What’s a Conversational Landing Page (& How Do You Create One)?

Marketers have found that conversational experiences on landing pages (such as chatbots and live chat) convert three-to-four times more than a traditional landing page. Additionally, a report from Juniper Research predicts that by 2023, the adoption of chatbots across the retail, banking, and healthcare sectors will save businesses $11 billion annually.

So, what do these conversational experiences entail and how should chatbots be incorporated on your landing pages to increase conversions while saving your team time and resources?

Conversational Landing Pages

In this blog post, we’ll talk about what conversational landing pages are, what makes them unique, and how to create one of your own.

Let’s dive in.

Automate and scale conversations on your website with HubSpot’s Chatbot Builder Software.

A conversational landing page may also answer visitor inquiries, resolve challenges, share specific offers, and guide customers to whatever it is they need via chatbot or live chat.

If your landing page only includes a chatbot for visitors to interact with, you may customize the bot so it can detect complex issues that require the support of a human — then, the bot can direct visitors to live chat.

What makes conversational landing pages unique?

In addition to conversational landing pages, there are two other main types of landing pages that are used to engage visitors: traditional landing pages and hybrid landing pages.

A conversational landing page looks something like this, with the chatbot conversation filling up the entire screen for the visitor:

conversational langing page example

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A traditional landing page is one that engages visitors with a traditional lead generation form. The lead generation form is placed among other content on the landing page. It asks for information from visitors (e.g. name, email address, zip code) in exchange for something (e.g. discount code, subscription, or trial).

traditional langing page with a lead generation form example

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A hybrid landing page combines features from both a conversational and a traditional landing page — it’s essentially a traditional landing page with a chatbot (which can be expanded or be minimized) embedded on the page.

hybrid conversational landing page example

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Now that you’ve seen these other two types of landing pages, you may be wondering, “Why should the chatbot/ live chat conversation be the only thing on a conversational web page?”

Fair question.

By making a contextual, chatbot conversation the only thing on a web page, you establish a personal, one-on-one feel that traditional and hybrid landing pages don’t provide. This allows you to more easily promote new offers, close more deals, and increase conversion rates. 

How do you create a conversational landing page?

When creating a conversational landing page, you’ll work through many of the same steps — or, at the very least, similar steps — to those you’d follow when creating any other landing page.

1. Set a goal for your conversational landing page.

The main goal of your conversational landing page is to engage visitors. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also set more specific targets for engagement if you’d like to — this is a good way to establish a single focus for your page in order to make it as effective as possible.

Here are some examples of conversational landing page goals:

  • Provide highly-accessible customer support.
  • Share special offers.
  • Convert and upsell leads and customers.
  • Get to know your audience on a personal level and apply that information to campaigns, buyer personas, sales, and more.
  • Collect feedback to improve upon your product/ service, customer experience, and buyer’s journey.

2. Tailor the chatbot to your buyer personas and customers.

Your chatbot should cater to your specific audience. With a chatbot builder — like HubSpot — you can customize your chatbot and use it to qualify leads, book meetings, and create responses to FAQs. You can also configure your chatbot so that it guides an individual with a more complex reason for reaching out to live chat/ a rep. The bot can also create support tickets and add contact data to your lists and workflows to automate tasks and save your team time.

Use HubSpot’s Chatbot Builder Software to qualify leads, book meetings, provide customer support, and scale your one-to-one conversations.

3. Use clear, action-oriented language.

The point of your conversational landing page is to engage and interact with your visitors as well as support their needs, challenges, and goals. It’d be very difficult to do this if your landing page was cluttered, unclear, hard to understand, or difficult to navigate.

So, when working to determine what text you’ll include on your conversational landing page, remember less is more — meaning, your chatbot and any other text on your page should be concise, conversational, and straightforward. This will allow your visitors to have efficient and simple interactions with your brand.

4. Design and brand your page and make it memorable.

Your landing page should be on-brand, thoughtfully-designed, and beautiful — this will contribute to a positive experience on your page for visitors. This step is also when you should ensure your conversational landing page opens in a new tab (this is how the chat will fill up the entire screen).

A landing page tool like HubSpot, which has a drag-and-drop builder and pre-made templates, makes the process of designing a landing page simple, even if you don’t have any website or coding knowledge.

