Like all business owners, our clients understand the importance of having a great website. They also know that learning to write code isn’t the only route to success.
At By the Scruff, we’re often asked what’s involved in using a website theme and whether it’s a better option than hiring a web developer.
If you’ve been wondering the same thing, keep reading…
When you’re looking at themes, there are three key factors you need to consider:
Begin by thinking about the purpose of your website. Depending on your profession, you might want to look for themes with a portfolio design, a blog set-up or e-commerce capabilities. Once you’ve found the right ‘skeleton’, it’s just a case of re-skinning it for your business.
As an example, let’s look at a WordPress theme called ‘Divi’, built by ElegantThemes.
You’ll see from the link above, that ElegantThemes have produced a video and live demo, showing you what types of website you could create, using Divi. This allows you to visualize how your site could look, before spending your cash.
On the subject of money…
In general, a theme is usually a cheaper option than building something from scratch. On average, themes range from free to around $150, at the premium end.
Themes can also be relatively quick to use, as you’ll be starting with a template that you can customise as little or as much as you need. Of course, building anything yourself will require more of your time, than hiring a developer to do the job for you.
A word of warning: Most reputable themes come with plenty of online support and documentation. However this isn’t always the case. If you encounter issues with your site further down the line, you’ll want quick access to reliable help. So do your research and choose a theme provider you can trust.
Because of its popularity, many hosting providers have chosen to specialise in the WordPress platform. Hosting companies like 123-reg offer WordPress packages, which get the basics set up for you. Alternatively, you could cut out the middleman and get your hosting directly from WordPress themselves. These are both great options, if you’re new to the process and want to get up and running fast.
That said, if you have some technical knowledge, you might prefer to use an independent hosting provider who will let you configure your server and install WordPress yourself. This will allow you greater freedom over the website and its code.
Buying a theme is usually a pretty straightforward task. If you’ve chosen a third party theme, you’ll simply need to pay for it online, download it as a .zip file and then upload it to your WordPress account.
You’ll also need to think about domain names. Ideally you should use something that’s on-brand, simple and easy to remember.
Websites like 123-reg allow you to search for available domain names. Once you’ve found a good one, we’d advise buying it as quickly as possible, to ensure nobody else snaps it up. Keep in mind that ‘example.com’ and ‘example.co.uk’ are separate domain names. So if you want to own both (or other variations) you’ll need to purchase them all.
Once you’ve got the ‘back-end’ set up, you’ll need to think about your website’s structure and appearance. If you’re not a web developer, this is where using a theme can really help to simplify the process.
Divi, for example, comes with a pre-built dashboard and content management system (CMS). These let you create pages containing different elements such as text boxes, images, forms and buttons. The interface is easy to use and there are plenty of ‘help’ instructions, if you get stuck.
Essentially, a theme will allow you to create an entire website, without touching a line of code.
To create a really effective, professional website, you need to have an eye for design and user experience. Without these parts of the puzzle, your customers will struggle to understand and navigate your site. It’s also worth keeping in mind that although themes like Divi offer a wide variety of features, you will always be limited to the options you’ve been given. If you’re after something very bespoke, hiring a developer to build it from scratch might be a better approach.
Perhaps you want to use a theme but you don’t have all the skills mentioned above? Or maybe you just don’t have time to build a website and run a business simultaneously?
If that’s the case, you can always bring in specialist help, to fill the gaps.
A web designer, for example, will be able to suggest ways of aligning your logo, colour scheme and typeface with your brand. A copywriter can help you communicate your message effectively and a photographer will make you look the part.
With themes like Divi, you can even bring in a developer, to tackle specific requirements, through the website’s code.
How much outside help you use is your decision. Just make sure there’s a solid plan in place, to bring it all together.
An example of how we can build a site using DIVI theme is Perfect Fit Pilates, a Hertfordshire based Pilates studio.
Whether you use a theme or not, creating and maintaining a website is a big commitment. If you’d prefer to spend your time elsewhere, give By the Scruff a call and we’ll lend a hand.
