Released in 2003, WordPress was intended to be a humble, free blogging software but has grown into the most popular content management system.
Powerful, versatile, and capable of publishing websites, blogs, and e-commerce stores of all types, WordPress has an avid following. As of 2022, 43.2% of all websites on the internet use WordPress. Yes, you read that right! With an estimated 1.4 billion websites on the web, more than 455 million websites use WordPress.
Because there’s so much to know about WordPress, we’re consulting with Team DNK member Monika Rabensteiner for her expert insight.
Q: As DNK’s resident WordPress expert, please tell us your background and experience using WordPress.
Monika: I have always been a massive nerd and have created websites since I was 14, many many moons ago. Back in the day, you still wrote every single line of code for yourself and tried to make it pretty by using a bunch of gifs and marquees. (I didn’t think I’d ever experience those coming back, but here we are.)
Over the years, content became more complex, and people needed more from websites than just a few pages with images on them. And, as with everything – things needed to be more accessible for less techy people, which led to the creation of Content Management Systems. I tried a few of those and even coded one myself with a friend, but WordPress was the most user-friendly on the market for me at the time. It is the easiest to handle without massive technical knowledge, and you could hand it over to clients for them to manage their own content themselves.
Nowadays, there are a lot of other platforms out there that will make it even easier for people with no good tech-juju to create their own websites, but WordPress is still the one that’s the most flexible and powerful on the market, in my opinion. Since my early website creation days, I have created everything from One-Pagers, Full-on Websites, Landing or Sales Pages, but also entire E-Commerce solutions or Membership Platforms within WordPress. It’s just that powerful.
We have Monika to thank for the beautiful website where you’re reading this article now, and with a background like this, you know she’s well qualified to share the top tools and tips that every Virtual Assistant needs to know. So, let’s dive in!
Why WordPress Blows Away the Competition
There’s no denying the popularity of platforms like Squarespace and WIX, which provide users with user-friendly page builders and templates to launch their websites quickly. But these platforms can be very limiting, with WordPress you are in complete control down to the finest details of your website, from the hosting to the design.
Q: Compared to other website builders, what makes WordPress stand out?
Monika: What I like most about WordPress compared to other builders is its flexibility. Your website can be anything and everything you want it to be, and you can tailor it to your EXACT needs without having to pay extra for special features you’ll never touch anyway.
If you only need a One-Page Website, you can set one up and be done with it. If you want a Shop, you can add a shop. You don’t have to invest more money than necessary into a plan that doesn’t fully suit your needs but would be the only option. It’s just generally so versatile.
Not only does this mean you can make stunning websites for yourself, but you can make high-value custom websites for your clients and have the versatility to host them where it fits their needs.
These points are especially crucial when building sites for clients. You can offer them the best of the best, all while ensuring that they get the features that suit their needs AND their budgets, with none of the unnecessary clutter to get in the way. This will make you stand out as a go-to web designer.
Let’s Talk About Plugins
There are nearly 70,000 free plugins available through The WordPress directory and countless more available through developer’s websites. It’s incredible to have so many options at your fingertips. Still, simultaneously, that makes it harder to decipher what you need and what you don’t.
Q: Are there any other essential plugins that you would recommend?
Monika: There are lots of plugins out there to give you all the fancy bells and whistles. This list may not be sexy or exciting, but these are five categories where you want to make sure your website is well covered.
- Security: You want to make sure your site is secure and protected from the inevitable bot attacks on the internet. So you can go with Wordfence or All In One WP Security. Do NOT use both – like a Virus Scanner on your computer, two Plugins with the same job will more likely lead to issues – ESPECIALLY when it comes to security.
- Cache: You want your site to be fast. Depending on your host, some things are already cached server side. You also want to help it along with a Cache plugin to improve site speed. WP Rocket is a paid one that is REALLY POWERFUL and will massively improve your ratings with platforms like GTMetrix. Still, it’s understandable if you don’t want to invest money in that. Great free alternatives are also WP Fastest Cache or W3 Total Cache.
