11 Tips For Professional Web Design – WordPress

11 Tips For Professional Web Design, WordPress started out as a blog engine and over the years has grown into by far the most widely used content management system. Nowadays, websites of any size and complexity are implemented with WordPress. Anyone can install the free software on their own server. In order to be successful with your own WordPress website, you should follow a few tips – from the configuration to making the homepage known.

WordPress : From Blog Engine To “Open Web Operating System”

Professional Web Design

The popularity of WordPress is reflected in the dictum that WordPress is an “Operating System for the Open Web”. A thriving ecosystem has developed around WordPress. This includes software such as plugins, themes and online services from third parties. On the other hand, there are developers, consultants and agencies who work with WordPress.

The abundance of freely available plugins and themes is particularly tempting for the self-employed and startups. The promise that anyone can click together their own site without any programming knowledge is a double-edged sword. Yes, a website will come out of it. But without specialist knowledge, background knowledge and experience, a WordPress-based website often does not meet professional requirements. Knowing the right tips is essential when using WordPress. Our article is aimed at web professionals, designers and creative people who build websites based on WordPress.

Tips For Professional Web Design

Tips For Professional Web Design

Choose The Right Website Type

The first step in building a successful WordPress website is to set clear goals. The goals determine which requirements the website must meet. The optimal website type is selected based on the goals and requirements.

Probably the simplest type of website is the landing page. This is related to a single product or service and provided with optimized keywords. Search engines drive visitors to the site; a focused design and minimal navigation aim not to distract visitors, thereby increasing conversion rates.

A classic website type is the one-page site. It consists of only one page, which is divided into several sections. The following structure is often useful:

  • service / product
  • about us
  • Contact

All information is housed on a single page. The links in the minimal navigation scroll to the individual sections when clicked. A one-page site is easily conceived and quickly developed and immediately understandable for the visitor. Especially for small companies or projects, this is the best starting point for your own presence on the web.

The microsite is essentially an extension of the one-page site. The sections on the homepage link to sub-pages with further information. If necessary, additional landing pages are created, which can be found using search terms. Conveniently, a one-page site can easily be expanded to a microsite at a later point in time.

With further requirements, the complexity of the website increases. If you want to set up an online shop, a community site or a multilingual website with WordPress, you use suitable plugins. These add basic functionality beyond the normal scope of a WordPress site.

Choose The Right Web Hosting

Web hosting is the basic infrastructure for running a website. The choice of web hosting package affects the methods used to operate and maintain the site. This is crucial for performance, safety and maintenance. It is often advisable to use special managed hosting for WordPress sites.

On the one hand, functional criteria must be considered:

  • Resilience of the site – in terms of concurrent access by users
  • Bandwidth of the data delivered monthly
  • Storage space on the server – for images and other static files
  • Database size – for posts
  • Geographical availability – for quick access regardless of the visitor’s location

On the other hand, administrative criteria play an important role: the features available at the host level largely determine how efficiently the site can be operated and maintained. The following criteria should be considered when choosing a managed hosting package for WordPress sites:

  • automatic server updates
  • sophisticated security features
  • automatic backups
  • fast caching features
  • SSH access
  • Extensive Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Start With The Right Theme

A WordPress theme defines the look and feel of the website. The internal organization of the theme has a significant impact on how well future adjustments can be made. The choice of theme is therefore an important strategic decision. There are many different options, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. You can develop a theme yourself, buy it, or use a freely available theme.

Freely available themes are attractive because they are free and available in a wide variety. However, there are many poorly programmed themes. To be on the safe side, one should prefer the official WordPress themes. These have been developed in compliance with the standard and are suitable for later adjustments. In any case, it is worth implementing your own theme as a child theme. This creates update security and prevents problems in the further course.

WordPress themes with an integrated page builder, such as Divi or Elementor, are particularly popular with startups. These can be used without code knowledge and allow the creation of complex designs. Apparent simplicity usually comes at the expense of efficiency in maintenance and further development. Depending on the page builder, performance losses are also possible.