Here are some other landing page elements to consider when designing a memorable page:

  • Font
  • Colors
  • Animations
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Bot/ live chat design
  • CTA buttons

Use HubSpot’s Landing Page Builder to create and test beautiful landing pages that generate leads and look great on any device — no designers or IT help required.

5. Ensure your landing page’s chatbot resolves customer issues and guides them to solutions.

The point of your conversational landing page is to engage visitors in a way that’s beneficial to them (and your business). To ensure your chatbot resolves customer queries and guides users to the solutions they need, customize your bot’s messaging, purpose, and goal.

HubSpot’s Chatbot Builder makes this easy — the builder allows you to select a bot template based on your goal and use the visual editor to customize the bot so it complements that goal and your brand. Customize the bot’s copy and the types of questions it asks visitors. If your conversational landing page doesn’t include live chat on it, then you may configure the bot at this time so it directs visitors with complex issues to your live chat.

Additionally, personalize bot conversations with the help of your all-in-one HubSpot CRM — the chatbot will pull contact record information from your CRM to create a personalized experience for customers on your conversational landing page. Then, after any conversation with a visitor, their contact record will be updated again with any new details.

6. Promote your conversational landing page.

What good is a landing page without any visitors on it?

To make sure your audience and customers know about your conversational landing page, promote it — share links to it on your social media profiles, add a CTA to your main landing page that guides visitors who want to interact with a chatbot to the landing page, and add a link to it on your website’s “Contact” page. This will increase engagement, encourage customers to interact with you, and efficiently and effectively provide the support your visitors are looking for — all while saving you time.

It’s also a great way to proactively inform your customers and site visitors of where and how they can interact with you and get support.

7. Test and analyze your conversational landing page.

To ensure your conversational landing page is as effective as possible, test different variations of the page to see what works best for your site visitors and increases conversions. 

To do this, A/B (or split) test variations of your page (and chatbot) — swap out and test colors, font, messaging, and CTA buttons to determine which combination does the best job of attracting, engaging, converting, and delighting customers.

Begin converting more visitors and delighting customers today with an engaging and memorable conversational landing page. 

14 Essential Features for Taking Payments on Your Website

There are a lot of things I used to buy in person that I now buy online. I wouldn’t call myself lazy, but it’s just so much easier to carry a box of paper towels from my doorstep into my apartment than it is to carry it down the street from my local grocery store.

And I’m not alone. Whether it’s because of the larger selection, better pricing, convenience, or something else, a lot more people are buying stuff online nowadays instead of in person. Despite the growing number of online shoppers, people are still wary of the setbacks of paying for stuff online. In particular, people still get nervous about giving their personal and credit card information to online retailers.

If you’re an ecommerce business, a big part of attracting and delighting your customers will be providing them with a stable, reliable, secure, and smooth online shopping experience. That starts with creating your payment gateway.

How to Create a Payment Gateway

A payment gateway is a technological front-end component of payment processing that bridges the gap between your business’s financials and the customer’s financials during a transaction. To get an understanding of what I mean, it helps to know how payment processing works.

steps of processing payments online: customer makes a purchase, psp accepts the purchase data, merchant receives the data, their bank approves the purchase, psp sends data to the gateway, merchant accepts the payment.

On one hand, the customer’s financial institution must approve or deny the purchase. On the other, your payment service provider (PSP) and merchant account need this data to process the transaction and receive payment. Coordinating these moving parts is your payment gateway.

Here’s how to set it up.

1. Open a merchant account.

A merchant account is a type of business account that accepts payments of multiple types, including credit cards. Funds from online purchases land in your merchant account after they’ve been processed, and you’ll then be able to transfer them into your business banking account.

In order to create a payment gateway, it helps to already have a merchant account set up as it will be the final destination for funds from successful transactions.

2. Choose a payment service provider (PSP).

While the gateway acts as the front-end of payment processing for a transaction (i.e. the interface that customers directly interact with), the payment service provider facilitates the transaction on the back-end, passing financial data across all the moving parts. In order to create a payment gateway for your customers to interact with, you must first set up a PSP to hook it up to.

3. Decide whether you want to build or buy your payment gateway.

You have the option to build a payment gateway yourself (custom) or partner with a provider to get one “out of the box.”

Custom builds may be able to suit a wider range of your unique needs and save on transaction fees. However, it may be costly to develop and maintain.