- Image Optimizer: The size of the images on your website is important because it DIRECTLY impacts your loading time. You can help this along by installing an image optimizer plugin like Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer to get the most out of the images you upload. You still want to make sure that your images aren’t bigger than necessary.
- SEO Plugins: To optimize your ranking in search engines, you will want to use an SEO plugin that will help you set up your content for exactly that. Yoast SEO or Rank Math SEO are both great plugins that will help you with that.
- Backups: Nowadays, web hosts offer backups with their hosting plans. Some save daily, and some might come with restrictions, so it’s nice to have an additional backup even for that. Updraft Plus is a good way to set up automated backups to Google Drive or wherever else to make sure your information isn’t lost.
With these five essential cornerstones covered, you’ll know that you or your client have a secure, speedy, and solid foundation, no matter what website you intend to build.
3 Tips for Building an Epic WordPress Website
From one-pagers to full-blown e-commerce stores, you have all you need to create stunning websites once you know the basics of how WordPress functions. But let’s take a step back and cover some universal website-building tips to ensure that you’re making the best website possible.
What are the top three things people should know about building a website?
Monika: Many people think that WordPress is intimidating because of all the features available inside the WordPress dashboard. This dashboard is the backend of your website, where you control and manage everything all of the content that your website contains.
- It’s not as terrifying or complicated as you think, especially nowadays. With the number of available Theme Builders, you don’t need extensive coding knowledge to create something amazing.
- Mobile Friendliness!! In August 2022, 53.74% of people visited websites on mobile devices. If your website looks horrible on mobile, you’ll lose all of them. So, it’s really important to design with MOBILE in mind and not just brush it off.
- Responsiveness: Your website is not like a flyer you print out that you give to everyone, always and forever having the same size. People have ALL KINDS of different devices and displays that they look at your website at, and you need to keep that in mind when creating your website. It’s more fluid than fixed, so elements can will and NEED to move, and you need to consider that during your creation process. Ideally, you can test on different devices, screens, and even browsers. Yes, it’s a lot… but your visitors will thank you for it!
The Best Place to Learn the Basics
Still, working with WordPress might seem overwhelming to some, especially when you have to consider things like purchasing a domain name to find the right hosting service. This is why we created an in-depth WordPress beginners course to walk you through each essential phase to build and host an incredible website for yourself or your clients.
Q: For those who are ready to go all in, tell us more about what the WordPress Beginner’s Kit has to offer.
Monika: The WordPress Beginner’s Kit helps you set up everything from A to Z. It covers the basics and steps you through the setup so you can walk away with a finished website afterward. You get a great introduction not only to WordPress and its core functions, but the course also helps you connect your domain with your webhost or make sure your site is secured with an SSL certificate.
There are additional modules that give further input regarding plugins and advanced functions in WordPress, so you can walk away with everything you need to create your website for yourself. Furthermore, you will be well equipped to start offering WordPress services to clients – there’s big money in this skill!
All in all, it’s an excellent course for beginners, and not just because I created a bunch of training for it; I genuinely think that it covers everything necessary and nothing that’s not for you to DIY your site.
Q: And there’s a special bonus that comes with this course, right?
Monika: Yes! You also get Divi included with the course and have an entire module covering everything you need to know to create your own page with Divi.
Divi deserves a dedicated blog post on its own. Once installed into WordPress, this powerful Theme Builder allows you to create stunning, premium, and well-optimized websites in a fraction of the time. Typically $89 a year, Divi is a golden asset provided to you for free through the WordPress Beginner Kit!
With more businesses moving into the online space than ever, the need for skilled web designers will always be in high demand.
If you’re looking for the perfect upskill to deliver a high-ticket offering to clients, look no further than the WordPress Beginners Kit. Ready to go to WordPress & Beyond? Check out the Virtual Excellence Academy Legacy Bundle, which gives you access to the WordPress beginners kit, our increasingly popular Podcast Management Kit, and other exclusive DNK courses!