If demanding requirements are to be met, a special developer theme can be used. For example, the Sage theme, which is part of the Roots environment for professional WordPress development, is popular. A developer theme creates the basis for efficient theme development and opens up the potential for continuous further development and optimal performance. Since code is written by developers for use, a corresponding budget must be available.

With headless WordPress as the latest development, there is WordPress “without the theme” these days. Access to the WordPress content runs via defined interfaces such as GraphQL. Tools like Gatsby are often used. Conveniently, the usual backend remains for the content team. Ideally, the result is a “best of both worlds” solution.

Optimize User Experience

The user experience (UX) is essential for conversions: people become customers by visiting the site. The central concept is “less is more”. You want to focus on the visitor, create clarity and consistency. The visitor should understand the structure of the site intuitively and feel comfortable when visiting.

The navigation structure is streamlined for web usability to make it easy for visitors to navigate the site. Because the selection paradox applies: if there are too many available links, the user cannot decide and does not click on any. In addition, targeted buttons and other call-to-action elements are used to guide the visitor through the website.

It is important to subdivide the page texts with headings – because the visitor’s attention is limited. A visitor should be able to tell at a glance whether what they are looking for is on the page. Otherwise there is a risk of a “bounce” – the visitor closes the window and leaves the site. Search engines are also guided by the correctly set heading structure.

For optimal customer communication, clear and natural language should be used. Avoid using unnecessary jargon and try to address the visitor on an emotional level. Choosing a suitable color scheme and a supporting font helps. Both elements contribute to the visitor’s loyalty to the brand.

Create Relevant Content And Publish Regularly

Content has always been king on the web. In other words, the web lives on content. A website that never changes appears dead to search engines. Only the content brings visitors to a homepage. To create relevant content, you should first answer a few questions:

  • Who is the site aimed at?
  • What content is interesting for potential customers?
  • Which search terms can be used to bring visitors to the website?

In other words, in order to convert visitors into customers, you have to plan the content with the desired audience in mind.

Regular releases of new content are rated positively by search engines. Therefore, it makes sense to create a release calendar as part of the content strategy. The actual content is prepared well in advance of publication. The publication takes place at fixed times. Conveniently, the pre-scheduled release of new content can be automated with WordPress.

Select, Edit And Enhance Images

Images are essential to address visitors on an emotional level. There are two basic ways to get images for a website. On the one hand you can create pictures yourself: you shoot photos and build graphics or commission them. This approach offers the greatest potential for expressing one’s own personality. On the other hand, there is the associated high effort with corresponding costs.

It’s tempting to use stock photos and graphics. These are immediately available, since they already exist, and are usually available in suitable sizes and formats. Here you have a choice: if you need pictures that the visitor has not already seen elsewhere, you can buy stock photos. If uniqueness is not so important, there is a large amount of material available free of charge on relevant portals.

No matter how you get the image material: for professional use on websites, it is worth using an online service for image optimization. Usually associated with additional costs, ShortPixel, Kraken.io & Co. are integrated into a WordPress site via plugin. These tools generate highly optimized image files and open up untapped performance potential through the use of modern graphic formats.

Keep Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

A website can contain the best content. This is only useful if the content can be found and understood by search engines. Solid SEO is essential for the success of a website and is on par with a good user experience.

First of all, it is important to set the right keywords. The search intention of the user should be taken into account. Keywords should be chosen with the aim of occupying a niche and differentiating yourself from the competition. Otherwise there is a risk of going under in the masses.

Image SEO also plays an important role. Each image should have descriptive alt text associated with it. This makes image content readable for search engine bots and understandable for people with visual impairments. The file names of the image files are also SEO-relevant.

A basic WordPress installation does not meet the basic SEO requirements. The first important step is to optimally configure the permalink structure. Instead of meaningless numbers in the URLs, slugs generated from the page titles are used. In addition, a WordPress site requires special adjustments to the theme or the use of a special SEO plugin. The latter usually have social media tags and XML sitemap generation on board.

