10 Steps to Build A Website Like a Pro

BIO-Avatar-02-NormalDesigning a new website can feel daunting. You’re excited to finally write about anything until you realize… it can be about “anything.” So you’ve purchased your hosted domain name, now what?

Recognizing that your website will not be “everything to everybody” will help you remain relevant. I recommend 10 steps to build your professional website using CameronMcNerney.com as a case study.

STEP 1: Define Your Website Objectives

  • Why does your website exist?
  • Who will see it?
  • What do they get from it?
  • Setting clear goals for your website will get your content published online faster.

CameronMcNerney.com was designed to build a professional online presence and provide easy access to my portfolio. I wanted to demonstrate my knowledge and skills in communication to potential employers and partners.

STEP 2: Draft a Website Map cm-website-map

  • A website map determines the path users will take to reach your content.
  • What are the list of pages (i.e., Home, Contact, etc)? Are there any subsections to those pages?
  • How will people experience your content?

After drafting a website map (as seen above), I decided on three pages: Home, About (w/ contact info), and a Blog page. Three pages meet my objectives, with “Portfolio” on the way. I can always add more pages and sections as needed.

STEP 3: Find WordPress Template
discover_antthemes

  • What theme will establish the most ground work for you? (Think about the layout you want for your website)
  • Remember you can always customize later any colors, sizes, and fonts with CSS, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Before I created the actual pages, I found a template named “discover” theme by Manishg from antthemes.com (on left). I liked the simplicity of the theme because it felt easily navigable and not flashy. Meantime, this template makes a good start for personalized coding later.

STEP 4: Install Template, then Activate

STEP 5: Create Pages
Use your website map as a reference to choose the Parent page and order.

STEP 6: Add Content

  • What will be written on your home page?
  • What is your website’s tagline (a summary of its purpose)?
  • How does your website’s copy present you as a brand?
  • What highlights are most important for others to know about you in your bio?
  • Is your content more professional or personal?
  • Writing in first person or third person yields different results.
  • Begin brainstorming a topic for your first blog

If you haven’t thought of your website’s tagline yet, James Chartrand, interim editor of Copyblogger.com, wrote a useful article on tagline writing tips worth considering.

Since public relations is meant to influence people’s behavior through newsworthy information, I wrote three taglines about my work style which read: “Public be informed and entertained.”; “Your message informs others of the path you love to walk.”; “Words tailor a person’s experience.“

My home page has four boxes on the footer which I feature as my “quick access” work portfolio that I wrote and designed. I wrote my bio in third person to express professionalism; in an informal and friendly tone.

STEP 7: Choose Photos

  • You’re already unique, but does your website portray credibility?
  • Look at similar websites (ones you strive to become), how do others present themselves visually.
  • You can “echo” credibility with genre-appropriate photos; with your own style, of course.

I created logos and sized photos using photoshop software to fit the four footer boxes. I chose two photos in particular for my home page’s slider:

  • An LA cityscape at twilight with the word “Deliberate” (because effective communication is so).
  • and a personal headshot with the last word “Creative”

STEP 8: Make It Pretty!

By adjusting the CSS style sheet, I “dolled” up the website with theme colors, size-display settings, and font style. The font-style changed from the default “Arial, sans-serif” to “Georgia, serif” and “Verdana, sans-serif”.

STEP 9: Write Your First Blog Post

  • Brainstorm during the previous steps for topics to provide a grand opening to your blog.
  • What topic will begin your website?

To remain consistent with my objectives, I wrote the first blog entry about the step by step process I took to develop CameronMcNerney.com. (Behold!).

STEP 10: Now What?

  • Congratulations on your new up-and-running website!
  • What will your next blog post be about?
  • How often will you post (weekly, monthly)?
  • Keep to one topic per blog, and post as often as you can.

 

FOR ANYONE MAKING THEIR WEBSITE DELIBERATELY
I have included a 3 page PowerPoint presentation that served as my beginning objectives and creation of CameronMcNerney.com (Download PDF Blueprint here).

How are you building your online presence?

Cameron-signature-blue

 

 

Cameron McNerney

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