Learn What I Have Learned Building Websites

Introduction

The first time I read the Parable of the Talents, I didn’t understand its meaning or what message was it all about. But now I know that the parable was not about money but about gifts you have acquired through time, or even gifts you are born with like a beautiful singing voice. The message is that whatever you are gifted with, God will be more pleased if you will have to share it with others through good means such as teaching or educating, inspiring by speaking before an audience, or by writing a book. If you will think deeply about it, it is just common sense. Imagine if no one will ever speak about the difference between peace and violence, the next generations will always be at war.

My Own Talents

The gifts I have acquired are those that I learned at school such as accounting, computer programming, web design and building websites. There are also those I learned by experience such as graphic design and writing; and those that I learned by myself through self-studying such as blogging and  the use of a variety essential and productivity softwares. There are also those that I learned through mentors such as to understand the human-ness of a person, including myself. My innate gifts are my abilities to use my intuition in making simple and major decisions, and  of course the love that I was born with and gifted by my parents.

To Teach You Is My Way Of Sharing It

It will not be fulfilling if I won’t be able to pass to others the gifts that I have acquired through education, mentoring, self-learning, and experience. I feel that it is my responsibility to share the knowledge that I have learned. And one way to put that in action is to teach it to other people like you. My skill is not to speak before a crowd; thus I have chosen the Web as my platform to share my knowledge. After all, my forte is about the Web.

Learn What I Have Learned

This site contains lessons and tutorials on how you can become a web practitioner or specialist, specifically in building web sites and how you can earn from them. The lessons are arranged in graduated manner, which means that the next lessons may depend on your understanding the previous lessons. For that reason, I suggest that you follow the lessons as numbered.

If you have any questions, just comment below. Your message will go directly to my inbox. As soon as I can, I shall reply.

Customising WordPress Theme Twenty Seventeen

Every year, WordPress comes out with default WordPress theme. This year 2017, WordPress came out with – your guess is right – Twenty Seventeen. What follows are tips or guide on how to customise WordPress theme Twenty Seventeen.

What’s New With 2017

The main feature of WordPress Twenty Seventeen is the use of a header video on the front page of your website. The featured image is immersive that it occupies the entire width of your screen (referred to as hero images).

WordPress 2017 focuses more on business sites. It features multiple sections on the front page which you can use to showcase your portfolio, featured items, etc. Twenty Seventeen works on any device.

Customising WordPress Twenty Seventeen

Site Identity

The following are your options on what to show on the front page of your website.

  • Title and tagline
  • Logo with the title and tagline
  • Logo only

On my website, I opted to show my logo only.

Colour Scheme

You have only three options: either dark or light or custom. With custom you can see in the live preview the changes in text colours.

Header Video

A video on the front page of your site is a good way to attract viewers because of motion. Use a header video that introduces your site or promote a product. Keep the audio of your video soft and subtle. Some viewers do not like loud sounds because they annoy them. With WordPress Twenty Seventeen, you have no problem with that because it mutes the audio.

WordPress Twenty Seventeen recommends a video size of 2000 x 1200 pixels. In order not to confuse you how is that set, most video editors have a default of 1080p, which means 1920 (width) x 1080 (height) pixels. If it is not the default, usually it is among the choices asked upon creating a new video, so just select 1080p. Settle on this size and you are already safe. Moreover, that’s the maximum dimension that YouTube can accommodate.

The header video is responsive that it covers the entire screen of any device or computer display. However, in order not to distort (video stretched ugly) its aspect ratio, the video produces pillar boxes, if the screen is to wide for its height or letter boxes if the screen is too tall for its width. Pillar boxes are black vertical bars that appear on the sides of the video. Letter boxes are black horizontal bars that appear at the top and bottom of the video.

Most preferably, upload your video via YouTube and enter its URL in the customizer header settings rather than upload it natively on your site. Your video loads faster via YouTube compared to a video that you uploaded directly on your site. For now, WordPress 2017 accommodates only YouTube videos.

Here’s the video that I made for my site.

You may want to read an article I wrote on how I made and edited this video with YouTube editor and learn some tips on video editing.

Header Image

Young man strolling in the city
Filtered photo

If you do not like to use a video header on your front page, you have the option to use a header image. Likewise, WordPress Twenty Seventeen recommends a header image that is 2000 x 1200 pixels in dimension. This is to maintain the good quality of your image even if viewed on larger screens; however, limit the weight of your image to 500 kb or lower. Upload images that are exactly 2000 x 1200 pixels. It makes your images lightweight and saves space on your web host server. There are software, that you can download for free, to crop and resize images such as Fotor for Mac and FastStone for Windows.

If you want to use multiple images for your header, give your photos a common character or attribute by using filters. For example, you can make all your header images all sepia or retro. Multiple header images are displayed randomly.

You can have both a video header and an image header so that while the video loads up, your viewer can see your image header. Otherwise, your viewer is going to see a blank black space before the video starts to load.

Header Image vs Featured Image

If your header image is enabled, and you used a featured image on your post, you will see a horizontal crop of your header image above the navigation menu; and below it, you will see your hero (featured) image. With the two together, your page can look unappealing.

Either you disable your header image or not use a featured image. A featured image, however, is helpful especially when sharing your post on social media sites. If you disable your header image, your viewer will see a blank screen before your header video starts to load.

Additional resources:

 

amikvs kreativs – A Different Perspective

This video serves as a video header on this website. It is a synopsis of what I do as a designer and creative writer.

Using Video Headers On Your Website

Video or image headers are good attractions on your website. If used effectively, it can engage your site’s visitors for a longer time on your site. You can use a single image, a slide of images, or a video. Whichever media you use, it must be able to trigger an interest from your viewer.

