepts are the core of DM. And you need to start learning DM in order to slowly migrate into CRO for your sales funnel.
An added benefit of the FAQ-page method is that you’ll start finding good topics for articles in your blog. And content-planning is much harder to do than what folks believe it to be.
You’ll start finding topics that people talk about in FB groups. Which means that they aren’t finding good enough/simple enough/specific enough answers in first-level resources like Google and Youtube. I mean, nobody’s going to go into FB groups and ask questions before googling and youtubing them, right?
Why is WordPress great for CRO?
CRO means Conversion Rate Optimization. Here’s the link to that article about CRO again.
Divi makes it super-easy to roll out various options of the same landing pages and channel certain percentages of traffic to specific variants.
In this manner, you’ll be learning about what works best for your conversion. And thus you’ll be making more sales fast.
In comparison, if you try doing the A/B testing with a custom-coded solution, you’ll be in for thousands of dollars as a pay for coders and designers.
With WordPress, you can start learning the path of CRO today! And, again, I am truly seeing that DM today is more about CRO and not just building some awesome static site with the custom code.