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
- 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.
- 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!
- Customize your WP theme with CSS coding.
- Use this infographic about color design to help you decide on the schemes you want.
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 McNerneySocial tagging: cameron mcnerney > communications > design > marketing > pr > presence > professional > public relations > themes > website > wordpress