So, you think you need a website? Allow me to share a warts-and-all account of how my WordPress website appeared. WARNING: This blog is not for the faint hearted. There will be swearing and there will be tears, but there will also be some top-tips -from a completely computer-naïve copywriter- in how to get a functional and semi-respectable website together.
I blame apple. Their iWeb programme made it look so simple. So seductive. It promised a fully functioning website in next to no time. 1) Plonk your content on the template, 2) Upload it to an FTP server, 3) Bob’s your uncle.
Only… it didn’t work like that. It transpired I’d need a web-hosting account. And a server. And an unforetold amount of help from some technical advisors in American. In hindsight, what I really needed was a Phd in computer science. In reality I had four days of perfuse swearing, tears and histrionics.
After more than one failed altercation with an FTP server, I chucked a massive strop, deleted my new iWeb website and vowed that if anyone ever needed to contact me they should do so through her Majesty’s Royal Mail. Thankfully, I soon came to my senses. I realised that without a website for a shop window, I would be one copywriter who wouldn’t be writing much for anyone.
I had a huge problem. I had to get a website together but I didn’t feel I had the knowledge and skill needed to make that idea happen. Thankfully, I spoke to a lovely chap from web-hosting giant GoDaddy. He pointed me in the direction of WordPress.
WordPress enables you to build your own website using a series of templates. Thankfully you get to load it straight onto the web so that you don’t have to kick the shit out of an FTP server in the process. There are a variety of attractive website templates to choose from, but I’m still not entirely sure if that is a good thing or not.
Finding the right template that offers flexibility with a layout you like and can work with can be very trying. Even loading and editing photos isn’t as easy as you think it should be. Bottom line is, if you want to build a website that is just so you are going to have to learn to be patient!
As a copywriter, I’m painfully aware of the importance of social media and functionality. While those little bobbing button links on your right hand side look simple and innocent enough, to find the right buttons that worked with my template and didn’t just swear at me in computer language was very difficult.
Facebook and Twitter wouldn’t go down without a fight either. You would expect that the world’s greatest platforms for talking crap would make it super easy to setup and install on your website. Not so. Between live feeds, like buttons, sharing buttons, comment boxes and facepiles, finding the right plugin to suit your website and outrageous expectations can take some hunting.
Code? HTML or WTF?
As a total non-programmer with only a rudimentary understanding as to what those geeks do behind closed doors with code and a computer, I needed some help. Luckily this is available in the form of something called a widget. While the British will associate widgets with pouring out the perfect can of Boddingtons, widgets for computer geeks are known as chunks of code that are neatly packaged into something you can use. In fact, they are known as ‘Plugins’.
Plugins allow you to dump a parcel of pre-written code into your website that will add a function. In the case of my website, all of my buttons and social media functions are down to plugins.
You have no idea! If you are serious about building a website from scratch you are going to have to suck it up. It doesn’t matter if you are building a simple site (like this one) or something more technical. You are going to come up against more technical snags than a warp core without a Scotty! To give you some idea, this website took me the best part of FOUR DAYS to build.
While building a website on a web-based application has its benefits i.e. no bastard FTP server, it can take an aeon to load pages. If the WordPress server is on he fritz, you can be sat looking at loading bars all day. When you factor in time for getting to grips with an alien application, hunting for that thingy you are looking for and waiting for a new screen to load, you will soon learn why it can take so long to simply arrange a photograph on your site.
WordPress, Widgets and the Will to Live
So has my little website adventure been worth it? Well, I’ll let you be the judge. I’m quite pleased with what I’ve put together, but that might be because I have also grown as person, both intellectually and spiritually. Mum was right. It turns out that I can achieve most things with patience. No, patience is too understated. I did this through bloody-minded belligerence.
Doing my bit…
I can’t pretend to be an expert on website building with WordPress, but I can at least share with you what I found to work. I’m using template theme ‘Tiga’ and the screenshot below details that plugins that suited me. I can’t guarantee that these will work with your chosen theme but at least this is a start. Look for the ‘Plugins’ menu from the ‘Dashboard’ in WordPress.
Before you go, please like my site, subscribe to everything and press and interact with every single button. I have lost sleep over this and you can make me feel better by truly appreciating this site’s functionality. That aside, if you have a question, please email me using my contact form. I will help out if I can and if I can’t, at the very least I can offer you some post-traumatic stress counselling. I understand.
A huge shout out
Without a doubt, I could not have put this website together without the help of this chap, Tyler Moore. In this video he covers all of the basics and will, at the very least, inspire you to stop crying and give website building a go. A huge thank you Tyler!