One of WordPress’s greatest strength is also its biggest weakness: it’s sheer infinite possibilities. While deciding if you want to build an eco-friendly WP website, all these options may tempt you to give up. Maybe you’re considering to switch to something more comfortable like Wix or Weebly.
I’m here to motivate you not to throw the towel and instead embrace the freedom that WordPress gives you to create a website that reflects you, your goals, and your ethics. Once you understand the basics, it’s easy to scale and grow your website alongside your business. Don’t be afraid and give it a try.
As you’re reading this post, I know you’re already open to check out WordPress as your potential Content Management System (CMS). The good news is that WordPress CMS is free, and most of the other ingredients I’ll be showing, also you have free versions which are perfect when starting with WordPress.
Lay your eco-friendly WP website foundation
Ingredient #1: Domain (paid ~1 USD per month)
- I always recommend NameCheap to register your domain. You can read my blog post about NameCheap to find out why and learn how to sign up.
- Depending on the domain name you choose, you will pay more or less. Using the domains I purchased as a reference, you can reckon with an annual amount of about 12 USD. That’s 1 USD a month.
- Your domain is like your virtual address. It lets people know where they have to go to find your business.
Ingredient #2: Hosting (paid ~2.95 USD per month)
- Sign up for shared Web Hosting. I love Green Geeks hosting because they use renewable energies.
- Start with the Green Geeks’ Web Hosting Lite Plan. If you sign up for three years, you get a 60% discount. That’s a total cost of 106.20 USD for three years. That’s USD 2.95 per month! (please note that these are the prices they are showing on thier website as of Oct 2020)
- Think of hosting as the virtual front window that lets you store and display your products or services – so people can look at them.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to connect your domain with your hosting.
- GreenGeeks will send you an email with their server information. You can also get the info by logging into your Green Geeks’ account.
- From within NameCheap’s menu, find your domain name in the domain list and click on ‘Manage.’
- Then scroll down to the Name Server area.
- Select Custom DNS.
- Add the Domain Name Servers you got from GreenGeeks (or any other hosting provider).
- Select Save (green checkmark)
Ingredient #3: SSL Certificate (free – included in your hosting plan)
- Install the free ‘Let’s Encrypt SSL’ from within you Green Geeks dashboard
Ingredient #4: WordPress CMS (free)
- Go to Green Geeks cPanel, scroll to the end.
- While installing, make sure you use a cryptic password and a username that is not: admin, your first name, your family name, a combination of your first and family name, your company’s name. All too easy to guess.
Ingredient #5 & #6: Theme (free) and #6 Page Builder (free)
I can’t stress this point enough: always try the free versions of themes, page builders, and even your plugins before investing in the pro version. Yes, the pro versions have more features than the free versions, but remember that you’re just getting started with your eco-friendly WP website! So using the free versions – with fewer bells and whistles – are enough and will leave you feeling less overwhelmed.
- Add a Theme from within the WordPress Dashboard > Appearance > Themes. Themes take care of the header, footer, and the webpage’s outer frame. Here some themes you can try.
- Page Builders are responsible for everything in between the header, footer, and within the outer frame.
Secure your website
You can get more in-depth insight about security and why it’s important also for SEO in my blog post ‘Don’t play with fire! Secure your WP website for SEO’s sake.’
Ingredient #7: Backup Plugin (free)
This one is a lifesaver and one of the first plugins you have to install and activate. Here some suggestions:
- Updraft Plus: best when getting started.
- WPvivid: best when you already have a little WordPress experience.
Ingredient #8: Security Plugin (free)
- Security plugins are another must, and I recommend you use iThemes.
- Please install and activate it. Then look for ‘Security’ on the left-hand side of your WP dashboard. Click on it, and you’ll find a sub-category called ‘Security Check’ from there, click on the button ‘Secure Site’ and follow the next steps.
Ingredient #9: Anti Spam Plugin (free)
- If you want to add a blog that allows comments on your website, you’ll need this plugin. Otherwise, just ignore this step and jump to #10.
- Anti Spam Bee is the best option and will save you a lot of headaches.
Make sure your eco-friendly WP website loads fast
Ingredient #10: Cache Plugin (free – included in your hosting plan)
- LiteSpeed Cache is the ideal caching plugin for Green Geeks’ hosting environment and is included in all of their plans.
- If you have a different hosting provider, check their website, contact their support, and ask them for help.
- Other options are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.
Ingredient #11: Performance Plugin (free)
- Search, install, and activate Autoptimize from WP dashboard > Plugins.
Ingredient #12: CDN (free – included in your hosting plan)
- CDN stands for Content Delivery Network and they help with the speed of your eco-friendly WP website and its security.
- You can connect Cloudflare CDN from within GreenGeeks cPanel and follow GreenGeeks’ how-to tutorial.
Making it your website while keeping it simple!
Ingredient #13: Fonts
- Choose 1-2 fonts. You can use these resources for inspiration: Google Fonts and FontPair.
- Yes, it’s important to use fonts that work for your branding blablabla…but if you’re just beginning and want to get this done asap, I suggest you choose
- If time is of the essence for you, don’t waste it researching hundreds of fonts. Start with my suggestions and change them later on.
Ingredient #14: Colors
- My favorite place to look at colors and pair them up is coolors.
- I’ll give you the same advice as for the fonts: don’t overthink it. Decide on the colors for the points I will mention below and then stick with the same colors throughout your website.
- 1 x color for the links and a slightly different version of it for the hover effect
- 1 x color for the buttons or call-to-actions and a slightly different version (lighter or darker) for the hover effect
- 1 x color for your headers (e.g., dark grey)
- 1 x color for your body text (e.g., black)
Ingredient #15: Images
- Use free stock images for your background images from Pexels or Unsplash.
- Also, find at least one picture of yourself.
- Make sure you scale and compress the images before you upload them to your website. Please read my post on speed to learn more about preparing your photos and pics.
Ingredient #16: Combine all your content on 1 page
Start with a one-page website. You can always add more pages over time. If you create four pages, you have to design and produce content (text, images, call to actions, etc.) for four pages! Just think about it. That’s why instead of creating several pages (home, about, services, contact, blog) structure your 1-page website like this:
- Header area: usually includes a background image and a simple welcome message.
- Continue with your services or products: add an image or icon, header, and a short description of your services or products.
- Testimonials: if you have testimonials or recommendations from prior or existing clients, include them below your services or products. If you don’t, ignore this part and add them later on as you get recommendations.
- About: add three or four sentences about who you are and a picture of yourself.
- Contact: at the end, attach a contact form so people can get in touch with you. I use Fluent Forms, and I even upgraded to their paid version because it’s a fantastic plugin. But as I already said, always start with the free version.
As I mentioned at the beginning, one of the reasons why I love WordPress websites’ is that they give you the freedom and power of choosing. I try to make as many eco-friendly choices as possible, and when I learned that I can sign up for green hosting, I didn’t think twice!
Let me know if you have any questions.