In my last post, I poised the question: Can you create a web platform in a week? While this is an interesting proposition, I have discovered that making decisions about the actual platform is really the hardest part.
Here is my journey so far…
Step 1: Choosing a Domain Name. While this should be easy, when you actually look at your available options you can rack your brain for hours trying to come up with a useful name that users can actually spell and remember. After listing my goals and defining my audience, I agonized for a while, but ended up picking a couple of relatively short names for this project. I decided to stay with dot.com addresses, but that really limited my choices. I’ll share the one I picked at the end of the adventure along with the finished site.
Step 2: Picking Web Hosting. This can drive you absolutely nuts. There are so many options here and so many supposed “reviews” to help guide you. Since I have tried numerous hosts over the years, I went with the one that has given me the best performance and by far the best service. Love them or hate them, it’s hard to beat GoDaddy for hosting and domain names. They offer a one-click WordPress install which had me up and running in just a few minutes. When I have had problems in the past, I have gotten through to a service rep in under five minutes. Most other hosts only reply by email and usually take a day or more to respond. If you have a site problem, you know how critical good service can be. Second in line would be Bluehost, but their actual website performance is much slower. However, they do offer phone support which is helpful. Helpful Tip: Don’t buy the extras that many hosts offer. Just buy a domain name and the basic hosting service.
Step 3: Professional WordPress Templates: This one was easy. Studiopress offers a great variety of well designed templates based on their popular Genesis Framework. I have used their products for years and have a developers license. The really hard part was picking the actual template for my project. I wanted to go with their new PRO series which includes HTML5 coding and also schema.org markup for authorship. Brian Gardner and his crew really have done their homework, and make this process straightforward for the new user. Installing the Genesis Platform and my chosen child theme took only a few minutes. I had to add a couple of plugins for additional functions, but the whole process was done in under 30 minutes.
Step 4: Customization: This was the time consuming part. When you first load a new Studiopress WP template, it doesn’t look like the website. There are a lot of mods to do. Depending on the template, this can take hours of time. You need to choose new pictures and setup widgets, plugins, and branding. For my graphic needs, I went with Photodune, which is part of the Envato Marketplace. They offer a great selection of graphics in small web sizes for only a dollar apiece. For under 10 bucks, I had my graphics downloaded and was ready to start editing.
Step 5: Putting it All Together: I’ll be real honest with you. Just getting a domain setup with a hosting account can be a challenging experience. Add to it a WordPress install, template upgrade, and a long list of plugins and you may want to pull your hair out. If you are a technical person with patience, this process is relatively easy to accomplish, but it is still time consuming. If you are technically challenged, I would recommend that you hire someone to do this for you.
Overall: I’ve spent two days so far on the process. The first day was spent signing up for the host, getting a domain name, doing the WordPress install, and installing the Genesis Framework and template. While this didn’t take a whole day, the actual domain name takes about 24 hours to be seen across the net. The second day was spent sourcing graphics, installing plugins and widgets, and modifying the template to match my branding. Now I have a basic WordPress site, branded with my niche name and graphics with which I can start adding content.
Actual work time about 8 hours. Actual time with waits for the domain to propagate, WordPress to install, and setting up the accounts is about two full days or 48 hours. This is a great project for a two day weekend.
Question: Have you setup a WordPress site before? If so, what was your experience like?