Video or image headers are commonly used on landing pages, which may be the home page of your website or special pages you use to promote your products or services.

There are simple ways to capture an audience’s interest.

  • Motion such as a slider or a video
  • Captivating images, or images with a story or emotion
  • Music
  • Stories or message

For the one I’m using on this website, I used a video of images. I picked images that “tell a story” and enkindle an emotion. For the music, I used soft, low-volume ambient music. This is not to startle your viewers ears especially if they are listening with headphones.

Storyboard

Your image or video header must be able to tell something to your visitors, such as a story. For example, in my video, its storyboard is something about the process of what I do as a designer and writer.

  1. “Everything begins with an idea.” Whether in design or writing, it all starts with an idea. You cannot move further without it.
  2. “Imagine. Design.” Idea creation goes with imagining or visualising. In your mind, you picture what you want to design or write. Design requires serious imagination.
  3. “Think. Plan.” Once you already have an idea, you ponder on it and allow to incubate it in your mind. You gather more thoughts then you start to plan on how you to go about it. Planning is an essential tool to puts you on the right track. It requires serious thinking.
  4. “Build. Explore.” It is on this stage that you start designing, doodling with your pen on your paper, making sketches, and exploring more ideas. You usually don’t settle with one idea or design. You eventually will have to explore more.
  5. “Write. Share.” You write what you have just created and you share them to the world. This is where blogging and social media come in.
  6. “Impress. Express.” Impress to express. When someone appreciates what you have designed or written, there is no doubt that you would feel good. People’s appreciation are your psychological rewards. Therefore, to impress them, your design must be good; what you have written must be worth reading. Likewise, your designs and stories must be able to express their true purpose, meaning or message.
  7. “Talk. Listen.” Simply put, communicate. Your skill is not just about talking well. You must also know how to listen. In social sites, you interact with your audience. Listening is more important than talking because you have to learn the pulse of your viewers or followers, or target market.
  8. “Learn. Inspire.” Knowledge is a continuous learning. Studying does not end today. Enhance your skills with further education. You don’t need to attend a formal school unless it is necessary. You have the skill to learn by yourself. As a form of gratitude for the knowledge that you have earned, it is your responsibility to share your knowledge. Inspire others. Remember the Parable of the Talents. Share what you have.
  9. “A Different Perspective.” Designing and writing are not easy tasks. Being just one of the many puts you in the last line. Designing and writing uniquely, or having your own style is a feat that is hard to achieve. In my own little way, my notion of having a different perspective is more like a character rather than a design or writing skill. Whenever I could, I looked at a different perspective aside from what a common mind sees. It is for this reason, why I chose an image of a lighthouse because a lighthouse looks at different angles and points of view.

What Stories The Images Tell

    • Clear sky. Almost empty. An idea starts from emptiness.
    • Complicated staircase. Can you imagine how brilliant the mind of this designer?
    • The photographer. Before he captures a scene, he thinks, he plans.
    • Wooden path on a lake. This is symbolism of building something and exploring.
    • Laptop, notebook, and pen. This is straightforward. The photographic filter, however, adds a mood to the photograph.
    • A tranquil lake. Look how simple this photograph is, yet its simplicity and mood makes it impressive and expressive.
    • Father and infant. Silence is a means of communication.
    • A young man in metropolis. You can picture this in many ways such as job hunting, going to school to study or teach, or going to work.
    • Lighthouse. A lighthouse is a watch tower that guards the ocean 360 degrees – a symbol of different points of view.

Technical Note

WordPress theme Twenty-Seventeen comes with a feature, called video header, that plays a video on the front page of your website. By default, the video loops. To other users, this can be annoying. The video auto-plays. It gives no option to users whether they want to watch the video or not. Music add user experience, unfortunately, the sound of the video is muted. So far, there are no options to disable the auto-play, or to loop the video just once.  Perhaps, in the future, a plugin would be available to control how the video is played on WordPress theme Twenty-Seventeen.

What if the browser cannot play the video for some reasons? The fallback is to set image headers.

Brainstorm Ideas For Your Website

Brainstorming is a process of putting down on the table every idea – good or bad – that comes out of your head without censorship, justification, or disapproval. It is a process to get that perfect idea. When you brainstorm, you just let the ideas flow. The idea that you may think of may be funny or ridiculous, or even non-sense. It does not matter. Just write down every idea. Use this brainstorming technique to conceptualize what your website is to be about.

What Your Website Is All About

In the previous lesson, you learned about the things to consider before putting up a website, such as:

  1. ‘Do you want it’ versus ‘do you need it’
  2. The purpose and content of your website
  3. Your target audience, aka market niche
  4. The budget and time you need to spend
  5. The platform from which to build your site

At this point, I assume that you already have figured out whether you want a website or need to have one. Regardless, you still have to go through the next process – to brainstorm ideas for your website.

Brainstorm An Ideas List

I can no longer count how many times I had changed the content of my website. Every time a new idea was in my head, I changed my site. It’s not a good practice. Brainstorm ideas and keep a list for future reference.

Now it’s time to brainstorm ideas for the content of your website. Remember that brainstorming is a process, so take your time.

List every idea that comes out of your mind. If you can list a hundred or less, that’s cool. Write the ideas down. Once you have run out of ideas, stop. Set aside your list and forget everything you’ve written.

The next day, or whenever you feel like it, go about your list. Read your ideas a little bit aloud. Make sure that you hear what you are reading. Then start crossing out an idea that you don’t “feel“. If a new idea comes in, add it to your list.

Repeat the process. Go over your list again and see if there are other ideas that you can cross out, or un-cross. If a new idea pops out of your head, add that idea to your list. Once you could no longer cross out anything, take a rest. Set your list aside. Get busy with other things.

