My new year’s review working at Webdesh: what I’ve learnt about creating WordPress websites

Working at Webdesh helped me learn so much about WordPress and today I'm going to share with you the top 3 essentials you must know about...

Hi there!

I am Mirela. You may have come across my cooking articles previously, but today I’ve decided to return to my technical roots and tell you about my experience working with WordPress.

I started working at Webdesh in July last year and that’s when I first got introduced to WordPress on a more professional level. I’ve tried creating a WP website in the past, but it was completely on amateur level. I haven’t even purchased a domain name, so my website was something along the lines of “mybeautifulwebsite.wordpress.com”. Since it was back in highschool, I give myself a star for at least trying! 😀

Working at Webdesh this past (half) year has been as dynamic and educational as you can imagine. The first day I went to the office, Polly and Bisi presented me with a series of videos recorded by them, which aimed to introduce me to the basics of WordPress. I must admit, I was absolutely flabbergasted and scared, because prior to that all I’ve known about creating websites, was HTML and CSS. I felt kind of uneasy as I was starting to realise that WP is some serious business and not something you do “for fun”. Of course, you absolutely can do it for fun, but this is after all the service we provide, so I really had to step it up and start working on a more professional level.

The first few times I visited the WP admin (a.k.a the Dashboard), I realised that there’s a lot more possibilities than I’ve anticipated. Slowly and with the help of my wonderful coworkers, I started exploring WP and all the features it presents to us.

In this article I’ll pinpoint the 3 absolute essentials you must be aware of if you decide to create your own website.

1. Themes

Researching themes and choosing a theme is a topic for a whole article on its own, but I’ll try and give you a basic idea of it.

The theme is a collection of templates and stylesheets that are used to define the appearance and display of a WordPress powered website.

- as I read on wpbeginner.com

This means that a WP theme contains all .css files and .php files you need in order for your website to look and perform a certain way.

When choosing a theme, you have to always consider a couple things:

  1. Does it come with a builder and if yes, which builder does it come with?
    The most common builders we use at web/desh are WPBakery and Elementor. Here you can read a more detailed article by Viki about similarities and differences between the two of them. We’ve also worked with the Divi builder, although I must admit I did not enjoy working with it at all.

    Some of the free themes available come without a builder, so a couple free options are SiteOrigin’s page builder and Elementor. Elementor does have a paid Pro version, which comes with a lot more elements, templates, widgets, etc., but the free option also has a lot to offer (even enough, if you ask me). Unfortunately, you can’t get any version of WPBakery for free – check out their pricing here.

  2. When was the last time the theme was updated?
    That’s actually a really important thing when choosing a theme, because if it isn’t compatible with the newest WP version, a lot of unexpected problems may occur.

The theme you choose for your website will be the backbone of it for the most part. Consider what kind of website you are building, what kind of elements you’d like to include and make sure that your choice covers most of it.

2. Plugins

One of the things I love and hate most about WP are plugins. While there’s a huuuuge variety of add-ons you can install and active on your website to perform some kind of functionality, if you don’t put a lot of effort and research on your plugins, your website may not work so well. It’s common knowledge that the more complicated you try to make a website, the heavier and slower it’s doomed to be. There are some good programmers tactics you can implement to go around it, but that calls for a lot more knowledge. And, after all, we’re talking WordPress today. So yes, do you research and read articles when looking for a plugin.

Two absolute musts for us are WP Rocket (for speed optimization) and WordPress Multilingual (for multilingual websites). Unfortunately, both of them are paid, check out their pricing here and here.

We have a subscription for both plugins, so drop us a line if you’re interested.

3. Settings

There’s almost a setting for anything. Literally. When you first make you WP installation and haven’t yet uploaded any themes or plugins of your own, you should pay attention to “General”, “Reading” and “Writing” settings and see what they have to offer.

Pssst: some of the plugins you install won’t appear in your WP admin menu or under plugins, but in the Settings section. So, if you happen to active a plugin and can’t find it in neither in the menu on the left, nor in plugins, it’s always a good idea to look under settings. That’s usually the place to configure your plugin.

Conclusion

WordPress is a whole other world if I have to be honest. It takes more than just dragging and dropping elements. If you really want to be professional and create not only beautiful, but fast and functional websites, my advice is to really do your research and read WP documentation.

An absolute must to always consult are also theme documentations and plugin documentations.

Some other very important things to consider when building your website are security (http or https), SEO, web design principles, responsiveness, GDPR compliance, etc., but those are topics for another time 😉

That’s it for today guys. I hope you got the grasp of what I’m talking about and I hope this article helps all of you who decide to build their own websites.

Cheers and until next time!

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Mirela Vaseva

Junior WordPress-er & Social Media Manager

/ IT, Software Engineering student💻
/ good music,  horror films, detective novels and delectable food👌
/ youtube videos junkie, aspire to build my own Barbie doll house😀
/ cats, dogs (animals in general), nature, water lover🐱