An “out of the box” payment gateway is quicker to set up, but you’ll want to ensure that it comes with all of the features that you need. Some may even come with PSP functionality, which saves you time during the setup.

Top gateway providers in the industry include Authorize.Net, Stripe, and PayPal.

If you plan to take payments on your website, then be sure you’re checking everything off from the list below.

Essential Features for Taking Payments on Your Website

1. Multiple Login Options

While it’s more convenient for your marketing to require shoppers to create an account before placing an order, it doesn’t always benefit your customers. You might lose people along the way if you don’t give them the option to check out as a guest. Remember: You can always ask them to create an account once they’ve bought from you and feel a little closer to your brand.

example login and guest checkout

Image Credit: VWO

You should also think about offering shoppers the option of logging in with one of their social media profiles, like Facebook or Twitter. This can reduce registration friction because it makes the login process a lot faster. Make sure you add that you’ll never post without the customer’s permission, if applicable.

The caveat of allowing a social login? It’s the one connection shoppers will have to log in — and if anything changes about that connection (the terms of service for the social network change or they delete their account on the network), their ability to log into your site will change, too. So if you’re allowing people to authenticate with social logins, figure out other ways ask for more contact information.

2. Authentication/Login Layers

Customers who do have an account with you want to know that their information is safe — even if they forget their login information. To give them peace of mind, be sure to require several verification layers before you restore their login information. For example, if a customer forgets her password, your site could require various security questions before sending an email to a pre-determined email address.

3. PCI Compliance

The PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) defines a series of specific Data Security Standards (DSS) that are relevant to all merchants, regardless of revenue and credit card transaction volumes.

If you host and manage your own ecommerce platform, it’s your responsibility to ensure PCI compliance at the required compliance level, which is based on credit or debit card transaction volume over a 12-month period. Most SaaS shopping carts will have PCI compliance built in.

4. Integrated Payment Processor

While you can get away with payment processors like PayPal, Stripe, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay if you have a very small website and a low number of transactions, it’s much better to integrate a payment process directly into your website.

With some processors, online shoppers get redirected off your website to a pay site that doesn’t look like yours — which disrupts their experience, visually disconnects them from your brand, and can be confusing or nerve-racking and prompt them to abandon their cart.

An integrated payment solution that processes your customers’ information on your own server allows for more flexibility and customization. Plus, it’s a much smoother experience for your customers.

An integrated payment page will require an SSL certificate to ensure a secure connection. Which brings me to my next point…

5. SSL Certificate

Every ecommerce website needs an SSL certificate to protect customers’ personal and credit card information. SSL is the standard security technology that makes sure all data passed between a web server and a browser remain private.

Without it, hackers can steal your customers’ information — and online shoppers won’t feel safe submitting their information on your website. Online shoppers will be able to tell your website’s secure when they see an “https://” at the beginning of your URL, as opposed to just “http://”.

Read our article to learn how to get an SSL certificate on your website.

6. Credit Card Logos and Security Seals

Speaking of keeping online shoppers at ease, you might want to add credit card logos and security seals to your website to reassure shoppers that your site is a secure, trusted place to do business. Make them visible at least in the shopping cart and checkout phases of your site, or even try integrating them into the footer of your website.

7. Checkout Buttons

The less time customers have to spend looking for an option to check out, the sooner they’ll take action and buy. We recommend putting checkout calls-to-action — in a color that really stands out — at the top and bottom of your web pages.

Check out this checkout button example from ModCloth (no pun intended):

checkout button example from modcloth

Want a little button design help? Click here to see get free call-to-action templates.

8. Visual Checkout Process

If you need to spread the checkout process across multiple pages, give shoppers a visual indicator of how far they’ve progressed and how long they have left to go. Again, ModCloth does this particularly well:

visual checkout process example from modcloth

9. Return & Refund Policy

Shoppers don’t get to physically look at or feel a product before they purchase it online, which can make some people nervous and disincentivize them to buy. To help mitigate this, make your return and refund policy readily available. Consider making it part of the checkout process and even putting it in the footer of your website.

Be sure your policy is succinct, informative, engaging, and easy to understand. Say whether the customer will get a refund or an in-store credit, stipulate a timeframe for returns, define the condition you expect the product to be in, and disclose any fees up-front — like who will cover the cost of shipping.

10. Clear Path to Your Contact Information

Online shoppers want to know they can easily reach your company for support — especially if they’re first-time customers. If you don’t give them a clear path to your contact information, they may either hesitate to buy from you, or they may not get the support they need to complete a transaction.

