In How to make money from your hobby or passion? one of the mentioned possibilities is having your own website. Most hosting providers offer a one-click-process to install a WordPress blog, which makes starting real easy. So this article WordPress Tips for Beginners is not about installing, but about aspects to make visiting your website a great experience.
The biggest mistake most beginners make is: they complicate the whole process. WordPress has infinite choices. However, this doesn’t mean that you should choose all of them from the start. Even if there are hundreds of plugins… Even if you can choose all the colors you want… Or every font that is available… Restrain yourself. The visitors of your website will appreciate it.
I will explain 12 aspects that – once implemented – will give your visitor a great user experience. Making sure they want to come back.
Readability is partly about language and partly about design
Do you consider yourself a great writer? Most people will probably say “No”. I know I will say that as well. I am not Hemingway or Shakespeare. The point is, it doesn’t bother me, not anymore.
When I started blogging 20 years ago (oops, that sounds like ages ago, doesn’t it!) I thought written text should be pompous and formal. I had a website for my graphic design studio and every text was marketing talk.
Whenever I bump into websites like that nowadays I click away in a heartbeat. I can’t believe I used that same babble.
1. Make a normal conversation from your text
A normal conversation doesn’t mean you have to say “Yo” or “Bro”, unless your target audience is using that kind of words all the time. It just means talking in a relaxed and sensible way.
2. Avoid long sentences
When a sentence exceeds 20 words, it’s better to split it up. Most of the time this is doable. Even when you think it is not.
3. Divide your text into small paragraphs
Imagine what kind of texts you like to read yourself: Endless, book-like sentences that go on and on? Or small, bite-like texts that make it easy to grasp what it’s about?
Paragraphs of 2 or 3 sentences work best. After that put either a blank line (a return on your keyboard) or a subheading.
4. Add breathing space to your blog
These blank lines let your page ‘breathe’. Compare it to talking. After a couple of sentences you will take a breath. This is a natural pause, that gives both you and your listener / reader a bit of rest.
Images with enough white space around them have that same effect.
Design, the look and feel of your website
Even as a graphic designer I never assumed design was more important than readability or user experience. Design is accommodating. ‘Beautiful’ is never the important issue.
It doesn’t take much effort to take a look at a website and acknowledge the beauty of it. You usually can see and conclude that in the blink of an eye. However, to determine the usability, requires more effort. This tension between the beauty and usability of a website often allures us to pay more attention to a website’s beauty.
Beautiful is not equivalent to effective, although a website can be both at the same time! ~Hannie Mommers
Mind you, I am not saying you shouldn’t have a beautiful website. I just mean it comes third place. Another aspect of beauty is, that it’s about taste. And we all have different tastes.
5. Choose a font that doesn’t confuse the reader
A very crude classification of fonts (letters) is in Serif and Sans Serif. Serifs are small strokes at the end of a larger stroke. The most frequently used fonts are sans serif like Verdana, Trebuchet and Arial. A well-used serif font on the internet is Georgia.
Any (big enough) font that resembles one of these 4 mentioned is a good readable font and very useful for the text of your blog. For headings or quotes you could use a font with more fantasy, as long as your visitor doesn’t have to guess what it says.
6. Left alignment guides the reader
English is read from left to right, so use the left alignment. With a centered or right alignment your visitor’s eyes need to readjust at every start of the next line. Justified text (aligned at both sides) was necessary for the technique of relief printing and is really old-fashioned.
7. Take care of enough contrast in the colors you choose
Restrict yourself also in the number of colors you use. One or two (consistent) colors to go along with the black or dark gray you use for the text and the white of the background. As you can see, for me it goes without saying to use black or dark gray on white for a good reader experience.
Sometimes you need an accent color for a button or text that really has to stand out. Make it harmonious with the other colors (this is a great tool to help you choose) and again: be consistent once you have chosen.
8. Nice to have: your own favicon
A favicon is a little icon in the address at the top of the browser. A wordpress website has a white on blue W as standard favicon. It’s very small (16×16 pixels) and can’t have too many details. And it’s not an absolute necessity, but nice to have.
Years ago I made 36 favicons to choose from as a give-away. If you want one, or just want some inspiration, than go to Do you want your own favicon on your website?
Put your visitor at ease with a good user experience
9. Reading shouldn’t be a tennis game
I bet you know those images of an audience at a tennis game? It’s hilarious to see their heads go from left to right and back in unison, following the ball with their eyes.
It shouldn’t be necessary to make the same movements when reading a text. And at some websites you are forced to do that because the width of the site is huge. Choose a WordPress theme that is not wider than 1000 pixels, or a theme that is adjustable to 1000 pixels.
This is irrelevant for mobile viewers, but there are still a lot of people who browse the internet on a desktop computer.
10. Be careful with repetition
In any manual about blogging, the general guideline is to divide your text in 3 parts. The first part is the intro in which you tell what your topic is about. In the second part you explain everything about your topic. The third part is the conclusion with a summary of what you have just told.
It’s a good rule of thumb, although I must admit I am not always abiding to this rule. And if you counted with me that is a maximum of 3 times mentioning the same topic. More is overdoing it. Really.
Always try to put yourself in the shoes of your visitor. What does he or she see and read if they visit your website for the first time, the second time, the tenth time. Is the experience still fresh at the tenth time? Or is the visitor getting bored because of an extensive re-use of the same images and the same texts?
Sometimes you reread your text and you notice the repetition of a certain keyword. A great website to look for synonyms is Thesaurus. And Google translate will give you synonyms for English words as well. It doesn’t matter what language you supposedly want to translate it to.
11. Some WordPress standards should be changed immediately
WordPress adds a couple of standard phrases that are not meant to be left as they are. “Just another wordpress site” being one of them. It’s the subtitle of your website and if you have no idea in what to change it, than remove it. No problem.
12. Use sensible categories (and tags)
Another standard is “Uncategorized”. Make a couple of categories that will be logical groups for your website and choose one that you will probably use the most. Make that your standard, what you can do in the first line of > Settings > Writing.
Once you have done that, you can delete Uncategorized all together.
Don’t get overwhelmed
When you are a beginner in WordPress I can imagine that 12 aspects can seem like an awful lot. If that is the case, don’t let yourself be overwhelmed. It’s more important to start writing and work on your content than to get everything right from the start.
That is the biggest advantage of WordPress. Content and design are two different elements and you can change either one of them without messing the other.
Do you have questions?
Don’t hesitate to put your questions about design or technique in the comment box below. I’ll be happy to help you. 🙂
P.S. If you want more basic information about starting a website, I would suggest Wealthy Affiliate. Maybe you don’t want to be an affiliate right now, but eventually chances are high you want to have a way to monetize your website.
The free version of Wealthy Affiliate has 10 lessons. Parts of what I have described here are discussed in more detail in those 10 lessons.