At times, a new idea will come to your head. Take your list and write that idea down. Remember that you are still brainstorming at this stage, so don’t censor your ideas.

Think Sources of Information

Whenever you feel like it, go over your list and read every idea. Start crossing out again. If there’s not an idea that you could cross out at this point, think sources. Where are you going to get information about your ideas.

For example, if you are thinking of blogging about gardening, do you have a garden? Do you have knowledge about plants? Suppose, you don’t, then you can blog about your learning process on how to build and start gardening. Now, think. Do you have a space where you can build your garden? Do you have the resources such as books and seminars that you can attend?

Your website also needs images. Make sure that you will have access to a source of rich images as well. There are images that you can buy, and there are free ones; but you cannot use copyrighted images. If you can take pictures with your smartphone, then you need to explore your surroundings so that you can take pictures of the plants you wish to feature on your blog. The stuff mentioned in this example are the sources of your contents.

Now, go back to your list. Check the ideas you think have a rich source of information that you have access to. Cross out the ideas you think require information that you have no access to.

Your Top Ten List

You come now in the final step in brainstorming ideas for your website. Repeat the whole brainstorming process of crossing out and checking those with rich content until your list is narrowed down to at most, ten ideas. Rank them one to ten. Write your top ten on a clean sheet of paper, or preferably on a notebook that you keep. If your list contains less than ten, that is just fine. You may have top seven or top five, or even top 12.

Your Top One is most likely the best idea for the website you wish to build.

The reason why you are keeping your list permanently is that you may need it in the future. In case you need to build another website, then you don’t have to go through the same brainstorming process again. All you have to do is pick an idea from your top ten or top 12 list.

In A Nutshell

It is not easy to come up with the best idea for your website. At often times, you don’t know what to put there. To help you come up with a good idea, you need to brainstorm. Brainstorming allows your mind to be creative and exploring. Brainstorming is not a quick step to a solution. It is a repeating process of letting the ideas flow fluidly through time. Therefore, you need not hurry. In between repeating process, there’s a time to pause and relax. This is to allow the ideas to incubate in your mind. While your mind is at a relaxed stage, it continuously search for the creative idea. Usually, the idea just comes out of nowhere in the middle of the process.

Now that you already have a good idea about your website, your next move is think of a domain for your site.

Available Materials

What Domain Name Is Best For You

what domain name is best for you

Each website on the World Wide Web is labeled with a name. When thinking of a domain name for your website, consider it like giving a name to your baby – it is special and meaningful.

First, what is a domain name?

A domain name is to a website, as a business name to a company, as nickname to a person. It is used to identify your site on the web. It must be unique, one and only. As a whole, domain names are housed by a domain name system or DNS for short. Behind every domain name is a unique set of numbers, which are hard to recall. Thus, these numbers are given easy-to-remember names.

Where do you get a domain name?

The source of your domain name is you. You will be the one who will give a domain name to your website. Once you have thought of one, you must register it with a domain name registry. Think of it like registering a business name with the Department of Trade and Industry or the Securities and Exchange Commission.

To register a domain name is paid yearly – just around $5 – $15 a year. There are web hosting company who offer free domain for life; provided you sign up for a web host account with them. GreenGeeks is one of those who offer a domain name free for life as long as your website is hosted by them.

What name do you have in mind? The following tips will be helpful.

Best Tips In Picking A Domain Name

1 Use Your Company Name

If your company already exists, then use your company name as your domain name. It is rule #1 that your website is associated with your business. Can you guess the domain name of Bank of America? Most likely, your guess is right.

What if it is already taken?

You can tweak your company name. Just make sure it is really close to your business name. If you are not targeting the global market, use country-code top level domain (ccTLD).

Speaking of country-code top level domain

If your site targets a specific national audience, you have the option to use country-code TLD, ccTLD for short. Brainly.ph, for example, caters online study help for students in the Philippines. Among the first ccTLDs are .us (USA), .uk (United Kingdom), .il (Israel) .au (Australia), .de (Germany), and 6 other more. Currently, every country is assigned a ccTLD.

Dot tv is commercialized for websites related to television, but actually .tv is specifically designated to the country Tuvalu. Other country-specific TLD used creatively for other purposes are: for radio and music, .fm (Federated States of Micronesia) and .am (Armenia); for websites, .ws (Samoa), for companies, .co (Colombia) and for personal blogs, .me (Montenegro). Not all ccTLD can be used worldwide. Finland’s .fi is exclusive to Finnish citizens. If your company is not located in France, you cannot use .fr.

Ma.tt is the personal website of Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress. Dot tt is the country code for Turkey. If your name is Joseph, how does jose.ph sound? Cool, right!

Registering your domain name with ccTLD is expensive compared to the generic global .com, .net, .org.

2 Brand Your Name

Your name is as good as your brand. So, if your name sounds commercial, go for it. If you are not comfortable with branding your name, you have the liberty to think of something else. The advantage of branding your name is that you can own it heart and soul; it has a personal touch, therefore, makes you trustworthy and genuine. Branding a personal name fits well for authors, artists, performers, public figures, speakers, consultants, personal bloggers, and writers in general, to name some.

Chris Spooner is a creative designer whom I get inspiration from through his creative design site Spoon Graphics. His other site is www.chrisspooner.com. An award winning photographer of Sweden is Mats Almlöf, whose site is www.matsalmlof.se. Guess who owns www.jkrowling.com?

Read this related article who had an expensive lesson for not matching her domain name with her brand.

What if your name is taken?

3 Tweak It.

To tweak is either to add an extra letter, remove, or replace one. In a way you change its spelling but it still sounds good.