Include contact information like a phone number (with availability hours), email address, street address, and social media accounts. Preferably, list this information as text (not as an image) so it’ll get picked up by search engines in local searches. Some retailers also like to offer live chat options — just be sure that you’ve integrated it with your customer records so you can build smarter marketing campaigns in the future.

11. Detailed Confirmation Page Before Checkout

Before allowing online shoppers to check out, you’ll want to take them to a detailed confirmation page before finishing the transaction. This page should let them review their cart, give them the option to change the quantity or remove items, include a final price (including tax and shipping), and indicate when the items will be shipped.

12. Optimized Checkout Page Design

The best checkout pages are functional, secure, attractive, and easy to use and navigate. The last thing you need is someone with purchasing intent getting cold feet at the last moment simply because they can’t use your system or don’t have faith in it.

13. Mobile Payments

Buyers don’t just buy on desktop. They also buy on mobile, so your payment gateway must be responsible and easy to navigate for mobile users too. If your have a mobile app, you may also need additional functionality to process payments on iOS and Android.

14. Confirmation Email

Finally, you’ll want to create a confirmation email that includes the order number, the product, payment, and shipping information, and your return and refund policy — just in case. If possible, use a real “from” email address (instead of noreply@company.com) that can be answered by a member of your customer support staff. You’ll also want to make the order confirmation page easy to print. This is the time when you can offer guest customers the option to sign up for an account, too.

Setting up your ecommerce business is exciting, even if all the details can be a little overwhelming. With a little bit of planning, you’ll be well on your way to processing ecommerce transactions left and right.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

How We Prioritized Which Review Sites We Care About at HubSpot

This post is a part of Made @ HubSpot, an internal thought leadership series through which we extract lessons from experiments conducted by our very own HubSpotters.

HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan has said it many times: More businesses die each day from overeating than from starvation. They spread themselves across so many different priorities that it becomes impossible to gain major traction with any of them.

The same is true when it comes to managing customer reviews for your business. There are so many different places a business can be reviewed today that keeping them all in order can feel a bit like a game of Whac-a-mole.

(A few examples would be G2, Gartner Peer Insights, and Capterra.)

This was the problem we faced at HubSpot. If we tried to give the same care and attention to every single review site, we’d only have a minimal impact on each site. While it was important for us to read and consider every piece of feedback, it was also crucial for us to understand which sites were going to have the most impact in moving HubSpot’s mission forward: helping millions of organizations grow better.

However, how exactly could we determine which sites were likely to have the greatest impact? We needed to figure out which sites were wholesome brand-builders and which were just tasty distractions.

This is why I developed HubSpot’s “Customer and User Review Scoring Algorithm”. I designed the algorithm so we could objectively consider dozens of different criteria that assess the importance of various third-party sites. With this algorithm, we could determine how to focus our efforts over the coming months.

The Components of the Customer and User Review Scoring Algorithm

I realized that, for our specific business (as an inside sales-based SaaS company), there were three primary scores necessary to gain a full perspective of the review sites in our orbit:

  1. Health Score: How positively is HubSpot currently represented on this site?
  2. Sales Enablement Score: How important is this site to sales enablement?
  3. Acquisition/Visibility Score: How important is this site to the acquisition of new users or the general perception of HubSpot and its products?

For each score, I chose a variety of criteria I could measure (see below) and scored each site against the criteria. I was then able to weigh the criteria against each other so that criteria we deemed more important would have a greater influence over the score.

For example, we determined that our review rating (out of 5) on each review site was more important than the overall number of reviews we had on each site.

How We Prioritized Which Review Sites We Care About at HubSpot

See above all of the criteria I used to create each score, and click here to see an example Google Sheets template of the scoring rubric.

Leveraging the Customer and User Review Scoring Algorithm

To truly understand each score and how the different review sites stacked up against each other, I plotted the data on two different grids. This process allowed us to see the Sales Enablement Score and Acquisition/Visibility Score each plotted against the Health Score.

The grids below represent what this looked like for HubSpot a couple of years ago. The colors of the grid correspond to how much attention should be devoted to improving HubSpot’s health on the given site (see the corresponding notes in red).

