In a world full of copycats and imitators, WordPress can help you create a custom blog that stands out. The uniqueness of your website will set you apart from the competition and allow you to create a narrative your audience is likely to follow. In this article, we will discuss how customizing your blog pages can make your site more interesting, engaging, and reliable for your visitors.
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It’s likely you already have a vision in mind when you think of your blog. Once you’ve launched Website Creator, the first step in creating your new site is choosing an “inspiration,” or theme. Themes control the entire look of your blog, and there are many to choose from – over 200, to be exact, all broken down into simple categories to make things a little easier for you.
Can’t find something you like? No worries. You can also choose from WordPress’ extensive library of themes with thousands of options.
Adding Navigation Menus
Once you’ve installed your theme, you’ll want to make sure visitors can find their way around. In fact, easy-to-use navigation is one of the most critical elements on your website. Why? Because if visitors have to search for what they need, they’ll leave.
Studies show that the average website user will leave within a matter of seconds if they don’t immediately see what they want. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, create a simple navigation menu so readers can easily find the important sections of your site (like “About,” “Contact,” and “Blog.”).
Website Creator gives you the ability to work with multiple methods to manipulate the menu’s structure to meet your visitors’ needs. The most common technique is to nest items, or group like items together, but there are several other options for customization.
Customizing Your Blog
Want to really make your blog stand out? Use the included customizer to go beyond the basics.
There are a variety of ways you can add a personal touch or branded content, but these are some of the most popular:
- Widgets: Have you ever visited a website and seen the little cubes at the bottom of the page that link to that business’ Facebook or Twitter? Those are widgets. They are small blocks that perform a specific function, and they’re a fun way to customize your site.
- Colors: Every theme comes with a pre-determined set of colors, but you can easily adjust them to suit your needs. For example, if you want your blog to match your company logo, that is something you could quickly change.
- Background image: Likewise, every theme comes with a pre-set background image, but you can easily change it to your own photo or logo. In addition, you can customize the image’s position, repeat, and attachment.
Website Creator comes with a suite of premium WordPress plugins that help power your site. From SEO to backup to image galleries, it’s all there.
Want a feature that’s not there? You also have access to the hundreds of free and premium plugins available through WordPress. There are plugins for adding a shopping cart, creating an online scheduler, automatically publishing posts to Facebook, and – really – almost anything you can think of.
What are Favicons?
Favicons are the small images that display on the left side of the web browser address bar when you visit a site.
A well-designed favicon matches a company’s logo or theme and is easily recognized as belonging to them – it’s a way for customers and prospects to quickly identify that they’re on the right site before they even read anything.
If you’re not using a favicon, now’s the time to get started. It’s an easy way to up your branding game with little time or effort.
Why Use a Favicon?
How many websites do you have bookmarked in your web browser? Likely dozens, right?
When you’re browsing that list, do you read the name of every website? Or do you just scan for the image that belongs to that site?
Internet users generally look for the most convenient options possible – and spotting a familiar icon is way easier than reading through a list of names. When it comes down to it, a favicon is just one of many intuitive web design features that will keep customers and prospects coming back.
Unfortunately, many business owners don’t realize how easy it is to add a favicon, and they end up not using one at all or simply leaving the generic one their web host provides. If you’re in that same boat, just follow these easy steps to get your own custom favicon in a matter of minutes:
Creating a Favicon
Creating a favicon is simple, and you don’t need any special coding or design experience. There are just a few easy rules:
- The Size – Favicons are 16×16 pixels. It’s important to use the right dimensions for your photo or graphic, or it won’t display appropriately. Many people choose to create a custom image just for this purpose, as it can be difficult to shrink an existing image down that small without losing detail or clarity.
- Choosing an Image – Because a favicon is so tiny, it can be difficult to know what to use. Some common ideas include:
- Your logo (or part of it)
- A stylized version of the first letter of your business name
- An icon that communicates what you do (for instance, if you run a catering company, you might use a spoon or a chef hat)
- Formatting the Image – Not surprisingly, favicons use the icon (.ico) file format. If you only have .jpg or .png images, don’t worry – there are plenty of easy, free services available online that can take your 16×16 images and convert them.
We especially like favicon.ico for its ease-of-use and simplicity: Just upload your image, choose the type of file you want, and click on “create favicon”. It couldn’t be easier!
How to Link to Your Favicon
Now that you’ve created a favicon, if you want it to show up in browsers, you need to tell them where to find it. To do so, add this line to the <head> section of your HTML:
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" />
Most favicons are placed in the root directory (the directory that contains the homepage); however, the location isn’t really important as long as the href attribute is accurate. It is worth noting that if the favicon is stored in the root directory, some browsers will find and display it – even if you don’t link it to your HTML. That won’t happen if you store it elsewhere.
How to Set a Favicon in Your CMS
Follow these guides for your CMS:
Adding a “Back to Top” Button
What is a Back to Top Button?
We all know that content is king. And many experts say that long-form content (1,200 words or more) helps you rank better on Google and increases conversions. But what happens when a reader is deep into that 1,500-word blog and decides that they’ve read enough?
If we know anything about the average web user, it’s that they’re impatient. They’re not going to take the time to scroll all the way back to the top of the page to find the navigation menu – instead, they’ll probably just hit the little “x” at the top of the page and close the whole thing out.
A “Back to Top” button allows them to just click the button and hop back to the top, without any scrolling or wait time.
Adding a “Back to Top” Button
There are several WordPress plugins that will add a “Back to Top” button to your blog, including WPFont Scroll Top and Scroll Back to Top. To add one of these, or any other “Back to Top” plugin, to your website: go to Plugins > Add New. Search for the plugin name, then click Install and Activate.
Once your new plugin is activated, it will automatically take you to the setup screen. There are several settings you can customize, but one of the most important is choosing the image you’re going to use – you’ll find that option towards the bottom of the page.
Once you finish choosing your settings, head over to your website to test out your new button! Your visitors will appreciate the improved usability on your site and your search engine rankings will reflect that!
The security of your website is one of the most important responsibilities of owning a business. It’s imperative that you keep your website and its security measures updated since the types of attacks are always changing.
Always keep your WordPress site up to date. It’s important for security, and updating adds new features that make your job easier, increases speed and efficiency, and fixes bugs. Minor releases, a part of the core update feature, are an automatic part of WordPress 3.7 and above. The minor releases cover security and bug fixes.
Risks of Automatic Updates
What are the risks involved in automatic updates? You could run the risk of incompatibility, especially if you’ve tailored original plugins or themes to fit your needs. Did you know that WordPress hosting companies automatically update your site to major versions, all while monitoring your site to make sure nothing breaks? It’s a great perk.
So how do you update your site without impacting your site’s functionality? A well-designed update strategy will focus on these areas:
- Critical security vulnerabilities.
- Operating system updates.
- Updates that can be easily rolled back to a previous version.
Manual updates, on the other hand, should be reserved for:
- Non-critical updates.
- Updates to systems with high traffic.
- Updates to firmware, network switches, and more that can’t be updated any other way.
For manual updates, it’s best to create a sandbox and process your changes in a safer environment. That way, you can push the changes with a click of a button, and see minimal impact on your live site.