His name is George but george.com is no longer available so he registered instead geor.ge (.ge is the country code for Georgia). Some other creative examples are: disqus.com, tumblr.com, digg.com, flickr.com, and mural.ly.

Here’s how I tweaked my domain name. My site is www.amikvs.org. Amikvs comes from the old Latin word amicus, which means a friend. In the old Latin alphabet, U does not exist; instead the letter V is used. So, amicus would be spelled amicvs. To ensure that my domain name is unique, I tweaked it more by changing C to K. Thus, amikvs.

How would you tweak your name, just in case?

4 Keep It Short, Simple And True

The simpler the name the better. Simple and short names and words are easier to remember. It is important that when you mention your website to others, they will be able to recall it without pain. CNN opted to use more cnn.com instead of cablenewsnetwork.com because people are more familiar with CNN that its longer meaning. Other good examples are time.com, forbes.com, navy.com, and apple.com.

Pick words that are true to your business or activity. So, if your website is about recipes, you may add the word food or recipes. If your site is about health, would you name your site with the word tools? I guess not.

These straight-forward words are called keywords. There are websites that abused the use of keywords. Not a good move, so don’t.

At this time, with over 960 million 1.1 billion websites worldwide, most likely the simple words and shorter names that you would want to use have already been taken. It is for that reason why some domain names are tweaked.

Is there another way?

5 Invent A Word

Another way to brand your website is to create a new word. Famous examples are: twitter, fiverr, pinterest, google, mozilla, and skype. When you invent a word or a name, keep in mind that it would be easy for people to say it and spell it. Limit it to one to three syllables as much as possible.

Is amikvs easy to say and spell? I must admit, I am guilty. 🙂 I could have thought of something else. To tell you the truth, it is not easy to come up with a domain name that is unique from all the 960 million 1.1 billion websites worldwide.

Let’s go to tip #6.

6 Combine Words But Be Careful

Aside from tweaking and inventing a word, you can combine two words. Just make sure that they are still short, easy to remember, straight forward, and related to your website. Travelchannel.com is straight forward; so is foxnews.com. By a 100%, you would know that their websites are about travel and news respectively.

However, nothing would stop you from being more creative. Lonelyplanet was started by a couple who traveled across Europe and Asia. Greenpeace is a site dedicated to caring for the environment.

Would you have any idea what wordpress and facebook be all about?

Be careful, however, when combining words. Some words when combined form another meaning. Pen Island’s domain name is penisland.net. When the owners of expertsexchange.com found out that their domain name did not look right, they hyphenated it to experts-exchange.

Rule#4. Do not combine words with the intention to deceive or mislead. That is against the law.

Speaking of hyphenation.

7 Don’t Hypenate; Don’t Use Numbers

The problem with hyphenated words is that you would think twice whether the domain name is separated by a hyphen or not. That violates total recall. Same is true with numbers. Was it 528records.com or 168records or records825? Well, you can guess every possible combination if you have the patience. At least, you get the idea.

8 Use the proper TLD

Popular domain names such as facebook, twitter, google, yahoo, wordpress, pinterest – all of which end with .com because these sites are commercial sites. Some domain names end with .org (organization), .edu (education), .gov (government), .mil (military), or .net (computer network). These dot domains are called gTLD or generic top-level domain. As you register your domain name, you must pick the proper gTLD. Simply put, if your site is not a government site, then do not use .gov. This is rule#2.

You can combine gTLD with ccTLD. For example, you can end your domain name with .com.ph just like www.pex.com.ph, an online community in the Philippines.

9 Do Not Use Trademarks

Stay out of trouble. Rule#3. If a name has been trademarked, do not use it for your website. For example, you can never include sony in your domain name, not even a word that sounds like sony. Otherwise, Sony will run after you. Same is true with all other registered trademarks. To be safe, make a research before registering your domain name.

Domains and Domain Names

The following is going to be too techy but I will make it sound as simple as possible. You can skip this, if you like, unless you want to add a bit of info to your stock knowledge.

Domains are classified into levels: top level, second level, third level, etc. A top level domain may be generic (gTLD) or country-code (ccTLD). The other level domains are the host domain, subdomain, and root domain.

A domain always requires a host domain and a TLD. It follows any of the following formats:

  • host.root.gTLD (eg www.amikvs.org)
  • host.root.ccTLD (eg www.amikvs.ph)
  • host.root.gTLD.ccTLD (eg www.amikvs.org.ph)
  • host.subdomain.root.gTLD (eg www.blog.amikvs.org)
  • host.subdomain.root.ccTLD (eg www.blog.amikvs.ph)
  • host.subdomain.root.gTLD.ccTLD (eg www.blog.amikvs.org.ph)

Any domain that appears before a TLD is called a second level domain. Any thing before the second level domain is a third level, and so forth and so on. The root domain is usually a second-level domain. It becomes a third-level domain if it is followed by both a gTLD and a ccTLD like .com.ph.

The most common host domain is www, which stands for the World Wide Web. Other host domains are ftp (file transfer protocol) and mail. Example, ftp.amikvs.org, which I use to transfer files to – from my website. Perhaps you are familiar with mail.yahoo.com and mail.google.com. You use them to manage your emails.

A sub-domain is a sub-directory of your root domain. For example, amikvs.blogspot.com is a site within the root domain blogspot. Once you already have your own site, you can create your own subdomain. For example, I can create blog.amikvs.org, which is actually the same as www.amikvs.org/blog/, which means /blog is a sub-folder in the root amikvs.org. Unless very necessary, you do not have to create a sub-domain. The sub-folder format is good enough.

Which one is ideal for your domain name: gTLD or ccTLD?

When you register your domain name with a gTLD, the subscription price is cheaper. Domain names with ccTLD are more expensive.

