5 Website Must-Haves: Starter Kit

Just starting out your new website? Or maybe it has been around for a while, but you are wanting to freshen things up and make sure you've got all basics covered? Then this post with a website starter kit is for you.

These are some widgets, plugins, and other elements I recommend you have since the moment you start out. I know must of us start with limited budget, or may not be even creating a website for profit, so, all these must-haves are free. They are intended for WordPress websites, but the general idea applies to any websites, so, if you're not on WordPress make sure to find the equivalent of the recommendation for your own platform. Some of the following recommendations include affiliate links, but I wouldn't recommend them if they wouldn't work great.

1. Privacy Policy

It was all the rage last year, so, you might have heard about this already. A Privacy Policy is a legal document that states what your website does with the information it collects. If you are a small website starting out, you may not need a lot and could probably be fine with just a template, like the GDPR Privacy Notice Generator. But as soon as you can, get something better: the ideal is to have an attorney draft a privacy policy based on what your website does and the information it handles. But luckily, there are attorneys who sell templates that can be customized based on your needs, which is the second best thing! I recommend checking out Creative Contracts, they have even specific GDPR-compliant templates to help you with this.

2. Search Engine Optimization

A lot of people don't worry about search engine optimization until they are getting bigger and want to attract more followers, but that is a mistake. SEO scores each page and post on your website, so, I recommend you set up a way to keep that score good now rather than later. That way, you start building credibility with search engines from day 1. I use Yoast SEO and really recommend it.

3. Contact Form

Give your followers a way to get in touch with you. Yes, you can add your email address somewhere on the website, but that can discourage some people from reaching out. Contact Form 7 is very popular and covers all the basics. You can always add your email as an alternative, but followers will be glad to have an easy form to fill out and submit.

4. Social Media

Make your social media easy to find for your followers. Depending on your theme, you can display them on the top or bottom of your website, but definitely put them visibly on every page. If your theme does not have a section or widget for social media, there are a few I recommend. I use Beaver Builder to put together my websites, and they have a module with icons that includes all social media icons you can think of. An alternative is the Ultimate Social Media Icons plugin, along with my designer recommendation: go for a simple style, everything monochromatic or keeping each platform's colors-don't choose any of the "more creative" icon designs. They will actually make your page look less professional, unless they specifically match your theme.

5. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)

Many people think you need a SSL certificate for your website only if you are an online store, or a a membership community, or some other type of website that stores people's information. But security has become more and more relevant for SEO purposes, and browsers like Chrome are marking pages as "not secure" when someone navigates into a website with no SSL certificate. Many visitors don't know what this is about, and will just assume that your website might be "hacked", may not be legit, or might infect their computer. On the other side, you will lose rank with Google or other search engines that are prioritizing secure pages. So, get your certificate! A lot of hosting places, like SiteGround, will include it and install it for you for free, so, be sure to ask your hosting first. If you have not yet purchased hosting, make sure to find an option that provides this for you.

And this it, the website starter kit! Good luck launching or re-doing your website, and feel free to ask any questions about any of these topics below in the comments.

Website showcased on a MacBook

STRUGGLING WITH SETTING UP YOUR WEBSITE?

My course Online Presence 101 goes over the WordPress and Web Design basics: choosing and installing a theme, understanding plugins, using widgets, and much more. Along with also teaching you the basics to designing your first brand visual. Sounds like something you'd need?

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