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How building a WordPress-powered website is like building a house

A few weeks ago I was talking with a client and they were having a difficult time understanding how all of the pieces of their new website fit together.  They kept making comparisons between building the site and building a house, and it worked very well!  If you or someone you know is having a tough time understanding how all of these pieces fit together (hosting, php, wordpress, plug-ins, themes, etc), I hope this post is helpful.

Choose your lot (hosting)

Before you can start building your house, you need a place to put it. Find a large enough lot, and then get water and electricity connected. Similarly, you need to find a web host for your site. They’ll give you a place to put your site, and they’ll connect power and internet to your server.

Unlike buying a lot, we almost always recommend that you lease your server (for just a few dollars per month) rather than purchase it. By leasing it, you make the server owner stay responsible for keeping the basics up and running.

If you spend a lot of money on host, with someone like RackSpace, they’ll sent up a building right next to your lot and keep an eye on it 24/7. If anything goes wrong, they’re on it immediately. It’s wonderful, but costly.

We prefer to go a step down to save on cost, and use someone like HostGator or ClickHost. They won’t have a building next to your lot, but they keep their security cameras on it 24/7 and can dispatch someone very quickly to resolve issues if something goes wrong.

Bad neighborhoods

Also, you need to be careful about which neighborhood your lot is located in. If you are on the same cul-de-sac with a spammer, Google might connect the two of you and not respect your house as much as they should. This is again why we recommend hosts such as ClickHost, which don’t allow adult content on any of their servers, helping to insure that they have nothing but good neighborhoods in their data centers.

Lay the foundation (WordPress)

For the last few years (and for the foreseeable future), WordPress is our foundation of choice. By itself, the foundation doesn’t do much — you need to put some 2×4’s on it — but your house is in big trouble if you don’t lay a good base for it.

Choose a floorplan and put up the walls (templates)

This is where we typically choose a premium template to begin building the framework for the site. Quality templates have been designed by a team of professionals and will serve your site well. A good template is mobile responsive and works well with any desktop browser. Wouldn’t you hate to finish building your new house only to find that your SUV doesn’t fit in the garage? Leave the structural components of your house to a professional.

Putting in the appliances (plug-ins)

In the world of web development, not all appliances work in all homes. Because WordPress is the most popular platform on the web right now, it has the widest variety of plug-ins to choose from. We’ll help find the best refrigerator to meet your needs, and make sure that your A/C units will be up to the task when the temperature hits 100 next summer.

Painting the walls and laying down the floors (design)

A good template will provide a nice looking interior and exterior design for your house; the problem is that it will look like every other house that uses your floorplan. We spend hours replacing the stock door with a solid oak door, choosing hardwood that matches your taste, and paint colors to bring it all together. Choosing the right colors for accent walls can be tricky, and finding the right artwork to finish it up is not something that many people can do successfully.

Final walkthrough

After the house is complete, we spend time doing a final walk through. Not only do we check for corners that might need a bit more paint, we also show you how to operate the new range, how the security system works, and how to make sure the sprinkler system is working properly so your new grass grows in beautifully.

With a properly built house, you’ll be running smoothly 24×7, well-protected from miscreants, and able to understand and manage your property without having to pay someone every time you want to hang a new picture on the wall.

In the case of GreenMellen, we often use ClickHOST for our hosting and StudioPress for our themes, so a typical “house” of ours might look like this:

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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