I started this website 5 days ago from the date of this post and I wanted to document the process, tools, and software I used. Aside from the hosting & security, this is the nearly the same setup I used in my previous two jobs. One was an agency while the other was a cybersecurity company…and both organizations adopted it for the majority of their sites. I hope you find it useful as well.
- I’m not discussing the planning process. I didn’t create a sitemap or wireframes for any of the pages. I’ll save that for a later date.
- I’ve kept it simple on this website but the same framework can support advanced features like ecommerce and membership portals.
The website stack, theme, and plugins
This site runs on WordPress which is the most popular platform for building websites. According to W3Tech, 34.4% of all websites are running WordPress. That number jumps to 61.1% when comparing to websites running a content management system (as opposed to hand-coded sites). I’ve used WordPress since version one launched in May 2003.
WordPress requires a theme to function properly and, while it comes with a few default themes, I use Divi by Elegant Themes. Like WordPress itself, Divi is one of the most popular themes according to BuiltWith.com.
For plugins, I try to keep it simple, less is more:
- Akismet Anti-Spam – for keeping my comments and forms free from garbage entries
- Bloom – email newsletter opt-ins
- Google Tag Manager for WordPress – I could add the code myself to the template but Thomas Geiger’s plugin provides more functionality (will write about this later)
- SmartCrawl – for SEO optimizations. Note: I usually use Yoast (which is the industry leader) but I’m experimenting (and will share those later as well)
- Smush Pro – to keep my image files as optimized as possible
Analytics and Tracking
I use Google Tag Manager (GTM) for all of my tracking snippets and, as I mentioned above, I do it via Thomas Geiger’s plugin. Within GTM, I deploy Google Analytics and Clicky. Why two? Because Clicky provides individual visitor information while Google Analytics is needed to maximize use of Google’s other products like Search Console and Google Ads.
More to Come
I really, really wanted to have three blog articles up prior to launch so I’m rushing to publish this one. I will follow-up with more detailed steps on how to actually build a website for yourself soon.
Random side note: prior to launch, this domain was a parking spot for an old version of a client. I am not in any way affiliated with Vacaville Christian School in California.