If you want your site to sound global, use gTLD. But don’t expect the whole world to see your site in every search because search engines give priority to sites that are in your country. In that case, using ccTLD would be an advantage.

Where To Register A Domain Name

Now that you already have an idea how to ideate a domain name for your website, start brainstorming. Follow the same method discussed in how to “Brainstorm Ideas For Your Website“.

With a billion websites worldwide, it is now difficult to come up with a unique domain name. Brainstorm domain names and make a list of as many as you can before you register your choice. If your first choice is no longer available, try the next one in the list, and so forth and so on. Don’t give up if all the domain names you have thought of were already taken. Allow your mind to incubate the ideas. Soon, you’ll get your desired domain name. It took me a month before I came up with my own domain name amikvs.

With the exception of sub-domain names, all gTLD (e.g. .com, .org), ccTLD (.ph for example) and combined gTLD and ccTLD (.com.ph for example) domain names should be registered with a domain name registrar. ICANN is the organization that governs the allocation of domain names via authorized domain name registrars. If you already have a domain name in mind, you can check its availability with GreenGeeks, the network company that’s hosting my website.

In A Nutshell

Your desired domain name depends on your purpose: SEO or branding. If SEO, use keywords that perfectly describe your website. For example, “tropical gardening”. If branding is your purpose, use your name, if it sounds good; otherwise, invent a word. For whatever reason, be creative, make your domain short (3 syllables preferably), and make it sound easy to say and recall.

Use .com, first and foremost. You must first own yourname.com, otherwise, you would be competing with your own domain name that is owned by another. If your domain name is already taken with .com, try another domain name. Once you’ve owned yourname.com, get a yourname.org as well. Your brand is important, so make sure that you own it. For example, if your brand name is example, you must own the following domains: example.com, example.org, example.net or example.edu (if it fits your purpose), example.ph (if you are targetting the Philippine market), and example.com.ph.

If you are budget-constrained, at least register your domain name with .com.

Make a list of domain names before you register your choice so that if one is no longer available, you can register the next one. I recommend GreenGeeks because they offer one free domain name should you choose to have your website hosted by them. Registration of a domain name is usually bundled with a subscription to a web hosting company.

Your Next Lesson

In your next lesson, you are going to build a website of your own at no cost at all. So, be ready with your domain name and what your website is all about. Don’t worry, you don’t have to register your domain name yet because you are going to use a subdomain.

P.S.

You may be wondering why my site is amikvs.org instead of amikvs.com. Well, I used to own amikvs.com. I tried to transfer it to my current web host, but philhosting.net didn’t want to cooperate. When my domain name expired, someone registered it. Now it belongs to someone else. That’s why, you must take care of your domain name.

Available Materials For Reading

8 Startup Tips To Consider Before Putting Up A Website

Build websites metaphor

Wanting to have a website but you don’t know where to begin; or if you should really have a website? You don’t just put up a website because you want to. Wanting is primal, but certainly after desire comes with something more. It is not enough that you want it.  Here are 8 things or startup tips that you should consider before putting up or deciding to have a website.

1 Want

OK, let us not put this aside because it starts from here – your desire to have a website. Why do you want a website? You have a number of positive reasons, I suppose, and they are all valid. All factors aside, if you insist on having a website even if you don’t need it, then stop here. You don’t have to know the rest. Just go ahead. Satisfy your desire and put up your website. There’s nothing wrong with that. Should you want to explore more, then continue reading.

2 Need

Having second thoughts? You may have the desire to have a website but do you really need one? Having a website requires time, work, and money. If you don’t need one, then don’t waste your energy. The difference between want versus need is that a need is something necessary; want is not. How do you know then if you need a website?

If you’re into business, do you believe that having a website will increase your sales? If yes, what should your website feature in order to increase your sales? If you’re not into business, will your life change to the better if you would have a website? Why do you need a website? If there’s no valid need, why do you want it then? What’s your purpose?

3 Purpose

Your purpose of having a website will justify your need or your want. Generally, you need a website for reasons such as publicity, marketing, advertising, e-commerce, research, and communication, among others. The following are some specific valid reasons of having a website.

  1. To publicize your organization. You want your target market to know that you exist. Your web presence therefore is necessary so that for those people who would be interested to learn more about your organization can learn about your organization by visiting your website. More importantly, you give your prospects a means to get in touch with you.
  2. To sell and market online. You want to sell things online to reach a wider market. Rather than opening a hundred branches of your store nationwide, an online store would be more convenient for your customers to buy your products. If your job is about Internet marketing, then you definitely need a website. For one good reason, your customers should know who they are having transactions with.
  3. To reach a global market or audience. Reaching a global market means more sales to your business. If your website is about activities that you do or propagate, the need to share what you do can give you more satisfaction if you can connect to a wider audience, especially to those who are confined to their homes.
  4. To share information. We are born to share our gifts such as our knowledge, talent, skill, works of art, etc. By giving tips, counsels, or short tutorials for free, you do something selfless and noble. Why not? Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web technology, made the Web for everyone to enjoy and use for free forever.
  5. To be productive. You can make blogging a hobby. Instead of wasting time doing nothing at home, you can make yourself useful and productive. Connect with people and be social, or offer an online help or support to people that you can inspire. Use your blog to improve your skill in writing.
  6. To journal your activities. Use your website to record or document your progress in whatever you are studying or working on. Blogging was invented and originally intended for this reason.
  7. To showcase your portfolio. If you’re into services such as photography, painting, or creative design, use a website to showcase your works.
  8. To provide add-on services. You want to serve your customers without them having to go to your shop or office. Your website can provide add-on functionality such as mini-apps that can be entertaining, educational, or informational. For example, if you are promoting a weight loss program, your website can have a mini-app that calculates ideal weight. If your site is about finance, you can provide something that calculates loans and amortizations.