The Sales Enablement Grid — English Focused

how hubspot prioritized review sites enablement and health score matrixThe Acquisition/Visibility Grid — English Focused

how hubspot prioritized review sites acquisition and health score matrix

Armed with objective data and these handy grids, I was not only able to better direct my own review-oriented efforts, but I was also able to gain much better alignment and buy-in from other teams that leverage or impact customer reviews.

As a result of the campaigns that came out of this research, we were able to drive hundreds of five-star reviews, bring up our star rating on our goal sites, and influence countless deals.

If you’re looking to spin your business’s flywheel and acquire new customers, then a positive online reputation is a must-have. Approaching these reviews can feel a bit intimidating simply because of the sheer volume of websites, but fear not! Armed with this scoring system you can boil down the ocean and focus your attention purely on what matters.

Check out this template to get started today!

How to Use WordPress: Ultimate Guide to Building a WordPress Website

The thought of creating your own website may seem overwhelming.

You might even think this task is impossible for anyone but a developer or a person with a background in web design.

Well, I have good news for you — there’s a software out there that’s so easy to use, virtually anyone can successfully create a unique and professional-looking website for their business, blog, or portfolio. It’s called WordPress.

But how?

This ultimate guide will cover a basic step-by-step process of creating your own WordPress website as well as a list of tips and tricks to remember while working with WordPress.

But first, let’s answer the question most people have when they begin thinking about their new WordPress website: What is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

The difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com has to do with who is actually hosting your website.

You host your own website or blog on WordPress.org, through a third-party hosting provider. You also have to download your WordPress software, buy a domain name on a third-party site, and manage your server. It’s a much more hands-on experience than with WordPress.com.

WordPress.com offers to host your website for you. You also don’t need to download any software or manage a server. If you choose WordPress.com, your website’s URL will look like this: www.mywebsite.wordpress.com. However, you have the option to also upgrade your WordPress.com account and buy a custom domain from a third-party provider (meaning your URL will look like this: www.mywebsite.com).

How to Choose Between WordPress.org or WordPress.com

You may be wondering whether WordPress.org or WordPress.com would be a better fit. Let’s review a few more of the pros and cons that come with both options, so you can make an informed decision.

WordPress.org is ideal if you want full power over customizing and controlling your website. However, there is a lot more responsibility that comes with managing a WordPress.org website. You have to purchase and set up your own domain name, upload and install plugins and a theme, edit your website’s code, and manage your website’s security. WordPress.org is free to use, but you have to pay for everything else that goes into having a website.

WordPress.com is preferable if you’re looking for an all-in-one option that has most of the hard work done for you. You’ll never need to manage your server, pay for your hosting, or buy a domain. There are also a number of customization options that come with a WordPress.com plan to help you make your website look the way you want it to.

WordPress.com has a free and paid version. If you stick with the free version, you can’t upload any custom themes or plugins, and you will have a WordPress subdomain. However, there is always the option to pay for premium upgrades and other plans that provide you with even more features and control, as well as the option to buy a custom domain through a third-party site.

WordPress for Beginners: How to Use WordPress

There are a number of ways for you to create your dream website with WordPress. Users generally find the software easy to use, but getting started can be understandably intimidating if you’re completely new to the process. That’s why we have built this “WordPress for Beginners” guide. Want a quick introduction before you dive deep? Check out this helpful video:

For even more resources, we’ve also compiled some of the best websites for learning about WordPress — these can be incredibly valuable sources of information as you start you journey.

Below, we will take a closer look at how to start creating your website.

WordPress is by far the most popular CMS today. Its ease of use and versatility enable the majority of users and business owners to create a website that works for their needs. Here’s how you can do the same.

1. Select a WordPress plan (WordPress.com only).

To begin creating your website, select a WordPress plan. As stated earlier, with WordPress.org you only have one (free) plan option — but it requires you to buy your domain, hosting provider, plugins, themes, and everything else related to your WordPress site.

With WordPress.com, you’ll have to choose between the five plans they offer.

pricing plans for a wordpress website

The main differences between these plans are the monthly fee, types of site customization, and the access you get to marketing tools.

2. Set up your domain name and hosting provider.

Setting up your domain name and choosing your hosting provider for WordPress typically happen around the same time in the website creation process.

Before we talk about how to complete those tasks, let’s discuss the difference between your domain name and hosting provider.

Think about your domain name as your home address — it’s how your visitors are able to locate your website on the Internet. You domain name will look something like this: www.example.com.

