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WordPress is easy! It’s just drag and drop right?

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Personally I think that people are setup to fail when it comes to them wanting to create their own website with WordPress, one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the market today.  The general message out there is that anyone can create a great website.  It’s not that hard.  And if you run into any trouble – no worries, all you have to do is google the issue and you’ll find lots of online resources and tutorials.
 
As a website strategist and designer, it’s disheartening when I sit down with a business owner who has attempted to create a WordPress website and has to admit that they can’t do it.  They feel like they have failed and that they are somehow inadequate because it’s supposed to be simple to do.
 
I’m a huge fan of WordPress.  It is a powerfully customizable system but with that kind of flexibility comes complexity.  While there are amazing tools to help people work with WordPress in an easier manner, including drag and drop page design plugins,  I’m not sure that I would say that creating your perfect WordPress website is necessarily easy.  I work with WordPress on a daily basis and I know that I struggle to get things to work the way I want sometimes.
 
So can you create your own website in WordPress?  Of course you can.  If you like a challenge, have spare time and really enjoy technology and troubleshooting issues to get the exact look and feel you want, then I encourage anyone to give it a shot and see how it goes.   Truthfully through that process you will gain a lot of experience and feel quite comfortable with WordPress when all is said and done.  However putting together the perfect site that you envision is not a weekend warrior project unless you’re going with an out of the box design/theme and don’t need to customize anything, which is  extremely rare.
 
The reason for this blog is I want business owners to understand some of the pitfalls that come with attempting this kind of a project because today’s mentality about website design dictates that anyone should be able to do this and if you can’t – what’s wrong with you?  I’m here to tell you nothing is wrong with you – you just didn’t have the right training and education to make this website project as simple as it sounds.

Here’s what you don’t know….

  1. As mentioned above a professional website that is everything you want it to be will probably not be able to be done in 1 weekend.  There is a learning curve.   Expect to invest a decent amount of time into this project.
  2. The online WordPress tutorials you have watched on YouTube will probably not prepare you for creating a website where you buy a more professional, full featured WordPress theme and install the demo that it comes with.   When you install a more complex theme, your WordPress administration tools change.   You might not be able to figure out where to upload your logo or how to update your home page because it’s no longer in the spot where the default WordPress installation says it should be.
  3. Purchased themes will usually come with some help documents to get you to understand the basics but that’s it.  It’s rare to find a theme with full video training tools so you can understand how to use this theme with WordPress.
  4. Reliable and in depth support is not guaranteed just because you paid for a theme.  Some theme developers offer great support and others do the bare minimum.  Read our blog post about how to choose a theme.
  5. Not all purchased themes are created equal and a lot of the time you don’t know it until you have bought it.  For example I recently bought and worked with a theme where I thought I would be able to easily customize the default fonts and colours through the WordPress theme interface.  Most of the time you select your preferences and in a few clicks your font and colour settings are in place.  Not this time though!  The theme did not have this functionality so I had to find a work around in order to get the website fonts and colours to be what I wanted.  My work around included finding and using a specific WordPress plugin as well as custom coding a .css file in a child theme.  This solution means that I have to customize each new font option (heading, paragraph, widget title, widget text, etc) that I come across and so far I’m upwards of 50+ individual font settings and counting.
  6. If you take on the task of digging deeper to learn how to work around an issue you’re having, please make sure you don’t change the code of the theme you bought.  Always adjust the child theme.  That way if the theme performs an update your edits are not wiped out.
  7. There is not one site that I have worked on that did not need coding customizations in one way or another in order to achieve the look/feel/functionality that my client wanted.  Even if the theme tools were spectacular and the theme support was outstanding, extra coding customizations tend to be inevitable when it comes to getting the website you want.
  8. When you create your own website it becomes a lot more challenging to be objective about the final results.  You will probably think it’s amazing.  Most people do.  It’s tough not to be personally attached to the website that you have poured your heart, soul, time and energy into.  However the end product could be a website that is not properly designed, user friendly or visually appealing which in turn can hurt your business.
     
Please understand that I’m not discouraging you from designing your own website in WordPress.  I have seen some great results from people who have chosen to go down this road.  When I chat with them about their experience, I usually hear at least some of the items mentioned above as things that they were not expecting to encounter during their project and so I wanted to share their

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