4 Content

What are you going to put on your website? Your site cannot be empty. If your purpose is to simply present your business profile on the World Wide Web, you only need basic information such as a short write-up about your company, a visual presentation of your products or services, contact information, key persons that make your organization (if necessary), progress or growth timeline, some business principles, beliefs, goals, and ideas.

If your purpose is to give a rich source of information about your chosen topic, activity, or field of work, then you must have a clear idea where you are going to get this information.

If you are selling stuff online, then be ready with photos of the items you wish to sell, honest description of your products, and how your customers can order online.

5 Target Audience or Market Niche

Traditionally, you first think of a product, then you look for the market. Today, the modern and effective way of doing business online is the reverse. First is to look for a market. Once you have found a market niche, then you create a product in response to the need of that market. A market niche is a group of consumers who have common needs or demands. For example, women who want to lose weight.

If you know your target audience, you must also know where to connect with them. Your website should have visitors, otherwise, it will become useless.

6 Budget

Having a website entails cost. You pay for your domain name registration and its renewal yearly. You also need a web host which you pay annually. You will have to hire a web designer to design or build your website. If writing is not your skill, you might need to hire a writer. You may also need to hire a photographer and a graphics artist should your site require images; or simply buy images online from photo-stock sites. You also need someone who can manage and administer your website regularly.

If your budget is tight, you may opt to use the free sites such as Blogger or WordPress(dotcom). Free sites, however, have limited functionality. You use them simply for blogging – to showcase your work, to market your services, or share information. Technically, you cannot use free sites for e-commerce purposes and online marketing. There may be a creative way to sell a few products with free sites but usually these free site hosts do not allow it.

7 Time

If you need your website up and online immediately, it can be done but do not expect much. If you are a person who can learn online technical stuff with ease, you can build your site in less than an hour with Blogger or WordPress(dotcom). Otherwise, you will need to hire or ask someone to teach you or do it for you. There are CMS (content managements system) available on the Net such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal which you can use to build your website in less than a week or two. If your website requires complexity and has to be developed from scratch, then it may take at least two months to accomplish your site; plus, be ready with a big budget.

8 Platform

The platform that your website may require depends on the purpose of your website. An e-commerce site is more complex to develop compared to a blog-type website. A static website, usually used to present a company or business profile, can be done with HTML and CSS. Here’s an example of a static website. For this site amikvs(dot)org, I built it with WordPress.

There you have it. I hope the list above can help you in deciding whether to have a website or not. If at this point, having a website sounds complicated and you feel discouraged to have one, consult a specialist who can explain further the ins and outs of putting up a website; or use the comments below to ask me.

Perhaps you are wondering what the difference is between WordPress(dotcom) and WordPress(dotorg). WordPress is a CMS that you use to build a website. WordPress(dotcom) is a site where your website can be hosted for free using WordPress. WordPress(dotorg) is a support site for those who use WordPress outside WordPress(dotcom).

WordPress Plugins Essential To Building WordPress Websites

Essential WordPress plugins
What you are going to learn in this section
Learning Level: Beginner

In this section, you are going to learn the essential WordPress plugins that you need to install with your WordPress to boost or power up your website. It assumes that WordPress is already installed on your site, technically in the web server that hosts your website. Some of these plugins are indispensable especially those that protect your site. Some plugins are optional but may be essential depending on what type of website you have.

If you are a beginner, you will be overwhelmed by the thousands of plugins available for WordPress, that in the end you clutch your head with choice-fatigue. Lucky for you now, you will be stress-free because I am going to explain here the some of the essential plugins that you need to install right after installing WordPress, or later as needed. This will save you plenty of time deciding which plugins are best for your website because you will skip the tedious and time-consuming process of plugin research and tests.

The plugins are labeled with the following categories: most essential, optional, and advanced.

Most Essential

Akismet 

Power: Website Strength

Akismet is an anti-spam WordPress plugin for your website. It comes pre-installed upon installing WordPress. All you have to do is activate it.

You must hate spams. You do not want your website to be spawned by hundreds of comments that are not related to your content; instead try to sell their products or services, or invite you to visit their websites. Even if you tick your WordPress settings to moderate comments, your dashboard will be flooded with spammy-comments that are awaiting your approval. So, what do you do? You need an anti-spam plugin on the defense, that before any spam hits your site, this plugin is on the front to defend you.

WordPress says, Akismet is

…used by millions, [and] … is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. It keeps your site protected from spam even while you sleep.

This is true. Akismet is an indispensable plugin.

To activate Akismet, you need an API key, which will be given to you upon signing up for Akismet. You can get one key for your personal site. Keep this key written on your notebook because you will be needing this each time you activate Akismet. You enter the API key on the Akismet configuration page of your WordPress admin dashboard, which becomes visible after you have clicked Activate. If you already have your key, you may enter it manually. If not, WordPress will do it for you automatically after you have signed up.

Akismet is an advanced hosted anti-spam service aimed at thwarting the underbelly of the web. It efficiently processes and analyzes masses of data from millions of sites and communities in real time. To fight the latest and dirtiest tactics embraced by the world’s most proficient spammers, it learns and evolves every single second of every single day. Because you have better things to do. ~ Akismet.com

Wordfence Security

WordPress sites are attacked by hackers worldwide more than 19000 times per minute. You can view a map and a graph of real-time attacks on wordfence.com.

Wordfence Security is one of the recommended plugins you will find in the plugins section of your WordPress dashboard. In case, you do not find it quickly, on the plugins dashboard, search for ‘wordfence’ without quotes.

Wordfence Security is available free. The premium (paid) version of this WordPress plugin has more features like country blocking.