Your hosting provider is like your house — it’s where your website files are actually stored. Without a hosting provider, your site wouldn’t have space on a server to “live.” Some of the best WordPressing hosting providers include WP Engine, Bluehost, and Kinsta.

product page for wp engine wordpress hosting

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How to pick domain and hosting providers

Again, WordPress.org requires you to create your own domain and find a third-party hosting provider for your website. WordPress.com allows you to decide whether or not you want a custom domain depending on the plan you choose, but it takes care of the hosting for you.

Your hosting provider is important because it impacts your website’s speed, security, and reliability. There are hundreds of providers to choose from, which is why we put together a list of 22 of the best WordPress hosting providers to help you decide what will work best for you. All of these providers meet WordPress’ three hosting requirements:

  • PHP version 7.4 or greater
  • MySQL version 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.1 or greater.
  • HTTPS support

When considering hosting providers for your WordPress site, make sure they meet all of the above criteria.

For domain names, getting one is as easy as searching and purchasing one through your
domain registrar of choice. If you are new to WordPress.com but have already purchased and created a domain name elsewhere, no problem — you’ll have the option to
transfer or
map it to your WordPress website.
For the sake of this guide, let’s assume you do
not yet have a domain or hosting provider. Here’s how to start creating your website with the popular hosting service Bluehost.

First, head to Bluehost’s website and click Get Started.

product page for bluehost wordpress website hosting

From here, you’ll be taken to Bluehost’s pricing page to choose from four plans.

pricing for bluehost wordpress website hosting

Once you choose your plan and click Select, you’ll be taken to another page to sign up with a domain name.

Bluehost signup page for WordPress website

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Once you select your domain name, you’ll be brought to a page to complete your account and billing information for your purchase.

Bluehost account page for WordPress website

After confirming your account and purchasing your domain, you will gain access to your hosting dashboard where you’ll be able to install the WordPress CMS.

3. Install WordPress.

If you are using a hosting provider outside of WordPress, you’ll need to install the CMS to connect your new domain to your website.

This time, let’s use GoDaddy as an example. (Don’t worry, no matter the hosting provider you choose, this process looks similar.)

Note: If you choose to use a managed WordPress hosting service like WP Engine or Kinsta, you won’t need to go through this process, as those services were built specifically for WordPress and will have WordPress installed for you.

To start, log into your GoDaddy account, click Web Hosting, and then Manage. You will be brought to a screen with your account details.

GoDaddy account for WordPress website

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Scroll down and under Options & Settings, you will see an area titled Popular Apps. Click on the WordPress app to begin the installation.

GoDaddy settings for WordPress website

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After installing WordPress, you’ll need to answer a few questions about the domain you want to use, the directory where you want to install WordPress, and your admin information.

After about 24 hours, your website will be installed to your hosting account, and GoDaddy will send you an email confirmation.

Now that you have your domain set up and WordPress installed, you’ll next need to set up your “Primary Domain” within WordPress, so your visitors see your website when they search your domain.

In WordPress, go to My Site and click Domains. Select the custom domain you want to make your primary domain.

Setup custom domain for WordPress website

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Then, click Make Primary.

domain settings for WordPress website

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Confirm you meant to make this change by clicking Update Primary Domain.

primary domain for WordPress website

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Verify the update was successful by looking for a green box with a checkmark that says Primary Domain.

verify domain for WordPress website

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Now, on to step four: making your website look nice.

4. Choose your theme.

You can customize your WordPress website using WordPress’ many themes and templates, each of which contains a multitude of layouts, formatting styles, colors, fonts, and other visual options.

WordPress automatically applies a default theme that looks rather plain. You can keep it, but your website visitors may not be so impressed. A custom WordPress theme, whether it’s paid or free, will make your website look appealing and professional to your buyer personas.

Similar to the wide range of hosting providers available, there are also hundreds of themes and templates to choose from. To help you out, we’ve put together a guide to 20 of our favorite themes and templates and categorized them by purpose. Whether you’re looking for a theme versatile enough for multiple different business types, or one suitable for your ecommerce site, portfolio, blog, or business, there’s a theme that will work for your specific needs. On top of your theme, you can further customize your pages with a builder tool like Elementor.