Apply Updates Regularly

In terms of numbers, WordPress is the most frequently used CMS. However, this also makes the platform the largest target for cybercriminals. It is generally recommended to install available updates immediately. In practice, this is not always feasible. A normal WordPress website can have dozens of plugins. The following applies to each of them: something can go wrong with updates. Then, in the worst case, the notorious “white screen of death” threatens – the site is no longer accessible.

To ensure the availability of a WordPress website, the admin is proactive. A solid backup strategy is essential. If something goes catastrophically wrong during the update, you import a backup and restore the initial state. How to:

  • Use automatic backups at the hosting level.
  • Make a backup before installing any updates.
  • For complex sites, first test the updates in the WordPress staging site.

Instead of installing updates for each plugin individually, it makes sense to set a patch day: this is a fixed day per week or month on which all available updates are installed. Tuesday has established itself as the standard for patch days.

The WordPress core system usually shows a stable update behavior. Automatic security updates should be activated for optimal protection against current threats. It is better to import larger version updates manually. Simple themes usually pose a low risk of complications when updating. It is best to remove unused themes to minimize the attack surface.

When updating WordPress plugins, caution is generally required. There is a high risk of complications here. With all plugins that intervene deeply in the system, a pinch of paranoia pays off. These include, for example, plugins for caching, security, multilingualism, online shop functionality, and page builders. Updates to these should always be tested on a staging site first.

Minimize Loading Times

Web performance is a crucial criterion, both for user experience and for SEO. Users will abandon the site if it doesn’t load fast enough, and search engines will penalize poorly performing sites. It is not easy to implement high-performance sites with WordPress. Especially if performance is only considered after the site has been set up.

The use of a caching plugin offers a high potential for performance optimization. Unfortunately, this may result in a high increase in complexity. Depending on the hosting environment, the content of the site and the plugins used, different caching methods are used. It is important to test the configuration of the caching plugin extensively on a staging site.

To ensure the high-performance delivery of static content, especially images, you should use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). The use of a CDN offers a high potential for performance optimization and ensures the global availability of the content. A small to medium increase in complexity can usually be expected. Nevertheless: test extensively before going live!

Consider Google Core Web Vitals

Google’s Core Web Vitals are three key performance indicators (KPIs) used to evaluate a website’s user experience:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Time it takes when visiting a page for the main content to load. The LCP should not exceed a time of 2.5 seconds.

First Input Delay (FID): Time that elapses when visiting a page before the browser can react to user input. The FID should not exceed a time of 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measure of the visual stability of a page. A value greater than 0.1 indicates spurious shifting of visual elements during loading.

The Core Web Vitals are calculated by Google when indexing a website and have a significant impact on the site’s ranking. With suitable tools such as Google Lighthouse and Google PageSpeed ​​Insights, the determined values ​​can be viewed and used as a basis for optimization.

Consider Legal Requirements

In addition to the technical and content-related aspects of a website, there is also the regulatory dimension. It is important to meticulously implement all legal requirements. Failure to do so could result in high costs for the website operator. Under certain circumstances, the people involved in setting up the site may also be affected. Due to the high regulatory complexity, it is advisable to involve legal specialists or to purchase a special service.

First of all, every website hosted in Germany needs an imprint. This can be done by a lawyer or purchased as part of a special package. In addition to the imprint, such packages often also contain a general data protection declaration. However, it should be noted that this must correspond to the actual technical conditions of the site. If the site is developed further or new services are integrated, the declaration may have to be adjusted.

The imprint and data protection declaration are merely informative documents. This is different with the consent to the use of cookies to be obtained from the user. Even if you combine WordPress and Google Analytics, you must ensure that the configuration complies with data protection regulations. In order to realize this, a technical solution must be integrated into the site. It is crucial to test that this solution actually works.

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