WordPress is being used for more and more corporate web designs and there are an almost limitless number of additional functions, plugins and customisation available today. WordPress has developed from its beginnings as a simple blogging tool to a versatile and – quite often – easy to use content management system (CMS).
WordPress makes a distinction between “pages” and “posts” and there are many ways to display and integrate the functions of “pages” and “posts”.
Pages are generally best used for your non-dated main navigation items such as “about us”, “our services” or “contact”. You can create multi-level pages (for example: “consultancy” can be a sub-item of the main page services) but you will need to physically link to the sub item pages if your main navigation bar is not setup to automatically populate drop-down menus.
Posts on the other hand are ideal for sections of your WordPress web design that will be contain a growing number of sub items. WordPress Posts have been developed with built in auto-archiving features and can be sorted by month, year, day, category, custom keyword tags or by author. This makes WordPress posts ideal for news updates, articles, case-studies, portfolios, product updates and similar. The feature of posts that most often impacts your web design would be the categories function. You can file posts under multiple categories and you will need to decide early on if your developer needs to pull custom posts from different categories onto pages or if all your categories will be fine displayed alongside each other.
For example you may wish to create the impression of a dedicated case studies area by pulling only the case studies posts onto a page whilst all other articles and news updates posts get filed in your “latest updates” section. If you are able to consult an experienced WordPress web designer at this stage they should be able to point you to the most versatile solution and to show you examples of existing projects to help you visualise the final result.
Common pitfalls of WordPress Web Design:
Too many custom blocks and theme areas limit the efficiency of future design updates. In order to create custom blocks and layouts the WordPress developer quite often has to customise or ‘hack’ the website code. This is fine in its own right but it also means that you will most likely not be able to take advantage of the switchable nature of WordPress themes on your next design update. With a simple web structure you will often be able to just load a new theme and activate it. If there is too much customisation it might take longer to get the new theme to fit in with the complex structure.
Too many additional scripts and image heavy web design often come into play when one realises just how many options there are out there. While many features such as interactive flash games, weather updates and currency converters do add something to a website it needs to be noted that code and image heavy websites tend to load very slowly. Fast loading websites get better results with users and search engines alike. Resist the urge to add on too many features and if possible get a usability test done to identify which features your users will find the most useful.
Little or no consideration to Search Engine Optimisation on the WordPress web design. Make sure that your WordPress developer installs search engine optimisation plugins that allow you to add custom meta data to each page/post as well as to generate search engine friendly sitemaps. Additionally your developer need to take advantage of the URL rewrite function (permalinks) which will allows you to create custom page names that can incorporate target keywords (which display in the Address bar of your internet browser.)
It is best to start a WordPress web design process that takes full advantage of the built in functions in the WordPress CMS.