Wordfence is the Leading Cyber Security solution for WordPress. We provide a Complete Anti-Virus and Firewall Package for your WordPress Website including Two Factor Authentication, a Firewall incorporating Machine Learning and Tools to help Recover from a Hack.” — Wordfence.com

WP Super Cache

With too many WordPress plugins, complicated PHP codes, and heavy images that you upload on your site, your site may not upload fast. If in 10 seconds your viewer does not see anything worth reading or watching, he will leave your site and try another site. You wouldn’t want that to happen. So, to keep your website running fast, your site needs a plugin that does just that. And that is, WP Super Cache.

WP Super Cache is a very fast caching engine that produces static html files on demand, or something of that sort. Meaning, there are cases, depending on user’s interaction with your site, like writing comments, when your site needs to run the PHP scripts rather than just showing a static version.

For more info, go to wordpress.org/plugins/wp-super-cache/.

TinyMCE Advanced 

Power: Ease of Use

TinyMCE Advanced is a visual editor, something like your Word or OpenOffice Writer word processor that has editing toolbars to help you customize your text with regard to the type of font, size of font, alignment, etc. A webpage is constructed with HTML codes called <i>tags</i>. Each element is specific to its use. For example, there are 6 types of headings. When writing a numbered list, you use the right code for that. A link, i.e. hyperlink, requires a specific HTML tag in order for the link to work. So, if you are not familiar with HTML, then TinyMCE Advanced is going to help you compose your content without even having to know a single HTML code.

WordPress is built in with the basic HTML editing toolbar. TinyMCE Advanced extends and enhances that facility so that you can further control how your post or article is going to look like in the front-end, i.e. what your website looks like on the World Wide Web. For further reading about the features of this plugin, read it on its plugin page on WordPress.

TinyMCE Advanced is essential for beginners; optional for advanced users.

Optional

Jetpack

Jetpack is a handy all-in-one WordPress plugin. Instead of installing, say 20 plugins which may not be compatible with each other, install Jetpack instead. Jetpack has more than 30 plugins housed in a single plugin. All you have to do, after installing Jetpack, is to activate the features that you need. Some of its features that I find very useful are:

  • Customizing CSS
  • Installing and changing the favicon the quick and easy way
  • Display carousels, i.e. full-screen slideshows
  • Display tiled galleries instead of just the boring grid arrangement
  • Auto-publish your posts on social media sites (very useful)
  • Display sharing buttons
  • Create contact forms
  • Display related posts

Jetpack, however, is simple but complicated as a whole. What is annoying about it is the protection plugin. If it is on, it can block your own ISP that you yourself cannot login to your own website. To prevent this to happen, you must set your ISPs as an exception.  Your computer uses a range of ISPs. You must know them beforehand. You must also know the ISP assigned to you by your Internet provider. I suggest that you do not turn this on because it is a bit of a hustle unblocking your own ISP.

To use Jetpack for your site, install it then sign up for WordPress.com to integrate the two. Then, activate the features that you need. Complete list of features is on jetpack.me.

Advanced

WordPress SEO by Yoast Versus All in One SEO Pack

Power: SEO

SEO means Search Engine Optimization. When you talk about SEO, it means that you do things to make your website rank on the first page of search engine results. For example, if someone searches for “love the second time around”, your site, if it is about love, should be the first on the list on the first page, or at least, in the top 10. The SEO WordPress plugins guide you on how you can do this technically. Technically, I say, because the other side of it is your own effort to promote your site.

You have 2 choices for this type of plugin. You can pick one.

Both plugins are good, popular, and well-recommended. What makes All-In-One SEO Pack different from WordPress SEO by Yoast is that the former provides SEO integration for e-commerce sites. If you prefer the Yoast version, you can install a separate plugin, also by Yoast, that integrates SEO for e-commerce sites. On the other hand, what makes WordPress SEO by Yoast more useful is that it pinpoints where you lack the SEO factors, then suggests on how you are going to improve your post or page.

For beginners, I would recommend All In One SEO Pack because of its simplicity. If you want to go deeper and wish to fully understand the techniques behind SEO, SEO by Yoast is what you need.

Simple Custom CSS 

Simple Custom CSS allows you to change the plugin and theme default styles of your website without creating a child theme. However, some themes prevent you to overwrite certain CSS elements. In such case, you may need to use the theme’s own custom CSS, if provided; or create a child theme. Simple Custom CSS is a WordPress plugin that adds the styles to the head section of your web page.

For beginners, CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet. It is where you write ‘codes’ to style the elements of your website. To style means to set the attributes of your website’s elements. Elements refer to HTML tags, text, images, and containers. Attributes basically refer to an elements type, size, position, color, among others.

You can learn how to use CSS on Codecademy.

OK. That’s it. If there are more WordPress plugins that I find useful for WordPress sites, I will add them to the list.

Build A Website In 5 Easy Steps

Building a web site of your own nowadays is easy. Compared to yesteryears, designing a web site would take months and an agonizing period of writing codes. Today, even if you are not a programmer, you can build your own web site. Online CMS (content management system) such as Blogger.com and [wc_fa icon=”wordpress” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] WordPress.com are web builders that you can sign up with and get your site hosted for free for life.

If you want to be in full control of your own site, go self-hosted. You can do it in 5 steps. Download the infographic I made in pdf. Just follow the 5 steps and you won’t be lost. If you need more information, continue reading.

Be ready with your domain name.

Before building your own website, be ready with your domain name. What is a domain name? Facebook.com, google.com, twitter.com and wordpress.com are domain names. Mine is amikvs.org.  As of this writing, there are over 1 billion websites in the world, and growing by the second. (Check live stats here.) That means, whatever domain name you have in mind, most probably it is no longer available. So, be creative and start brainstorming now before you proceed further. Read this article to help you in coming up with a domain name.