Croner Solutions have recently introduced a more advanced keyword search results page on their website cronersolutions.co.uk
This customisation was bought about by the need to sort what results were specific to a product or a news
As Croner Solutions is all about providing a product or service to its customers, then it was important to make sure that the search results page clearly separates between the two. It was also important to be able to choose what the most relevant result should be and to force this result rather than rely on the WordPress search engine to choose a result based on keyword density.
Keyword phrases that are searched for are logged using the plug-in, Relevanssi. This enables Croner to see what searches have been made over a historical period. Using this data we are then able to tailor the search results by using the common phrases and keywords that people have used to search on the website. Relevanssi tells us whether any results were found for each phrase searched and we can then force a result for a keyword that might have otherwise displayed no results.
This is especially useful if a webmaster sees traffic and searches being generated due to a news article or current affairs issue relevant to their business. In the case of Croner there are ongoing topical issues surrounding employment law and issues or advice. They have found that customers will visit the Croner site to search for these issues and there are not always pages available. That’s when this kind of search result customisation are very useful and can help a business retain a customer and channel them towards a relevant department.
Here’s how it works
The new search results page provides the same results as the old one (search logic wise), however it also allows “promoted” results to be inserted before the “organic” results.
The search results page
You are probably already sold on WordPress and understand that it’s most likely the best solution for your business. How to install WordPress is going to be your first question.
One of the main reasons why WordPress is so popular today is because it was famous for having a “5 minute install” during the days when setup and basic configurations of a new Content Management System was a very long and painful process (many, many years ago). The “5 minute install” has been “optimised and streamlined” behind the scenes, but on the front end, what you will see while installing hasn’t actually changed that much in the last 7 years.
It’s short, but important: WordPress was developed to run on PHP and MySQL, so make sure your hosting provider supports and provides both. Furthermore, your hosting provider may even have 1-click installs available for WordPress in which case, you won’t even need to follow the remaining steps.
FTP and MySQL connection details are required, so make sure you have them before proceeding with the installation.
WordPress is a bit of software, an App, if you like. We have to get the files in order to install it on the web server.
Click here to download the latest version of WordPress and save the file somewhere close and safe.
Once the zip file has been downloaded, find the location you saved it to and extract it, it should be named something like wordpress-X.X.X.zip (where X is a number, representing the version).
You should now have a new folder named wordpress, open it and you should see a list of files and folders, many of them starting with wp-. This is the source code of WordPress, its gears and bearings, the engine and all the adjustment switches.
Once you have the WordPress files, we need to get them onto the server which will host your new site.
You will need to get the FTP access details from your hosting provider and put them into your favourite FTP manager. If you don’t have one, we recommend FileZilla, because it’s free and cross-platform compatible.
Connect to the server and find your web root folder. Your hosting provider should have indicated to you what it is. Usually, it’s a folder, such as public_html or htdocs and it’s the main folder of your domain. So all files placed inside of it, will be publicly accessible.
Make sure that there is no index.(something) file in the web root, before uploading as it may be lost during the upload, if there is and you are sure that you do not need it, rename the file and add something like backup to the beginning of the file.
Upload WordPress, simply drag and drop all files from your computer to the web root and wait for WordPress to upload. This may take anywhere between 10 seconds and several minutes, depending on your connection.
Once the files have been uploaded, the actual installation process may begin.
Open your favourite browser and go to your web site, if you did everything correctly, opening the homepage of your site, should display a message stating that there is no configuration file.
That’s great as it means that everything has been uploaded correctly and the installation can now begin. Follow the simple steps and type in the information that WordPress asks for.
Once you complete the steps and finish the install, you will be presented with a button to Log into the backend to start managing the site.
So now you have installed WordPress, you have access to the huge world of themes and plugins, you can make the site do pretty much anything you like with enough time and willpower.
Remember, installing is the easy bit. It will require a lot of time to actually build up the content and arrange the site just the way you like it. Maybe you have understood that tinkering with files and digging through plugins doesn’t sound like something you want to do, or maybe you’re stuck somewhere? In either case, here at By the Scruff, we use WordPress all day, every day, give us a call on 0207 033 4269 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be glad to lend you a helping hand.