To find a theme that works best for you in WordPress.org, head to your admin dashboard. Click Appearance, then Themes. You’ll be brought to another screen where you can browse available themes or search for a specific one you have in mind.

the theme selection page on a wordpress website

Once you find the perfect theme, simply install it to begin customizing. Each theme has different steps required during the customization process, so be sure to follow them closely. If a theme has a website (often accessible through the WordPress theme and template library), check for documentation as you work through the customization process.

5. Add posts and pages to your website.

When you add content to your WordPress website, it’s usually displayed in the form of posts and pages.

Posts (or “dynamic pages”) are typically used for blogs and portfolios because they automatically place your newest website content at the top of your featured content. Pages are static, which is why they appeal more to business owners — the added content stays in the same place.

Posts and pages are the main post types in WordPress. Additionally, there are other native post types, as well as custom post types. For now, we can just stick to pages and posts.

Start by deciding whether you want a post or page to serve as the homepage (or any page) of your website. To add a post to your website, go to the admin dashboard, click Posts and then Add New.

the dashboard menu on a wordpress website

You can add a title for your post, place photos, change the format, and insert page elements via blocks and shortcodes. Click Save Draft to save your changes as a draft, or click Publish to immediately take the post live.

Adding a page to your website is a similar process. In your admin area, click Pages, then Add New.

the dashboard menu on a wordpress website

First, add a title to your page. Next, you can insert photos, embed videos, and add content. Follow the same steps to create multiple pages for your website. When finished, click Save Draft or Publish.

6. Customize your website.

Beyond the theme you choose, there are a number of ways to further customize your website. Let’s review a few options.

First, let’s customize your site title. From your admin dashboard, select Settings > General. Here, add your website title and tagline. You can also toggle other basic site information like you URL, email, time zone, and more.

the general setting page on a wordpress website

Next, let’s customize your reading sections. Under Settings > Reading, you can change your home page to a static page.

the reading setting page on a wordpress website

Consider this if you’re a business owner who prefers having content remain in one place on your website. Consider using a dynamic page if you’re a blogger who prefers having your newest content appear at the top of your pages. This way, your visitors can easily find your latest posts.

The navigation bar is customizable, too. This enables your visitors to easily find information on your website.

Add a navigation bar by going to your admin dashboard, clicking Appearance and then Menus.

the menus options page on a wordpress website

From here, you can determine how you want your bar to look, how many pages you want to include, what you want to title those pages, and what order you want them to be listed in.

Of course, this is just a fraction of what you can do in the dashboard — click here for more information on your WordPress site settings and customization options.

7. Install plugins.

Plugins are pieces of software that add functionality to your WordPress website and enhance the user experience. With over 55,000 available plugins, there are options for most every type of website and user. Some of the most popular plugins available include:

  • HubSpot WordPress Plugin: Easily add pop-ups, forms, and live chat to your WordPress website. And as an added bonus, pair this plugin, or other CRM plugins, with your HubSpot CRM.
  • The Events Calendar: An effortless events calendar that makes scheduling events from your site easy.
  • Yoast SEO: The go-to plugin to help you with on-page SEO. This app makes sure you’re following best practices before you push your site live.
  • TablePress: Need a table on your site? Look no further.
  • The SEO Framework: Another plugin that can help you master SEO on your site.

To begin installation, head to the Plugins section in your admin dashboard. This shows you all the plugins currently installed on your site. Depending on your host, you might have several plugins installed already. Note that for a plugin to work you must activate it after installing.

the plugins page on a wordpress website

To add a new plugin, click Add New. Search for your desired plugin and then click Install Now, wait a few seconds, then click Activate.

the add plugins screen on a wordpress website

Get the WordPress CRM plugin that helps you organize, track, and nurture your leads.

8. Optimize your website to increase page speed.

Website performance is a critical part of the user experience. If a page takes too long to load, your visitors will move quickly to another site. You don’t want to frustrate visitors with slow speeds.

You can improve your website’s performance by enabling browser caching. Browser caching is the process of temporarily storing your website’s data on your visitors’ browsers. That way, your content doesn’t need to be sent from the web server for it to appear in the browser, which increases the website speed.

To enable caching for your website, install and activate a caching plugin with the process described above.