Be ready with at least 5 domain names. Then check your domain name’s availability at whois.com. If yourdomain in dotcom is no longer available, don’t try the other gTLD such as .org or ccTLD or a combination, e.g. yourdomain.com.ph. The idea is that if you cannot own yourdomain.com, better not go for yourdomain.org or yourdomain.ph or yourdomain.com.ph. The reason is that to avoid using a domain name that might have been trademarked already by the owner. Another reason is that, your domain in search engine results ranking will be competing against another domain with the same name.

Sign Up For A Web Host – A Green Host Preferably

Once you already have a domain name in mind, you’re ready to register it. You need to register your domain name so that you can own it. You can do that via a web hosting company. A web host is a computer network company that provides shelter to your website. A website comprises data files such as scripts and images. You put these on a web host so that it becomes accessible via the Internet.

You have to have a web hosting account in order to use the services of a web hosting company. The price of a hosting plan varies — ranging form $4 – $15 a month.

I would recommend green web hosting. Green web hosting uses renewable and sustainable energy such as solar and wind. By using a green host, you show care to your environment.

Register your domain name and open a web hosting account via this green web hosting company. If the promo is still open, they usually give discounts if you sign up for 3 years plus a free domain name for life. In my case, I paid $3.95 a month for 3 years, thereafter, I pay $4.95 a month. They register my domain name amikvs.org every year for free as long as I maintain an account with them. That’s a good deal that comes with unlimited bandwidth, unlimited number of websites, unlimited disk space usage, etc.

Login, Open cPanel and Install WordPress

Once your hosting account is ready, go to your web host’s website and login to your account. Go to your cPanel by clicking the button . Scroll down to the bottom of cPanel until  you find a section called Softaculous Apps Installer. Click the WordPress icon [wc_fa icon=”wordpress” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa]. In the next window that appears, click the button . The WordPress installer provides the default parameters. So basically, just accept whatever is provided by default. When done, your website is ready. All you have to do is to enter the contents of your website.

That’s it. If you need assistance, message me via email or through my social media accounts.

Download the cheatsheet in pdf. Size 5MB. Click to view or right-click to download.
[wc_fa icon=”hand-pointer-o fa-4x” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa]

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How To Build A Website In Just A Few Days

With WordPress or other CMS applications, a web designer’s job has become easy. If your job is to design and develop a website, you have saved your time doing the design, coding, and debugging parts because it’s like 90% of your job has been done and tested. The only thing left to do is to make some adjustments on the built-in design to suit your requirements; then, populate the site with contents.

Web development is truly a time-consuming job that requires unconditional patience. For an individual, it could take weeks or months to develop a website. It is for that reason why back then, developing a website was so expensive.

The very first (and only but also the last) intranet site I designed and developed for a pharmaceutical company, if I still remember clearly, took me a month or two to complete it. Truly, it was no big deal, because I could straightly write the codes right from my brain without any documented systems analysis. I think, that’s how geeks do programming. As a programmer then for a big holding company, I would just make sketches on paper to gather and contain my thoughts, then I would go right ahead to my keyboard and start typing the codes.

Good for you and me now because we do not have to wait for a month to put your website online. With CMS like WordPress, I could complete it in a week and voila! Your website is up on the World Wide Web.

For the design part, WordPress comes with thousands of design templates. All I have to do is pick what’s right for you. If the design does not satisfy completely my creative palette, then I can just tweak it.

The First Few Steps

So, how do I go about it, just in case, you’d be my client and you are hiring me to build a website for you.

  1. I sit with you so that we can exchange ideas. First, I will listen what’s on your mind. Then, I will tell you what possibly can be done.
  2. I will pick a WordPress design, tweak it according to your liking using my creative energies, then put it online on a temporary host so that you can view it.
  3. If everything looks good, we move on to finalize it.
  4. If your domain name and web host are ready, I will need the technical specs so that I can upload your site to your web host. If you do not have a domain name and web host yet, I would suggest that you pick one now. No idea yet which web host to pick? I would suggest my favorite earth-friendly web host.

In a few days your website will be up and running on the web. All you have to do next is to put in some contents.

If you prefer other CMS applications, I will study one that fits most your needs. If CMS is not what you need, I will make one from scratch. That means, I am going to design one for you, then build it using the latest HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and anything that is currently useful in the web technology.

If the site you have in mind is uniquely a complex one that requires new codes of programming, then I am not the guy for you. 🙂

Feel like discussing your thoughts? You can start by emailing me your queries to amikvs @ gmail dot com.

Build Web Sites With WordPress

I build websites using WordPress because I can get my job done fast and much easier. If I would build a web site from scratch, it would take me months to develop and design it. WordPress and other CMS (content management systems) has made the web development and design process something like 89% completed. For that reason, not only that I save time, I also save money. That benefits you as well because you would not have to pay much. Moreover, with WordPress, your site is up and online within a few days, a week perhaps.

There are other CMS besides WordPress. Whatever you need, I’ll take a look at what’s best for your site. Read more on how to build a web site in just a few days.

Design Websites With HTML & CSS

If you do not prefer the ready-made web designs that come with WordPress and other CMS, I can design one for you from scratch, so long as it is for a simple website that I can develop with HTML and CSS.

In order not to confuse you between building sites with WordPress and this one, with WordPress, my work is 89% done. If I design a website from scratch, I start at 0%. Web design tackles both the visual layout of a website, its look and feel, coding such as HTML and CSS, and graphics design. Designing a website also tackles its functionality, flow of information or navigation, visual appeal or attraction, impact or effect to its visitors, and the methods to be implemented to drive traffic.