Out of necessity, in 2009 I started learning to build websites myself with Adobe Dreamweaver CS4, including coding HTML and CSS, the main website-building “languages” even today. However, it was very hard, as getting all the coding right for both design and functionality was EXTREMELY difficult. Fortunately, though, there are better options now for a dentist who wants/needs a website in the first place, or who wants a better one but lacks the funds, or who just enjoys a new non-dental challenge: WordPress. Both this website and my primary dental practice website, SmilesbyPayet.com, are built with WordPress, and the great thing is that ZERO coding knowledge is needed!
Need a Better Dental Website? Build Your Own with WordPress
While the core of WordPress is FREE (not something we hear as dentists very often, is it? 🙄 ), it can take a while to learn the ins-and-outs of making a website look nice. You know….the sidebars, the header and footer, those RSS feed thingies, etc? The good news in that arena is what are called “Custom WordPress Themes,” which are layouts/designs that are pre-coded for you, and many of them have all that stuff built-in. Many of these do cost a little, but compared to paying someone else for a website? CHEAP by comparison. I personally chose to work with the WordPress Dream Theme 3.0, from GFYDMember.com. Kimberly Bohannon and Ben Cope are the driving force behind this theme and the really wonderful webinars, Monthly Q&A Sessions, and online video tutorials, all for a VERY reasonable fee.
However, there are a tremendous number of other free Custom Themes available; you just need to do some homework and make sure they’ll do what you want. Alternately – if you don’t see something you like or have something specific in mind, you can hire someone to create a Custom Theme for you, and probably far more reasonably than you’d imagine (see the bottom of the page for some options).
Extend WordPress Functionality with Plugins
Beyond all the features that WordPress already provides, and that many Custom Themes include, you can add even more power to your website through WordPress Plugins. These are like Add-ons for Firefox or Extensions for Internet Explorer – they let you do things that you otherwise couldn’t. Here are some examples that I personally use for both WP sites:
- Akismet – pretty much THE definitive spam blocker
- WP to Twitter – automatically sends a Tweet via your designated Twitter Account
- Sexy Bookmarks – puts those nifty icons at the top or bottom of each page and/or blog post to let readers share your content to an enormous range of social media sites, incl. Facebook, Twitter, Diggoo, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, and more
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – add page/post titles, meta descriptions, meta keywords, and more to improve how Google finds you. And really – EVERY plugin by Yoast is pretty awesome.
Online Website Building Tutorials & Aids
There are so many online resources available today, it would be impossible to list them all. The great thing about the Web today IMO, is that – if you want/need to find out how to do something, you CAN find out how to do it online! However, I’d like to mention a few have been very helpful for me, as well as some others that can be useful:
- Already mentioned above, but worth it again 😉 GFYDMember.com
- WordPress training on Lynda.com
(my absolute favorite online video learning resource!!!)
- Convert Photoshop PSD files to Custom WordPress Themes
- Kelby Training (not for WordPress, but Adobe Dreamweaver CS4)
- Freelancer.com (haven’t personally used this one, but know people who’ve been pleased)