9. Get inspired from WordPress website examples.

As you begin to customize your website, you may feel overwhelmed by all the options you have. Instead of starting completely from scratch, it helps to grab some inspiration from other exemplary WordPress websites. Here are some of our favorites:

99% Invisible is a popular podcast that focuses on design and architecture. Their website is sleek, modern, and offers easy navigation for visitors to quickly access each podcast episode.

the homepage for the 99 percent invisible wordpress website

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The Houston Zoo’s website displays its main attraction on the homepage. The magnifying glass icon on the top menu bar makes searching the site effortless.

homepage for the houston zoo wordpress website

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Awesome Motive, the creators behind several WordPress projects, engages their visitors with a polished, yet simple website. It features subtle animation to grab people’s attention.

Awesome Motive WordPress website example

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WordPress Website Tips and Tricks

There are a number of WordPress tips and tricks to make your website as impactful and user-friendly as possible — we’ve listed 20 of them below to help you do just that.

1. Focus on the basics and create a great user experience with a WordPress theme that complements your business and website content.

2. Use dashes and not underscores when naming your files in WordPress. Google looks as underscores as joiners, meaning your file will look like one big word. That won’t help you with your SEO. Use dashes to make it obvious there are separate words. (For example, use www.example.com/this-is-an-example, not www.example.com/this_is_an_example).

3. Use WordPress’ online support for any questions or concerns you may have while creating or using your website. There are a number of forums and ways to reach out to WordPress experts listed on their website.

4. Use Image Alt Text to your advantage. Image Alt Text can be used to improve your SEO and Google rankings.

5. Keep your sidebar as organized as possible. Stick to the essentials and think about what your website visitors and buyer personas really need quick and easy access to.

6. Back up your website regularly, so if you ever lose access or have technological difficulties, you have everything you need to completely restore your content. There are a number of plugins, such as Snapshot Pro, made specifically for backing up your WordPress content.

7. Learn and understand SEO basics to ensure your website is completely optimized so you can boost your conversions.

8. Create a custom homepage. As mentioned earlier, WordPress will provide you with a default homepage. Take the time to create your own with a theme that works for your business — remember, this is your visitor’s first impression of your business, blog, or portfolio.

9. Keep an eye on your website’s performance and know what is and isn’t working for your visitors. There are a number of useful WordPress plugins, as well as Google Analytics software, to help with this performance.

10. Include an “About Us” page on your website to show your visitors you’re a trustworthy person and/or business. “About Us” pages are known to be the second most-visited pages on websites (after homepages) — so introducing yourself is important.

11. Make sure your site is secure to ensure there are no hackers gaining entry. Again, there are plenty of plugins such as WP Defender to help you with security.

12. Create custom permalinks. Permalinks are the permanent URLs that you plan to keep static for the foreseeable future. They’re important because they improve user experience and enhance your WordPress website SEO.

13. Create a custom navigation bar (as we reviewed earlier) to make your site easy to use for your visitors.

14. Include excerpts on your blog posts so people don’t land on your blog page and see your entire piece at once. By only including excerpts on your blog page, you make room to list all of your blogs in one location. Visitors can then read the excerpts and click-through to read the posts they are most interested in.

15. Structure your website in a way that makes sense for your business, visitors, and buyer personas. For example, use posts if you’re a blogger and use pages if you’re a business owner.

16. Remove “Comment” and “Share” buttons from specific pages of your website. You don’t need (or want) a “Comment” or “Share” button on your “About Us” page, or any of your service pages for that matter.

17. Consider what your website looks like on mobile. It’s no secret people are searching the Internet while on their phones, tablets, and other mobile devices these days. Consider using a plugin to help you achieve a responsive, mobile WordPress design.

18. Use visuals and video content when possible to break up the text on your website pages.

19. Update your WordPress site and plugins regularly. WordPress will tell you when updates are released. This will keep your website looking fresh and working efficiently.

20. Use social proof to show your new website visitors how many other people have already viewed your site and content. There are plugins to help you do this in a matter of minutes.

21. Pick a CRM that works with your WordPress site. A CRM can help you keep track of the way users are interacting with your website and company. Here’s a list of some of the best WordPress CRM options.

Build a Website With WordPress

Having a great website matters. It’s how you connect with your visitors and leads, create a positive first impression with new users, and boost conversions. The good news is creating your own website doesn’t have to be a daunting process…at least not with WordPress.

The easy-to-use CMS offers completely customizable plans suitable for all needs. With no prior knowledge necessary, you can start building your own site for your business, blog, portfolio, or online store immediately.

Are You in the Club(House)?

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